I teach in a self-contained middle school sped classroom. Applied Behavior Classroom (ABC) is the official title. This is my first job, and today was just my 5th day in the class. I am struggling a little bit because I haven't had much time to get to know the students or their behaviors. I haven't had much time to even read their files, but I will get to today since we had early release and the students are gone. Anyway, I have a male student who has some pretty aggressive behaviors, but I think their main function is work avoidance. One of his behaviors that absolutely needs to end immediately is that he spits at me and the aids. We can deal with the hitting and throwing things on the floor because those behaviors are already decreasing since I've been here, but I'm not quite sure how to stop him from spitting. He gets angry when someone is making him work, so he spits at them. That's hard to ignore. So, I just don't know what to do about it, especially since I don't know him very well. The aids, however, have been in the classroom long before me, and they say that he's always done this...because my first thought was that it was because I was new in the room. His mother seems completely in denial about his behaviors, but I'm pretty sure that's because he has the run of the house when he gets home, so that doesn't help. We are very consistent here, but if that's not the case at home, it's hard to keep the students on track. I only have 6 students but they all have been labeled autistic as well as have other mental and behavior disorders. I have 3 aids in the room currently, but the school is looking to hire a 4th, which is amazing. I have 2 students that are ARDed for 1:1, but this student who spits is not one of them. Although, if someone is not staying on him about working, he just sits there. He's probably the highest functioning academically speaking, so I'm trying to make sure he has things that are challenging for him, but not frustrating. I just don't know what to do. Any help would be amazing! Thanks!
First of all, just the fact that you are trying to deal with this right away is great- behaviors have to be nipped in the bud! I have a few questions though:
How old is this student?
What is the functioning level of the student? Verbally, receptive language, academics, socially? How much does he understand?
The behavior plan you choose will depend on the functioning level of the student. If you are talking about a non-verbal, low functioning student, your plan to decrease the behavior and eventually extinguish it will differ greatly if your student is higher functioning. If you describe him better I could try to throw out a couple of ideas...
Sounds like a tough class! Good luck!
And tried everything! This has ALWAYS worked for me-no matter the diagnosis: Downs', autism, developmental disability.... I tell the student that spitting is allowed ONLY at the sink, and immediately take/escort/motor him there, and stand behaind him until he has no more spit to spit out, then stay for a few more moments. We then return immediately to desk, table, center, etc.
I do this EVERY TIME he starts spitting, and it soon extinguishes the behavior... no matter the level of functioning!
Forget behavior plans, ignoring, cost-response, reward systems-they don't work (believe me I've tried them all for the past 10 years with spitters).
Somehow acknowledging to the student that it seems "you need to spit" and giving them a place to do it until they have no more spit to spit!!! takes the wind out of their sails, so to speak, with this behavior.Even the lowest functioning student gets pretty tired of having to go through this after awhile-but you have to be strong and tough it out!
Let me know how things go!
I had a spitter last year, and I too had to COMPLETELY ignore it. Don't get me wrong, it was really hard to ignore, but the function of her spitting was escape, so if I did anything other than keep my academic demand, she was getting what she wanted. So I just pretended I didn't even see it. I did eventually laminate a folder and made it my "spit blocking folder." When she started spitting (because she never did it just once) I would just hold up the folder so that it wouldn't hit me. Unfortunately, the family moved before the behavior was extinguished, but it was starting to decrease.
I have also used the technique that bbteach mentioned. I got the idea from my mother. She said that my grandmother used it on one of my uncles whenever he was younger. We didn't have a sink in my classroom at that time, so I made the rule that spitting had to be done in the trash can. I couldn't make a big deal out of it though---Just had to calmly & matter of factly direct the student to the trash can, then back to work. No fuss, no muss, well sometimes a little muss. After a few times of spitting till there was no more spit (& no drama from the teacher!), it wasn't nearly as fun. I like the idea about the plastic folder for a spitting guard! I'll definitely remember that if I have another spitter.
I've used over-correction (spitting till there is no more spit) on my spitter too. It's worked although he does need refresher from time to time. I think this is becuase he's pretty low functioning and forgets that it is not allowed.
If you need any help or have questions about over-correction let me know.
Thank you everyone for your suggestions. Sorry for the delayed response, but I had another issue on Friday with a different student and got very distracted. We were back to school today after the long weekend and began a new semester today.
I have tried redirecting, but not to the sink or trash can, so that could be VERY helpful. This student is verbal, but only uses his language when prompted. I think he gets confused because English is not the language they use at home, so sometimes he will try to talk in his other language. He can do single-digit addition and he reads CVC and a few CVCC words. He counts to 30 on his own, without visuals, but he can count to 50 with visual assistance. Knows the order of the alphabet, but does not say the letters in order unless they are right in front of him. He is 12 years old. Hope this helps with knowing his functional level.
I think this would be less difficult if I knew my students better, but I know that will take time, and I hope I can get it together soon.
Interesting how everyone responded similarly. What I was going to say for the level you described or higher is over-correction, which is basically what e/o above said about spitting. Every time he spits and you make him spit into the sink. It's like the kid in my school who would throw things onto the floor, his teacher would dump a box of 1000 paperclips on the floor and he had to pick them up. You can be assured the the throwing stopped immediately!!! It's not worth the behavior anymore. Also, by doing this you are in control- by you ignoring him until it got to a point where you couldn't ignore him anymore, that gave him the attention and he won the battle. He is not the winner when he has to spit repeatedly into the sink. However, a really low functioning child, I'm referring to the one who doesn't even get simple imitation skills, is totally unaware of surroundings or functional use of objects, this child will not work with overcorrection because the logic is way beyond him. bttteach, I'm not sure how low fucntioning you've worked with, I would be really interested to hear about the lowest functioning child you've tried that with!
What do you do if the student is ONLY spitting on the bus? This is the issue we are having. Our student is undiagnosed with mental illness. We are not seeing this behavior in school, but the other students, staff, and bus are covered with saliva by the time they arrive at school.