Using Anger Management for Kids with Asperger's Syndrome
written by: Keren Perles
• edited by: Paul Arnold
• updated: 3/5/2011
Children with Asperger's syndrome are prone to having angry outbursts or tantrums, even more so than other children. Anger management for kids with Asperger's syndrome will help them to learn how to deal with anger in more socially appropriate ways.
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Why Anger Management is Important
Although anger management is helpful for all kids, anger management for kids with Asperger's syndrome is necessary for several reasons.
For example, one of the symptoms of children with Asperger's syndrome is that they tend to see issues in black and white, so they may become angry when they encounter a grey area. People may tease children with Asperger's, which can lead to frustration and anger as well. They also may not realize socially appropriate behavior, which can lessen their knowledge of how to hold back on expressing negative emotions.
Some children with Asperger's have a very short fuse; they explode with little provocation and then wonder why everyone seems so shocked. Overstimulation can also set off some children with Asperger's.
After an outburst a child with Asperger's syndrome may find it difficult to reign in their anger. Therefore, many parents and teachers feel the need to use anger management for kids with Asperger's syndrome.
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The Direct Approach
The best way to address anger management for most children with Asperger's syndrome is to communicate as directly as possible. Talk to the child about how they look when they get angry, as well as the effects of their anger on those around them. For example, you might say "When you get angry, you clench your fists like this and make a mad face like this. It makes your little sister feel scared and it upsets your older brother. It is harder for him to listen to what you are saying when he sees you're angry."
Once children understand how their reactions affect others and are aware of the need to manage their anger, discuss various alternatives they can use instead of 'blowing a fuse'. For example, you might suggest that they count to ten before responding, or that they take several deep breaths, or use a phrase such as "I'm so upset right now that I need to leave the room." (If they follow this last piece of advice, they can exorcise their angry in a nonviolent way, such as by punching a pillow or running quickly.)
In addition, try to build up the child's self-esteem, since this is often one of the main causes of angry outbursts.
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When Your Child Gets Angry
When your child does get angry, you may find that you can simply remind him or her of how to use the alternatives that you have taught them. If your child continues to react negatively, however, you should treat the anger like you would any other negative behavior.
Explaining the negative consequences of their actions can be an effective way to manage their anger. For example, if the child persists with angry behavior towards a friend (but wants the friend to stay), explain that the friend will have to go home. If the child reacts angrily to you while you are helping him or her with something, explain that you will need to leave the room and withdraw your help because of the angry outburst. Children with Asperger's may have difficulty getting along with siblings, but try to avoid taking sides during sibling arguments.
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Finding Another Outlet
If the anger issues seem to be due to the child's social frustrations or depression, you should try to address the root causes, rather than simply attending to the symptom of anger. These techniques of anger management for kids with Asperger's syndrome can help you raise your child without giving too much emotional attention to the anger that the child conveys.
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My Asperger's Child. "Dealing With Anger Management (Older Kids)." http://www.myaspergerschild.com/2007/08/dealing-with-anger-management-older.html
Christian Home Education. "Asperger's Syndrome - Understanding and Educating." http://www.homeschool.co.uk/resource/aspergers-syndrome-understanding-and-educating.html
People are often confused about how to help kids with Asperger's syndrome. Children with Asperger's syndrome require specialized techniques. This series of articles discusses how to address several issues with your child who has Asperger's syndrome.