The Monster likes pressure. I know this is not uncommon for children with Autism – there’s the Wilbarger Brushing Technique (see Yes, I Brush My Child) that we’ve employed, off and on, to sate his need for the tactile stimulation and to help control some of his more sensory-seeking behaviors.
Recently, though, he’s also been applying his own squeezes to other people. When it comes to me, he’s actually applying his nails as well, which has ended up with my having interesting cuts along my forearms. To date, this level of problem has been only my problem, though he’s also been taking recently to squeezing his mother and little brother as well to a lesser extent.
And then we got the email last night from Ms. A that he’s doing it at school.
We get, as I’ve mentioned before, a daily form sent home by his teacher to try to streamline the information that she’s giving us, ensuring that we’re concentrating on what’s truly important with what he does during the school day. There are spots for the bus arrival information, for what he did or didn’t eat in his breakfast and lunch, how he’s doing in terms of concentrating on his academic work and if he’s causing disruptions in the classroom and if he’s making it to the bathroom on time (and if known, what he did at school in terms of toileting). There’s a small free-entry area for his ah-ha! moment of the day, as well as any new disruptive behaviors that have cropped up, and then detailed reporting on his three “big” problems of the moment.
Ms. A let us know that one of the big three – screaming – can be dropped from the list since it’s been a while since he’s done so in class. She’d like to put squeezing on the report in its stead.
Apparently, he’s doing it now in school, more in the mornings than in the afternoons, but it’s clearly a problem. He seems to be doing it if anyone’s sitting next to him mostly, irregardless of if this other person is an adult or a fellow student. It does seem like he’s not using his nails at school for the moment – a small blessing, since I’m sure we’d have more (and real) problems when/if he draws blood – but still, the fact that he’s doing it is a problem in and of itself.
For the moment, Ms. A and the OT are diverting him to try to use a squeeze ball instead when he’s looking to squeeze something, but I’m more concerned about what’s driving the behavior and why he’s seeking it out. Call me crazy, or maybe call it the software engineer in me, but I want to know what the root cause is so that we can treat it, and not just deal with the symptoms. Like his sharing behavior, it’s just not acceptable out in the real world for him to be doing what he’s doing…
And, hopefully, we can figure this all out before he actually does something that requires us to come in for disciplinary reasons.