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Special needs children

  • 1.  Special needs children

    Posted 09-16-2020 09:24 PM
    I work with children 3 and 4 years old.  I have a child in my class who needs to be evaluated.  Due to COVID-19 her parent doesn't trust people to come to her home to have the child evaluated.  I need to know how I can help this child in my class.  I get frustrated at times because I try everything I can to hold her attention.  No matter what I do she disturbs the class and distracts the other children.   The other children want to mimic the behavior. I'm not experienced in the area of special education. I would like to do all I can to help this child so her behavior doesn't dominate my class.

    Bronx NY

  • 2.  RE: Special needs children

    Posted 09-17-2020 12:37 AM
    I work with special education children ages 3-5. It is so frustrating to have a child who is acting out take the attention away from the entire class. Luckily in my class I have two aides. One of the aides will sit with the child and help them pay attention by keeping them seated.

    I would recommend giving the child a cube chair or a bean bag to sit in during whole and small groups if it is possible. A defined area is helpful. If you don't have a bean bag or a cube chair I would recommend a textured mat or even a square of carpet. Sometimes I will define an area with painters tape too. I would also try giving the little one something to hold in her hands.

    Honestly it is fine that children learn that one child needs something and the other children don't. The children watch how you interact with patience and calm direction and they begin to interact with each other the same way. They begin to advocate for each other.  I hope you are able to find a way to cope because this can be very discouraging and emotionally draining. Be sure to reach out to colleagues for re-assurance. You don't need to name the child, just talk about the situation and they should be able to empathize.

    Much luck to you.

    Sherrie Crandal
    Maricopa Unified School District
    Sun Lakes AZ

  • 3.  RE: Special needs children

    Posted 09-18-2020 11:34 AM
    Hi Audrei,
    I definitely understand your frustration.  I think the biggest words I would say that were told to me long ago, is this-"Behavior is a means of communication."  We have to remember that all children and adults communicate through behavior.  Many times our expectations of children are unrealistic and not responsive to the what the child is trying to tell us.  I agree with the many suggestions already given, such as giving a textured item to the child to hold, defining the space, having another adult sit near, but I would also like to recommend maybe adding some movement when the child begins distracting.  Or even having another child assist or maybe even allowing the child to move onto another experience.  I speak as a mom of a child who could not sit through group, but his teacher Ms. King allowed him to stand near the circle and to move and he could then be remain part of the group and he would engage in responding to answer questions or participate in story time, etc.  She explained to the children that he needed to move and the other children understood.  At first, she was worried all children would want to do that, but when she explained it as a need for him they did not want to do it too.  She was a brilliant teacher.  I wish you well and I hope seeing the behavior as a means to communicate rather than seeing it as a distraction like I used to it helps you as it did me.

    Joyce Hepler
    Community Action Project of Tulsa County
    Broken Arrow OK

  • 4.  RE: Special needs children

    Posted 09-19-2020 10:11 AM
    Hi Audrei,

    This is my area. I have personally evaluated hundreds of young children over 25 years.

    YOU ARE RIGHT. Definitely continue to try to help the parent receive an evaluation. Bottom line - evaluations can be conducted virtually. If you have a good evaluator the evaluation can be good enough (even if not 100% as ideal as in person). It makes total sense for the parent to get the evaluation. Why?

    1) When in doubt check it out - there will be no harm in getting an opinion which the parent do not have to agree with. However, they will receive an opinion from an expert.

    2) family has everything to gain and nothing to lose - inform parent of their rights - you can find it online - that even if the parent disagrees with the evaluations they are in control and they don't have to go along with part of all of the recommendations,

    3) The parent can request reevaluations (a 2nd opinion) if they are not in agreement with the findings  - part of parent rights),

    4)  this is a golden window of opportunity - if the child does have special needs and needs special ed services then the early ages are where we can make the most difference. It becomes harder to assist special needs children when they are older and their patterns of behavior are more ingrained. Thus, you cannot go backwards in time and take advantage of this opportunity

    5) Therapy will only help the child learn faster. Even if parent does not agree on the exact evaluation results the critical point is to obtain services if the child has special needs. The parents remain in control. If the parents feel that more therapy is needed or less therapy is needed they can change the therapy services. They have rights and cannot be forced to receive any services they disagree with.

    6) The Earlier The Better & Avoiding Special Ed later.   Some parents are very concerned about special ed throughout the child's education. They might be concerned that "once in special ed always in special ed". The very best way to try to avoid special ed later is to get help earlier. Almost all children learn, grow and improve with early childhood special ed. The only question is how quickly they will learn and grow. In many cases the child might no longer need some services or might even not need any services if special ed services are provided early enough when we can make the most difference. So tell the parent that any special ed teachers or therapists will only help the child learn more and faster. The really important issue is to help the child learn more quickly so when they start kindergarten they will be the most prepared and ready for that level.

    More tips
    1) ABA. Always be agreeing. Parents (and probably everyone) find communication much better with people who agree and validate at least some of what they say. Your communication will likely have a much better outcome if the parents feels you are with them, understand them, see things their way (at least some of the things they say). Try to agree on whatever part of the parent conversation you can. For example, if they say "I'm only concerned about speech" then agree that you too have a concern about speech and I recommend not trying to argue that you have a lot more concerns then speech. The evaluation team will look at all 5 areas of functioning and the child overall.

    2) Focus on the outcome, not the problem. Don't spend much time arguing about the child's possible diagnosis. Ask the parent their concerns, if any. Share your "observations" (easier to hear your "observations" than "problems" or "concerns"). Say your desire for the child "I want your child to learn and grow well, and as much as possible so he/she will be as prepared as possible for kindergarten.

    3) Share observations and always start with the positives first. For example, you noticed that the child does well in terms of x, y, z, and then go on to say "AND" (avoid using "BUT), "and I also noticed that during group time your child prefers to be sitting outside and he/she can focus, although only for a short time and I would like to see you child be able to focus for longer since that is really important for learning.

    4) Role Play the Conversation. If you role play the conversation with the parent with a trusted colleague you are much more likely to have a better actual conversation with the parent. Use as many of these tips as you feel would be helpful.

    Anyway, I should stop here before this gets any longer.
    I hope these thoughts are helpful.
    Feel free to follow up with me if you want to run anything by me on this situation either before or after you have the conversation.

    All the best, you can make a huge difference in this child's life. I have seen this one conversation changing a families life on many occasions.

    Scott Mesh, CEO
    Los Niños Training, NYC