QUESTION: Foot Fetish in Kindergarten?

QUESTION:

I have a kindergarten student with a diagnosis of AU and SI (speech) who has a foot fettish! He touches, grabs toes, and smells them as well. He said he likes feet and toenail polish, likes the way they feel, and thinks they are pretty. He exhibits this behavior with teachers, students, and others outside of school who wear sandals.

He can hold off for about 15 minutes by putting his hands in his pockets (at parents’ request). Parents work well with teachers. He has consequences at home, which work for short time. He is impulsive and cannot seem to help himself as he lunges forward to touch and smell. He has been given a variety of fidgets at the table and when he is on the floor, able to access by raising his hand, which he does. He has also been known to thrown them, resulting in consequences as well. He chews frequently and likes a pencil topper but will chew on his shirt or backpack straps. He does not like to wear socks, so he normally wears crocks or sandals. He has had his clip moved, talked to sternly by his teacher and peers, and even been to the AP’s office. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

GWEN’S ANSWER:

This is the first email I’ve ever received about a foot fetish! Hmm. . . Although it does sound like this student has some sensory needs that you are aware of, such as the need for oral input, but I’m not inclined to see this fetish as a sensory issue. We can’t change his attraction to feet, but hopefully we can improve his impulse control.

You may download a graphic I use for impulse control:

https://www.sensationalbrain.com/resources/attachment/stopthinkdoreview/

The process is called “Stop Think Do Review.” Use the visuals to help him get this process. During transitions, such as prior to circle time where he may fixate on the teacher’s feet, go through this process with him:

  • STOP: Let’s stop and think about circle time for a minute.
  • THINK: Where should our bodies be during circle time (On our carpet spot, etc.)? Where should our hands be during circle time (in our laps, holding our fidget, etc.)? Should we touch others during circle time (no)?
  • DO: Circle Time happens.
  • REVIEW: Pull out the visual again have him select the face that correlates with his behavior during circle time. Point to Sad face if he touched someone’s feet, Neutral face if he refrained from touching but didn’t stay on his spot (or whatever is applicable) or Happy face if he behaved according to the plan.

I would definitely put in place rewards for a certain increment of time or a certain activity in which he refrains from touching others and consequences for touching others. For rewards, you may want to start with something instantly gratifying like a treat and move toward a token economy once you see success. Appropriate consequences to consider might be time out or a chore of some kind. If you have access to a behavior specialist, I highly recommend consulting with them on this part of the program.

We do have two relevant webinars that may be beneficial for you:

  • An Executive Function View of Poor Impulse Control:

https://www.sensationalbrain.com/shop/impulse-control/

  • Sensory AND Behavior:

https://www.sensationalbrain.com/shop/view-on-demand-webinar-sensory-and-behavior/

I hope this helps!

Best Wishes,
Gwen