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Help with child grabbing females
Old 03-18-2016, 08:44 PM
 
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I work with a 10 year old boy with fairly low functioning autism. He grabs/hits/kicks adults for attention frequently (though we are finally seeing a decrease in that behavior with the adults who follow his behavior plan!), but never with an intent to harm.

He also goes through what seem to be phases where he is frequently grabbing/hitting females chests and bottoms. He think the reaction he gets is funny and no matter how much I try, I can't control others reactions to him. After a lull of almost 2 months, today that behavior returned with full force- bus drivers, school nurse, classroom staff all got grabbed- and mom sees the same behavior at home, including when they're out in the community (he'll grab strangers).

This afternoon, he grabbed my crotch. This is a first as far as I know, and I reported it to my principal immediately. Though I know he didn't have that intention, I feel violated. And, I don't know how to diminish this behavior. We're already working on appropriate greetings (say hi, give high five, etc) as a replacement behavior for grabbing/hitting/kicking adults. He thinks everything is funny and generally loves to be left alone to stim and entertain himself, so "time outs" are fun for him. Positive praise and working towards a reward work well for him during academic tasks, but haven't had an impact on his behavior. It just explodes out of him. In at a loss for what to do next... Any suggestions?


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Old 03-19-2016, 04:06 AM
 
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1st question - is there any chance he's being abused? Anywhere he goes besides school and home? (You said mom knows about it, so I'm assuming you trust her, but as mandated reports, this has to cross our minds.)

But I do think, based on your description of the kid, that's it's far more likely he saw someone on TV grab someone and get a laugh, and is expecting the same reaction.

You said time out is more of a reward than a punishment, so you have to find a different punishment. Unfortunately, this is something that could get him in huge, as in life-altering, trouble as an adult, so it is important to get the message across that people will react badly to this, even if you feel "mean" because you know he doesn't mean any harm. If you have to shout, shout. If you have to take something away, take it away. What does he really hate?

It's obviously soooo hard for someone with autism to learn appropriate social cues, but it sounds like he does get basic cause and effect in the academic setting, so go from there. "If you touch someone here, they will ____." Get everyone you possibly can involved in the plan, so they know exactly what to do to reinforce what you've told him.

Have you had good luck using social stories with him? Or maybe a doll to demonstrate the areas he shouldn't touch? You could practice touching OK places like its hands, but not the innapropriate areas. Ask every morning, "Can we touch the dolly's hands?" "Yes, she likes to shake hands." "Can we touch the dolly's bottom?" "No, she'll cry." (or shout, or sing too loudly, or whatever you've decided)

Good luck! It's so hard when you know they don't understand, but you still have to correct the behavior.
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Replacement behavior
Old 03-21-2016, 06:57 PM
 
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Can you give him a replacement behavior, maybe carrying around a bike horn, or something else that when you squeeze it, it makes noise. Maybe if he gets the noise reaction (horn, bell) plus the physical input of squeezing, then you'll be able to break the habit easier. Since he's 10, and likes funny things, could you give him "fart putty". If you've never heard of it, it looks like playdoh, and makes a farting noise when you squeeze it. I know it's not the best, but it would replace the funny and squeezing. Then eventually transition him to regular stress clay/dough.

I would also make sure he has to carry a larger item, requiring two hands to carry it, in the hallways or during transitions to keep his hands occupied. That would also give him proprioceptive input like squeezing something would.
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