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Should I "give in" to an Autistic Child's "obsessions?" or is that making his obsessions worse?? HELP!

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by 1ms111, May 9, 2012.

  1. 1ms111

    1ms111 New commenter

    I'm hoping someone can help. I have a child in my class with ASD. He gets very upset if he cannot be at the front of the line for lunch.

    Recently, he ran so fast to get to the front of the line, that he banged his head and needed a cold compress. He was distraught because he had not managed to get to the front of the line. The nursery nurse who was giving him medical attention was shouting at him, telling him that it was his fault that he was now not at the front of the line because he was running. The child was so distressed and becoming further distressed at her taunting, that I went out to the cloakroom area to intervene. At which point, she barked at me that I was causing his obsessions to get worse because I usually allowed him to be at the front of the line. A side issue, I went to the HT about my nursery nurse's attitude towards the children and she was given warnings.

    However, I am interested to see if anybody who has worked with children with ASD, who display obsessive behaviours similar to that outlined above, could provide me with some advice. Am I making things worse if I allow him to go at the front of the line?

    Thanks

    An NQT in need!
     
  2. 1ms111

    1ms111 New commenter

    I'm hoping someone can help. I have a child in my class with ASD. He gets very upset if he cannot be at the front of the line for lunch.

    Recently, he ran so fast to get to the front of the line, that he banged his head and needed a cold compress. He was distraught because he had not managed to get to the front of the line. The nursery nurse who was giving him medical attention was shouting at him, telling him that it was his fault that he was now not at the front of the line because he was running. The child was so distressed and becoming further distressed at her taunting, that I went out to the cloakroom area to intervene. At which point, she barked at me that I was causing his obsessions to get worse because I usually allowed him to be at the front of the line. A side issue, I went to the HT about my nursery nurse's attitude towards the children and she was given warnings.

    However, I am interested to see if anybody who has worked with children with ASD, who display obsessive behaviours similar to that outlined above, could provide me with some advice. Am I making things worse if I allow him to go at the front of the line?

    Thanks

    An NQT in need!
     
  3. flapfish

    flapfish New commenter

    I would use a social story for this sort of situation. read it at the beginning of each playtime.
     
  4. If at all possible you should try to FEED this obsession or use it in some way. It is counterintuitive, like telling someone to feed a bite to make it stop but it can work for you. Trying to stop it hasn't worked very well for you, has it? If it seems unfair to others - explain it to them and tell them that you understand. They need to understand that sometimes children have special needs and that it is compassionate for them to be understanding. A good life lesson and they got it from you.

     
  5. I prefer to use their obsessions as a reward, eg he does his work and then he can go at the front of the line as his reward. After a couple/few weeks, offer a choice of rewards: he does his work and then he can go at the front of the line or he can go on the computer for 10 minutes or anything else he really likes.. The idea is that he will then choose the other option and the lining up first will be let go through his own choice. The difficulty will arise if he decides he wants the other reward but then expects to line up first anyway. In addition, if children see that he is allowed to go to the front of the line, it would need explaining to them.

    However, my first instinct is to go with the social story and teach him the rules about lining up. He cannot always have what he wants and he needs to learn appropriate social behaviour. When he can see visually the consequences of actions this should help. I'd have a consequences board showing something like: if he takes his turn in the line, he goes to lunch; if he pushes to the front, he waits in class and has his lunch later (a few minutes should be all that are needed).

    To change behaviour, it's important to understand it as fully as possible. In our special school, we use 'iceberg' or 'STAR' analyses. More info available at: http://senteaching.info/how-can-i-use-the-iceberg-analysis-to-understand-the-behaviour-of-a-pupil-with-asd/ Sorry, chrome doesn't like links; you just need to copy and paste it into the address bar. Click on 'next' to go to the STAR analysis article.

    I'm undecided on what is the best option in this case: it's difficult for strangers to comment without observing this child.
     
  6. The advice you have been given so far is similar to what I would say.

    I work in a special needs school Ian class where all children have asd, 'obsessions' come in many forms and most of the time these obsessions can have advantages, like using as a reward. Children with asd need to learn the rules of society like lining up but behaviour can't change without intervention which should not be being shouted at, think sensory overload and auditory processing difficulties. A social story would be good if it is at the child's ability level, if not try different visual clues like photos of children showing the order to line up in, and rewarding the good behaviour.

    Hope this helps
     
  7. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    I have a boy with ASD in my class and he has a particular day of the week to be line leader for all the lining up that needs to be done. The rest of the children are quite happy with this arrangement and once he had the routine in his head he was much better about it.
     
  8. IMO this is more of a control thing and should not be allowed to continue. Your rules should dictate when he goes at the front. Perhaps as a reward, perhaps one day per week or you could even choose a completely different place in the line for him him to go every time. Either way it should be on your terms entirely. Easier said than done i know but it will really help him in the long run to know that he cannot dictate.
    I have a class of 7 ASD boys and 3 of them had this exact issue. It took me a while but they now realise that they cannot control the order of a class line, that is my job. Now they manage fine without being at the front and do not even run to the front when i'm not there as they know that i will move them. Sounds harsh, but having worked with a range of older children with behaviour issues and ASD, they all have control issues that started as small thing like this. Just my 2p worth.
     
  9. 1ms111

    1ms111 New commenter

    This is true. I shall explain to my class why at times the child may have a special reward that allows him to go at the front of the line.

    Thanks. Useful advice. [​IMG]
     
  10. 1ms111

    1ms111 New commenter



    Thank you for your advice. I am currently exploring the website that you gave the address for. I intend as another person suggested, to use a social story initially.

    I intend also to provide the child with lining up as a reward when he manages to sit on his carpet square for five minutes during a carpet session without getting up and wondering around with it!

    This is all very useful. Thanks again.
     
  11. 1ms111

    1ms111 New commenter

    THanks to everyone who took the time to post. All of the advice is very useful and I shall certainly be implementing some of these ideas asap.

    Thank you.
     
  12. figrowan

    figrowan New commenter

    I realise this has been answered but I need to add a couple of things in regard to the social story. are you or do you know anyone trained in Carol Grays social stories? Too many social stories are used as rules and instructions. This child has no understanding of the social context of lines. The preception its about 'control' is our outside perception as is that its an 'obsession.' He could indeed be trained as a puppy as I indeed have done with some asd children with rules and rewards, and certainly should be rewarded for his efforts but he will not fully understand nor be able to transfer this to other lines situations until some focussed teaching on lines - which may tale a term or more - is done. Carol gray talks about 'life on planet earth' in many of her examples. Apologies if you know all this, I work in a special needs school and some staff still don't use social stories properly. Please try to access her latest book which actually has a cd of stories to edit and use for yourself. She has a maths formula to ensure the balance of context, preception, explanatory and instructions (including instructions directed at staff eg your irate dinner lady) etc is correct - instructions should be few, social context and explanation of perception high. Then, other lining situations should be looked at - it may become a book eg lining up at the cinema, lining up at macdonalds to establish a reference book for 'all about lining up.' This can be differentiated for younger children with photos. His distress and anxiety comes from total misunderstanding - it could be used as a treat in this case to suit our social needs but the heart of the matter will not be fully addressed and may cause him distress in future situations. He may seem competitive - there will be a reason behind it, driven by anxiety about something. There are many sorts of social stories but Carols are the original which do what they are supposed to do. When I went to Japan very much appreciated a social story on what to do at a big wedding - my actions otherwise would have seemed very rude. Luckily no-one shouted at me. Also, staff clearly need help to understand his perceived behaviours and obsessions. I'd call an obsession something like Thomas the tank or drawing maps - something they use to self sooth which is familiar and predictable, life of planet earth is anything but.
     
  13. figrowan

    figrowan New commenter

    You may need to do some research on why he needs to be first in this context - is there a particular food? Does he like to know what's on offer? A part of the arrangement could be letting him have a look first or even letting the cook know in advance to keep certain things to one side and the social story would reassure him his food is there - this is very hard in mainstream I know and needs to be done after careful judging, observation and discussion and may not be appropriate. The educational needs of asd children are completely different to mainstream, they need help and teaching around this stuff. Our cook has notes on every child next to the hatch. We do work towards moving the children on when they are settled though! Of course he may well just like to be first but I'd vary the day that he can go first. Be careful using it as a reward - I wouldn't, its not very fair if he's having a rubbish day.
     
  14. Hi. I have worked with many children with ASD and have have received extensive training. I'm currently the SENCo at my primary school. I think a social story is a good idea as someone has said previously. Also, I think if you had a box filled with each child's name in the class , you could pull out a name at the beginning of the day and that person could be the 'line leader' for the day. This means your child with ASD will know who is going to be at the front of the line and therefore know in advance if it is or is not his turn that day. ASD children find it easier if they are prepared for things in advance. I think the fact that he is becoming so worked up about getting to the front is because there is no structure to lining up. So maybe, if you brought a bit of structure to lining up, he would find it easier to cope with. After each child's name is removed from the box, I would keep the removed names somewhere else until all the names have been chosen, then put them all back in and start again! That way, at least your child would see that everyone is getting a fair chance at being a line leader. The other children will like the fact that is it fair too. I hope this helps! Good luck.
     
  15. dozymare1957

    dozymare1957 Occasional commenter

    No, definitely not. But remember that you will have to word things carefully when dealing with the child. People with ASD sometimes do not understand what is said to them and need things expressed and explained in very straightforward language. "Running is dangerous" makes sense. "If you run, you might get hurt" doesn't. Both statements may result in "Why" and then you have to explain but again, keep the language simple and straightforward.
    I am the mother of a child with ASD. All the books said that children with ASD need routines but I found that this didn't work for my son. If anything happened to interfere with the routine his world fell apart. We had to work very hard not to establish routines. When I dressed him (he couldn't dress himself until he was about ten) I had to be careful to put the clothes on in a different order every day. If I did something twice in the same way he would demand that it be done this way for several days and have a huge tantrum if I didn't do it. (I'm talking of 2-3 hours of screaming tantrums here!)
    In a way school was easy for him as there were definite rules which he found easy to deal with. He had to wear uniform; sit quietly; line up when told and so on. Generally people with autism like rules.
    The child in your class may need the space of being at the front or back of the line. However, there might be other children with valid reasons for wanting this too. You need to find out if this is the case or not. If not then do not give in to him but let him know that he will get his turn. If he needs the space then maybe he should be accompanied by an adult either before or after the rest of the class. This may seem like a lot of trouble but in the long run it will help him with his social skills because he will probably want to walk with his friends and so will try to overcome his need to be at the front. (Does that make sense?)
    Sadly, this child is going to grow up and have to live in the real world where people are expected to queue and wait their turn. If he doesn't learn this now, when will he learn? It may be a problem for a few days but he will catch on. I like the idea of pulling names out of a box to choose the leader; you could also choose the last person at the same time so two childen get the reward each day. This will also teach that being last is not a bad thing!
    You could do a review of classroom/school rules and include lining up. Get the children to make pictures or a list of rules to display in the classroom.
    "Training" a child with ASD for the big world is incredibly hard but you will be doing him a huge favour if you can help him with this.

     
  16. I agree and think a Social story would be great. Social stories can be pictorial - I use Pixton to create free cartoons of situations which are v popular with my ASD pupils.
    I would be very wary of using it as a reward. Learning that when you are good you are then allowed to break social norms/society rules seems harmless but could spiral into bigger issues.
    But obv I agree with what everyone else has also said about it being indivisual for eacy young person.


     
  17. If it has been decided who his teacher will be next year I would speak to them about their lining up routine. You could introduce it after half term as 'transition' through social stories and it afterwill begin to prepare him for the changes. Learning that he has to follow the rules is extremely important-even if he doesn't like doing so.
     

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