PREVENT: Blowing Nose Without a Tissue

  • Situation

    I am a Life Skills teacher and have a 2nd grade student with autism who will often blow out “boogies” without getting a tissue. He will do this several times a day and it often soils the table or other classroom items. Do you have any ideas of how to stop this somewhat gross behavior? He does have the ability to get a tissue and blow his nose as we have taught the behavior and he has demonstrated that he can do it with both a verbal or picture prompt on occasion.

  • Summary

    Decreasing a behavior such as blowing nose without a tissue can be accomplished by first assessing the function or reason for the behavior. Determine if your student is seeking attention, trying to escape a task, or seeking relief from a stuffy nose and requires more instruction. Use of prevention strategies per the function and use of visuals, behavior stories, and planned reinforcement for appropriate use of a tissue can be highly effective in decreasing this behavior.

  • Definition

    This is an intervention for a maladaptive behavior. The process should include:

    • data collection to assess probable function of the behavior

    • assessment of skills and specific teaching of the replacement behavior

    • strategies to prevent or minimize the maladaptive behavior from occurring

    • clear consequences for both the appropriate and inappropriate behavior

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 3-5, 6-10
    • Planning Effort: Moderate
    • Difficulty Level: Moderate
  • Pre-requisites

    Child must be aware of when a tissue is needed, how to access a tissue, what to do when he gets the tissue (blow nose), dispose of it properly and wash/sanitize hands when necessary.

  • Process

    1. Collect data over several days to assess the function of the behavior.

    2. If the function appears to be related to task escape determine the issue and intervene – such as difficulty with a subject area then adjust the material to assist in more successful results for the student.

    3. Implement a prevention strategy by reviewing a Behavior Story and/or a Consequence Strip daily.

    4. If your student does get a tissue on his own at some point during the day OR does so with minimal prompting, be sure to reinforce him immediately with a high value reinforcer. (this will depend on the child but some examples are: verbal praise with a high five, tickles, sticker, or an M&M.)

    5. Several times a day, ask the student to blow his nose (prompt as needed using least intrusive prompt). Reinforce the occurrence of the appropriate behavior immediately as listed in Step 4.

    6. When the student engages in inappropriate behavior tell him to “go get a tissue”. Prompt and use a visual if needed. DO NOT REACT. USE A NEUTRAL TONE OF VOICE.

    7. Direct your student to correct the result of the inappropriate behavior: cleaning self and/or area or items soiled and practice the behavior of using a tissue. Review the visual support (e.g. Behavior Story) related to the behavior.

    8. Complete this same routine for every occurrence of the inappropriate blowing of “boogies”.

    9. Praise compliance and resume work or activity that he was engaged in prior to the inappropriate behavior

  • Documents and Related Resources



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