Autism Information & Research
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Throwing and Screaming
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Topic: Handling Throwing and Screaming Behavior
Here are some suggestions on handling throwing and screaming behavior:
- Be aware of how people are responding to it. If those around your child (yourselves, or your volunteers or helpers) are feeling uncomfortable, frightened or frustrated when (s)he behaves this way, (s)he may actually do it even more. Watch how you feel – remember that (s)he is doing the best that (s)he can, and take a few deep breaths and “relax” once your child begins to do this. Even simply stand still for a moment and observe. Also, look for ways in which your child may be getting what they want faster by throwing things: Do people move quicker when (s)he throws? Does (s)he somehow get food, attention or toys faster? It is very important to look at how you have been responding, so you can then change this.
- Always try to move even SLOWER when (s)he throws things or screams. Rather than beginning to speed up how you respond when your child acts this way, actually slow down your responses so that (s)he sees this is not the most useful way to get what (s)he wants.
- Offer your child soft toys or pillows and tell him/her, “If you want to throw, you can throw this” – so (s)he does have a direction in which (s)he can put his extra energy
- Explain to your child, in a very relaxed way, “I don’t understand what you want when you throw things. If you use your words or look at me, it would really help me.” Then, if your child speaks, or tries to speak, or looks at you, you RUN to the shelf and offer him/her different items. In this way we show him/her that throwing does not help him/her to get what he wants, but rather eye contact and speech are much more effective.
- You can also get something soft as well and throw with them to see how (s)he might respond to this.