Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Screaming into pillows and punching mattresses: Effective ways to express extreme emotions without bothering other people

So one of the most common complaints that parents of autistic kids have is "oh no, my kid is too loud/too aggressive" and "he is hurting my ears/hurting me physically".

I am now 23 years old. I need to scream and punch things now, sometimes. I needed to scream and punch things in third grade, sometimes.

Instead of denying the legitimacy of this way of expression, lets see how people who have these needs can do these things in a safe manner that doesn't bother anyone.

The way I did it and still do it is that when I need to punch something, I punch a pillow or mattress on my bed.

When I need to scream, I scream into my pillow.

When I was even younger, my parents (had the monetary privilege to be able to have) bought an inflatable weighted punching bag.

I punched these things. I punched them very hard.

In regard to the pillow, I can scream into it until screaming is no longer possible.

What purpose do these actions serve? They vent troublesome emotions. They allow the expression of sensations which feel locked within my body screaming to get out.

I think a good alternative to a pillow for some children may be a large stuffed animal to scream into.

This behavior is not problematic as many professionals tell you. It is merely an alternative method of expressing difficult feelings and senses.


  1. we're on our second inflatable punch bag, it definitely helps my son on those days when he's very frustrated.

  2. we're on our second inflatable punch bag, it definitely helps my son on those days when he's very frustrated.

  3. I just bought my 7 yo a punching bag. Thanks for this post. I think a lot of people don't understand.

  4. I really like the content of this blog. i prefer to purchase different stuff from UK Largest Beds Company

  5. There are plenty of options for natural latex mattresses made in US and Canada. A chemical-free premade mattress Tempurpedic complaints

  6. we're on our second inflatable punch bag, it definitely helps my son on those days when he's very frustrated. cyber monday mattress

  7. ^ These last 3 comments appear to be spam.

    I would like to point out that expressing anger in the manners suggested is encouraged by many self-help books by therapists for the neurotypical population. It's probably not a bad idea to teach/provide neurotypical children with these outlets, and could probably also be a starting point to get NT children to empathize with Autistics: "Have you ever felt so frustrated you just wanted to scream?"

    I once (for a few hours) lost the ability to communicate and then to even think in language. I'm very verbal and this was in college, not as a small child, so that was pretty unfamiliar though I know it's the natural state for many Autistics. I began screaming because things felt WRONG and that was the only way I had to express it. I was thinking about how society treats mentally disabled people, remembering those like the Kennedy sister and Tennessee Williams's sister who were lobotomized. Had who they were violently erased. For being like me. This particular progressively-worsening meltdown had been precipitated by my mother attempting to physically force me to get up and do something when I was already so over-stressed I couldn't move. Is the analogy there obvious? The part where my family refused to accept my expression of psychological disability. People have a long history of doing some pretty hairy things to people whose minds they reject.