It’s becoming increasingly clear that some of the very troublesome, highly-disruptive behaviors exhibited by one of my students are largely (though perhaps not completely) under the student’s control. The loss of fine motor coordination that seems to be “switched on” when the students wants to show you that s/he can’t do the work, the verbal tics that disappear during a group presentation but reappear like clockwork when the student is held accountable for almost anything, the stream of interjections and flailing limbs that occurs just at the moment when you are talking to the mom about the child and which the child admits are attempts to distract you from saying anything bad. The yearly evaluations that turn up nothing consequential. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that at no point in this child’s life has anyone set any consistent boundaries regarding asking for and receiving attention. And that teachers have been so afraid of the tantrums that they’ve unwittingly reinforced the manipulative behavior pattern. So the question now is, are we all strong enough to break the pattern? Can we withstand the inevitable push-back that will come when we put our collective feet down and refuse to reward negative, disruptive behaviors with a lowering of standards or increased attention? Can a mom change her mothering patterns when this will more than likely mean absolute hell from her child for several weeks (or longer)? We must. She must.
Then there’s a child who looked like s/he would burst into tears if you even thought of calling on him/her to answer a question, who, only 8 weeks into the school year has begun to volunteer, who stood up during a group presentation and not only said his/her piece but spontaneously filled the gap when an older, generally talkative and outgoing kid refused to say a word. Two teachers’ mouths nearly dropped open.
I’m finding my students with special needs to be my greatest but most rewarding challenge.