AAC for an Aggressive, Nonverbal Child with Autism

Categories: / /
Age Group: /
Resouce Types:

Question: I have an autistic student that is nonverbal. He is in the fifth grade. I am a new therapist for this child. The special ed teacher has asked for some guidance on any AAC/communication technique for him. They have tried PECS notebooks, communication wall, and Ipad apps. He eats and destroys everything. Nothing has worked to motivate him into working. He can sign for eat, drink, and more. This year the child has become more aggressive as well as they kick and bite the special ed teacher. The teachers are at their wits end with this child and any advice would be greatly appreciated.


1.Identify the function of those behaviors:

  • The child is highly motivated to communicate with you, but he’s choosing to communicate by kicking and biting.
  • Why is he kicking and biting?  What message is that communicating?
  • What AAC communication method can you give him that will be easier and more effective than kicking and biting?

2. Offer that AAC alternative and make it WORK!  It has to be more effective than what he’s doing now.  Hand-Over-Hand to help him use that AAC to communicate that need whenever he starts biting and kicking (or preferably, right before).

3. Make biting and kicking ineffective: Do not let him get his way when he kicks and bites until he uses the AAC method.

4. Once he reliably uses the AAC instead of being aggressive, start VERY GRADUALLY increasing the expectations on him (like waiting 10 seconds before getting his way)

Dealing with Challenging Behaviors Webinar