8 year old reactive/aggressive - at my wits end.


New Member
Stumbled across this site this evening! My son who is 8, has been diagnosed, initially as autistic and now as ADHD. He's been a busy, on the go wee guy since birth, read before he started school, talked late and we thought he had hearing issues but that's all clear. He doesn't listen, runs away, lashes out, will ignore nearly every request I make or the teachers. He has teacher aide time of about an hour a day at school but then during lunch hour he can't regulate his emotions so has been getting into fights. He's lashed out at a lot of kids in the past few weeks who have confronted him about something, like a fight over the flying fox at school or similar and he's attacked them badly. He has been known to stand purposefully on all the children's feet as they are sitting on the mat at school and they all scamper to get out of his way. On the flip side, he's a loving caring little boy who desperately wants friends. He has obsessions with people, generally girls and just wants to stroke their head or rest his head on their shoulder. He's constantly hugging me and telling me he loves me, he has a heart of gold.

I am incredibly worried about this anti social behaviour that is happening and doesn't seem to have changed with all the intervention that we've had and I've been starting to look at medication but it doesn't look like it does any good, can someone please shed some light on this for me? I'm so worried that he's going to hurt someone seriously soon or worse when he becomes an adult. I'm reasonably anti medications for my kids but this is quite hypocritical of me as I've been on them myself for most of my life so I understand the benefits of how life changing they can be if the right one is found. I'm just unsure as I seem to have read quite a lot of negative stuff about it here.

Can it help aggression at all or does it just make it worse?



Well-Known Member
I'm sorry you are having problems. I'm not sure where you live, but each country handles autism issues difference. Would you mind telling us? We have Canadians and one from the uk.

Medication is not the go-to therapy to help Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), if he has it. Various interventions are.

I have a 21 year old with high functioning autism and he sounds a lot like him.We took him to a neuropsychologist and his life improved once he learned better ways to cope with a world that moved too fast for him and that he did not really understand. Does your son get any interventions?

Many autistic kids are reactive when young, but can learn to control it and most do improve with the right interventions. ADHD medications never helped our son. They made him crazy. I am not exaggerating. Often autististics are actually very sensitive to medication. We quit worrying about the ADHD and concentrated on the autism. My son hates medications, they don't change his autism, and he is happy being himself so autism does not require medications. Interventions are very helpful. He is doing a lot of growing up even now. He is a very polite, sweet young man and is able to keep a part time job and live alone and take care of most things and almost never even gets angry (he raged as a young ;un). He got a lot of his interventions in school, which is a go-to place in the U.S. That's why I asked where you lived...

Your son is not acting antisocial. He is acting like a typical autistic. They can have very low frustration levels, but can learn to do better. They also often do not understand if they have been insulted or not...do not "get" constructive criticism and tend to act out if not taught better ways of coping and interacting. This is part of the disorder, not antisocial personality disorder. Since social skills is the main weakness, social skills help is EXTREMELY helpful.

There is a lot of hope with autism. Hang in there. I never thought it would end up this way, but everyone who knows my son feels they have to come up to either myself or my husband to tell us what a super young man he is...how kind and polite and sweet. They didn't see how he threw his time out chair as a strong four year old. He has calmed down to become the wonderful young man he is today and your son can too. He loves you and wants to please you, but he can't right now. Can you get him involved in autism interventions with professionals?
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Well-Known Member
I'm not sure how you get from a diagnosis of Autism, to a diagnosis of ADHD. Normally, if you are on the autism spectrum, that more than covers most other possible diagnoses on the developmental side (ADHD, Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), etc. are frequently part of autism). I'd be putting the focus on the autism factor - and getting school accommodations and assistance with that (an IEP for one).

Who did the autism diagnosis? and the ADHD diagnosis?
Has he ever had a comprehensive evaluation - the kind that take 8-10 hours of testing, often over more than one day so the kid isn't overwhelmed? If not, I think you should pursue that.


New Member
Hi, thanks for your replies, I'm in New Zealand.

I found the switch in diagnosis confusing to be perfectly honest. The pediatrician diagnosed both times but only basically after the teachers and I filled out a couple of tick box forms, I struggled to see how a complete diagnosis could be made by ticking a few boxes. I believe he is autistic as well. he has obsessions (currently it's all about google maps and road maps, previously it was lego), he obsesses over people, he needs to be wrapped in his blanket for comfort. He has very low tolerance levels and reacts quickly. I'm trying to give him different more positive ways to react, he knows afterwards that what he did wasn't the right thing to do. He's gluten, egg, dairy, white fish, nuts free plus refuses to eat a whole raft of other foods because of texture. He's healthy and we see a pediatric dietician regularly to check his diet and weight.

We have IEP's regularly with the school but funding is a struggle here and there is minimal support for children who are high functioning. It's a battle all the way and more often than not the children don't receive any funding and are left to struggle their way through the system. I've already been told that if he continues to behave this way in intermediate (11 & 12 years old) then he will be stood down. The IEP's are definitely helpful and his behaviour in the structured classroom environment has improved considerably, it's when he has free play that the problems arise. It's a battle to keep him in the "system" so to speak here. I'm constantly fighting so that we can still have the authorities involved that need to be, i.e. here in New Zealand it's the Ministry of Education or RTLB. They keep taking him off their role because he's not severe enough. I try for a referral to Child & Adolescent Mental Health but have yet to hear anything back and also another service provider here, Explore. It's a constant battle.

There's been a big push from the teachers and Special Education to get him onto the medication because of his violent outbursts (Ritalin) but it's always reactionary, never seeking out or cruel intentionally. Especially now that he's been rediagnosed adhd.


Well-Known Member
Ritalin would not be the drug of choice for violent outbursts. I'm from a long line of ADHD people - including my kids. Violence isn't really a normal part of ADHD. If a person is ADHD plus also violent (even just "reactive" violence) then I'd be suspecting either a different diagnosis, or ADHD PLUS something else. And the "something else" usually isn't something that responds well to stimulants.

Autism spectrum isn't primarily medicated, although mood stabilizers are sometimes used to calm the extreme irritability that can be a part of their growing up. Mental health issues can be comorbid with ADHD - and with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). There's just SO many possibilities, that it really requires a solid detailed (comprehensive) evaluation. These usually require multiple hours of direct testing, not just third-party questionaires although those will also be used.

Sounds to me like the first push is to get a really solid diagnosis. That should give more ammunition in dealing with the school and others.