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Autism

Autism and Oral Fixations in the Classroom

09/02/2010

Question:

I will be teaching third grade next year, and one of my students is autistic. He puts ANYTHING in his mouth and consumes it - pencils, crayons, pen and marker lids, paper, etc. I am concerned about him choking and other health issues associated with this behavior. What are some interventions I can put into place that will help him with this?

Answer:

This behavior is called "Pica". It can be challenging to decrease. A behavior specialist or behavioral psychologist should be involved in the assessment and intervention. Pica behaviors are usually maintained by what behavior specialists call "internal reinforcement" (the "intrinsic" pleasure derived from the behavior itself) and/or reactions that follow them. The behavioral intervention that is used to decrease the behavior is based on the analysis of what maintains it. Usually, antecedent-based interventions (i.e., preventive measures such as re-structuring the environment) and immediate consequences are used in concert.

Good luck!

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Response by:

Luc   Lecavalier, PhD Luc Lecavalier, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychology
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
The Ohio State University