Intervention for Masturbation in School

Definition:

This intervention includes strategies for younger and older students with consideration for comprehending the behavior. Use of ‘interruption/redirection’ with a question regarding school work or providing a ‘fidget’ item can be a quick and successful intervention. For older students who can comprehend the behavior, direct instruction with the use of a Behavior Story is the intervention.

Situation:

I am a Learning Support teacher and have a 5th grade student with High Functioning Autism. He has been putting his hands down his pants while in the classroom. It appears that he is masturbating and I am not quite sure how to handle this…any ideas?

  • Situation

    I am a Learning Support teacher and have a 5th grade student with High Functioning Autism. He has been putting his hands down his pants while in the classroom. It appears that he is masturbating and I am not quite sure how to handle this…any ideas?

  • Summary

    The topic of masturbation can be uncomfortable for both parents and teachers of children both with and without disabilities. It is perfectly normal for children to have pleasurable and exciting feeling about their own bodies (Harris, 1994) and many begin to masturbate by adolescence. Unlike “neuro-typical” children who understand that masturbation is a private behavior, children with autism or other disabilities will likely need to be directly taught the negative social ramifications of touching one’s private areas in public. With some students (younger or more cognitively impaired), a simple “interrupt and redirect” or providing a replacement behavior such as playing with a fidget item may be sufficient. However, for students who are older that can understand the negative social and legal ramifications of public masturbation, direct instruction is essential.

  • Definition

    This intervention includes strategies for younger and older students with consideration for comprehending the behavior. Use of ‘interruption/redirection’ with a question regarding school work or providing a ‘fidget’ item can be a quick and successful intervention. For older students who can comprehend the behavior, direct instruction with the use of a Behavior Story is the intervention.

  • Quick Facts
    • Child's Age: 11-13
    • Planning Effort: Moderate
    • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Pre-requisites

    This intervention works best for a child with High Functioning Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, or a related disability with cognitive functioning at least within the average range. They should be able to read or if a reading disability is present, they should be able to comprehend someone reading aloud to them. Obtain parent permission.

  • Process
    1. Before addressing this issue, the adult involved should be sure that he/she can remain positive, supportive and not pass judgment or shameful feelings onto the child.

    2. For younger children ask a question regarding the student’s school work to interrupt/redirect with no attention to the behavior. You can provide a ‘fidget item’ as well to the student, again without attention to the behavior.

    3. For older students prepare a Behavior Story such as the one demonstrated in the video which teaches the student about public vs. private behavior in a concrete way. For some students, text alone may be sufficient but for others, you may want to add pictures to support the text.

    4. Depending upon the child, the story can be given to him to read alone in private then allow time with a supportive adult to clarify or address any questions. Some children might do better having a trusted adult read the story to him.

    5. It would also be a good idea to address how you or other teachers will cue the child to stop the behavior in a subtle way should he forget while in school.   You could develop a simple non-verbal cue such as a tap on his desk or use a picture cue of a child seated with his hands on the desk.

  • Documents and Related Resources

    setbc.org (website resource for pictures/icons)

     

    Story Public vs.Private (PDF)

     

    Touching My Private Areas (Word document)

     

    Touching My Private Areas (PDF)

     

    If you have questions or concerns about the Watson Institute’s use of this information, please contact us.

     

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