I'm wondering if anyone has heard of this. My DS, 10, who is "just on" the Autism Spectrum, came home from school today, quite upset because his teacher is making him do a "touch journal" where he has to keep track of any time that he touches someone. I "get" that DS can sometimes get in other peoples space, and sometimes needs to be asked a couple of times (firmly) to stop doing what he's doing. He feels embarrassed by having to do this journal "because it's for babies", and he's worried about his friends finding out that he has to do it, and he's very angry with "whoever ratted him out." Apparently he had to do it last year, too, but this is the first I've heard about it. Is this something that is an "accepted treatment" or something that the school came up with? Anyone know? What are your thoughts? I will be talking to the teacher, too, to find out more information, but just looking for background information ahead of time!! This is definitely something that he needs extra help with, and we've been working on it for years...just not sure that it's the best way to go about it, and looking for alternatives. He is a sensory seeker, so depending on the situation, perhaps there's something that can be done to satisfy his sensory needs?
I haven't heard of this before, but it sounds like they are trying to make him more mindful and aware of what he is doing. His response seems to say that this isn't his fault, everyone should keep it a secret. It would be helpful to him long term if he could come to accept that touching people isn't appropriate and that rather than being angry about adults knowing, working on figure out ways to stop this socially unacceptable behavior is where his energy needs to be.
I would schedule a meeting with the teacher (and special education teacher/social worker/whatever you have at your school) and talk about the problem and brain storm things to try.
It is my experience that treating ASD behaviors like discipline problems doesn't work. Figuring out the root cause of the problem and an actual solution for the problem is far more effective (for my ASD kiddo). Something sensory that he can keep in his pocket and play with/touch seems more likely to help him re-direct.
But part of what needs to happen is for him to take responsibility for his behavior. From what you've said, he isn't there.
I think your son could be helped more by being taught concrete rules about personal space rather than focusing on the undesired behavior. Sometimes ASD kids touch others inadvertently due to lack of awareness. Has he learned about space in a social skills class or the like? Could the school come up with a way to teach him about the proper amount of space and use a subtle and non embarrassing cue to let him know when others need more space?
My own son used to have a problem with touching people and not even knowing about it. We use an "arm's length" rule for most situations and "elbow room" for ones where people are more crowded by necessity. He also has concrete rules about what social signals mean someone might want rough and tumble play or a hug, with a "if in doubt, ask" policy
Thank you both. Yes...it definitely is something that he needs to be more aware of, and he needs to be reminded often, although he has come a long way in the last few years. Somehow, though, a "touch journal" feels a little bit like punishment to me, and I'm not sure that it's going to have the desired effect. I still haven't contacted to teacher, but I will be doing that this afternoon, now that I've had some time to think about things. I would like to know the context in which it's happening, because I think that would be helpful in figuring out some things that may help him. I don't think that we specifically talked about the sensory seeking aspect when we first met with this teacher at the beginning of the year, so depending on what has filtered to him from last year, he may not even know. We really need to make a list!!
Spoke to the teacher yesterday, and the touch journal is out. I explained that DS was very upset about the whole idea, and that it sort of seemed more like a punishment after the fact than a reminder to be aware. He was very receptive, and is going to have a conversation today with DS to see if they can come up with something else that will work for him. I found out more about the context...it's not so much an in-class issue, and I was assured that they have implemented several things, and have more ideas for satisfying the sensory-seeking tendancies there. They have had some issues, though, at recess, which obviously is much harder to find solutions for. DS has always been very excitable, and once wound up has a really difficult time dialling it back down. He tends to want to participate in a high-intensity activity longer than others are interested. When others want to stop playing, he either can't, or he doesn't recognize the signal that others want to stop. Outside at recess, they're not necessarily always near a supervisor, which leaves the other kids sort of in a tough spot! So yes, DS needs to somehow become more aware of the stop signs, and/or figure out a way to calm himself down enough that he can stop an activity when others aren't interested anymore. I'm stumped...because I know the "state" he's in when he's over-excited...and it's really hard to get through to him once he's there. Around home, we generally recognize the escalation and start dialling down before he gets there. Maybe we need to do a better job of talking to him about how he's feeling at that point, so that he can better recognize it in himself. Any ideas?
One of the kids I sub as a TA for is a little like your son. (My own son is more generally unaware than excitable, kind of a quiet social avoider with little spacial awareness or coordination rather than sensory seeking). Anyway, this boy gets very excited during intense play, too. The teachers took some time with the children he plays the most frequently with to explain what sorts of behaviors may mean they need to play something quieter and some ways to try to redirect his attention to other activities. The same school has also used a "play buddy" schedule with older kids who volunteer to introduce some games in the gym to him once a week. This is the only school I've seen take quite this approach, and I don't know if it would work well in a different setting (it's an extremely small, very rural school), but what I think anyone could take from it is that sometimes other students can become part of the solution. It could help just to teach the students how to assertively state when they are done with a certain activity.
Talking to him about recognizing when he needs to dial it down may help. Sometimes that kind of awareness can be pretty hard to come by for an ASD child, so it may be slow going. My DS did get some help with this somewhat with OT, they were using the "How's your engine running program".
Social skills programs and working with an SLP on pragmatic speech can help with teaching him to recognize stop/not interested signals.
Your DS might also benefit from having an extra staff member involved at recess expressly for keeping a closer eye on him, but in an unobtrusive way.
It's a lot of trial and error, but I'm sure you'll find something.
I agree about a social skills class. In my DD's they worked every week on picking up on social clues.
But recess is tough. it's just unstructured social interactions. It always struck me as ironic that the parts of the school that are meant to be relaxing and fun for kids were the toughest parts for my kiddo.