My eldest son has just turned 9 and is on the milder end of the autistic spectrum. We are having some troubles at the moment with some habits of his that need addressing. He tends to like to fiddle with things, chew on his clothes and handle buttons and zips. Which is fine (although the chewing goes right through me I can live with that!). But a few times recently he has been fondling his penis. It's something he used to do quite a lot but had stopped in recent years. I'm not quite sure why it has restarted. He isn't masturbating and isn't even aware of what he's doing - it's just something his hands are doing if that makes sense? But is has happened at school and in public and he's heading towards an age where the world is less understanding about odd habits like that.
I could really use some suggestions on how to help him stop this. As he isn't doing it consiously I think that giving him something else to fiddle with might help? But it would need to be something silent and unobtrusive to be acceptable at school and I think would need to be attatched to him in someway so his hands go to it first maybe? Also any hints on talking to him about this?
Any help gratefully recieved!
Ruth, mum to B (9), P (8) and T (5)
I know that several HFA and AS children in the school where I work have really liked a fiddle toy called a Tangle... it comes in lots of sizes, including a textured version that has been a hit with them. It is silent, and isn't at all like a special needs type toy (the principal also has one on her desk!) so wouldn't draw any attention, which could be important for a kid your son's age. I'm sure it could be easily hooked to a belt loop with a key-chain type ring, and even put towards the front (like near where his pocket would be?) so the Tangle is nearby when he automatically reaches for other areas :)
Some of the kids I work with as a teacher's aide have chewelry and it works well, but I don't see it as much for older kids. My 11 year old wouldn't touch that, but he does have permission to chew gum or suck candy on his IEP. It's less obvious for a preteen than the chewelry thing, and he does have enough awareness not to play with the gum with his hands. We've gone through a lot of chewed clothing, too, especially sweater collars. We also have bendy wax sticks for him, and we've done beaded key chains He hasn't needed nearly as many fidgets since the fall when he went on anti-anxiety medication, but before meds we could have gone mad watching the fidgeting (and in his case, skin picking) without them.
Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!
I recently bought a Watchminder3 for ds. It has a "training" mode that you can set to go off at intervals throughout the day (I think it's 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 30, and 60 min intervals)--it has preset messages (15) so you'd have to work with that; perhaps using the "STOP" message--I use the buzzer setting for ds and I couldn't hear it when it went off. You can also set "reminder" alarms (50 preset messages), but this function works more like an alarm clock.
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