Need ideas

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Wiped Out, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have an autistic student in my class this year and also had him last year. He is mostly non-verbal but does talk some-not in conversation really-mostly just repeats what we are saying or says hello or talks to himself. He can be very sweet and is not violent to others or himself ever.

    At times he has ripped clothing on purpose but recently it is out of control. He has been ripping winter jackets, mittens, hats, and pants at school. He sits and laughs and thinks he is hilarious. We let him know it is not but it doesn't seem to phase him. At home he is ripping flooring, a sofa, curtains, lots of everyone's clothes, etc...

    I feel bad for the mom because it would drive me absolutely crazy if my child did this on a regular basis. She cannot afford to be replacing winter coats much less larger things.

    Any thoughts on how to get him to stop or why he might be doing this?
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I think it's a stimulant, Duckie used to do this with paper. Would he be able to comply with tearing cloth provided to him, say, at the end of lesson time? Mom might find it a lot cheaper to buy some clearance material or buy old sheets at the thrift store.
  3. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    My thought would be the sensory input - not only the sound of it, but also the thrummm of material tearing in his hands and the sensation of it ripping. Does that make sense? Are you sure he thinks he's hilarious, or is he just really enjoying the tearing sound/sensations?

    Have you tried substituting things he *can* tear? Old receiving blankets, the flannel kind (or whatever it was called), would be my first choice, especially if they're older/more worn. You'd get a really good rrriiip out of it, plus the sensation of the flannel tearing would be really satisfactory, I'd think.

    If it's a stimming kind of thing, not sure you can stop it, can you?? My experience with- autistic kiddos is pretty limited, but the few I've come into contact who did stimulant... nothing on this earth could stop them.
  4. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    How old?
  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Sharon teaches a grade 4/5 multiage class... so probably 9 or 10 years old.
  6. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I'd replace it with fabric that he is allowed to rip.
    I don't know how distracting it is to the other students but that's my first thought.
    I used to give my son phonebooks, but he preferred paperbacks. Smaller, easier to rip. More expensive too!
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Hoping Buddy sees this... she'll have some ideas.

    Generally with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) kids, you make more progress with subtle substitutions than with trying to stop a behavior.
    Move him from things he shouldn't rip to... old raggy things that can be ripped, to maybe paper or something else more acceptable (but some kids are prone to paper cuts and hate paper)...
    Sounds like the kid is "stuck"... If he could be helped to move to a less-objectionable obsession, it would be better for everybody.

    Poor mom... she has her hands full.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Definitely sensory. Provide things he CAN destroy and make sure he knows that he IS allowed on these things and they are kept in this container. Anything NOT in that container is NOT to be ripped. Praise him for ripping things in his bin, just as you would praise a toddler for using the potty.

    In many ways changing this behavior will be like training an animal. ONLY give attention/praise/reward for the good things. For the bad things, move them away from him and otherwise do not react. The reaction can become part of the stimming behavior. When they train dolphins or other wild animals, they simply cannot scold or punish. If you tell at or hit or punish a wild animal, it will either hurt you or go away and not cooperate again, often for very long periods of time if they are able to get away. Some animals will die from punishment before they will do what you want if they cannot get away with you. So you ONLY react when the dolphin makes the noise you want or does the small part of the behavior that you want. You build on that.

    of course your student is not a wild animal, but in many ways it is vastly easier to train if you do not give any reaction to the negative and give a valued reward for the positive.

    I would get a plastic bin, maybe one of the medication or large size plastic storage bins at Walmart, one with a lid, and put some lengths of fabric in it. You may be able to get a manager at a fabric store to donate fabric that isn't selling if you can give her a thank you on school letterhead or pta letterhead (or any nonprofit). All it has to have is the letterhead, and say thank you for donating fabric for our students. They can put the dollar amt on the receipt, you do NOT have to worry or account for that but they can use this as a donation on taxes. (I have done donations for many organizations since my teens, and this fits the IRS requirements.)

    Then the fabric is in the bin (not all as you will likely need to refill it after a while) and he is able to use this as he would other sensory things to calm himself or fill his sensory needs.

    You might even see if any churches have groups doing rag rugs. I know one local group here makes braided rugs from torn fabric strips. they cut them at the top and then tear them and braid them. These are sold to fund charities, donated to families in need, raffled and even used in silent auctions. Oddly, they find that the ones with torn fabric sold for more than the ones with cut fabric. People seem to like the frayed edge textures. This might be something he could contribute to if he keeps this up and you have groups doing this.

    If nothing else, contact area thrift stores and ask if they could donate unsaleable clothing and linens or if they sell clothes that don't/won't sell as painters rags. Here one thrift store sells a tall kitchen trash bag stuffed with torn/stained clothing for about $5. When my kids were little, esp when thank you was chewing through a shirt a day pretty much, I got these bags and often about half of what they called 'rags' were kids clothes with stains that were tiny and my kids wore them, some of them for quite a while (if they didn't fit thank you, lol).

    Other thrift stores here will fill large canisters, the size of 50 gallon drums, with torn/stained clothing. These are donated to groups that sell them by the pound to recycling centers. It doesn't matter if they are in pieces or tatters or what, just that they fit into the canisters. They might donate items for him to tear on the condition that the torn up fabric is returned to them. Here I am sure that at least one group would drop off a canister or some bags full and pick up the torn bits.

    The trick will be to have him learn that he can ONLY tear what is in the bin. I would recommend that you and his mother agree on the same exact size/type/color of bin so that it is consistent.

    What reward motivates him best? has very high value for him? Candy or praise or books or music or five min outside or ????? Use that to reward him for tearing what is in the bin. Anything else he tears is taken away or he is moved away from it. No scolding or frowns or fussing, just move him or the item. Move him to his bin if you need to. At first praise every time. As he starts to get it, praise should be intermittent and NOT on a set schedule. It will lose value and motivational power if you give it to him every fifth time or whatever. Not knowing if this time or the next time is the most effective reward scheme once the link between reward and goal behavior is established. If possible, have a reward that is ONLY used for tearin what is in his bin and if his mom can do the same reward it will work even better.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    by the way, as a young teen I used to rip paper. the more sheets I had, the more I liked it. I worked in a used bookstore and could take any book I wanted home. Luckily we had tons of old bestsellers and serial romance novels in the back when I was hired. Periodically we threw several trash bins of them away. I often took 2-3 paper bags of these old book home and when upset/frustrated/furious I would rip and rip and rip. I had a certain box I ripped into, not sure why but I only ripped into that box. Then I would toss the ripped books. LOTS of bookstores have old books they don't want/need. either clearing out old inventory or else books customers wanted to trade/sell that the store couldn't buy and the customer just left there.

    They will OFTEN give you a few bags full if you ask and explain why. You can also find tons of free magazines and yellow pages. Here many of the grocery stores have racks of phone books in the 2 large cities. They are happy for you to take ten or twelve, or to clean out the house/car/boat for sale or employment magazines for them. I know one chain has had a problem with the people who distribute these publications refusing to take the old ones away even to the trash can on the premises. So they are THRILLED when someone needs them. One store has the local animal shelter come and pick these things up because they use them for cat litter (shredded paper is cheap and absorbent).
  10. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks for the suggestions ladies!! I will definitely try to get some things it is o.k. to tear! He is 10 or 11 (can't remember off the top of my head). There are a few other things going on as well that I didn't want to mention in the first thread-just don't want anyone to recognize individuals although I doubt that would happen so here goes. He also has a twin who is or isn't autistic but definitely has learning issues who went through a period of about 6 months this past year who sunk into such a deep depression he could barely walk or talk. He needed help to do anything. It was very sad to watch. He was mostly looking catatonic most of the time. He is in the classroom next to mine.

    My student has also been passing gas in class and laughing. We are being somewhat successful in telling him we only pass gas in the bathroom. Much of what he is tearing up at home is in the middle of night when everyone is sleeping. He often falls asleep in the middle of our school day because he is so tired but just can't seem to sleep through the night.

    He really is a wonderful child that we all love. He has an incredible ability with dates. You could tell him the day you were born and ask him what day of the week your birthday will be on in a future year, for example 2016 and he could tell you within seconds.

    I may have this deleted later just in case it is too much info but didn't know if it could be something other than sensory but I'm guessing that is probably right.
  11. TeDo

    TeDo CD Hall of Fame

    Twins DO have a special bond. My boys, although complete opposites in any way, are "connected". When difficult child 2 stayed home from school because he was sick (not an issue anymore with online school), I had to keep difficult child 1 home too because he was "off" until he got home again. It was easier to keep them both home when difficult child 2 was sick. That "might" be part of the reason but the substitutions should help anyway.

    It does sound sensory to me, too. Even the passing gas. The feel of it could fill some sensory need and, who knows, maybe even the smell. I don't think he's laughing because it's funny. I agree that he's laughing out of pleasure. difficult child 1 had problems with sleep. The Tenex seems to be helping a lot. Hope mom can figure out that he needs help with the sleep part.
  12. buddy

    buddy New Member

    I totally missed this. Q was (is) a ripper too. (not as in Jack the, lol) He was given telephone books and boxes of recycling paper. what really made him happy was when he got popping bubble wrap though! That slowed the ripping down!!

    Funny, for Christmas one year each staff member gave him a roll of bubble wrap of all different size bubbles, lol.

    One hard thing was that Q overgeneralized and started ripping up every paper so it was important to only do it in one place from a "ripping" box.

    If he uses any mayer johnson symbols you can put a RIP with a red DONT circle over it on things that you dont want ripped. Or if he starts ripping something not ok, then put an extra one on it so he sees that it is a DO NOT RIP item. Sometimes verbals will increase anxiety or for multiple other reasons may increase the behavior.

    Hopefully an Occupational Therapist (OT) can help with underlying sensory needs to help with the overall issue.

    PS, if he really likes it and it can be controlled to some specific OK things to rip??? then you have a great reinforcer for after doing other tasks...

    first math, then RIP BOX!!!!!