I am a teacher and one of my 12 year old male students who is dealing with Aspbergers, some intellectual challenges, and ADHD has some serious issues with personal behavior vs. private behavior. He is constantly scratching (oh gosh, I hope it's scratching) his private area over his clothing and really going for it picking his nose and then touching other surfaces. I can't bring this to my supervisor's attention as she is completely clueless and would offer no help at all. It is a serious hygiene issue, social issue, and though he is a child, I have to say it makes me REALLY uncomfortable as a woman to have a 12 year old "exploring" while I am trying to teach him one on one. He is very immature and I do not think it is malicious. I've tried redirecting, saying, let's put our hands on the table, keeping activities going all the time, etc. to no avail. He is also from a non-western culture, so perhaps that plays a part in it, but I don't think so. That behavior can't be accepted as polite anywhere can it? So, moms, I ask for your advice. His own mother probably does what she can at home. I need to do something before he does figure out that he can do more than scratch or before cold and flu season hits. It is important that I do not make him feel ashamed or embarrassed, but he needs to know that behavior is not ok in the classroom. Moms, I would appreciate any ideas on how to handle this. Have you dealt with any of these issues? Thanks very much.
There are things that kids can play with (small sensory toys) to keep their hands busy, and then when they start the inappropriate behavior, they can be redirected to the acceptable object.
Also, the line "we don't touch our penises at school" is acceptable to say.
but everything has pros and cons
For the nose picking part, I was prepared with kleenex and hand sanitizer (I've heard that the later is the best friend of mothers and teachers alike and now I know why. :) ). I said, "That is private behavior, not public. Here is a tissue." He looked at me as if to say, "What? This is just fine."So I repeated myself and handed him a tissue and said, "That is something you do in private and not at school. You can go to the bathroom or use a tissue." My hope was by giving him a choice, he would feel more like a grown-up. He didn't repeat the "scratching" today Would it be out of bounds to say, "Touching yourself in a private area is not ok at school. If you need to scratch there, you need to go to the bathrom and then wash your hands."
So, moms, do you think this is overstepping my boundaries as a teacher. Its a delicate balance.
No, it isn't overstepping your bounds to disallow touching of private parts.
I wouldn't give him the option to go to the bathroom to play with himself because most boys reach a stage where they would much rather do that than math, reading, etc. Its a behavior for home, not school.
but everything has pros and cons
As for me, I have a toddler and so far I just say "we only do that at home", and repeat. So far for us isn't a big issue so I can't really offer much else.
Best of luck!
Mama since 2010
Multicultural living in Europe
Thank you both. I was successful with the kleenex and if he goes for the penis over clothes, I'll just say, "It isn't appropriate to touch yourself there in public. School is public right?" I'll invest in a 50 cent toy he can touch instead that other students don't have to. My other students like to hold a ball or a small finger puppet just to keep focus, but it's never a hygeine issue.I just wanted to make sure not to overstep into parent territory. I know many parents get VERY sensitive when anything that even is tangentially near the s-e-x or gender topic comes up so teacher avoid it like the plague. I really appreciate you both answering my question. :)
While it may seem a awkward situation to approach with the mother, you did mention in your post that you are certain that this boy's mother does what she can at home. One approach I would use would be to speak with the mother, non-confrontationally, with a simple "I'm not sure how to best handle this in the classroom, do you have any advice?" From my friends who are dealing with Asperger's in their children, I think most of them would love for a teacher to come to them for advice on what might even seem like a small issue, and would really appreciate your interest in providing a similar approach to whatever methods she is using. Also, from what I have seen in the children I know with Asperger's, consistency can be a very important aspect of their lives, and by following whatever methods are used in the home, if feasible, it may be a much more successful approach.
From friends and family who are teachers, and what I have seen of school systems as an education reporter, I can certainly feel for you that your supervisor wouldn't be helpful in this situation. It is so sad that in the politics of education, all too often the person in a supervisory role doesn't really have the right skill sets to really assist with the needs of teachers.
Best of luck!