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Does Autism cause violent behavior
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Does Autism cause violent behavior

Last week, my 6 year old grandson was attacked by a 10 year old boy who is said to be autistic.  The boy got aggitated when my son and another little boy called his name at the after school daycare.  He knocked my grandson (the smaller of the two boys) to the ground and started choking him.  He had to be pulled off of my grandson, but there were marks left on my grandson and he was quite shaken up.  The parents of the 10 year old said that he had done that do them as well in the past.  The daycare center is suspending this 10 year old from the center and of course, I am happy to hear that - This was a serious attack that could have ended in tragedy.

I cannot find any symptoms that suggest an autistic child is violent or becomes violent.  Is this normal?  Obviously, at the parents admission, this particular child has moments of violence.  I just have never heard of this type of behavior from an autistic child.  I am "thinking" that this child has been misdiagnosed.  Yes, I am extremely upset over the attack on my grandson, but I am also concerned for this 10 year old because IF he has been misdiagnosed, he is more than likely, also receiving the wrong medications that very well could be causing the random acts of violence.
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27 Comments Post a Comment
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365714_tn?1292202708
I don't believe autism causes violence. It's feeling overwhelmed, panicked, and having no control, that triggers violent outbursts. Imagine being under a ton of stress all of a sudden.

Because many autistic people are often very sensitive to sound/light/etc, that feeling of being overwhelmed can occur more easily than someone who may not overwhelmed so easily.  Also it depends on verbal ability and how well the person can tell they are getting stressed. If the 10 year old is not familiar with how he feels as he's starting to get stressed out, then it's going to come all of a sudden...  If he is non-verbal, then likely he can't tell you when he's starting to get stressed.
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785076_tn?1236544565
No Autism hallmark issues are language & social problems...This is serious and not a typical ASD behavior at all...This child needs to get help...That is sad.
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470168_tn?1237474845
It is hard to comment on an instance that we cannot see.  Those on the spectrum are not typically aggressive or violent.  However environmental and sensory stressors can cause them to become aggressive as can sensory stimulous that is painful and distressing to them.
I have heard of a couple of instances where a child on the spectrum has been scared of being in the presence of a baby simply because babies are unpredictable and can scream and cry suddenly.  That would be unbearable for an autistic child who had auditory sensory difficulties.  In one instance I heard of a child that would pinch the baby to make it cry so that he could 'control' when it would make that unbearable noise of crying.  In that way it was more bearable for him because otherwise it would just suddenly happen and he could not prepare himself for that sensory onslaught.  In both cases the mothers found ways of controlling this ie. wearing ear defenders, warning them if a baby was going to be present, allowing a 'way out' for the autistic child so that they aren't forced to stay in that sensory situation.
In the above case, I can't say why he did that to your son.  There will have been a reason, but it is not clear to us.  You say that your son and his friend called this other child by name.  It might be that at another time someone called his name and then did something to him or called him a name that upset him and your son calling his name triggered that memory and he reacted to that.  
But the parents should try to find out what the trigger was.  So that they are aware of any potentially dangerous situations, and so that the child can be taught coping strategies.  
When an autistic person is overwhelmed and has a meltdown, it is not the same as us getting upset.  We can control it, and reason with ourselves, and calm ourselves down.  For them it is a sudden overwhelming feeling of drowning in the emotions they are feeling at that time and they cannot control it or stop it.  When having a meltdown an autistic person would not necessarily become aggressive, however if they were approached by someone who spoke to them or touched them they might hit back because in that heightened state even a slight touch can feel like they have been hurt.  
In this case, as it has happened before, I think they need to find out what is triggering this behaviour.
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612876_tn?1355518095
I am probably going to take a lot of flak for saying this, but I am only being honest about my experiences.  Persons who are profoundly affected by autism, generally those who have little to no communication skills whatsoever, can use violence as a means of expressing displeasure with their environment and this is seen with some regularity by those of us who work regularly with children at this end of the spectrum.  These are often sad situations where the child has for some reason not received appropriate early intervention services such as special education, speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc., from a young age.  This may because of a refugee situation from a country where there simply were no services, this may be because parents were in denial and refused services, this may be because there wasn't adequate funding for services, this may even be because services were provided but were inadequate.  In rare instances, sometimes because of concomitant retardation or other disorders, early intervention just isn't enough.  The short answer is that wherever we fail to provide a human being with a means of expressing their basic needs and desires, we open the door to the possibility of that person lashing out in socially inappropriate ways.  
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Avatar_f_tn
A friend of mine who has a newly 18 year old severely autistic son deals with more of her son occasionally hitting out or biting her hand or his hand, hitting head and making loud agitated noises.  I was hit in the shoulder by him while we were in the vehicle traveling back home.  I ended up with a bruise.  He has never choked anyone or tried grabbing them by their neck.  

I am not sure what the cause of such an outburst would be.  Lots of speculation knowing how stressed anyone could become under certain situations.  I wouldn't ever excuse things to avoid facing some serious concerns.  Hopefully the family involved will take it seriously and talk with the professionals.

My heart goes out to your family and certainly your grandson for going through such a frightening experience.  
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Avatar_m_tn
My wife is an Autism Teacher at a therapeutic day school.  She come home with bruises and cuts from her kids. They hit and do much worst sometimes. You must remember this is sometimes their way of showing frustration or not wanting to do something. One minute they are fine, the next they are punching you. Autism is a tough subject that researchers are still unclear about. There are may levels of Autism which can be view on a spectrum scale. Unfortunately this is a growing issue and the population of Autistic children are growing. Violence is directly correlated to Autism, but every person is different. Some may not have violent out breaks but more social disorders. I suggest you check out the Autism Awareness web site for more information.
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1209597_tn?1271315310
Okay, this is from experience.
I have a 16 year old brother with Severe Autism.  He had incidents like this all the time, and yes it is from agitation.  He has been to special education, speech therapy and occupational therapy.  He was most definitely not misdiagnosed for he has been to see so many doctors/therapists.  We don't have my brother on medication, we are very accepting of his disorder and never thought of abandoning him.  We don't love him any less.  The 10 year old boy was probably having an off/rough day, the Autistic are not like this all the time.  They have no control over what they do, even with medication or "special diets".  Please learn to be accepting for those with this disorder, they really can't control this.  They do not lash out unless someone is provoking them.  You're grandson must have done something to cause the 10 year old to "attack" him.  There were kids like your grandson in my brother's class, and they do not make it easier on the Autistic child.  Not to mention the parents who are constantly stressed about situations like these.  It might be hard, but please try to understand..
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Avatar_f_tn
This poor child was being picked on by your grandson, how would you all feel if it was the other way around and your grandson was the one who was sick and some kid did this to him.

I say the day care should have been doing there job and not let your grandson and his friend treat this boy or any other child the way they where.    

I know my son would have probably went after the kids who where picking on him and not because he has not been told to act like that,  but because it would be his way of hurting them after them hurting him and he wouldn't be able to control him self.

If this 10 year old is Autism ,it is not his fault he acted the way he did, and not the parents fault . The School should take blame and the boys who where calling him names because they should know better and know child should be treating others badly.
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1173196_tn?1292920090
I have to disagree. If this autistic boy is so violent that he has attacked his parents, then they have knowledge that he could harm others and they are putting younger children in danger by sending their son to this daycare. Children call each other names. Autism can not be used as an excuse to beat people up. Certainly this 6 yr. old's parents should teach him not to treat people that way but he didn't deserve to be choked. My autistic daughter would be in a huge amount of trouble if she behaved this way.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have a 6 year old with autism and yes if he does not understand something or things are not the same he can get aggressive. Its a communication disorder they do not process information the same as we do. I am sure the daycare was aware of his disbiity and should have been on the look out especially since the parents should have informed them of hisd violent tendencies. But yes it is common in any child with a communication disorder
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Avatar_m_tn
I have read these comments and you dont seem to really understand the kinetics of autism. Autism can cause violent behaviour, but usually its the other things that come with autism which cause violent and challenging behaviours. Autistic people need routine. Timelines and a whole lot of other things too, but hyperactivity disorder is also a major factor in autism and if a austistic person is viloent nearly all the time you will NEVER pinpoint the trigger of what happened and that is talking from experience after working with the most challenging and viloent young person with autism in the north
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Avatar_m_tn
UUmmm as I read it the younger boys called the older boy's name.. not A name just hollered his name and he flipped the heck out and choked the smaller one.. I have seen this kind of thing over and over and in fact a neighbor of ours if she don't watch out is gonna lose her daughter because of her autistic older son. Either that boy is going to kill that little girl by choking or drowning her or the state will finally rescue her and set her someplace safe... or him in a care home. A lot of how they act depends on the parents and treatments sought. But
I can tell you if this boy chokes MY grandson.. I'll beat him. No questions.
You don't like how I mind YOUR child... then YOU mind them. The school in this case should never accept this child back. If another child is harmed I hope they sue the crud out of the school the state and the parents... I'm sick of lame excuses for bad parenting and lack of proper medical therapies...
~save the squawk that I am mean harted or don't understand.. I DO understand and that is where it comes from.~
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Avatar_m_tn
Most are not violent.  However it is not unusual or surprising to encounter an extremely violent autistic.  It's silly to blame it on misunderstanding or sensory concerns.  The violent ones attack because they are annoyed, angry etc. They do not possess  self control nor do they experience the empathy that restrains other social animals from causing harm.  They know that others are afraid of their outbursts and violence which results in them getting their own way.  Unfortunately well meaning parents and others often feed the problem by allowing the autistic to enforce rigid rituals and making excuses for negative behaviors.  ABA or other behavioral treatments are needed to get the behavior under control.
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1935107_tn?1323471888
First I want to say how sorry I am that your grandson was attacked. That must of been hard on everyone. I do however would like to share some insight about children who have autism. Some children have problems understanding that what they do hurt people. Because they do not have the capability of understanding basic feelings, thoughts, etc.
My son is five years old in Feb, he is autistic. We have been fighting this violent behavior for over three years now. The doctors say it maybe something little even a smell or a . sound that triggers my son's violent acts. It is common for a autistic person to have similar triggers, and these triggers could be anything and everything. I know that with my son, I can not say "lights out its bed time" and then turn out the lights and the tv off. When I do turn off the tv it triggers him and he can not controll his emotions, nor can he understand them. I have to basicly trick him into turning off the tv and getting into bed.
]I honestly do not know if the violent behavior is because of autism. But I do know that with each child it is different. And that some triggers may affect one child and not the other. My son also will become violent if you call him a baby.  Even if you say I love you baby he freaks out...
I am not by far saying what that child did was right. But for autistic children there actions most of the time are due to their saroundings and how well they adapt or how stimulated they are at that time. It could be that the child just had enough, and instead of using words or couldn't put words together that he did what he knew how.
Also with my son he's told us that he does not remember when he is so far gone in rage.....
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1935107_tn?1323471888
Your post said you would beat that child for hurting yours....Sit back and think of something first...what if the rolls were reversed..what if it was your son who was autistic that had been teased and taunted by other kids. You would not be saying you would beat your child...you would be trying to find a way to help your child. I am not saying that violance is right from anyone. But my son is autistic and has been violent (with me). Beating them shows them nothing but violence. You have to restran them and calmly love them. You have to correct the violence with reinforcing love and good behavior. Do you reinforce bad or negative behavior with your own child. I think not.


FOR ALL OF THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE AUTISTIC CHILDREN

Put yourself in their shoes or even your childs shoes before you judge.
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Avatar_m_tn
My son (12) was just attacked at school by a special needs student one year younger. He was standing at his locker and this special needs boy punched another girl and then looked at my son and charged at him and pushed him into a locker. It was unprovoked and completely random. My son has a 504 in place because he is recovering from a concussion. If he had hit his head on the locker or on the concrete floor it could have been very serious. I have filed a police report and notified the school that if my son is injured by this kid, I will file a lawsuit. I have about had it with out of control special needs kids becoming violent to innocent children around them. I feel sorry that they have issues and can't function but that does not mean the rest of us need to be hit and punched nor should teachers have to be hurt by these children either. Enough is enough. Put these violent kids in a separate school or a separate environment. This is not helping them or the rest of the school! We just left a Catholic school because of this same issue and now the public school has the same problems. THis is an issue across the country and I'm tired of being told we are the ones that have to show more compassion. What about my son? Who is caring about him?
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973741_tn?1342346373
You sound like a very lovely woman.  good luck with your son.
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1819000_tn?1317082114
Your comment does nothing but put your ignorance on display for everyone to see. Thank you for reminding me why autism awareness and education are still so needed in this country. I would be mindful of what comes out of your mouth.. Karma has a very good sense of humor... I would hate to see you end up with an autistic child or grandchild. I see you rocking back and forth in a corner, crying your eyes out, waiting for help to come to you...
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2121289_tn?1335088064
NO! this is NOT normal!

i am autistic and i have never been violent towards anybody. i do my best to avoid hostile situations.

i have known of other autistic people in my small circle of friends to be violent, but it does not come with the territory. at least not for me, anyway.
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1260240_tn?1336081048
My son is 18 and has a diagnosis of ASD and moderate learning and behavioural and social difficulities.
He lashes out at times much less now than he used to though thankfully, he would also hit himself on his head with extreme force.  He could never tell us why he did these things.  He has not got the communication skills to express what he is feeling/why he does these things.  His mental age is about 2.1/2 - 3 years of age.

Anything can trigger my son off, one minute he is fine and the next he could hit himself of someone else.  
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2151506_tn?1336503904
You are wrong!!!! Autism does cause children to be very physical. Most Autistic children cannot talk this is their only way to comminicate. If they feel agitated how else do they express it. My daughter is six years old and autistic nad she becomes very physical at times. This child should not of been removed from the daycare the boys bullying him should have been removed!
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973741_tn?1342346373
Hi,  as you know autism is on a spectrum and many autistic kids CAN actually communicate.  While some autistic kids can be violent for various reasons (including mood regulation/modulation difficulties related to their nervous systems)----  many are not.  It is hard to generalize about such a thing.

I am sorry though that your daughter is having such a rough time of it.  Is she in the pulic school's intervention program? Is she able to communicate at all?  
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2144912_tn?1336273613
My son is 8yrs old & had PDD (pervasive devel. disorder) & ADHD.
Most autistic children can become very agitated by the smallest things. Such as: toys being out of place, routine changes, feeling sick, etc. Children with A.S.D's can have a lot of difficulties with expressing emotions. My son is on Wellbutrin for his anger mgmt. & it has helped A LOT with his violent outbursts (hitting, kicking, gritting teeth) Lat year he has 7 outbursts (before the med was introduced) and this year he has had 2 meltdowns!
ASD's are very complicated & it is very important that your grandson & his family are aware that this child did not mean to hurt him. He just didnt know how to express  how he was feeling.. physically was the only way he knew how.
We did in-home therapy with our son for 2yrs with an adolescent Autism specialist. We did several excersizes at home & with children at the park to see how my son would react to several diff. emotional situations. After a while he learned what was wrong & what was right to do & to use his words to express what he was feeling.
Hope this helps & opens your mind a lil more to how Autistic children think & behave.
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1260240_tn?1336081048
I quite agree with the comments above. Glen can get agitated by the smallest of things.  He hates any slight change in his routine, it will make him very anxious which often leads to him becoming aggressive, hitting himself or me.  The sad thing is my son cannot tell me how he is feeling and why he gets upset/agitated etc.  Every autistic kid is different there's not 2 the same, but I will always stick by the fact that autistic kids can and do get aggressive as this is sometimes the only way they can tell you something's wrong.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am 100% in agreement with you!
I work in a number of schools as a computer tech  (I am a 60 year old female) and was attacked today by an autistic boy in 7th grade. The attack was totally unprovoked - I was working quietly on a computer. He attacked me from behind. I have total empathy with autistic people, but the rest of us should be safe also. He could easily attacked/killed another child, as he is large and very strong. I now am fearful to go back to school to work....
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Avatar_m_tn
You obviously are not familiar autism at all!! My son is severely autisitic and has been in speech/occupational therapy, and has attended school for the past 6 years. He acts out in violence because he becomes overstimulated or sometimes for no reason at all!! No one really knows what goes on in an autistic childs mind!! I have searched for every type of therapy or services possible, but until we find out what causes this disorder NO ONE  is a specialist- each child is his or her own person!! Don't ever be judgemental toward parents of autistic children-every day is a challenge that you will never understand!!
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Avatar_m_tn
speaking from experinece I have Autism as well I have anger issues now a days but not when I was young I was a sweet boy I still am but only with anger problems now i am 19 and I can say everyone with Autism is different like every other person is different thats what makes us human no one is perfect but the answer to your question is yes I am pretty sure but kids with lower form of Autism tend to be more calm but they make noises and not being able to speak
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