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Why I ‘Lashed Out’ as a Child on the Autism Spectrum


When I was growing up, and still emotionally immature, I lashed out a lot. I knew it was wrong, and that only made me feel worse. It wasn’t something I could control on my own. Or at least, I hadn’t learned how to yet. For me, personally, it was an impulse and self-regulation issue.

There were so many times I would get frustrated or upset over something and would need to do something to release that energy. So I would break something (not because I wanted to, but because I’d underestimate my own strength and release the frustration that way). Or I’d rip up my homework. Sometimes, in a last-ditch effort, I’d hurt myself in hopes that it would prevent me from hurting others.

It’s not as though I wanted to make people upset. I just didn’t know how to control myself so I wouldn’t upset others. I needed help with learning and applying self-regulation strategies. Punishment rarely helped me in these situations because I already knew what I was doing was wrong. It frustrated me and even scared me because I could see it happening and I couldn’t prevent it. I would start to get even more upset, and possibly have a full-blown meltdown.

To try and stop it, I had to learn other ways to release my feelings. Maybe I would use a weighted blanket to calm myself. Or I would squeeze some putty really tightly. Or I’d go for a fast walk or swing on a swing. Even listening to some music with lyrics that I could relate to would help me.

As an adult, I still have moments like this. I may still crumple up my homework, but I know to stop and try to focus on my breathing while lying under my weighted blanket. I can see it coming, and while I can’t always prevent it, I now know how to handle it better.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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