HELP!!! Student chewing on hands...

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by ecteach, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Oct 6, 2012

    I have a very sweet, very kind, very smart student who chews on his hands all day long. He also spits on his hands and licks it off. He has Autism. When you tell him to stop, he will for a split second. This is his first year with me.

    The smell is nauseating. I have a very high tolerance for smells. But this is BAD!

    Things they have tried in the past:
    -Giving him other things to chew on.
    -Giving him gum.
    -Making him wear gloves. (He takes them off)

    Things I have tried:
    -Social Stories (he can read them independently)

    According to the parents, he has done this his whole life. Our OT doesn't have any suggestions. She has worked with him a long time and has tried the above things already.

    PLEASE HELP if you have any recommendations.

    I have my wonderful students for 4 years, and I don't know if I can put up with this smell for that long.
     
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  3. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 7, 2012

    Does his chewing on his hands create the odor?

    What about having him cover his hands with something that tastes bad, but [obviously] isn't bad for you (like what some parents put on kids fingers to try to get them to stop biting their finger nails

    Also, it sounds like he has sensory issues. Has the OT recommended a sensory diet for the student?
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 7, 2012

    I'm not understanding why it smells so bad. Can you clarify that?
     
  5. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    It's the wet and dry spit that smells really bad. It's B-A-D!! The teacher who had him before me told me about the smell, and I thought, "Well, how bad can it be?"

    Now I know.
     
  6. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Oct 7, 2012

    I had a student that did that once. Yes, the smell was horrible!! I know you said you tried to get him to chew on other things. Did you try a chew tube? If you get a few of them you can switch them out and rinse them to keep the spit from drying on them.
     
  7. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Oct 7, 2012

    How old is the student? Maybe we can come up with some developmental or age appropriate solutions.
     
  8. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Oct 7, 2012

    He is 12.
     
  9. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Oct 7, 2012

    Would he understand a reward for doing something positive?
    How about a POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT CHART thingy for him?
    Make the chart; with 10-15 spots to place stars on, when you notice that he is not chewing on his hands. When he gets to the end then he can get a toy from a box that you have placed some donated toys or rewards that he might like. The things can be gum, cars, pencils with erasers, OR any other cool things that he says he likes.
    I hope this can help in any way at all.
    Rebel1
     
  10. Megs114

    Megs114 Rookie

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    Oct 11, 2012

    I would also ask the OT and possibly consider the chewing tube. Do you have a sink in your classroom? You could have him wash his hands every time he put his hands in his mouth. He will get tired of getting up every 10 seconds to wash his hands really quick (at least I hope so lol). Good luck!
     
  11. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Oct 11, 2012

    Definitely some good suggestions listed so far. Another thing to consider (along with alternatives, reinforcement, punishment) is to start with small intervals of no chewing and work up. So, reinforcing for 10 seconds with no chewing, then work up once you get success in those areas. You could also keep hand sanitizer close to him, a damp towel, etc., and try teaching him to wash his hands on a frequent basis. I'm guessing the smell comes from bacteria that has time to grow with the saliva that isn't washed off, so my guess is that with some level of frequency of washing you could at least keep the smell away, even if the chewing doesn't stop.

    Another thought - it's probably a texture thing with the chewing, so if one alternative item (e.g., chewing tube) doesn't work, consider rotating through items to see what works.
     
  12. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 12, 2012

    I wonder if the student enjoys the sensation of chewing on his skin. (Obviously it is stimulating for him, otherwise he would most likely not do it)

    Like the act of it between his teeth

    Or if he likes the pressure of the teeth chewing on his hands.
     
  13. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Oct 12, 2012

    Yes, we do have a sink. We make him do this. I think he enjoys the sensation of the water on his hands. So, it doesn't bother him at all. I thought maybe the soap would make his hands taste nasty, but it doesn't seem to bother him.
     
  14. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Oct 12, 2012

    thanks for the advice.
     
  15. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Oct 12, 2012

    I don't know. The OT has tried other things for him to chew on, and he doesn't seem to like the texture.
     
  16. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Oct 12, 2012

    I have a student that also loves licking his hands and pretty well everything else, lol. It is hard finding something socially and age appropriate for him to lick/chew on. We are going to start a sensory diet with him after we build our sensory room. He cannot focus on 2 things when given a chewy toy -- so it is either the chewy toy or his assignment. Putting something gross tasting on his hands wouldn't work because he is known to eat soap, lick the bottom of his boots, lick playground equipment, etc...
     
  17. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Oct 12, 2012

    Are his parents on board with not allowing him to chew? If he's doing it at home it seems to me that it would be difficult to get him to stop at school.
     
  18. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 13, 2012

    If he likes the sensation of the water on his hands, perhaps give him a way to replicate that feeling at his desk without chewing required?

    Maybe have a small container with water in it for him to put his hands in as a reward?
     
  19. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Oct 15, 2012

    For sure.
     
  20. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Oct 15, 2012

    I actually did think of this. Will try it, and let you know.
     
  21. deefreddy

    deefreddy Companion

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    Oct 19, 2012

    I would also consider the chain of behavior: is it spit, lick, chew each time or something like that? Maybe if the chain is interrupted, you can start to work on just one part of it, and once eliminated, the rest of the chain will stop also. If the parents are on board, maybe try oragel on the part of the hand he chews. Maybe the numbness it will cause in his mouth will discourage the chewing.
     
  22. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Oct 19, 2012

    Yes, it is a chain of motion exactly as you stated.

    As far as the parents, they are very limited themselves and don't understand what the big deal is.

    As for the Oragel, I never put anything like that into a student's mouth. I would do it with my own child, but not a student. You never know when the child might have any allergic reaction or something.
     
  23. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 20, 2012

    I forget, have you tried anything like vaseline on the areas that he likes to chew?
     
  24. deefreddy

    deefreddy Companion

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    Oct 20, 2012

    I meant to say if the parents would give you the OK to try a little Oragel on his hand, then it would be transmitted to his mouth when he chewed it.
     
  25. iGirl

    iGirl Rookie

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    Nov 3, 2012

    I have a student with a similar problem right now.

    Have you been able to pinpoint why he does it? Is it the chewing? Or is it the feeling on his skin? I guess you need to be aware of what he could potentially replace this behaviour with as you extinguish it. Is it possible to have the behaviour transfer into something more socially acceptable?

    My boy likes the chewing/motion of his mouth against his skin (he'll also mouth me and one of the kids he likes), and he also like to have his mouth occupied (and like your boy, none of the chew toys etc have worked).

    We are trying an elastic band on his wrist right now. He can flick it and it is tighter than the chew bracelets that he hates. I've also noticed a decrease in his mouthing behaviour with the introduction of a special balance seat that requires him to place both feet on the floor etc. I would never have expected that!

    We have also tried a spray bottle - because we thought it might be a water sensory thing for him. He used the spray bottle to spray his hands for about 2.5 days before the mouthing returned. Might be worth a try.
     

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