Review – The Red Beast

The Red Beast: Controlling Anger in Children with Asperger’s Syndrome – K.I. Al-Ghani


A book for autistic children – althought it would also be suitable for other children who are having difficulty self-regulating – that aims to help them understand their own anger and how to deal with it.

All children get angry sometimes. All people get angry sometimes. However, many parents and professionals, and even autistic people themselves, describe times where anger in autistic individuals just seems to come out of nowhere. Whilst it seems random at first, when you begin to appreciate and understand the anxiety, fear and uncertainty that is a part of daily life for many autistic people – it seems less random.

This book acknowledges that and through a short story and accompanying illustrations portrays anger as a red beast that lives inside everyone. The beast is fine whilst it is asleep, but when it wakes up it grows and begins to do hurtful things. It explains that people have beasts that are easier and harder to waken.

With the Red Beast introduced, there is then a story about a little boy who gets accidentally hurt. When this happens the beast awakens and overtakes him, leading him to lash out. His teachers then help him to calm down and recapture the beast, and help him deal with the aftermath of his anger.

Rufus knew that taming the beast wasn’t easy and it would probably wake up again. However, now that he knew what to do, it would get easier and easier.

What I liked about this book as a teaching resource is that whilst it shows children that there are coping mechanisms they can use to help, it doesn’t paint them as bad for getting angry. There can be shame, embarassment, and upset from people in the aftermath of anger, and so discussions on anger need to be well timed and carefully worded. Whilst this shouldn’t be the only tool for helping a student understand their own emotions, it is a good one to have as part of a teacher’s or parent’s collection.

Is it worth reading?

If you have or work with autistic children then this book might help explain anger and how we can regulate our own anger. Due to the manner in which it is written, it is the kind of book that could be read and discussed during class circle time without singling out just autistic students as anger is experienced by all children.

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