Understanding The Battle Of An Aggressive Autistic Child

How to Teach a Child with Autism About Personal Space
One of the most common social difficulties children with autism have is understanding personal space. They often stand too close to others and don't realize they're making the other person uncomfortable. In this brief video clip, Tara Delaney, MS, OTR/L, describes her easy-to-use method that helps children with autism understand and apply the concept of "personal space," which in turn helps them adapt more easily into social situations.
Photo : PESI Continuing Education / Youtube

In the U.S., 1 out of 68 children breathes with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The frequency of ASD also appears to have vividly increased since 2000 when 1 out of 150 children has the diagnosis. As a developmental disability, ASD causes "significant social, communication, and behavioral trials." While researchers continue to unlock the secrets of ASD, behavioral health methods must work to help parents and caregivers understand the disorder's insinuations for daily activities and behaviors including the impact on the circadian rhythm, cognitive abilities, and treatment styles.

Behavioral Impact of Autism

Children and teens with ASD may refrain from exhibiting the typical behaviors of their age group. Per the CDC, a child with ASD may show the following signs and symptoms:

  •  Avoids eye contact.
  • Appears to be not engaged when interacting with others.
  •  Has trouble in understanding the feelings of others.
  •  Prefers to avoid physical contact, such as being held or cuddled.
  •  Repeats phrases or words in place of typical language.
  •  Has trouble speaking.
  •  Repeats actions multiple times.
  •  Has unusual responses to sensory perception of things.
  •  Exhibits aggression, irritability, or inattention.
  •  Has trouble in adjusting to changes in routine, such as a change in sleeping habits may cause a behavioral impact.

Adults are not outsiders to how changes in the environment can damagingly impact sleeping patterns. Sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease cognitive responsiveness and function, explains Len Kravitz, Ph.D. of the University of New Mexico. Yet, new research advises the link between quality of sleep in children with autism may be more essentially connected to behavioral problems during the day.

Autism and Sleep

Children and teens with autism may be more likely to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking early. Psychologist Micah Mazurek and Dr. Kristin Sohl, pediatrician, found increased sleep problems in children with autism often coincided with increased interactive problems during the day. For children and teens who experienced high levels of sleeplessness or difficulty when sleeping, the incidence of behavioral problems, especially violence and hyperactivity, grew the most.

"It's important that individuals with ASD are routinely screened for underlying medical conditions, including sleep disturbances."

Autism Treatment

Autism is incurable. Researchers have yet to find a conclusive, biological test to analyze cases of ASD. Do far, the diagnosis is determined by studying a child's behavior and health progress. Although a diagnosis may be made as early as age 2, many kids are not diagnosed until later during childhood, such as when reaching school-going age. A sooner diagnosis equates to the earlier use of treatment methods to lessen the disorder's evolving impact.

Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis

Treatment of autism may include actions and communication therapies, dietary specialist care and regulation, medication cure, and the use of corresponding and alternative medicine.

The link between autism and applied behavior analysis (ABA) seems to hold the most promise. ABA teaches positive behaviors and dampens negative actions in a healthy environment.

ABA may also be broken down into four categories, per the CDC, which contains the following below:

  •  Discrete trial training (DTT) breaks down complex behaviors into their simplest steps, and positive reinforcement is used to reward truthful behaviors and answers. Negative support of ignoring behavior is used when the incorrect behaviors or answers are exhibited or given.
  •  Early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) refers to the use of ABA for children younger than 5-years-old.
  •  Pivotal response training (PRT) educates children with ASD to monitor their own behaviors and starts to dialogs with others. Thus, the impact of this type of ABA should extend to other behaviors. For instance, a child in PRT may attempt to "go back to sleep" when waking up early without meddling from parents or caregivers.
  •  Verbal behavior intervention (VBI) imparts children with ASD verbal skills and for further encouragement to focuses of PRT and DTT.

Each state has a technique in place to help the parents of children under age 3 attain early handling services, including the therapies, via the US Department of Education.


Certain medications may help manage hyperactivity or sadness in children and teens with ASD. However, these medications are incapable of treating the primary indications of the disorder.


Some health experts may advocate for dietary variations in children and teens with ASD. For example, a diet with a lesser water or any liquid intake after 6:00 p.m. may help reduce waking up in the middle of the night. Most dietary changes focus on refining overall health, which may help reduce any rate of ASD symptoms and behaviors.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Complementary and alternative medicine, otherwise known as CAM therapy, explains the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, states the use of non-traditional approaches in treating a given disease. These means may include the use of herbal supplements, acupuncture, yoga, breathing exercises, and deerlike therapy. Up to 33 percent of parents and caregivers use CAM therapy to help with ASD. However, some of these remedies can be dangerous, such as a toxicity due to herbal supplementation of the diet and adverse relations between supplements and medications. Behavioral health training should include a focus on the standing of discussing CAM therapies with a child's pediatrician and psychologist prior to starting any therapy.

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