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lkauffman
lkauffman asks:
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Aspergers and Anger

A recent question from Tammy:

Why does my son get so angry? He has aspergers.
In Topics: Autism & Aspergers Syndrome
> 60 days ago

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Expert

lkauffman
Apr 15, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

Sounds like this is a very frustrating time. How old is your child? Do you have an IEP or 504 Plan? If so, what kind of supports and/or strategies have been implemented in your child's classroom? If the school personnel have not already tried it, you should ask about Applied Behavior Analysis or a Behavior Analysis to target some of the more troublesome behaviors that your child is exhibiting. For more on this, see:

http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Autism_Learning/#ABA

Also, it is very important that your child is in a very structured environment, including a relatively consistent schedule posted on the blackboard or elsewhere. Your child should be reminded and prepared for transitions at least two times, five and two minutes before the upcoming transition. Finally, your child should have a place that he or she can go to in the classroom or on campus where they can calm themselves when they are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

Hope that helps!

L. Compian, Ph.D.
Education.com Expert Panel

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Expert

lkauffman
Aug 20, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

Dear Mustard,

I'm sorry to hear that you and your daughter have had such a frustrating experience with the school. Your post mentions a couple of big issues that are affecting your daughter's feelings about her return to school.

First, I am curious to know what kinds of accommodations the school is currently providing for your daughter under the 504 plan. I don't particularly agree with their assessment that their only responsibility is to make her comfortable. Section 504 ensures that the child with a disability has equal access to an education, which, to me, means more than "comfort". I believe that your daughter's services and accommodations at school may need to be reconsidered. When was the last time that her 504 plan was re-evaluated? Has she been formally tested?

Many students with Asperger's benefit from a Functional Behavioral Assessment that may help identify times and places throughout the day that serve as triggers for frustration and anger. For more on this, see the below article:

Functional Behavioral Assessment
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Approp_Behav/

In addition to revisiting her 504, you may want to do a little extra legwork at home, and with the school, to make the transition back to school go more smoothly. Here is another great article on preparing your daughter for the new school year:
http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger/adreon_bts.html

Some parents find it helpful to write a letter to each of their child's teachers "educating" them about their child and their unique needs. See here for a great example: http://www.pattyrbashe.com/LetterofIntroduction.htm

Here is an article that may be useful to give to your daughter's teachers, as well, as part of a packet: http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger/as_student_can.html

Finally, I do believe that you and your daughter would benefit from some additional support. If the school does not have any counseling or groups available for your daughter (check to see if they do), you should look to your community. There are typically plenty of low-cost services available. Check the following site for providers in your state:

http://www.maapservices.org/Prof_and_Parent_Support.asp

And, here is a book that many parents of children with Asperger's have found useful: No More Meltdowns by Dr. Jed Baker.

Hope that helps!

L. Compian, Ph.D.
Education.com Expert Panel

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Additional Answers (17)

lkauffman
lkauffman writes:
Hi Kristen,<br />
<br />
I have a couple of thoughts on this topic. In my experience in working with children diagnosed with Aspergers, I have found that a large number of the children appear to struggle with anger as result of confusion and frustration. Confusion and frustration often stems from misunderstandings in social situations. As you may know, children with Aspergers have difficulty interpreting the meaning and intent behind someone's words and actions. This leads to a series of challenging social interactions, which tires and frustrates the child. Most therapists and specialists working with Aspergers suggest a high degree of structure surrounding the child's activities and very direct and specific communication strategies. These strategies will ameliorate the confusion, frustration, and yes, anger.<br />
<br />
Read on for additional information on Aspergers:<br />
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Asperger_Disorder/<br />
<br />
Good luck!<br />
<br />
<br />
> 60 days ago

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CuriousGeorge
CuriousGeorge writes:
Hi, I am 54 years old and only recently learned I have aspergers.  It has helped me to understand why life is been so difficult.  

My anger stems from not understanding things.  It develops out of frustration -of not understanding why things are as they are.  

I never realized I saw things differently from everyone else and even now that I know it, it still does not help me to actually see things as most of the world does.  It simply makes me aware that there is at least a reason for my frustration.

Examples of frustration for me is knowing that someone is telling a lie and realizing there is nothing I can do about it.  Or not understanding why someone else does not understand me when I believe that I have communicated clearly.  I get frustrated and angry when I cannot fix things immediately, but instead have to wait a while, such as when receiving mail on a Saturday and knowing I cannot contact the business until the following Monday.  

Logically, I know I am blowing things out of proportion, but do not know how to prevent this from happening.

Perhaps this can help parents to understand what is going on inside their child.  The only difference in my frustration and anger now and back when I was a child is that it arose because of more child like issue, but that does not change the fact that  I have reacted in the same manner my entire life.

My feeling is that if someone can help an aspie to calm down and understand their feelings and that those feelings are ok to have, perhaps that would help.  Also, I try to think about a worse case scenario and then realize that even in that scenario it really isn't the end of the world.  

I know that at my age, I can at least be reasoned with most of the time, and realize that may not be easy to do with a child.  It helps me immensely to know that someone will listen to me and help me to calm down and attempt to view things from another perspective.
> 60 days ago

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Jena
Jena writes:
My son has Aspergers and is 9yrs old. He has was diagnosed a yr ago. When my son get angry he has to be by himself, otherwise he will hurt someone or say mean things. He plays computer/video games or reads a book. Being able to go into a fantasy world seems to help him. We are having a hard time convincing him to be by himself, though, because he has to say fully what is on his mind. This leads to him screaming it from his room which is a problem because his younger sibs are learning some not so great ways to talk to parents. We are really struggling with his anger issues and I am glad we are not the only ones. We have the most trouble at home and not so much at school since it is structured at school. We have tried to get him to hit a pillow, or draw. Definitely not raising my voice AT ALL helps because it just seems to fuel his fire when I raise my voice to talk over him or to get on to him. I try to remain VERY calm and give him simple direct orders. HE may not kick or throw things, He may not tear up anything. He may play games, read a book, or draw to calm down. He may not leave the room until he can talk in a calm voice and act in a calm manner. It doesn't always work. I welcome any other suggestions.

Frustrated with my Aspie,

Jena
> 60 days ago

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Jena
Jena writes:
I am having the same issues with our younger sibs. Since my Aspie is the oldest the younger ones are watching everything the Aspie does and mimicking it. My son, under the Aspie, has become very aggressive and anxious so that he is trying to anticipate when my Aspie is going to get upset and trys to be more aggressive to keep him away from him. I am really worried that someone is going to get hurt. My youngest son is 4 and is really the one that  is mimicking what the Aspie is doing and saying, almost verbatum. It is a vicious cycle that I worry can not be stopped in time. Since my Aspie was only diagnoses 1 yr ago, we are new to the scene are just starting to learn and deal with everything. He has always held it together at school with only minor issues but at home it is chaos. I am dog tired emotionally drained by the end of the day because my Aspie averages 2-3 tantrums from 3-8pm.  Has things gotten better for you? Have you learned any new techniques for sibs? I know that I have tried talking to my 2nd oldest son to help him understand his brother better and why he acts the way he does. That has helped some.

Jena
> 60 days ago

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lkauffman
lkauffman writes:
Jena,

Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no "silver bullet" to completely resolve the complicated social dynamics that arise between a child with Asperger's and their sibling(s). That said, many experts agree on a few principles to help smooth the ride. See below:

First, it sounds as though you have already done a great job of making an effort to help your younger sons understand your Aspie child. As you know, this is a difficult process because children with Asperger's have a significant disability, but because it is not physical, it is not visible to the eye. Thus, it is easy to be confused by someone who appears just like you, and yet they act so very different. So, keep the conversations going and continue to explain the situation in age-appropriate language. I have heard multiple stories of parents who say that it took several years for siblings to truly understand and make sense of what their parents were trying to tell them about the Aspie child.

Second, give the siblings of the Aspie plenty of room to express their frustration about their Aspie sibling. This should not become a complete complaining session, but allow them the room to communicate what they need to, their disappointments, their anger, etc. Acknowledge and normalize their feelings and respond appropriately with what information you have about Asperger's and your son.  

Third, many folks suggest making "special" time with your non-Aspie children. One-on-one, "I'm only focusing on you", "You're all I'm thinking about" time at least once a week. These moments will reassure your non-Aspie children that they're important and loved, too. These kinds of feelings breed greater understanding and empathy for their Aspie sibling.

Finally, make certain that you find time for yourself. I can hear you asking, "How the heck do I find time for non-Aspie children AND myself?" Well, it is certainly a challenge, but if you are feeling more fresh and rested, you can manage your family the way you would like to, as well.

Best of luck to you and keep us posted!

L. Compian, Ph.D
Education.com Expert Panel
> 60 days ago

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markjeremi
markjeremi writes:
I understand your frustration. I do have hope to offer, though! I have found a website with supplements that can help decrease the anger by balancing the neurotransmitters in the brain. www.natureshospital.com. a few of the ones that helped us are: neurorelaxer (they are the only company with this complex and complete formula--I have tried others), Chewable enzymes and tryphtophan. I like the products from this sight because they are very pure and all natural.
> 60 days ago

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KasiBob
KasiBob writes:
I too have a son with Asperger.  He is very angry and pitches wall-eyed fits all day long.  He attacks throws stuff, cusses, hits and kicks, acts like he will attack us, has hit people, and fights against restraints.  We are overwhelmed and at a loss to figure out what to do with him and how to help him.

Until just recently we thought the anger was attributed to his Bipolar disorder.  We have tried treating it with various medications (to no avail) on that premise.

Looking at these postings I see the perfect picture drawn of my son in all these descriptions of unbearable problems.

I is good to know I am not alone.  
I also feel very sad for him because he feels so terrible with all the upheaval in his world...full of caoss.

My concern is not only for his anger now, but what about in the future?

My son was arrested this month - he is 11 years old.  He bit a teacher when she restrained him and she pressed charges.  In fact, this was at a school specifically for emotionally disturbed children.

If we can't get our children's emotions in check, what are they to do when they grow up.  Hopefully they will not end up in jail for things they cannot control.

I especially appretiated the insight from the adult Asperger.  If we can just get them over this hump, perhaps they will have some chance at being a contributing adult in our society, or at least one that is not in jail.

Thanks to everyone who offered websites and information.  We are alone outhere, many of us, and we need resources and other knowledge.


I hope others will benefit from these postings with the extra info.  They have helped me to feel not so alone.
> 60 days ago

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pounder
pounder writes:
I hope somebody sees this and can direct me to the right source.  My son is 13.  He was diagnosed with Aspergers at age 9.    He was a premie, so his preschool behavior and delays were blamed on that.  Then we went to "rule out PDD", or in other words, "we don't know".  Finally came Aspergers, and I was relieved.  At least there was a name for it.  But that diagnosis doesn't fit perfectly either.  I had to fight to get the school to recognize the AU label in order to increase is benefits.  He has and IEP and BIP, but he has had violent outbursts most of his life.  Now they are calling it assult.  Last year the charges were dropped when I had him placed in an out patient behavioral facility and removed from school.  This did not help him.  This year I was told after a recent assault that charges will be pressed next time.  I have to admit that I feel that I am a henderence to his mental stability as much as the school.  I have other children and, pretty much, no routine.  His fixations are non-productive and prevent him from learning important new skills.  After 13 years, I am exhausted.  He is getting bigger, and I'm afraid that he could really hurt someone.  I do not believe the public school is the right place for him, but the school says he's doing fine.  I'm afraid he is going to end up in a juvenille detention or prison later.  I need an advocate to help me find all the benefits he is entitled to.  I would like him to be in a private school that could teach academics as well as life skills.  I need someone to help me with the school, legal rights, parenting.....everything.   I just can't seem to find it.  Every organization I contact says that they can't help but they give me a lot of phone numbers and web sites.   I used to be strong, but I'm worn down now.  I have to get some help.  
> 60 days ago

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danacariola
danacariola writes:
my son also has asperger's and he does not cue in to things like u and i, my name is dana, from trenton, new jersey, How r u? rejection and frustration are increased by 10, and i feel if i relate to him, on a level he understands like being funny, when i see this about to go south, incorporate a joke into your next sentence, suggest taking a bike ride to the corner store, exercise i find is an excellent way to let my son vent and relax, so that we can move on. I would like to hear from you about your experience with your sons school district and their iep, visit my group (HOPE)
> 60 days ago

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Redhairedgirl
Redhairedgirl writes:
He can't help the rage.
I am 26 and just figured out I have aspergers. My anger goes from 1 to 60 in a second, I know I shouldn't be so rageful, but that doesn't change the way I feel and it certainly doesn't help calm me down. It's been very hard on my mother, especially when I was younger, but as I've grown up I have become much better at dealing with my anger in social situations. Any teenager is hard to deal with, aspergers teens can be much harder, but as we get older it does get easier. I find that how people react to me when I am angry makes a difference. If someone is angry or raises their voice then it won't work out well. ever. If someone speaks in a calm and understanding voice and gives me a hug sometimes it diffuses the situation. When you are in a rage your rage seems justified. The anger made me hate myself and feel guilty all the time. You're kids don't want to feel like "bad kids", which is what people kept telling me I was. It was so incredibly depressing! Realizing that I see the world differently has helped a lot, I don't need to feel that horrible guilt anymore. I also realize that there are perks to having aspergers too! I am an artist and I am sure that part of my talent and ability stems from having aspergers. I can tell what note is playing by hearing/seeing the frequency. I can see patterns in things others can't. I have a fantastic imagination. All sorts of lovely things that other people do not necessarily experience.
As far as the anger goes my boyfriend treats me with more understanding when I am like this, he realizes I can't always help myself and our relationship is so much stronger! Being different is good. I am proud of it. You should help your child see the bright side of being unique.

Oh and as far as that comment goes about the persons child being restrained and biting someone. I would bite someone too if they were holding me down! That kind of thing will never help. I don't know why that teacher thought it was acceptable to use force on your 11 year old son. If your school isn't helping maybe homes school is an idea! Kids can be very cruel, teachers are sometimes harsh, and school is all about conforming after all. I would have been a lot happier if I were allowed to educate myself with the help of my parents. Aspergers kids are often VERY intelligent. Just make sure your kids are also involved in activities/clubs to encourage them to socialize. I hope some of this helps!
> 60 days ago

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jdprice9182005
jdprice9182... writes:
My son has Asperger's too. He's turning 9 soon and just got the diagnosis over the summer. He got expelled from school last week, as his rages at school are explosive. He tried to kick a teacher in the face when she bent over to pick up a bunch of stuff he had thrown on the floor. He bites, kicks, curses, threatens, destroys anything he can get his hands on and runs away from the staff. They have tried to contain him, sometimes even restraining him for up to an hour. It's awful. He's more in control at home, but only if I'm home. If I'm at work, he's horrible for my husband. He growls at him, gives him mean looks, hurts the other kids (he does that when I'm home, but not as much) and just acts like he doesn't even exist. He also lies all the time, even if he knows you saw him do something, he'll scream and cry that he didn't do it and it's not fair. It's really hard and really taxing, for him and the rest of us. Anyone know what to do about the lying (we give him opportunities to tell the truth, telling him the lie didn't count and he won't have a consequence for it if he just 'fesse's up), he will lie about things that are small and he wouldn't be in trouble for anyway. It's really weird. Also, does anyone know what to look for in a special needs school. I just want an environment that is going to best suit his needs. He also has an ADHD comorbidity.
> 60 days ago

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Sam2
Sam2 writes:
I have a 14yo autistic son, and a 15yo with aspergers.  I have been a single parent for a little over ten years, so needless to say, things in my home have been trying.  I have delt with many melt-downs at the same time.  No one had answers to my questions, so I began to look beyond the boys' condition and focus on the reason for their frustration.  Their condition only intensify the frustrations (x infinity).  Over the years I have done many things to counteract their anger and frustration.  I stopped asking yes/no questions and gave them options.  They had to tell me in their own words what they like / don't like, want or choose.  Most important of all NO YELLING.  I had to teach them the differece between happy yelling and inappropriate yelling.  As far as school..... they were in a class called Intervention, those teachers were the best ever.  I made myself available by phone when the teachers needed that familiar voice on the other end of the phone to help redirect the boys' frustration.   I just bought a punching bag on a stand from the local dollar store for my 14yo.  I showed him how to turn his aggressiveness into a less aggressive and fun activity of punching that punching bag.   There is soooooooo many strategies I had to come up with to help the kids get to a degree of normalcy and self-control.  Talk to your kid, they understand more than we sometimes give them credit for.  The hardest thing for me was teaching them that, NO, is not the end of the world. This is the first year that I actually get a full night sleep, and no phone calls from the school.  Is my job done? Not by a long shot.  They will be young adults soon.
> 60 days ago

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justme8
justme8 writes:
Wow! My 16 year old is the same, angry outbursts, threatens, etc. he'll be 17 next week and the outbursts arent as often.  I don't know if he's outgrowing it or what I tried worked.  When he first started doing it i would restrain him then he got to big for that (lol) then I would try to ignore him thinking if I didnt react maybe he would stop. To be honest I was a little afraid of him.  But one day I just got tierd of feeling like that and realized he was controlling the situation. So I took control back I would tell him about how inappropriate his behavior was and if he didnt stop I would take his x box cord, internet, tv etc.  at first he would say he didnt care it didnt matter he would just go to sleep but after awhile it actually started to work it hasn't completley stopped but I can say there are no longer any threats or violence, just a bad attitude.  All I can do is hope and pray that he one day he can become a productive member of society, not another statistic.
> 60 days ago

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spectrummmum
spectrummmum writes:
Autism and Aspergers in the Family
This forum is for parents and carers of children with ASD's.  It has a lot of resources.I have children with Autism and I also have Aspergers syndrome.
http://autismandaspergersinthefamily.freeforums.org/index.php
> 60 days ago

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DredWolf
DredWolf writes:
Hi there, my name is Jordan and I am a 27 year old who was diagnosed with aspergers four years ago. Looking back on my earlier years I would say that it was worse then than it is now. But I still have my difficulties and I thank the higher powers that I have never been arrested or charged, but that does not mean that I have not put myself in danger. My early 20s were very rough, I failed to get into university and I was initially diagnosed with OCD. Sadly I had to wait a few years until I could get a full diagnosis but at least I knew then what it was all those years I had. While I have not become some math and science genius like I wish I could I have learned to live on my own for the most part. And as I reflect on what I have struggled through I cannot help but wonder about those who have slipped through the cracks, the ones who have ended up in jail. There are many activists who speak out on these issues but sadly there are those who do not care and also happen to be in high positions in power and this is where we end up. Here in Ontario, Canada, we elected a provincial government back in 1995 that closed mental hospitals and caused a whole array of detriment to those who genuinely needed help. Today in 2009 we have since elected another government but the recovery is slow. I am sorry if I am going off on a tangent but its hard to avoid I find, but it is one specific aspect of the overall picture, that the supports that the people genuinely need are not always readily available, when in reality we *do* have the resources but they are *hoarded* by those at the very top. And the only way we are going to change that is if we fight for it. But before we can take on those in power we must first take on the mass apathy that has taken over, then we can make the next step.
> 60 days ago

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ABAnoway!
ABAnoway! writes:
Hi Kristen,

I would go with functional analysis of behaviour. Applied behaviour analysis is from the 60's and is based on Skinners experiments with animals. A functional analysis is the most comprehensive way to date of finding out why a person is behaving and it takes many hours of data collection. Institutions prefer to use Applied behaviour analysis because it puts less of the focus on them. I may be slightly one sided here but I strongly believe that we must strive to see what the person is perceiving as opposed to simplistic rewards for being "good" and withdrawals for being "bad". It works for dogs maybe but not for humans. Good luck.
> 60 days ago

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yelena
yelena writes:
I am a 43 year old woman with Aspergers. I am highly functional, with a PhD, success, friends etc. My son has autism and having us both together is sometimes very hard. His anger triggers my anger and I go into a terrible rage. Before I had him I could control my rage most of the time, had no problem with my older normal son. I also noticed that any unexpected changes also drive me mad and I loose control. I hate myself afterwards  but cannot help it. The degree of anger I reach is indescribable, it is so intense that even though from the outside it looks extreme I actually restrain myself because I don't actually kill the objects of my rage! So I do have control, enough not to be in prison but not enough to calm down. Also, social obligations exhaust me to the crazy point. A simple meeting exasperates me. Social talk is out of question.
> 60 days ago

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