“How to Modify Aggressive Behavior in Children with Autism”
by Fernando Miranda, M.D., F.A.A.N.
A frequent question from both parents and teachers is how do you discipline children that behave badly — and by that I mean become physically aggressive or start having tantrums and throwing things around physically.
The first thing to remember is the fact that patients with Autism Syndromes have a brain disorder. This brain disorder is particularly manifested by abnormal neuropathology. These children have hyperfunctioning of local neural microcircuits in the brain which produce hyperreactivity and hyperplasticity.
If we were to stay with those two concepts, hyperreactivity meaning reacting more to any sensory stimulation, most children will hyperreact to auditory stimulation but it is also on occasions visual stimulation as well. Some of them will react to sensory stimulation such as touching or changes in temperature.
What this causes is an overabundance of stimuli in an individual who cannot quickly adapt and react appropriately.
The other piece of the puzzle that most people do not recognize is that all humans are genetically determined to have patterns of reactivity to very basic specific stimulus. We have a reactivity to situations that produce anger, fear, or threat as examples, and most of our instinctive reaction is to protect ourselves physically. Within those patterns of reaction, aggression is a frequent one.
These hyperfunctioning microcircuits in many of occasions become autonomous and “memory trapped” (similar to “muscle memory” through repetition) leading to hyperperception, hyperattention, and hyperemotionality. Read more »