Stripping off clothing

1 reply (Jump to last post)



I have a 12 year old boy I am working with who often strips off his clothing inappropriately.

Has anybody worked with children with similiar challenges? He can run away and strip, strip to avoid activities, strip because he is waiting to long or because he is upset or in pain or for no apparent reason at all.

Any advice is very welcome. We are going to look into sensory aspects such as the texture of the clothing, but he is not usually intolerant to tactile experiences, his anxiety, or perhaps it is temperature regulation difficulities - which I am not sure how to assess?

Many thanks


Edited on February 23, 2017 - 9:15am

September 18, 2013 - 4:23pm

Hi Alice.

As I am sure you are aware, this can be a common behaviour for a lot of children with autism, and is something that we have some experience in supporting professionals with.

Something that can be useful to know is that behaviours that reoccur will always have a function or a purpose to the child, or there will be a trigger causing the behaviour. When looking into managing and reducing certain behaviour, it is really important to find this out, in order to know what strategies and intervention is needed. Often when the behaviour is happening, it can be hard for professionals to be able to identify what is causing the behaviour so it can be useful to try to track the behaviour.

A way of doing this is by using an ABC Chart where you can keep a record of the behaviour by recording the time and date of the behaviour, what happened immediately before the behaviour (antecedent), what the behaviour was and what happened immediately after the behaviour (consequence, how the behaviour is responded to). This will help you to establish if there are any patterns and perhaps what triggers are causing his stripping behaviour. Once a trigger has been identified, it is then much easier to look at adapting the environment for the child, or look at supporting him in the situation that he is having difficulties in.

It is certainly worth considering the cause could be related to his sensory processing, although you mention this is inconsistent.

How adults are responding to his behaviours may also be an important factor to consider. What can sometimes be a difficulty is if the child's behaviour is attention seeking, the way that parents/adults respond to their inappropriate behaviours can sometimes inadvertently, be reinforcing the behaviour. If the child wants attention, often a parent's extreme response can be giving them what they want, and therefore gives them a reason to do the behaviour again if they are seeking that attention. It is useful to know that any attention, negative or positive, is still attention. As well as this, if the boy’s stripping behaviour does indeed get him out of doing something he doesn't enjoy or means he doesn't have to wait as long, it will keep happening, because it is getting him the desired outcome.

For further information on behaviour guidelines, please see the following links:

It could be helpful to have a read of this information about social skills for young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), in order to support him to manage his anxieties:

You mention that you feel the child may have temperature regulation difficulties; therefore it may be worth mentioning this to parents for them to see the GP in order for them to rule out any medical causes for the behaviour.

We hope this is a helpful start.

You may wish to call the Autism Helpline to talk through the behaviour with an adviser.

Kind regards,

NAS Autism Helpline Team