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How to handle my special needs girl

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by sandimd, May 21, 2017.

  1. Hi everybody,

    I work in a pre-kinder in an expensive private school in central america. We are a multilingual inclusive school. Inclusion here means the children just get put into the classroom and here you go, handle them... i have 4 special needs children in a class of 20 with two assistants, none of them with special needs education. We don't have a special person for those children either.

    One of my girls who has a delay in language and attention deficits has been developing wonderfully and has had a bad relapse since coming back from holidays. She now gets these obsessions with things, for example for two weeks she's been wanting to take her water bottle with her while going to the bathroom and throws bad tantrums when I tell her no. I try to explain to her that there is no water bottle in the bathroom, I show her pictograms, I treat her sweet, I treat her strict. We are getting there again. On Friday she got an obsession with taking her backpack to lunch. She was screaming, throwing fits, so at the end I carried her to lunch, telling her it's lunch time, no backpack, stroking her hair, being very loving all the while she's screaming. All of a sudden our academic director, a very military like woman, shows up and says: what is going on? I tell her. She says: there is no harm if she has her backpack. I say: it teaches her that if she throws a fit she gets what she wants. The director gets angry at me for discussing with her and not simply follow her orders and has the assistant fetch the backpack.

    Afterwards I had to go talk to her and she explained to me that there were parents there who were picking up kids and they shouldn't be seeing screaming kids (see the priorities there?).

    I have been working so so very hard with this girl, trying to get her to be able to follow the same rules which I believe is important in an inclusion school. Then they come and just overthrow it. I'm so frustrated and doubting myself, I'm not a special ed teacher and was not informed that it was an inclusive school until one week before school started.
    So my question: how do you treat something like this:

    do you give them what they want? Do you keep being strict? I'm so lost and about to give up...

    Thanks! Sandra
    Last edited by a moderator: May 22, 2017
  2. Landofla

    Landofla Established commenter

    You have to do what the school wants. If you can't, then you should probably think about leaving. It isn't your school...
  3. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    First of all, what you have in your setting is "integration", not "inclusion", which presumes the involvement of people with "clout", such as a special educational needs coordinator on the inside or an educational psychologist on the outside who can provide special needs expertise to address the issues you are experiencing. If those professionals don't exist where you are, you will have to improvise, bearing in mind the fact that the people running your school wield power over you and want a quiet life. Talk to any other teachers who teach the child and see if they have any strategies that work; identifying strengths in a student is always more effective than dwelling on their weaknesses. Talk to the child's parents and find out whether the challenging behaviour presents at home too. If it does, see if you can find what the trigger to the poor behaviour is. At any event, agree to work more closely with the parents to address the behaviour, which may be the result of some latent frustration rather than attention-seeking or a desire to be "bad". Expand the circle of concerned stakeholders to include the child's doctor, just in case there is a diagnosis to be made such as autism or dyslexia. In your interaction with your "superiors", seek their educational advice and try to involve them in the decision-making so the burden does not lie entirely upon your shoulders. A problem shared is a problem halved for you and for the child whose cause you are so eloquently advocating.
    JulesDaulby likes this.
  4. CurriculumForAutism

    CurriculumForAutism Occasional commenter

    Here's some links for info which might help
    http://www.paulakluth.com/ (Paula's books on inclusion are great)
    https://www.autismclassroomresources.com/choices-improve-behavior/ (great tips & advice about behavior)

    When kids have 'challenging behavior' they may actually be having sensory problems- has the school asked an OT to do a sensory assessment? This wee girl might 'need' to carry her backpack because the weight of it on her back gives her soothing proprioceptive input.
    There's lots of great info & free printouts about sensory issues here http://asensorylife.com/index.html
    JulesDaulby likes this.
  5. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    I do enjoy meeting these 'difficult' children when I am doing my workshops in schools.

    Today the staff were talking about one at lunchtime. A girl about 5. I had seen one squealing in a bit of tussle with staff in the office earlier.

    I offered to meet her and let her have a go on the various equipment I have.

    A TA responded I had already met her. It was the delightful child sat in the reception area with a friend when she had a nose bleed. I had shown them a magic trick and she was all smiles.

    The TA bought her along to an adjoining room when I was working with year 5. I grabbed one of the 'carousels' for her to have a go on for a while. She was all smiles as she tried come to terms with spinning round and round.

    She reappeared again later. As well as the carousel she had a go on the didicar and ezyroller. These are all learning experiences which kept that big smile on her face!

    I found her such a delightful child to work with I fetched my modelling balloons to make her a pink teddy bear,

    I asked her if she was the happiest and best behaved child in the school?

    She nodded ... and then verbalised with a "Yes". I handed her the teddy bear.

    I believe she was autistic. I love working with these children. I nearly always get perfect behaviour. I achieve this by providing interesting activities for them to have a go at. Suitable for their needs rather than the needs of the 'system'.

  6. JulesDaulby

    JulesDaulby Occasional commenter

    Great advice here - I too would involve stakeholders, especially parents.

    I also don't think necessarily there's any problem with letting her take things with her - it may be a sensory or comforting thing. Could you weigh it up? As long as it doesn't impact on learning or the rest of the class perhaps it's OK? Obviously I'm not there so can't fully understand the situation. Try to look for a pattern of behaviours - carrying things is often a coping mechanism for children and verbalising this may help - do you need you water bottle? Or do you want to take your backpack? These questions allow you to be in control but may help child?
  7. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    Hi Sandimd

    If I may, your approach 'could' be characterised as 'they need to learn x,y,x'. My issue with this (sometimes) is that it implies that they need to be taught it, whereas this need not be the case.

    Rules should not exist for their own sake and if the rule is not having the desired outcome then it is questionable (at best) to keep enforcing it if the only reason for the rule is its own sake.

    If the rule exists to set a standard for all to observe, this is a value. On the one hand, yes there is a value in aspiring to this, on the other hand you could be denying other and more valuable learning opportunities. The assumption that all children are the same and need to conform to a specific set of values is often a very damaging one, as is the following on assumption that if they do not conform then they will fail. The reality is that children 'need' to learn that different circumstances have different rules, be accepting of this, and learn the ability to recognise and think about this reality.

    Personally, reading your account, i am also curious why the student can't take their water bottle or backpack or whatever. The only reason given is that it is a 'rule', and as far as I can see (from a long distance away) the rule exists only for its own sake. I am struggling to see how either this student, or the peers of this student, are benefiting from you consistently engaging in a war which is more likely to entrench opposition than actually engender any learning. The job is to allow learning to take place, not to force a confirmation to a specific and rigid method of teaching.
  8. Bigbrownchicken

    Bigbrownchicken New commenter

    I'd just let her have the backpack/water bottle. I think that these items are making her feel secure. The most important thing is that she is happy and ready to learn. Avoid anything that will trigger her anxiety if it's not really that important.
    Sorry I'm not a Sen expert, just a mum with children of my own.
    She won't be taking either of these items with her all the time when she's older. It's just a passing fad.Also you have to consider the effect of her meltdowns on the other children your care. You need to use the softly softly approach, first persuade her to put the water bottle on the nearby sink when she uses the toilet. Reward and praise. Then slowly persuade her to leave it outside the door, progressing to leaving it on the desk and then it's usual place.This could take weeks so prepare yourself to be patient. You will win in the end but she will feel she is in control and anxiety will be minimal.Good luck
    JulesDaulby likes this.

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