Characteristics of aggression among persons with autism spectrum disorders



Johnny L. Matson, Hilary L. Adams

Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders

November 2014



•Aggression is a common problem among persons with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

•Escaping tasks and gaining tangible items are common causes of aggression in ASD.

•Males on average had more severe aggression than females.

•Most of the available research is on children.


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a commonly occurring life long developmental disorder with core symptoms of communication and social skills deficits. Stereotyped and repetitive behaviors are also present. Along with these core symptoms, a number of co-occurring problems such as aggression are present. The present study reviewed papers that describe various characteristics of aggressive behaviors among persons with ASD. The preponderance of studies involved children who were male. Aggression was more severe in males. Where the maintaining variables were studied, tangible and escape, and some core aspects of ASD such as cognitive rigidity and poor social and communication skills, were associated with aggression. The implication of these data and other characteristics of this challenging behavior are discussed.









Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee