Autism & Asperger's Syndrome Expert Forum
Autistic Characteristics
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Questions in the Autism & Asperger's Syndrome forum are answered by researchers at the New England Center for Children. Topics covered include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Antisocial Personality Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Autism, blindness, bullying, clinical depression, deafness, dyslexia, mental retardation, and social alienation.

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Autistic Characteristics

My one year old son gets really agressive at people when he is told not to do things, sometimes when he's told to do something or sometimes if someone just calls his name and he obviously feels you should not have interfered with him. He displays this anger by banging his head on the floor, wall, furniture, or simply throwing himself on the floor and starts to scream/cry. Is this an autistic characteristic? Is he autistic?
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Diagnostic criteria for Pervasive Developmental Disorders (including autism, Aspergers, and others) include delays in social interaction skills, communication skills, and the presence of stereotyped or restricted behavior and interests.  Based on your description, it doesn’t sound as though you have concerns with his social or language development; your concerns seem to be related to problematic behavior (tantrums).  Engaging in problematic behavior does not mean that your child will end up with a diagnosis of developmental delay or an Autism spectrum disorder– plenty of typically-developing infants and children engage in forms of problematic and stereotyped behavior.  Although an in-person evaluation is necessary to determine what (if any) diagnosis is appropriate, your description doesn’t suggest autism.

Regardless of his diagnosis, childhood behavior problems like tantrums can typically be addressed through consultation with a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).  If you feel that the behavior is stigmatizing or interfering with more adaptive behaviors, you may want to consult with a BCBA.  This professional will want to spend time directly observing your child as well as interviewing your family, so that they can provide recommendations on how to best address the issue. A local BCBA can be found at the following site: http://www.bacb.com/consum_frame.html
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Jason C Bourret, Ph.D., BCBA-DBlank
The New England Center for Children
Southborough, MA
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