written by: Debbie Roome
• edited by: Linda Richter
• updated: 4/14/2011
Controlling anger is commonly associated with Asperger’s syndrome. Read on for a closer look at the problem and how it can be overcome.
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Aspie Adults & Anger Problems
Aspie adults’ anger issues often carry over from their childhood or teenage years. It is an integral part of the syndrome and may be exacerbated by circumstances and frustration. Here are some of the ways that controlling anger may become apparent in Asperger’s adults:
A change to plans or routines can cause anger in an Aspie adult as they try and retain their stability and security.
Sensory overload can cause an outburst of anger and demands.
Insensitive comments can be hurtful and arouse anger.
Aspie adults have rigid ideas of right and wrong and may become angry if these are not adhered to.
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How to Handle Aspie Adults’ Anger Issues
When dealing with anger and control in an adult Aspie, it is important to handle the issues in the best way possible. Depending on the circumstances, there are a number of ways to approach the problem:
Try and ascertain what is causing the controlling anger and see if this can be dealt with. It may be a co-worker that is bullying the person or it may be working in a crowded office where chatter is causing sensory overload. These sort of problems need to be dealt with before trying to shut down the angry responses.
Aspie adults may blame other people for their frustrations and try and solve this by ordering them around. When they are ignored, fresh anger results. In this case, a person who understands Asperger’s syndrome may need to step in and mediate.
Reacting with anger, sarcasm, a raised voice, emotion or confrontation will cause confusion to an Asperger’s person. Try and remain detached and unemotional while explaining the facts in clear, unambiguous language so they can understand that their behavior is harmful and hurtful. Acknowledge their pain and frustration at the same time.
Distraction can be helpful in defusing a situation. Speak in a quiet assertive tone and if possible, lead the person away from the situation. Going for a walk or a run can help them deal with the anger, as can spending time on their special interest.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a recognized treatment for Aspie adults’ anger issues. Treatment progresses through stages where the person is assessed and then helped to see the connection between their thoughts and behavior. Once this is understood, the therapist helps the Aspie adult to correct mistaken beliefs and manage their anger and control issues effectively. This is a process that may take many months.
Controlling anger is commonly seen in Asperger’s adults and may be triggered in many different ways. Violent outbursts can be devastating to those around them and it is important that Aspie adults’ anger issues are dealt with. CBT is the most effective form of treatment but there is much that friends, family members and co-workers can do to help on an ongoing basis.
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Autism-help.org. Anger & Autism Spectrum Disorders, at http://www.autism-help.org/adults-aspergers-anger.htm
The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007