Page 1 of 1 [ 9 posts ] 

Slan
Emu Egg
Emu Egg

User avatar

Joined: 4 Aug 2008
Gender: Male
Posts: 6

29 Jun 2017, 9:29 pm

Hi everyone,
I have two sons with Asperger's, a 16 year old and a 13 year old, both with very different issues.

The younger son is doing very well in school, has a couple of friends, and is generally living an uneventful life at the moment. But he has issues with anger. He gets excessively angry at times, and he will hold on to the anger. So something might trigger him and lead him to channel that anger into some other interaction later.

He has a bit of a trollish/prankster personality, so he likes to cause trouble. But he can be thin skinned when people do the same thing to him, and this will make him angry. This at least is an obvious source for why he is angry.

More problematic is when he gets angry as the result of some expectation being disrupted. His alarm doesn't go off so he doesn't have as much time as usual in the morning to do his thing before school. Or a teacher makes an unexpected change to an assignment, or a class schedule. Some subtle change to the structure of his day occurs and he becomes enraged--leaving adults scratching their heads as to what could have made him upset. When he's angry, he glares, clutches his hands, grunts, stomps, etc.

I do a lot of coaching with the teachers and staff at school so that they can understand how he is and successfully manage this. I've been more or less successful up to this point. But I don't really know how to coach him to calm himself down. My wife would like to find some kind of therapy to give him some tools or training to help him defuse himself.

The problem is that finding a decent therapist has been a total crapshoot (for both my sons). I was wondering if anyone had any advice to help me narrow the search. Is there any kind of clinician or therapy or approach that you have found helpful in dealing with your child's anger?



Chronos
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 22 Apr 2010
Age: 40
Gender: Female
Posts: 8,698

29 Jun 2017, 9:49 pm

Slan wrote:
Hi everyone,
I have two sons with Asperger's, a 16 year old and a 13 year old, both with very different issues.

The younger son is doing very well in school, has a couple of friends, and is generally living an uneventful life at the moment. But he has issues with anger. He gets excessively angry at times, and he will hold on to the anger. So something might trigger him and lead him to channel that anger into some other interaction later.

He has a bit of a trollish/prankster personality, so he likes to cause trouble. But he can be thin skinned when people do the same thing to him, and this will make him angry. This at least is an obvious source for why he is angry.

More problematic is when he gets angry as the result of some expectation being disrupted. His alarm doesn't go off so he doesn't have as much time as usual in the morning to do his thing before school. Or a teacher makes an unexpected change to an assignment, or a class schedule. Some subtle change to the structure of his day occurs and he becomes enraged--leaving adults scratching their heads as to what could have made him upset. When he's angry, he glares, clutches his hands, grunts, stomps, etc.

I do a lot of coaching with the teachers and staff at school so that they can understand how he is and successfully manage this. I've been more or less successful up to this point. But I don't really know how to coach him to calm himself down. My wife would like to find some kind of therapy to give him some tools or training to help him defuse himself.

The problem is that finding a decent therapist has been a total crapshoot (for both my sons). I was wondering if anyone had any advice to help me narrow the search. Is there any kind of clinician or therapy or approach that you have found helpful in dealing with your child's anger?


I'm sorry I don't know of any therapists. I think him becoming upset to schedule changes and becoming upset when someone does something to him, that he would do, or has done to them, are two different issues.

People on the spectrum often need schedules, and get upset when there are changes to these schedules, possibly because of a reduced ability to anticipate the future, and the energy that goes into processing environments. If a person knows what to expect, they can do some pre-processing and form a game plan in their mind of how to navigate the situation, but when the plans change, the game plan goes out the window and the person is faced with a situation for which they are entirely unprepared.

I think someone who deals with children on the spectrum would be able to help with this, as I think it's more about addressing life skills than anger.

As for him becoming angry over things he has no problem doing to others...is the problem that he becomes angry when rude things are done to him, or is the problem that he does rude things to others? It sounds like they are both problems. As my mother would say "If you can't take it don't dish it". Has this been discussed with him?



Slan
Emu Egg
Emu Egg

User avatar

Joined: 4 Aug 2008
Gender: Male
Posts: 6

30 Jun 2017, 10:41 am

Thanks for the reply. Yes, the "don't dish it out if you can't take it" aspect of personal relationships has been discussed with him a lot. He's 13 so a certain amount of immaturity and moodiness is expected. I think we've done what we can in order to help teachers and staff understand and deal with him. And we've had a lot of discussions with him about behavior and expectations for how he should act in certain situations. And all of this has been very productive in a pre-emptive sort of way. But once he is in this excessively angry state he's much less rational. So I wondering if there's any particular kind of training or therapy that people feel is useful in helping a child self-cope under these circumstances.



Chronos
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 22 Apr 2010
Age: 40
Gender: Female
Posts: 8,698

01 Jul 2017, 1:09 am

Slan wrote:
Thanks for the reply. Yes, the "don't dish it out if you can't take it" aspect of personal relationships has been discussed with him a lot. He's 13 so a certain amount of immaturity and moodiness is expected. I think we've done what we can in order to help teachers and staff understand and deal with him. And we've had a lot of discussions with him about behavior and expectations for how he should act in certain situations. And all of this has been very productive in a pre-emptive sort of way. But once he is in this excessively angry state he's much less rational. So I wondering if there's any particular kind of training or therapy that people feel is useful in helping a child self-cope under these circumstances.


Unfortunately most of the methods I know are aimed at adults.

But I'm curious, how does he feel after his angry outbursts? Does he feel embarrassed about it at all or does he ever express any desire to manage them better?



Slan
Emu Egg
Emu Egg

User avatar

Joined: 4 Aug 2008
Gender: Male
Posts: 6

02 Jul 2017, 7:34 am

He's embarrassed. When he's actually angry, he's very defiant towards authority and people trying to "manage" him fuels his anger. After he cools down he's embarrassed and ashamed of how he behaved.



Chronos
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 22 Apr 2010
Age: 40
Gender: Female
Posts: 8,698

02 Jul 2017, 3:04 pm

Slan wrote:
He's embarrassed. When he's actually angry, he's very defiant towards authority and people trying to "manage" him fuels his anger. After he cools down he's embarrassed and ashamed of how he behaved.


One of the things that helped me stop having "meltdowns" in public when I was younger was I became tired of making a fool of myself and reasoned that while I couldn't control what was going on around me, I had some degree of control over how I responded to it, and that in itself gave me some control over the situation, and I would rather have some control than no control. Though I was older than him when I started to think about this and so I had the benefit of neurological maturity and more autonomy over my situation. He's only 13 and has a lot of people lording over him who's priorities are not always inline with his needs.



eikonabridge
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Sep 2014
Age: 57
Gender: Male
Posts: 929

02 Jul 2017, 4:49 pm

Slan wrote:
More problematic is when he gets angry as the result of some expectation being disrupted.

Sometimes anger happens because neurotypical people are not very good at listening to autistic people. For autistic people it's like: I've told you a thousand times, why do you keep doing things wrong? So, that part is often the real trigger. The neurotypical ego/pride often gets into the way for the neurotypical people to adapt and change.

Sometimes anger is not a big issue, it's a matter of getting used to it. "Having beef" is legitimate. It's a way of communication. Very often, before the real outburst, there are some signals that your son might already been sending out. You'll have to learn to detect those signals and give him some room and accomodation. Don't let the neurotypical ego/pride get into the way. Very often anger/discontent is the mechanism that gets things done. Look at the history of the U.S.A., and you will see how close it is to an autistic tantrum. Precisely because the people threw a tantrum, a new nation was born... with a pretty solid foundation.

Those things being said, please also take a look at:

http://www.eikonabridge.com/fun_and_facts.pdf
http://www.eikonabridge.com/anxiety.pdf

The problem with today's approach to autism is that people cannot think out of the box. When they see an anger problem, all their focus is on the anger issue and how to get rid of it. They become blind. They apply animal-instinct kind of approach, and stop using their brains. They will never be able to understand why 1+2+3+4+...=-1/12. If I tell people that I usually can solve my children's anger problem in a matter of seconds, and permanently, they probably don't believe me. The truth is, I don't solve my children's tantrum issues in seconds: I lay out the foundation way before the next tantrum strikes. I solve my children's tantrum issues when they are happy, not when they are mad/sad. Look at those two articles, and try to understand that there is a totally different approach to the whole subject.

By the way, I don't use the word therapy. That is very dehumanizing and presumes there is something wrong with these children. We've gotta learn how to treat them as equal-rights human beings: they do make conscious and sovereign decisions. (If you ask for my opinion, I think neurotypical people are so much sicker than autistic people.)


_________________
Jason Lu
http://www.eikonabridge.com/


somanyspoons
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 3 Jun 2016
Age: 44
Gender: Male
Posts: 995

03 Jul 2017, 6:10 pm

I've found body-inclusive therapies most helpful for this kind of thing. For example a therapist who works with somatics or who incorporates yoga into their work, or emotional freedom technique.

The idea is that we can identify the negative feeling and start to do something to soothe ourselves before we blow up. It's an important part of growing into a young man, to manage these feelings. And it is usually much harder for autistic kids. We're trying so hard to hold on already. When things go wrong, we just don't have the same resources to pull from. But that doesn't mean that he can't benefit from therapy, just that the bar is going to be set in a different place.

Also, remember that 13 sucks, hormone wise. A lot of kids have a terrible time with anger during puberty, but then grow into well mannered adults.



DW_a_mom
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 22 Feb 2008
Age: 61
Gender: Female
Posts: 11,006
Location: Northern California

03 Jul 2017, 7:00 pm

What wrote doesn't sound to me like anger so much as an inability to cope. Sometimes lashing out is a type of meltdown.

Still, my son attended some group therapy anger management sessions for children when he was ten or eleven and despite feeling that much of the discussion didn't really fit him, he learned a lot of useful tools and picked up good skills. He would grumble it wasn't really the right class for him and then insist he wanted to keep going. The sessions were inconvenient for him so it said a lot that he wanted to go. The clinic holding the group enjoyed his participation and what he brought to the group, as well. All in all, the people who put the group together did a very good job, so if you have a chance to do something similar with your son, it could be worth it.

We connected with the group through a community mental health clinic (another reason to realize it wasn't an obvious choice; ASD isn't a mental health issue).

Some really good points in the previous points:

Quote:
I don't solve my children's tantrum issues in seconds: I lay out the foundation way before the next tantrum strikes. I solve my children's tantrum issues when they are happy, not when they are mad/sad


Quote:
Also, remember that 13 sucks, hormone wise. A lot of kids have a terrible time with anger during puberty, but then grow into well mannered adults.


_________________
Mom to an amazing AS son, who recently graduated from the university (plus an also amazing non-AS daughter). Most likely part of the "Broader Autism Phenotype" (some traits).