Aggression in Children with #Autism

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Many children with autism display what appear to be aggressive behaviors, mostly when they are having some time of “meltdown”. This can be very disturbing to parents and other caregivers. Some parents have experienced having their child labeled as an “aggressive child”.

While it is true that children with autism can look aggressive and have aggressive actions when they are dysregulated, it is not the same as a child with an aggression tendency or aggression related disorder. Children with autism may yell, throw things, hit others and seem somewhat  “out of control” when they are dysregulated and experiencing a meltdown. These aggressive behaviors are actually dysregulation manifesting itself. There is an overload and the child is having great difficulty regulating their thoughts and emotions and thus those thoughts and emotions turn into negative behaviors.

It is important for parents and those who work with children with autism to understand the child is not intentionally trying to be aggressive but experiencing being dysregulated (likely a very frightening and overwhelming feeling for the child) and that the dysregulation is manifesting the negative behaviors. The next time someone tries to label your child with autism as aggressive, take a moment to explain dysregulation to them. The more awareness the better!

Dr. Robert Jason Grant is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Board Certified Counselor, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor, and a Certified Autism Specialist. www.robertjasongrant.com

 


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Bullying and Autism

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It was a Wednesday afternoon and John, a 14 year old with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), was coming in for his third counseling session. He had shared little during his last two sessions and mostly sat and stared around my office. John and I had been working on rapport and by his third session, he had begun to feel comfortable with me and started telling me about his troubles at school, which mainly dealt with other peers. He started slowly, but eventually disclosed to me the bullying he was experiencing at his school on a daily basis. John spoke about other teens calling him names (I will not list them here as they are highly offensive), being laughed at, made fun of, being hit, pushed, tripped, and having false stories made up about him.

John has never told anyone in authority at his school that he is being bullied and he has told his parents very little about his situation. John does not fully understand what is meant by bullying and why other students are treating him badly. He does know it creates a great deal of anxiety for him, he does know that he excludes himself to avoid being hurt, and he does know that school is a place he does not want to be anymore.

John’s story is similar to the stories of many children with an ASD. It is not uncommon for children with ASD’s to become victims of bullying. It is also not uncommon for children with ASD’s  to not tell teachers, or even their parents about bullying they are experiencing. It is difficult for children to understand what is happening and how to handle it. Some children with ASD’s may even believe that they deserve to be treated badly while others may not even realize they are being bullied. Bullies are not discriminating, and children with an ASD are too often easy targets for a bully’s emotional abuse.

Most children with an ASD can learn effective ways to handle bullies. Aggressive social skills training focused on dealing with bullies is a great and effective approach. Further, every school has an anti-bullying policy and those policies should be followed. If your child is in school and being bullied, it is important to report the issue to the school. Many schools will follow school policy and actively pursue eliminating the bullying. It is also important that children learn how to report bullying and become comfortable with reporting. Therapists, parents, and school personnel should establish a simple protocol for children to report bullying behaviors and actively encourage children to report.

Children with ASD’s have enough to handle without being exposed to bullying behaviors. We must acknowledge and eliminate bullying; it cannot be ignored and invalidated as something that just happens. Never give up fighting for a child’s right to be in a bully free environment. The following resources are available to help children and parents deal with and eliminate bullying:

Missouri School Violence Hotline www.schoolviolencehotline.com.
ABC: Anti Bullying Coalition http://antibullyingcoalition.blogspot.com.
Stop Bullying www.stopbullying.gov
Stomp Out Bullying www.stompoutbullying.com
Stop Cyber Bullying www.stopcyberbullying.com

Dr. Robert Jason Grant is a Licensed Professional Counselor, National Board Certified Counselor, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor, and a Certified Autism Specialist. Dr. Grant is a member of the American Counseling Association, American Mental Health Counselors Association, Association for Play Therapy, and the Autism Society of America. Visit Dr. Grant’s websites www.robertjasongrant.com and www.autplaytherapy.com, connect with him via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn or email at DrGrant@robertjasongrant.com.

New AutPlay Providers

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Congratulations to our new AutPlay Therapy Certified Providers! They each competed our intensive training in AutPlay, a play therapy treatment for autism, dysregulation issues, and developmental disorders. Contact information for all Certified AutPlay Providers can be found on our website www.autplaytherapy.com. Upcoming AutPlay Certification trainings – September 13th and 14th, 2013 in Kansas City Missouri and February 21st and 22nd, 2014 in Springfield Missouri.

Play Therapy with Books and Board Games

 

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Don’t miss Play Therapy with Books and Board Games training. Participants will learn about and review over 50 therapeutic books and board games that can be used in treating children and adolescents with a variety of issues. Participants will also learn play based intervention to use with books, how to make non-therapeutic books and board games therapeutic and participants will create their own therapeutic board game!

When: Saturday, May 18th, 8:30am – 4:00pm
Where: CC Counseling Training Center, Nixa (Springfield), MO
Cost: $90 Professional, $65 Student
CEUs: 6 hours, NBCC and APT Approved
To Register: www.robertjasongrant.com or www.autplaytherapy.com  

AutPlay Therapy Certification Training

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AutPlay Therapy Combined Level I and Level II Certification Training June 7th and 8th at the CC Counseling Training Center in Nixa (Springfield), MO.  16 CEU’s approved by the National Board for Certified Counselors, the Association for Play Therapy, and the Certified Autism Specialist Credential.

AutPlay Therapy is a play therapy based treatment for autism disorders, dysregulation issues, and other developmental disabilities.

Space is limited so register early! Visit our websites for more details and to register online. www.autplaytherapy.com or www.robertjasongrant.com.

 

Certified AutPlay Therapy Providers!

Congratulations to our new Certified AutPlay Therapy Providers! Tracy Turner-Bumberry, Emily Kircher-Morris, Peggy Harpster, Karlon Bishop, Alicia Carver-Myers, Amy Dedrick, Lori Radford, Celeste Daiber, Dunn Jones, Katy Tynes, and John Laskowski. IMG_6263

Parent-Led Social Skills Groups

Parent-led social skills book

 

The Parent-Led Social Skills Groups book is now available for purchase! This book thoroughly presents to parents how to establish and facilitate social skills groups for children and adolescents with autism and other developmental disabilities. It is a wonderful resource for parents and anyone who wants to facilitate a social skills learning group. This book can be purchased on this website or the AutPlay Therapy website  Purchases can also be done through LuLu Publishing at LuLu.com.

AutPlay Therapy Handbook

AutPlay Therapy Handbook

 

The AutPlay Therapy Handbook is now available for purchase! The handbook thoroughly presents the AutPlay Therapy process, which is a play therapy based approach for treating autism and other developmental disabilities. It is a wonderful resource for play therapists and any professionals working with children and adolescents with developmental disabilities. The handbook can be purchased on this website or the AutPlay Therapy website  Purchases can also be done through LuLu Publishing at LuLu.com.