Anger Management Therapy for Children with AutismThe Stress and Anger Management Program (STAMP) can help parents and teens with autism develop healthy coping skills. It is a cognitive-behavioral program with a proven track record for helping teens with autism navigate their anger. Children will learn how to recognize angry feelings and how to express them through voice or body language. Parents will learn how to communicate clearly and calmly, provide structure and identify emotions that can trigger negative feelings.
Help for High-Functioning Autism and AngerAn angry outburst can come from feelings of frustration or being overwhelmed with what’s going on around them or from a long build-up of emotions caused by daily activities. By watching your teen, you can begin picking up on clues when an angry outburst is coming. Learning what triggers sudden outbursts, like inappropriate touching or a sudden disruption to their routine, can prevent anger from getting out of control. There are tips that provide guidance and help for high-functioning autism and anger, whether from built-up stress or a single incident. These tips include:
- Watch for warning signs–Recognizing the signs of growing anger can help prevent angry outbursts and temper tantrums. Use word association or picture cards to help them understand their anger and to describe their feelings.
- Deep breathing techniques–Simple deep breathing exercises can help calm your child down and allow them to process their feelings in a healthy way. Mimic their breathing so they can match your actions.
- Physical activity–Changing their focus with physical activity like running around the yard or playroom. A quick five-minute exercise break can take their mind off their anger and help them focus on something else.
- Keep a journal–For high-functioning teens with autism, writing in a journal about their feelings right after an angry episode can help them better understand their anger and how to recognize their triggers. Have them go to a quiet place or use noise-canceling headphones to block out distractions.
- During an angry outburst, you must maintain your composure. If you get frustrated and angry, they will only pick up on that and it will lead to worsening behavior. Be calm and supportive, and you will see your dedication pay off.
Anger Rumination and AutismAnger rumination and autism may cause frustrating experiences and angry outbursts. Teens with autism can ruminate over past negative feelings and spiral into worsening anger or other negative emotions. If this happens frequently, it can affect their cognitive development and problem-solving skills. Some of the common mental health issues that teens with autism ruminate on that can lead to growing anger include:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)