Anger in Autistic Adults

Everyone gets angry. Without a doubt. But for autistics, we are prone to eruptions of anger. This is because we have a light switch and we see no “gray areas”.  We see it as an “all or nothing” approach where compromise isn’t was easily seen by autistic brains as clearly as it is in the neurotypical brain.

According to the website autism-help.org, these are six common causes of anger related to autism disorders, of which I will share some insight on.

1.Being swamped by a multitude of tasks or sensory stimulation or overload.

Specifically, in myself, I have a difficult time in being told to do more than two tasks at a time, unless it is on a list for me to do. Recently, I found that Google Tasks has become my lifesaver in this area by not forgetting to do things that require a multitude of effort for me, because I can further break it down into smaller steps as needed. As for sensory stimulation or overload, in light of COVID, I struggle more in this regard. It is hard when having a hard day and when experiencing overload and needing to go to a store or other element in the day that produces a great deal of sensory overload in me, that I want to back down or regress and get angry about it, although I know it isn’t the answer.

2. Other People’s Behavior

This is more evident in light of COVID and especially so now that people have been immunized for the virus. Several people look as being vaccinated results in a pass of being immune to COVID by not following protective measures set out by regulators, which simply isn’t true and should be adhered to, respectively. Other factors can be when a person is arrogant, insensitive or not following other rules and the autistic being ignored, whether intentional or by accident. Furthermore, autistics take greater offense to insensitive or sarcastic comments where it isn’t intended to hurt us but we see it that way and are hurt.

3. Having routine and order disrupted

As autistics, we like routines and order, and when either of those elements are disrupted it makes us angry and when interruption occurs, it also means disrupting a coping mechanism. For some, the organization of how something in our habitat can make the world of difference in an autistic. When someone moves something around in our habitat it can cause a huge disruption in our comfort zone, because it is our safe space.

4. Difficulties with employment and relationships despite being intelligent in many areas.

While writing this article may seem as if I am very intelligent, which I do not discount. Other autistics feel like our talents are overlooked and unappreciated. Employers sometimes do not sympathize with their needs and persons who are uninformed about an autistic may dismiss their attempts at friendship or communication.

5. Intolerance of imperfections in others.

Both physically and mentally, an autistic may have stressors indirectly caused by people. We may notice things that may look out of line like a big nose or a high-pitched voice or someone who may speak faster than them. As such, we need our space to express out pet peeves which may result in further understanding of their understanding of their anger-related behavior.

6. Buildup of Stress

All the aforementioned steps can add up to this point. If we as autistics haven’t take the steps towards managing the anger, we can have a hard time dealing with the build up effects of stress caused. Many autistics must be taught how to process their stress and emotions, which for me, I still am to this day.

When an autistic gets angry, and many times it is after the fact for me. What was the underlying issue behind why we (I) was angry?  Also, to prevent this from happening in the future, how do we prevent this from happening in the future. Neurotypicals who interact with autistics need to be aware of this and take steps to be empathetic and consistent in their behavior when addressing this, which ultimately will lead to a better environment for all involved.

As such, I want to leave with you with an example of when I got angry earlier this week. I had a long day at the day program where I had to deal with a multitude of personalities and sensory overload. Next, I went to my weekly weigh in and did not have the result that I wanted to have. After that, I went to my parents’ house, which wasn’t my favorite choice for the day and they needed my help.

After being unable to accomplish the tasks over the computer, my mother stated that she wanted to go to the supercenter which set off a trigger in me to clinch my arms and beat them into my thigh, It isn’t something that I am proud of, but I wanted to share with you that because it was a multitude of things that I experienced throughout the day and when that trigger was set where we would experience further sensory overload that I knew that but I was so angry that I couldn’t express it properly.

As we proceeded into town, I expressed my thoughts and eventually decided to go to the supercenter and we didn’t linger. In a method to calm down, I bought a soda as a dopamine receptor, because I was stressed out from having no soda from the day, which could have also had a result. Finally, as I went to my home, I was able to regroup and I was able to formally explain and apologize for my actions.

As such, when an autistic gets angry, get to know the how and why of how it occurred, it may be something that can be improved and retooled and ultimately make us a better person.

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