• Autism Help UK

My Child Breaks Everything

Updated: May 6, 2021

Most children break items when they are younger, however the cause of this can be different for autistic children. Whilst children without autism may break items out of anger, there can be a variety of reasons why autistic children break objects, whether it is something small like a pencil or something more expensive like a TV. Below we explore these reasons and how you can reduce the amount of breakages in your home.


Overview:

  • Why does my child destroy things?

  • Tips To Help


Why does my child destroy things?

There are a few reasons that can cause autistic children to break objects in the home. These can be narrowed down to the following.


1. Curiosity

Children by nature are very curious and open to trying to understand day-to-day items. A child has a great willingness and will usually ask their parents/guardians questions about how things work. Since autistic children struggle to communicate they might take it upon themselves to investigate. They will break apart items to see what is in them and how they might work.


Being curious is only normal. However, if you find your child is breaking the same type of items, for instance makeup, you should take the time to show your child what the item is, what it does, and how it works. You could also try buying a cheaper item for your child to inspect and play with (if safe to do so, remember that some items can be harmful when opened apart).



2. Inactive Lifestyle

Children with an inactive lifestyle are more likely to break items. Children have tonnes of energy that needs to be burned up in a productive way, otherwise you may find they use it in a chaotic way. This could be energy bursts where your child will run around the room and won’t stop, or could be more destructive where items will get destroyed.


Many things lead to an inactive lifestyle such as being bored due to a lack of activities. The best way to ensure your child has an active lifestyle is to make sure you do the following:

  • Physical exercise: long walks, playing outside, swimming, sports.

  • Mental stimulation: Reading, puzzles, educational tv.

  • Varied activities

  • Varying types of play- close-ended play and open-ended play


3. Stress

Children learn lots daily and processing this information can be overwhelming. Children that are stressed out will act more erratic and have unpredictable behaviour. As well as this, autistic children can feel stressed because of their senses. They may find that some of their senses, such as taste and smell, are over or under whelming. This is known as hypo- or hyper-sensitivities.

Here are some ways to reduce stress for autistic children:

  • Personal Time- give your child time to rest and have personal time where they can rest or do activities they enjoy.

  • Avoid sensory overload objects or places- check out our blog on sensory overload anxiety for more tips.



Tips To Help

Now that you know what can cause your child to break items, its time to discuss a few solutions to the problem. Here are a few ways to help stop or reduce the amount of items your child breaks.


1. Attention

Take the time to understand why they are doing this. If you are withholding attention to your child they might try to get it in other ways even if it means negative attention.


What can I do?

Dedicate time to be with your child and engage in activities they enjoy. It is important you show them that you care and love for them, so they feel safe and secure at home.


1. Communicate

Your child might not be great at being verbal but they understand exactly what you’re saying. Be kind and gentle with your children and talk them through situations so they are more willing to understand you better.


It’s found that many autistic children enjoy chewing on certain things. Your Child will mostly chew on clothes. However, in more horrific cases, your child might chew on something dangerous which can lead to serious damage to your child. We found in many cases batteries are swallowed which can lead to damage.


Dr. Chetan Ginigiri states that "Be it metal, plastic, glass, natural, man-made, chewable or toxic, small children cannot differentiate between edible/non-edible and safe/toxic." - You can find what to do if this situation arises here.


Child chewing on things they shouldn't is a situation that is very common and has a high chance of happening in your family. It is crucial to not dismiss this behaviour or try to outright stop it because your child will resort to anger and will continue to do it in secret where you won't be there to help.


What can I do?

Invest and encourage your child to stick to chewable jewellery which will keep your child safe from chewing on random dangerous items that could be harmful to your child.


It is easier to teach your child the differences of what they can and can't do if there is some compromise. Chewable jewellery is safe and sensory-friendly.


3. Understand

Autistic children will find certain unpredictable situations scary and will act on impulse when the time comes. In many cases, expensive possessions like TVs have been smashed. Jessica Sylfest from Huffpost has experienced this first hand and shares her story. She shares "This is our 3rd television in this room in two years. The first two were victims of my son’s juice cup in a moment of rage."


In these moments you will understandably feel very upset. Understand that this behaviour is common with autistic children and the best way to tackle this issue is to remain calm and protect your expensive possessions to prevent any valuables from breaking.


Jessica Sylfest also shares that "Life in our house became less about updating and more about repairing damage. Damage that did not exist when we moved in."



What can I do?

The best thing you can do as a parent is preventing issues like this from happening in the first place.


This site offers a great range of protection for your TV - https://thescreenprotector.co.uk/

When your child attempts to be destructive you won't be fixated on the damages, but rather focused on understanding your child better.

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