Child with ASD and Constant Throat-Clearing

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Hi Carrie, I’m an SLP and have a 4th grade student on my caseload that is diagnosed with ADHD and high functioning ASD (Aspergers). He has this constant throat clearing behavior that he has been doing for quite some time now, several years. However, it has recently progressed and gotten way worse to the point that it is disrupting peers and teachers in class. Do you have any suggestions/ideas on how to reduce this behavior? I suggested keeping water on or near him so that he can take a drink when he feels like he needs to clear his throat. Not sure if it will work. It’s almost like the more he tries to control it, the worse it gets. Let me know if you have had any experience with something like this. Thanks!

A Deeper Cause?

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?  Check with psychologist first.
  • Sinus/allergy?

Voice Therapy:

  • Let the child know he’s doing it.
  • Talk about what it is and why it’s harmful to voice and disruptive to others.
  • Increase awareness (use clicker or let him take data).
  • Teach replacement behaviors and good vocal hygiene:
    • Avoid caffeine
    • Drink water
    • Hard swallow, double swallow, or chin tuck
    • Take a deep breath/sigh
  • Have him practice using the replacement behavior as soon as he notices that he did it, is doing it, or is about to do it.
  • Use external reinforcement for replacement behaviors if needed.