Focused TopicsSexual Development & Behavior in Children and YouthLesson 2ExploreCase Study - Preschool - Avery
ACTIVITY ID: 22926
First, review the case study about Avery below. You may find it helpful to refer to the suggested answers for the Explore activity in Lesson One. Then answer the questions in the Sexual Behavior Reflection Tool. Finally, complete the Responding to Sexual Behavior In the Moment and After the Fact activity.
Avery is a four-year-old child in a preschool classroom with delays in social-emotional and communication. An intervention specialist and speech therapist each come to the classroom once a week to fulfill services on Avery’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). The family has mentioned that Avery goes to weekly speech therapy at an outpatient clinic, too. Avery is the youngest of five children, and the program staff think the parents “baby” Avery. Staff have discussed that the family let’s Avery “walk all over them.” Adam, Avery’s father, has shared that they feel bad for Avery because of their difficulty with speech, and the family feels the need to “spoil” Avery.
Avery primarily uses gestures, grunting, and long strands of “gibberish” sounds to communicate. It seems like Avery has a lot of thoughts but isn’t able to get them out. The program staff observe that Avery accesses the learning environment and physically engages in play similar to the other children in the classroom. Outside time seems to be Avery’s favorite activity.
Avery is interested in interacting with peers but is often ignored, likely due to difficulty understanding Avery’s speech. When Avery wants to play with another child, staff observe Avery doing the following: licking other children’s faces, giving unwanted hugs, and sometimes touching other children’s genitals over clothing. Avery thinks it is funny when children respond to these behaviors. Staff have noticed that these behaviors primarily occur during morning free play. When this happens staff respond by saying, “Stop, friends don’t like that.” While Avery stops in the moment, the behaviors have continued for several months now.
Now complete the response tool. First, describe the behavior:
Responding: In the Moment
Stay calm when Avery touches other children in these ways, control frustration.
Consider that Avery struggles to communicate with peers and think about how hard this must be for a preschooler.
Calmly remind Avery that licking, touching private parts, and hugging without asking are not safe touch.
Suggest she do another activity she enjoys or ask her to help you with a task.
Avery cannnot explain what she did or why, due to her delays with communication.
You believe the intention of the behavior is to interact and communicate with peers.
Reinforce safe touch vs. unsafe touch to all the children. Praise children when you see them using safe touch.
Support Avery by intervening before she engages in unsafe touch. Avery may enjoy passing out books/toys to peers, or you can suggest she give "high fives" to friends.
Responding: After the Fact
Avery is delayed with communication and social-emotional but is typical in other ways. It must be very frustrating to not be able to talk with peers. Some things are not black-and-white but if we think about Avery's expressive communication as more similar to an 18-month-old (though atypical) and delayed social-emotional skills, it makes since that she responds to redirection in the moment but needs reminders from day-to-day.
Know the in the moment steps for this behavior.
Promote healthy sexual development and safe touch with all the children.
Praise Avery when she uses safe touch and find ways you can foster peer interaction. Think about how typical peer models benefit Avery. "Look how Maria gave Sam a high-five, can you do that too?"
Communicate with co-teachers so responses are consistent.
Speak with Avery's family about the behavior and what your team is doing to support her. Ask for their feedback and if they have suggestions.
Consider consulting with the intervention specialist and speech therapist so you are implementing consistent support.