High-functioning autism or HFA is a term used for those who have autism spectrum disorder and are capable of completing daily errands without assistance. They also have better functional communication and higher cognitive functioning than the others on the spectrum. People who had been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in the past are prone to developing HFA.
Today, this disorder is also referred to as Level 1 ASD, the most functional end of the spectrum of autism.
People who suffer from high functioning autism or its other forms may have a lot to deal with. Their condition may make them cranky and develop anger issues, so it is vital to help them manage it.
Here are some practical ways you can use to help them manage their anger and feelings.
Pay close attention to the child. Understand the source of the child’s anger
One of the best ways of allaying anger in your children is by determining the source of your child’s anger or discomfort. If you can deal with the source, then you have dealt with the anger. Problem is, they may have difficulty in expressing their desires and feelings to you, hence, you have to express an exceptionally high level of patience to get to the root of the problem.
Resist the temptation to yell! Gently ask them what’s wrong, what do they want: they may be missing a toy or might be something else. Tantrums that occur at particular times of the day or place can give away the possible trigger.
In the case that your angry child can’t express his emotion adequately, you should devise a communication strategy. A good example is the use of a visual board or representation of emotions, possible triggers, and effects. Once you identify this offending agent, you can then address the situation, accordingly.
Allow your child to vent anger in a safe space
Sometimes, rage is inevitable, no matter what you do. You must let them express their anger in a safe environment, where they can’t hurt others or themselves.
You can also show them how to redirect their frustration by using soft objects like pillows to use as a punching bag or screaming into them. We also could get creative! It’s a long shot but you teach them how to express their anger through art. You could also teach them to write down their feelings in a diary.
Let them engage in physical activities
Another excellent way your child can redirect anger is by spending that energy exercising. Identify his/her most enjoyable activities like swimming, jogging, boxing, etc. It will not only help them clear their head, but it also produces a feeling of well-being.
Provide them with fidget toys for anxiety
Providing small toys that children can hold and squeeze in moments of anxiety can go a long way to ensure that anxiety doesn’t turn into outbursts. These toys will preoccupy them. There are different toys you can get your little ones like stretchy worms and apples, fidget pencils, chew toy, senses vibrating cushion, fidget spinner, worry eater Flamm, glow disco duck, communication keyring, etc.
Educate your child on the consequences of rage
This is a very important aspect of caring for autistic children. Let them know that physical violence has serious implications. It can lead to harm to the child, loved ones, and pets. It could morph into a serious security concern.
Tell the child that this behavior will not be condoned and if care is not taken, that behavior could land him in a juvenile correctional center.
Don’t stop there! Seek help if your child is that ‘violent’. In case there is an outburst and you can’t control the child, call emergency services right away.
Communicate clearly with them
Some people suffering from HFA may find it difficult to make themselves feel understood by others. They may also struggle to understand the facial expressions and body language of other people. It may lead to a lot of anxiety and frustration. Thus, making them feel distressed.
Therefore, it is advised to speak precisely using short sentences. People who have autism are often better at processing visual information. Thus, you can communicate with them using visual stress scale to make the interaction easier.
Provide them with structure
Whether it is a child or an adult, creating a structure helps them to reduce their anger reactions and anxiety. If your child is suffering from HFA, provide them with a clear daily routine.
Ensure that they know what they can expect in their daily routine. You can also use visual supports, timetables and incorporate relaxing activities like reading, painting, or exercising to make them feel more comfortable.
Identify their emotions
People suffering from HFA or other forms of autism fail to comprehend abstract concepts like emotions. You can simplify and help them identify these concepts. One of the easiest ways to do this is using stress scales.
Using a stress scale, you can help them identify different emotions such as feeling happy, sad, and so on. You can also adopt measures to teach them several emotions: a visual thermometer, traffic light system, movies or pictorial representation of emotions, etc. Many visual videos, clips, and other representations may be helpful to make them learn different kinds of emotions.
Give them some me-space
It is essential for people suffering from high-functioning autism and anger to get some space to calm down, especially in situations that incite their anger. Find out a space where they feel the most comfortable and give them some alone time.
You can keep an eye on them from afar. If they need you, make sure you are present. When they ask for your company, be there and help them release their pent-up anger using stress-busting alternatives. For instance, you can take them for a walk outside or offer them a punching bag to release their frustration.
Know about their past
In many cases, people who have high-functioning autism are often bullied or have a disturbing past. We advise you to learn more about their past and find whether they were bullied or dominated in any form.
Autistic people are more prone to be bullied than others. People often don’t realize how serious being bullied is. That feeling of being tormented leads to distressed behavior.
Above all, try to be empathetic towards people suffering from autism. Ensure that you are always there to help them out, no matter what.
Your child can still live life to the fullest. It takes work! You have to be intentional about teaching your child how to control his/her rage. The tips mentioned in the preceding paragraphs can help you manage the situation successfully. Now, go put these steps into practice.