The Relationship Between Asperger's & Anger

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  • 0:04 Asperger's Syndrome
  • 0:36 Anger Outbursts
  • 2:05 How to Help
  • 3:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Gray

Laura has taught at the secondary and tertiary levels for 20+ years and has a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning.

In this lesson, we will explore the relationship between people with Asperger's Syndrome and anger. We'll also discuss how parents can help their children with Asperger's effectively manage their emotions.

Asperger's Syndrome

Asperger's syndrome is basically high-functioning autism. In fact, professionals no longer even recognize Asperger's as its own syndrome but refer to it simply as that: high-functioning autism. People who have this disorder usually have difficulties with social situations, find it very hard to take the perspective of another person, do not do well with changes to their routines, and have a tendency to fixate on one thing at a time. In addition, many people with this disorder have difficulty with sudden angry outbursts.

Anger Outbursts

So, why this anger? Well, that's a good question. It's not that people with Asperger's necessarily have an unusual amount of anger inside of them, but rather that the anger is often a product of frustration and not knowing how to express their emotions. You see, the vast majority of people who have Asperger's have a very hard time even identifying their emotions, and they certainly cannot easily identify the emotions of others. This makes for a tough situation when it comes to actually expressing their feelings about certain situations.

People with Asperger's typically have angry outbursts for one of the following reasons:

  • There is something they want, and they do not know how to express it
  • There is something they are getting that they don't want (again, they do not know how to express it)
  • They have a buildup of frustration
  • There is a sensory issue (for example, an ongoing loud noise) that is bothering them
  • There is an unexpected change in routine

These angry outbursts happen because the person with Asperger's honestly has no idea how to filter his or her reactions. In other words, there is no little voice inside the person's head that says, ''Hey. You really want this. Tell Mom that you want it. No need to scream.'' That filtering mechanism just isn't there, so the person screams and yells.

Not every person with Asperger's does this. There are many kids and adults with high-functioning autism who do have some rudimentary kind of filter. Either that, or they have learned over the years to stop and consciously process what's bothering them before they open their mouths.

How to Help

This brings us to our next topic of conversation, which is how to help someone who's having these angry outbursts learn to manage the behavior so that it isn't so problematic. After all, it's hard to fit in with society when you have these issues. Here's a short list that can serve as a guide for dealing with this kind of behavior:

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