How do I get my 5 year old Autistic son to stop biting and attacking me when he is overwhelmed, upset, frustrated, etc?

Whenever my son's emotions are overwhelming for him, he attacks me -biting, kicking, slapping, pinching, etc. He has autism and I need to know what to do to stop this. My arms are scarred up from this. He is 5 years old.

craftyv7 years ago
My family has 3 Autistics (AS) now aged 48, 24 and 12 so I have dealt with a lot of behavioral issues such as this and I really emphasize with the task ahead, but I won't write any platitudes when what you need is practical help and advice. Usually biting is connected to anxiety and/or frustration and the inability to deal with it verbally or in any other way. One of our strategies was, no noise ( even faint buzzing or static can often be sensed by AS's. Soft / indirect lighting ( no glare). Reduce chemical usage (my son strongly reacted to hair gel.) A soft place to be such as a nook or bean bag corner without stimulation. Don't attempt to please or occupy him or have fun. These are not applicable to AS sufferers. If he has an activity that he likes to do, then let him do it whenever he NEEDS to because whilst he's in the middle of an (episode) he cannot be reasoned with it is simply not possible (HE JUST CAN"T DO IT). You may also try a chew toy when you sense the episode is ramping up and the immediate removal to the soft place. I stress I have only suggested these for you to consider as they were helpful to our family but NOW is the time to get the best out of him. Ask yourself is his behavior situation specific or is there a commonality. To be of help I truly believe that you have to be autistically sensitive. I admire you and hope you can find something usefull, obviously I can go on for ever.
Z..8 years ago
I know that pet dogs that are trained to cope with these children, have been working wonders in Australia. I don't know if this is feasible for you, but these dogs are provided, like seeing eye dogs. The child is pacified by the dogs presence. It eases their frustration, because the animal instinctively seems to know that they are locked in their own world. My very best wishes go out to you. It must be so damned hard. Take care.
Kiteman8 years ago
If you can't give him the space he needs to vent his emotion, there are ways to hold him so that he cannot hurt you.

Basically, you stand beside him, one arm behind him and hooked around his elbow, the other hand across in front of you holding his closer elbow.

As far as I am aware, the main thing is time - it will take your son much longer than other children to learn the appropriate ways of dealing with strong emotions. He will also have the added problem of not being able to adequately verbalise his feelings, which will only add to his frustrations.

What all this adds up to is a need to do two things:

  • Have patience. Lots, and lots of patience.
  • Get professional help, both for safe handling of your son's outbursts and to identify their triggers.