Autism and Defiance Issues In Teens


Autism and defiance seem to go hand-in-hand. Oftentimes, autistic children tend to respond to minor conflicts negatively. This is mainly due to their lack of communication and social skills needed to solve problems.

It can be quite difficult understanding the reasons behind their negative actions. So, many parents assume their autistic kids are being deliberately defiant. However, as a parent, you can identify the root cause of your child’s defiant behavior by noting precise details of the misbehavior.

Some Defiant Behaviors of Autistic Children

These are just some of the defiant behaviors and symptoms noted by parents of autistic children:

  • Academic issuesdefianct-teen
  • Aggressive with peers
  • Argumentative with authority figures
  • Deliberately annoying others
  • Having temper-tantrums frequently
  • Vindictive and spiteful behavior
  • Easily annoyed
  • Showing resentment and anger
  • Blaming others for negative behavior and mistakes
  • Unable to maintain friendships
  • Refusing to comply with rules and requests from adults

5 Choices for Handling Directions We Don’t Want to Follow

In general, people have five choices available when dealing with directions we don’t want to follow. These same choices apply to children with autism:

  1. Swallow or deny feelings and passively comply.
  2. Refuse to obey in a rude manner (most common choice with defiant children).
  3. Withdraw from the issue or run away.
  4. Use manipulation or trickery to avoid compliance.
  5. Communicate decisions and feelings in respectful manner.

Depending on the circumstances, #1 can be an appropriate choice. However, the most effective choice would be #5. As a parent, this is the choice you should want your children to adopt.

Reasons for Defiance in Autistic Children

Autistic children aren’t purposely defiant simply to annoy their parents and other adults. There are specific reasons behind their defiant behavior. Understanding these reasons can help you help your child adapt more positive behavioral practices. Today, we’ll discuss three reasons for defiance in autistic children:

  1. Lack of social skills
  2. Lack of communication skills
  3. Unable to deter from rituals and routines

1) Lack of Social Skills

The social skills of kids with autism tend to be on much lower levels that other children. When interacting with them, they’re generally unresponsive to others. Their social interactions are pretty much inflexible.

Many people think the violent behaviors of these children are planned. Although this is possible, it’s not always the case. Parents often take their “defiant-like” behavior personally. But, your child simply doesn’t understand your wishes and needs.

2) Lack of Communication Skills

Children with autism lack healthy communication skills. Therefore, the communication-breakdown between her and her parents may come across as a form of defiance. This is actually a common issues in families of children with autism.

According to Mohammad Ghaziuddin, author of “Mental Health Aspects of Autism and Asperger Syndrome”, of all autistic children, 25% lack the skills needed to use meaningful communication to express themselves. This frustrates the kids, causing them to express themselves by hitting, pushing, pulling or other physical means of communicating.

Therefore, when it comes to differences between parents and their autistic children, the conversations are rarely simply. They can easily escalate, causing the child to use inappropriate behavior to express herself. Although this is defiant behavior, its root cause is the inability to express herself.

3) Unable to Deter from Rituals and Routines

Autistic children have rituals and routines for just about everything. They tend to become very fixated on completing tasks in a specific manner. Any deviation from the one and only way they perform a task can lead to defiant behaviors, such as tantrums.

The stubborn side of autism will show its face whenever a parent interferes with a ritual of their autistic child. That face tends to emerge as defiant behavior.