5 Ways Autistic Individuals Manipulate Other People

5 Ways Autistic Individuals Manipulate Other People

While it's never okay to manipulate other people, having insight into the dynamics at play will help you better provide support for autism and the assistance they require.

It may appear that they are experts at coming up with novel ways to wear you down in order to achieve what they want, but this may not always be true.

They may appear manipulative, but they are merely trying to deal in the best way they know how.

However, these are some ways autistic individuals manipulate other people.

Anyone working with autistic people may have to deal with unpleasant and unsettling behaviors, such as tantrums, yelling, breaking items, and even violence.

People on the autistic spectrum often use their difficulties in managing their emotions as a cover for domineering or manipulative behavior.

Also, autistic people use masking, which is a social survival strategy.

To conceal their peculiarities, autistic people often camouflage/mask their true nature during social interactions with neurotypicals.

Autistic people sometimes pretend to care about things they actually don't, and they pretend to care less about things they really do.

It primarily relies on the situation they are in and what they hope to achieve at that moment.

Read on to learn more about ways autistic individuals manipulate other people.

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Through Tantrums or Meltdowns 

Over time, autistic people may come to see meltdowns as a way to get what they want.

It's not uncommon for people with autism to use their frequent emotional dysregulation as a smokescreen to exert control or to manipulate others.

Meltdowns and tantrums in people with autism, whether they are children or adults, are notoriously long-lasting.

Knowing that their neurotypical child isn't like any other when upset might leave parents feeling helpless.

Oftentimes, autistic children have a strong negative reaction to the word "no," and many also struggle with pathological demand avoidance.

The two are among the many causes of tantrums and meltdowns, alongside things like sensory overload, social disorientation, emotional overwhelm, and so on.

It can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to distract or calm a child with an autism spectrum disorder.

It's easy to see how there are plenty of scenarios in which a parent or caregiver just can't "wait out" a tantrum.

This teaches them, unfortunately, that if they throw a fit long enough, the person who is refusing to give in to their demands will give in to them.

Through Masking 

Hiding one's true identity is a tough and tiring endeavor.

Unfortunately, for many persons on the autism spectrum, that is a daily occurrence.

This is one of the ways autistic individuals manipulate other people.

A lot of autistic persons, when they go somewhere where neurodiversity as a whole is not accepted, try to seem more "normal" in social situations.

Furthermore, some people may believe they must conceal neurodiverse characteristics in order to fit in socially.

In certain cases, autistic people can avoid being "outed" or harassed at school or the workplace if they wear a mask to hide their condition.

It's important to remember that this sort of action isn't always deliberate, yet it can still be seen as a form of manipulation.

This is because an autistic person, through masking, is trying to convince other people that they are someone they are not.

Even though it's not the healthiest way to act, it's the primary way autistic people learn to adapt to society.

By Faking Interests 

People on the autism spectrum who have reported fake interests do it out of a desire to fit in socially and because they find the practice to be useful.

Faking Interests is another one of the ways autistic individuals manipulate other people.

Autistic people may struggle to understand how to navigate social situations.

When trying to make and keep friends, they may become quickly stressed out or frustrated.

For autistic youth, making friends can be a terrifying, perplexing, and anxiety-inducing experience.

Individuals on the autistic spectrum may encounter obstacles in forming and maintaining friendships for a number of reasons.

They may engage in manipulative behaviors that involve faking interest in something as a coping mechanism.

For instance, claiming to enjoy art so that they can hang out with people who also enjoy art in order to gain the friendship of those who genuinely enjoy it.

It's also possible that they're only pretending to be into gardening so they can hang out with the real gardening enthusiast in their life.

By Playing People 

Children with Asperger's syndrome and High-Functioning Autism tend to be extremely intelligent, which can lead to more intricate kinds of manipulation.

In this case, autistic people seek to "play" individuals against each other.

This is done in the hopes that the request or demand would be met within the reactions caused by their actions.

For instance, an autistic child may attempt to turn the words of one parent against the other.

They may also attempt to convince one parent to join them in ganging up on the other parent.

To avoid this, ensure you have open and honest communication with your partner or co-parent.

Open communications promote efforts to be on the same page. 

By Promoting Confusion 

In cases where you feel perplexed or annoyed by the individual in question, use that as an emotional indication to pause and think things through.

To further confuse their parents, the manipulative child here brings up topics that are somewhat connected but ultimately unimportant.

The primary sign is that the parent has difficulty figuring out what the youngster needs.

The child succeeds in getting their way in the end because they've managed to confuse and frustrate their parents into giving in to their demands.

However, parents can learn to ask direct questions to lessen the confusion and avoid giving in to the frustration that comes from being confused.


There is always an unfulfilled need lurking beneath the manipulation.

One needs to focus on the actions rather than the person.

Disengage emotionally and guide the autistic person in a new direction.

Keep in mind that the issue in manipulative conduct is not the need itself but rather the behavior an autistic person is doing to achieve the requirement.

Assist them in finding the appropriate support for autism for their needs.

Some ways autistic individuals manipulate other people include, through tantrums or meltdowns, masking, faking interests, playing with people, and promoting confusion. 


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January 28th, 2023