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autistic girl who sucks her thumb



Student is autistic, 11, included in a regular ed. 5th grade class. Has many tics (hand flapping, humming, etc.) Sucks her thumb very frequently.

Any ideas for a more socially acceptable behavior that would make the student feel satisfied?


Full Member
Sounds like she needs the oral stimulation. What about giving her a piece of gum, jolly rancher, mint, etc. to see if that curbs it.

I also have an autistic student and it has been both a challenge and a blessing. My frustration is that the district doesn't provide any training for teachers on autism/ asperger's. This is a admittedly huge generalization, but the aides don't seem to be that knowledgeable either.


New Member
thumb sucking

The girl may be stimming (engaging in self-stimulating behaviors) that need to be put on extinction. Remind the girl to take her thumb out of her mouth. Reward her each time you "catch" her with her thumb out of her mouth. I would laso talk to her speech/language teacher or occupational therapist. There may be an underlying issue with not recieving enough oral stimulation. The therapists can offer more appropriate suggestions and maybe even help to eliminate the problem.


New Member
Replacement behavior for sucking thumb

For students in my program who need the oral stimulation for comfort, we provide sugarfree gum (with rules/program regarding) to help keep them focused without chewing on pencils, fingers, etc. It seems really simple but it works. My administrator supports this and we use a whole "gum" program with specific rules regarding it.