Everyone has good days and everyone has bad days...it is a part of life.
When you are having an off day you can tell your roommate, husband, wife, boss, friend, 'I'm not having a good day.' and they totally understand.
When a child with autism is having an off day they cannot always communicate verbally that they are having a bad day. It comes out in other forms; refusal to do work, not looking at you, and sometimes the child can hit or bite. They just have to be taught a socially acceptable way to communicate their feelings.
As the child gets upset sometimes they loose control of their actions and need help regaining control. Most often someone needs to help them do this. The best way to calm them down is to put pressure on their body; like a big, long hug.
To someone that does not know what is happening it may look like I am hurting or holding down the child but it is, in fact, helping them.
Today was one of those off days for one of my students and it definitely looked like I was very mean in the eyes of other teachers. After about an hour of 'hugging', the student calmed down and was able to continue with the day, as normal.
In the end it was a great learning experience for my teacher assistants, teachers at the school and for my student.