It’s been thought by many parents of children with autism that their child experiences more tantrums than other children because of difficulty with communication. A new study from the Penn State College of Medicine, however, is throwing cold water on that belief.
We’ll talk about it in this issue.
The Study at a Glance
To investigate the possible connection between communication/language difficulties among children with autism and tantrums, Penn State researchers studied behaviors of 240 autistic children between the ages of 15 and 71 months of age.
Based upon the results, the researchers found that a child’s intelligence level and ability to process language accounted for less than 3% of their tantrums.
Lead researcher Cheryl D. Tierney said, “We had children in our sample with clear speech and enough intelligence to be able to communicate, and their tantrums were just as high in that group.”
Interestingly, children in the study who spoke at the level of a 2-year-old had more tantrums than children who had lower speech skills.
The Need for Improving Behavior
Tierney said that while the study doesn’t necessarily firmly answer the question about what causes autistic children to throw tantrums, there is enough evidence to guide concerned parents to shift their emphasis away from improving speech and towards improving the child’s behavior.
“We should stop telling parents of children with autism that their child’s behavior will get better once they start talking or their language improves, because we now have enough studies to show that that is unlikely to happen without additional help,” she said.
To do that, she suggests parents include a certified behavior analyst on board with the child’s treatment team.
Unsure Why Your Child Was Diagnosed With Autism? Call The Fitzgerald Law Firm
Continuing research is needed not only in the origins and causes of autism but also in ways to help children with the condition.
If your child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or you suspect your child has an autism spectrum disorder, contact The Fitzgerald Law Firm.
The first consultation is always free and our number is 800-323-9900.