Children Becoming More Defiant

Autism Q&A
560 315 Paul Louden

Welcome to the 2018 series of the Louden on Autism Q & A . As many of you know, I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.


Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.


This week, I received a question about a child with autism who is becoming more and more defiant and difficult to deal with on a day-to-day basis.




My 24-year-old daughter on the spectrum has suddenly refused to do some things that were givens for years that she was so good about doing. She used to be very nice about doing chores and the day-t0-day life responsibilities. But recently, that has changed. Any advice?




It’s hard to say, exactly. Changes in behavior can come from a lot of things. Often behavior like that, which may be seen as a “regression” suggests that there’s some new challenge in her life, something that’s taking mental energy, and leaving less for being able to do things that may have seemed “easy” for her before.


This can be something like physical distress, such as illness or pain from co-morbid conditions, or it can be emotional distress, such as reaching those mental “teenage years” where she’s wanting something else out of life, but doesn’t know how to express it or relieve some of that stress. She’s most likely doing it as the only way she knows to help preserve her mental health, but it may be hard to observe and see if you can figure out whether something has changed externally or internally, or if it’s just a change in personality as she grows.


A lot of the challenges we face in raising children with autism is that situations are all so different for each person on the spectrum and as we all get older, things impact our lives differently. Some situations that typically did not bother a child, might bother them in the future, or in the present. Overall, it’s important to know that she is likely working hard to preserve a feeing of safety and she’s just growing as a person. As we grow, we all change — we need to allow people with autism that opportunity as well and not jump to any conclusions about defiance.


Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.

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