Screaming is a common challenge for many parents of children with autism. While it may be an effective way for your child to communicate their needs, it can also be very disruptive and stressful for the whole family. In this article, we will explore possible reasons why your child might be screaming and offer some strategies that you can try to help reduce the amount of screaming in your home.
The science behind the screaming
There has been a lot of research on autistic children and their screaming. Some scientists believe that screaming is a way for the child to release stress and anxiety. Others believe that screaming is a form of self-stimulation. However, most scientists believe that screaming is a way for the child to communicate their needs.
Theories on why autistic children scream
There are three primary theories on why autistic children scream. The first theory is that autistic children scream because they are in pain. The second theory is that autistic children scream because they are experiencing sensory overload. The third theory is that autistic children scream because they are trying to communicate.
The first theory that autistic children scream because they are in pain is based on the fact that many autistic children have a high pain tolerance. This means they may not show physical signs of pain, such as crying or grimacing when they are actually in pain. One study found that nearly 70% of parents of autistic children reported that their child had a high pain tolerance.
The second theory that autistic children scream because they are experiencing sensory overload is based on the fact that many autistic children have difficulty processing sensory information. This can overwhelm them with certain sensations, such as loud noises or bright lights. One study found that nearly 80% of parents of autistic children reported that their child had difficulty processing sensory information.
The third theory that autistic children scream because they are trying to communicate is based on the fact that many autistic children have difficulty communicating verbally. This can lead them to use screaming to communicate their needs or wants. One study found that nearly 90% of parents of autistic children reported that their child had difficulty communicating verbally.
The benefits of screaming for autistic children
Screaming may be a coping mechanism for autistic children feeling overwhelmed or frustrated. Sometimes, it can help them release built-up tension and anxiety. Screaming can also be a way for autistic children to communicate their needs or feelings.
Some research has shown that screaming may have benefits for autistic children. One study found that screaming helped autistic children to calm down and regulate their emotions. The study also found that screaming helped to improve communication and social skills in autistic children.
While screaming may benefit autistic children, it is important to note that it can also be disruptive and stressful for caregivers and other family members. If you are struggling to deal with a screaming child, it is important to seek support from professionals who can help you to manage the situation constructively.
How to stop the screaming
If your child is on the autism spectrum, you know that sometimes they can get overwhelmed and start screaming. This can be very frustrating and embarrassing, but there are some things you can do to help stop the screaming. With a little patience and understanding, you can help your child calm down and avoid this behavior.
Behavior modification techniques
When your autistic child is screaming, it can feel like nothing you do will ever calm them down. However, you can try behavior modification techniques to help stop the screaming.
One technique is called the “stop and start” method. This involves stopping everything you are doing when your child starts to scream. Once they stop screaming, you can resume what you were doing. This technique works best if you are consistent and do not give in to the screaming.
Another behavior modification technique is “differential reinforcement of other behavior,” or DRA for short. This involves rewarding your child when they display the desired behavior, such as staying calm and not screaming. The rewards can be anything your child enjoys, such as a favorite food or toy.
It’s important to keep in mind that these behavior modification techniques take time and patience to work. They may not work immediately, but if you are consistent with them, there is a good chance they will eventually help stop the screaming.
There are many ways to manage screaming behavior in autistic children, and medication is one option that some parents and caregivers may consider. While there are no FDA-approved medications specifically for treating autism, several drugs effectively reduce screaming and other problematic behaviors in some people with autism.
Stimulant medications, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamines (Adderall), are commonly used to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is often comorbid with autism. These drugs can help to increase focus and attention, reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity, and improve social skills.
Anti-psychotic medications, such as risperidone (Risperdal) and aripiprazole (Abilify), are also sometimes used to treat autistic people who exhibit challenging behaviors like aggression, self-injury, or self-stimulatory behaviors like repetitive speech or movement. These drugs can effectively reduce these behaviors but can also cause side effects like weight gain, drowsiness, and dizziness.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), an antidepressant medication, are sometimes used to treat mood swings, anxiety, and depression in autistic people. SSRIs may also help to reduce repetitive behaviors like hand-flapping or head-banging in some autistic people. Fluoxetine (Prozac) is the only SSRI that has been FDA-approved for treating depression in children aged eight years and older.
Although medication can be an effective way to reduce problem behavior in autistic children, it is important to remember that each child is unique and will respond differently to various types of treatment. A qualified medical professional should always prescribe medication after a thorough evaluation of the child’s individual needs.
There is no one “right” way to stop an autistic child from screaming. However, some general strategies may be helpful. It is important to remember that each child is unique, so what works for one child may not work for another.
Some strategies that may be helpful include:
-Identifying the triggers that cause the screaming. Once you know what sets off the screaming, you can try to avoid or remove those triggers.
-Providing a calm and safe environment. When a child feels safe and secure, they are less likely to scream.
-Teaching your child alternative ways to communicate. This could involve sign language, picture boards, or other forms of communication.
-Encourage your child to use their words. This could involve modeling positive communication, providing Rewards for using words instead of screaming, and working with a speech therapist.
-Applying behavior management techniques. This could involve using positive reinforcement (such as praise or stickers) when the child does not scream or using time-out as a consequence for screaming.
If you have tried these strategies and the screaming continues, it is important to seek help from a professional. A therapist or counselor can help you, and your child identifies the root cause of the problem and develops a more specific plan to address it.