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autistic child caught stealing

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#1 Bob-the-skull

Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:47 AM

Ds1 is 8 and has high functioning autism, he is in a mainstream class currently without support ( recent diagnosis so still getting paper work and red tape completed)

This morning I gave both the boys canteen money but when we got to ds1's class we discovered ds1 had lost some. I as checking his bag to see if it fell in there and he got funny when i started to unzip a side pocket. In the side pocket was some Lego bits that I know we don't have. When i questioned him he went in to a meltdown and I made him take the pieces to his teacher who made him put them away. When I left he was hiding being some desks.

He lost his canteen money today but I don't know if I should do anything else. Lego is his main asd obsession and we have a small truck load at home but he has never taken others before.

#2 frizzle

Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:57 AM

That's enough I would think. I wouldn't go further. Are you using some social stories with him? I would be concentrating on routines, what's acceptable etc and if he did it again have a consequence worked out in advance so you aren't doing it on the fly like today. I definitely wouldn't drag it out so to speak with the change in going back to school etc already going on.

#3 FeralZombieMum

Posted 05 February 2013 - 09:36 AM

He has already been punished and by punishing him further, you'll just confuse him, or it won't click with why you're punishing him.

Punishment should be more about natural consequence - he'll learn better this way.
In his mind, he might not have thought it was 'stealing', but he might have thought of it as 'borrowing'.

I don't think taking his canteen money off him was the right thing to do - you've mucked up part of his routine for the day, and it wasn't related to the lego. (ie wasn't a natural consequence.) I know what it's like in the heat of the moment though, and probably would have done the same thing myself, then realised later on that it was the wrong thing for me to do. wink.gif

I would be focusing on why he took it. Was it lego from school or from another child?
Does he like to have things in his pockets to fiddle with? Does he need a small toy to have when he has no one to play with in the school playground? Find the reason for why he had it, and replace it with something that's acceptable for him to have.

It could be that he placed them in his shorts pocket during playtime and he didn't intend to bring it home, but forgot about them and accidentally brought them home and was then going to bring them back. (ie maybe they were making stuff and he wanted to use these bits, but didn't need them yet, so placed them in his pocket, then forgot about them and realised at home he still had them - so he put them in his bag with the intention of returning them.)

Social stories are also a good idea.

#4 baddmammajamma

Posted 05 February 2013 - 09:48 AM

Damn computer ate my edit! mad.gif

I echo what frizzle has suggested. I wouldn't push any further with the punishment under the circumstances you've described. I think Zombie Mum raises some great points as well -- undesirable behavior should be met with natural consequences, rather than something totally unrelated (taking canteen money to "punish" for taking Lego -- that's confusing!)

Social stories can be very valuable in setting expectations (for use in new situations) or reminding childen of what should be done as a matter of routine (spelling out what things need to happen when arriving/unpacking at school). If you pop over to the SNs board, I'm sure several of us there could go into greater detail about things that have worked well with school aged kids.

In terms of classroom behavior management, what has worked very well for our daughter (this is under the direction of our psychologist, who is also a board certified behavioral analyst) is developing a simple sheet of performance expectations at school (3 or 4 core things). She has had a hand in the drafting to enforce the notion of ownership.

If she demonstrates good behavior (asking my teacher for help when I have a question or am upset / using my brain to try new things / listening to my teacher / etc.), then she gets a small token for that period. If she collects X tokers/stickers, then she earns 10 minutes toward the end of the day to do creative writing, which is her passion.

A key success factor is that the rewards for good behavior at school be tied to school and that they be somewhat immediate (rather than "If you are good all week, I'll take you to the Lego museum.")

When kids have obsessions, it actually gives you an opportunity to leverage their "currency." I imagine with a little thoughtful consideration, you & your son's teacher could come up with something that helps reinforce general "good citizen" rules and also helps motivate your son.

Are you working with a psychologist or behavioral specialist at present? If not, I would strongly suggest that you get a pro on your side who can help you anticipate challenging episodes and give you some guidance on how to address them.

Edited by baddmammajamma, 05 February 2013 - 09:55 AM.

#5 Bob-the-skull

Posted 05 February 2013 - 10:11 AM

I can't be sure, and I know ds1 won't talk about it, but he most likely took the pieces because we don't have those ones. It wasn't a mistake as ds1 wouldn't think to put it in his bag to take back and we have had mistakes like that over the years and he knows that he doesn't get in trouble for that, he just has to apologise to the teacher (eg sorry Ms x I accidently left this in my pocket).

the canteen money was a random treat and not routine, but he knows that bad behaviour doesn't get treats so I didn't feel I could give it to him without saying what he did was ok.

This is a very new diagnosis for us so I don't really know much about the social stories in truth, we have never had a problem like this as ds1 can be obsessive about rules, although thinking about it his meltdown and extreme reaction may have something to do with that as he knows people that steal get in trouble from the police (his favorite Lego sets are the city ones and in particular the police/robbers ones)

#6 Bob-the-skull

Posted 05 February 2013 - 10:12 AM

oh I should add I didn't go overboard with the money thing, I was already holding what he hadn't dropped so I just said he could have it another day

#7 frizzle

Posted 05 February 2013 - 10:23 AM

It sounds like you did your best and it was all ok so I wouldn't worry. Are you able to access some psych services? You can use Medicare mental health plan and you are also entitled to 20 specialist appointments until he is a teenager, I can't remember the exact number or age sorry. I really think its vital to have a good psych on your team. Our old one left the clinic we used and we have had a terrible time finding a good one, but have just found one right near where we live and close to school, it's such a relief, they work on these exact issues with you and his teachers. I couldn't do it without ours.

#8 i-candi

Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:29 PM

A child with Autism needs social stories, constancy and understanding.

If it happens again do exactly as you have done, again and again and again.

#9 unicycle

Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:37 PM

Hi! I really struggle with being creative enough to figure a natural consequence in advance, let alone on the spot. Can people suggest a range of natural consequences for the OP's particular situation as related to us  so I can get an idea how it would work?

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