Aggressive Behavior and ASD

Updated: Sep 25, 2020





Aggression may be mostly common in autism then any other disability, however not all learners with ASD display aggression. Aggression is a behavior that should be defined clearly for every learner because the  characteristics of aggression may be different from person to person. 

Aggression can affect the emotional and physical well-being on those who are exposed to this behavior. As a result learners  who engage in aggression may have reduce access to professional support. For example, public schools may not be able to accommodate the needs of an ASD learner who is aggressing towards staff and peers in school settings. 

Aggression may also disrupt the learning environment and prevent a ASD learner and others from learning opportunities. The learner my then need to be placed in another facility/school who can accommodate their needs. 

In some cases families may not have the money to support this change, thus putting a financial strain on the family. Families may live too far to receive help, this increases isolation and limited access to professional support and affects the daily routines for working families, and siblings. 

Treatment is necessary for children with ASD, if no treatments is set in place there is a high percentage that it will continue into adulthood, and became harder to treat (Hodgetts (2013), To begin treatment, behaviors must be assessed. The function of aggression is imperative in the development of effective treatment (Brosnan 2011). Behavior analysts should conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) to determine the function of aggression. FBA consist of indirect and direct observation under naturally occurring conditions (Brosnan 2011), otherwise known as baseline observation.  

Brosnan studies aimed to find behavioral interventions treatment of aggression in individuals with ASD, ages 3-18. Procedures included, manipulation of environment to shape desires behavior, reinforcement based strategies, and consequential control. His review suggests that Antecedent manipulations and changes in instructional context have had positive effects on decreasing aggression in ASD individual’s ages 3-18. Behavioral aggression interventions should be provided starting from least restrictive. Non-aversive procedures, such as differential reinforcement (DR), reduced aggressive behaviors in individuals with disabilities (Chowdhury 2011).  

Some examples of aggressive behaviors may include: hair pulling, property destruction, physically assaulting others (putting others in un safe environments), or physically hurting self. The examples listed would be broken down through a FBA, and put into clear and concise definitions for each case/individual. Behavior analyst can then measure the affects of treatment. 



Related Readings:


  • A review of behavioral interventions for the treatment of aggression in individuals with developmental disabilities

  • NESS Behavior Consulting Parent Training Services




References  

Hodgetts, S., Nicholas, D., & Zwaigenbaum, L.  (2013).  Home sweet home?  Families’ experiences with aggression in children with autism spectrum disorders.  Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 28, 166-174. 

Julie Brosnan, Olive Healy, A review of behavioral interventions for the treatment of aggression in individuals with developmental disabilities, Research in Developmental Disabilities, Volume 32, Issue 2, March–April 2011, Pages 437-446, ISSN 0891-4222,) 

Monali Chowdhury, Betsey A. Benson, Use of differential reinforcement to reduce behavior problems in adults with intellectual disabilities: A methodological review, Research in Developmental Disabilities, Volume 32, Issue 2, March–April 2011, Pages 383-394, ISSN 0891-4222, 

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