Autism / Autism Spectrum Support Group

Autism is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder which manifests itself in markedly abnormal social interaction, communication ability, patterns of interests, and patterns of behavior. Although the specific etiology of autism is unknown, many researchers suspect that autism results from genetically mediated vulnerabilities to environmental triggers.

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hurting animals ):

My son has recently srarted hurt our family cat. The cat has long hair and my son is pulling clumps out. I haven't figured out why, he does it when he is happy and when he is mad. The poor cat has been taught not to scratch or bite so it doesn't defend itself. My son is now searching the house just to get the cat. Aside from getting rid out the cat what can I do? (FYI: my son is non verbal and 8 years old, very strong.)



Sorry I don't have an answer for you as it has just recently come up here also. Cheyenne used to love animals, still does at times. she has gone from yelling at me while I am digging in the dirt accidently cutting earthworms that she would take out and name to kicking the dog for no reason. Frustration maybe? They are mad at something and don't know what else to take it out on? While I feel bad for your cat I am happy to know that I am not alone in one of the problems I have here. We have 3 dogs, 2 cats, and a rabbit. If I think of a way to make Cheyenne understand that hurting animals is wrong I will definately share the info with you.

My daughter when she was younger had some major issues with animals cats and fish but I cannot get into detail for some of the things she did were hidden from her and I fear she may read this sometime and find out what we had hidden from her just so she doesn't get deeply depressed. It is common you have to watch animals with these children but just like anything else they can be socially taught how to treat them do this by social stories and constant reminders and social cueing. She is older now and is much better with animals
I actually don't fear getting animals now

Ugh! We are there too! Just had a bout tonight! We've had a family cat for as long as I can remember. My son continues to hurt them by holding them and grabbing them! He's 15 and it's still not improving and I am so frustrated. I know my son's doctor told us that "fuzzy animals and autistic kids don't go well together" and we learned the hard way with dogs so we don't even try that one anymore. I don't know what to do - I've threatened to get rid of the cats all together. My son is very verbal - high functioning and we still are battling it! And trust me - the cats have 'punished' him for years with their claws but it doesn't stop him. I'm sure he loves the way they feel - I think it's a sensory thing but I have yet to find an alternative! And any type of punishment so far has no affect!

Hi Mary
I am thinking.... maybe it is sensory thing for your son . The way the fur feels, and the way it feels to pull it.
I do not think your son is trying to hurt the cat, but to meet a sensory need.
being Non Verbal, I would suggest showing him how to pet the cat. And having a replacement for him to meet the sensory need. Since the cat is not responding, I am thinking the only thing he is getting from pulling the hair is how it feels.
I bet you could find something as close to the same feel for him, and maybe some rice or dried beans he can play with in a bin. Or better yet, finger paint or shaving cream it is soft and smooth. Just my thoughts!
Good Luck~

At present, we do not have animals, but before we lost our 17 year old cat, I did not let my son around the cat, without me there. I 'helped' him pet our beloved, old and very arthritic cat. Otherwise, he was not allowed free access to him, because I felt I couldnt take the chance that one or both would hurt each other. I know this is a very difficult situation, but everyone needs to be protected, including the animal. I would urge consultation with both a psychologist and a sensory certified therapist. To see if this behavior can be traced / assessed, to see if it is sensory or exactly what is prompting the behavior. IMHO it is a behavior that needs to be addressed, we certainly would not want it to progress to people.
My son has episodes of injurious behaviors to himself and others, our team feels this is 99.99% due to his frustration and going into sensory overload, which then produces a fight or flight response. We 'practice' new situations (which is usually our trigger), and use social stories, visual cue cards and lots of praise when he is able to not meltdown. Please dont take that to mean that we dont stillhave the problem. We had missed days of school last week (due to weather), which really caused his anger and injurious behaviors to flare, and I have the scars and bruises to prove it.
It just seems everything is so difficult sometimes. I wish I had a magic wand to wave, so all of this would be took away from our children.
Im so sorry that the children, the parents and the animals have this issue to face.
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