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1newteach's Message:

Hi,
I have been offered a teaching position in a self-contained Autistic classroom K-3rd grade. There are seven children and most are low functioning. Three of the children are still in pull-ups. However, the behavior that most concerns me is, spitting, two children have a tendency of spitting at the teachers in the classroom. Can anyone offer any suggestions on how to handle this type of behavior? This is my first year teaching!

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
duchon 12-20-2012 06:22 PM

I don't know if this would work as is seems to only 50% of the time, but Reinforcement Displace. This is where you reinforce the undesired behavior for a period of time and then remove the reinforcer. The idea is that you make the behavior dependent on the reinforcer and then when the reinforcer is no longer present the behavior becomes extinct.

Momof1gr8boy 11-15-2012 05:57 PM

Karenl, I can tell you from much experience that taking such a combative and punitive approach is only going to have adverse repercussions!! First of all, as this child grows older, how are you possibly going to 'squirt' anything into their mouths without using physical force? Secondly, a large number of individuals with autism, such as my son, actually prefer tastes that are sharp, bitter, or otherwise undesirable to most other people, and lastly, the amount of attention and energy that must be put into this "punishment" often gives the child not only the desired reward, (attention), but changes the focus from whatever they were spitting to avoid to the new tussle of forcing them to be punished (for being disabled)! Please, rethink this one!!

Hopingtolearn 06-10-2011 09:26 AM

The answers you all suggested sound WONDERFUL. Especially having the student clean up their own "mess." Any suggestions for eliminating spiiting, scratching, etc. for students whose intelligence is very low, and are multiply handicapped.

karenl 08-12-2008 08:50 AM

Get permission from parents first--then squirt lemon juice in the child's mouth

newspedteach 07-31-2008 06:22 AM

I'm SO sorry to hear this. I hope you get another position right away. I can't imagine how upset you are right now

PPCDTeacher 07-30-2008 09:25 PM

I am so sorry

1newteach 07-30-2008 04:51 PM

I just received a phone call from the principal where I was supposed to start work this fall. Well it appears I donít have the required credentials for the position and so I am out of job this late in July! I wanted to call him a !@*#($()%_$#$@ but I held my composure. I know this is not the vent room but I felt I needed to vent here where everyone has been so helpful!

Rockyfan81 07-29-2008 03:08 PM

I used to work with a little girl who was almost completely nonverbal and who constantly used spitting and scratching as a defense mechanism (anytime you asked her to do work or anything she didn't want to do, she scratched, hit, kick or spit in your face). It was a really effective tool for her at home and with other kids so the behavior had been reinforced for her whole life. Although my team and I were not able to completely get rid of the behavior, we had a behavior specialist come in and work one-on-one with her to help curb the behavior. The behavior specialist worked with her on an undesirable activity for 15 minutes at a time, immediately rewarding her with a desired treat (in this case, Cheetos were the only thing the student responded to..) for every thirty seconds that passed in which she did not spit. It was very intensive and time consuming but it did help reduced the frequency of her spitting.

Another tip--For some students with Autism, spitting serves as a sensory stimulation moreso than as a tool (as with the student I described). For these students, you may be able to redirect the spitting behavior by substituting a more appropriate activity that meets those same needs like whistling or blowing a pinwheel. Good luck!

paraK 07-23-2008 06:29 PM

Make it a "target behavior" and get the parents involved. Reward or penalize appropriately.

newspedteach 07-19-2008 09:27 PM

congrats on your new job, first of all!!

The first thing I thought of was doing a FBA (functional behavior assessment) to analyze why he is doing the spitting....

I agree with Betsy.....they may not do this with you. I would have something set up, but don't do anything until/unless they start spitting this year. POSITIVE reinforcement and natural consequences (the cleaning up) are best....I've never had the pleasure of a spitter, but I've had kids mess their pants out of anger/frustration and I had one clean himself up while I calmly monitored. It was difficult not to show any emotion, but I did it and he stopped pretty quickly. We gave him lots of attention for the other great things he was doing...he was a pretty messed up little guy, so what he was doing was understandable.....

I know this isn't the same and I wasn't getting spit on, but they may just need some minimal positive reinforcement and redirection. I wish you much luck and I hope you'll come back and report how they are doing.

heart4sped 07-19-2008 08:41 PM

My first year at my current position, I had an extremely small classroom, but with only 5 students and 2 adults. However, over the next couple of years, it grew to 9 students and 3 adults. We were stepping over one another constantly. Eventually, I was moved to a bigger class and enjoyed it for 4 years. Each year though, I never knew if I'd be sharing a classroom with another teacher or not. This year, we're moving to a new school, and my new classroom is considerably smaller than those of the general education classes, also smaller than my previous classroom. I've come full circle and will have 6-7 children with hopefully 3 adults again. So, I plan to purchase the book that PPCD teacher mentioned. It's difficult, especially with students who have emotional outbursts and need their "space", as well as students who use therapy equipment daily.
As for the spitting situation, I've only had to deal with it a couple of times. One little girl would spit whenever she got mad. After cleaning it up herself and missing out on some of her favorite activities, she learned to keep it in her mouth. Another little boy would spit on the floor or the table. He'd seen his older brother spit on the ground. I made him clean it up and told him that it was nasty, germy, would make him sick and he'd have to go to the doctor to get a shot. (the whole scary scenario!) After that, I gave him 3 choices. 1. spit on the floor and then clean it up by himself. 2. Spit in a tissue and throw it away. 3. Don't spit. If he chose #1 or #2, the rest of the students and I continued working and didn't give him a lot of attention. After a while, spitting wasn't very fun for him, so he moved on to something else. But that's a different story! I think handling spitting really depends on the student and the reasons behind it. If you can figure out WHY, you're halfway to the solution. And it may have been a situational behavior. He may not feel the need to spit with you. (You can hope!) Just in case, you may want to do a purchase order for some of those face masks. Hope you have a great year!

PPCDTeacher 07-18-2008 08:32 AM

Its going to be okay! At the beginning of my career, I had 7 kids in a room asmaller than that, which I had to share with the speech teacher part time, and I SOOOOO hear you on your fears and worries. Do you have Debbie Diller's "Spaces and Places" book? That might give you some ideas on arranging a small room...she has a lot of good tricks. If I lived closer I would love to come help you out because I was in your situation 12 or 13 years ago. Unfortunately, I'm on the other side of the US...sorry But I know you will be okay. Its not about the space you have, its about going in with a positive mind set, and being ready and willing to work things out, speaking positively to the kids and knowing that you can do this.... which you CAN. Congratulations on your new job!

1newteach 07-17-2008 08:41 PM

I accepted the position!! I still feel unsure about the whole thing. Besides the fact that there are behavior concerns SPITTING. I also feel the room is VERY SMALL for 7 children and 3 adults. (1teacher and 2 aides) The room is about 16x12 and very cluttered, I mentioned my concern to the principal and she agreed to work with me to rearrange the room. On the other hand for those of you who know how difficult it is to secure a position in the Chicago Public School System, I guess I feel lucky to have been offered a position. This is especially true due to the fact that I mailed out 80 resumes. I am going to go in with an open mind and do the best I can for the children. I will be visiting and asking for advise throughout the year since this will be my first year and many of you are so knowledgeable! Any advise for preparing for the school year is welcomed.
Thanks to all!!

molliemarie 07-15-2008 01:13 PM

I have been there. I have two spitters in my classroom. One spits when she gets mad and has a melt down. The other one spits because he has seen her spit, so he would spit when he didn't want to quit what he was doing. I have had many of people (professionals) tell me to ignore the behavior and it will go away. This is a hard behavior to ignore especially when it is in your face. My director now threatens them with wearing a surgical mask. They have been shown the mask and knows that if they spit they have to wear the mask. So far they have not had to wear the mask. Last year we had very few spitting incidents.

bis4betsy 07-15-2008 07:11 AM

Don't stress out over this too much because you might not have the same problem with these kids it could be their way of communicating their frustration with a situation or a person. I had a spitter, a boy with autism but pretty verbal, and I was annoyed that my district support told us to ignore the spitting in our face, it was just gross. He would spit at some people more than others and always when he was mad. After observing him the district advisors said they thought he did not feel like he could trust us to follow through on what we told him he could do. (more like the para's who didn't like him weren't following through and that's who he usually spit on, but that's another story!)
We took data (what happened immediately before, who he was spitting at, situation, etc.) and then we started using a reward system (the district is big on the ABA model of behavior modification) he got a star for doing a task and when he had 5 stars he got his chosen reward. Whenever he sat down we had to ask him "What are you working for?" and then we rewarded him for sitting down the right way, picking up the pencil, for writing a letter, etc. It was really tedious at first but eventually we were able to lengthen the time between rewards and he discontinued the spitting. It took about 4 weeks and it got worse before it got better so hang in there!

PPCDTeacher 07-14-2008 07:47 PM

Ah, spitting.... one of the bonuses of special ed. I have a couple kiddos who used to spit. One of them spit in my eye 2 years ago and it took all my willpower to stay chilled out and remain calm. 1st, keep out of spitting distance if you think they're going to spit at you-- I mean, keep your face out of their face, if you know what I mean! You might want to write some social stories about spitting and teach them how spitting is not okay, and teach them other things to do besides spit. Do they have anything to chew on, like chewelry, to keep their mouths occuppied so they don't feel like spitting? Can you find out WHY they spit and keep them from doing it? These are the things that helped us get rid of our spitting problem.

btw... chewelry:
http://store.schoolspecialtyonline.n...ckr18UaKRI%3AS

Speced9 07-14-2008 05:55 PM

Wow..spitting. I'm at a loss. If I had a child that spit at me, I would definitely be consulting w/ the school psych on how to handle it. I'm willing to bet that someone here knows a plan of action though.

1newteach 07-14-2008 04:55 PM

Hi,
I have been offered a teaching position in a self-contained Autistic classroom K-3rd grade. There are seven children and most are low functioning. Three of the children are still in pull-ups. However, the behavior that most concerns me is, spitting, two children have a tendency of spitting at the teachers in the classroom. Can anyone offer any suggestions on how to handle this type of behavior? This is my first year teaching!




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