Thursday, March 31, 2011

Behavior problems at school

Joseph has had a long streak of good behavior at school lately. Yay!

Zoya, on the other hand, is having lots of behavior problems for her teachers. She is not aggressive or defiant, but just seems to flit around the classroom doing whatever she darn well pleases, not paying attention to instructions or being fazed by consequences.

We have never really dealt with a child with these kinds of behavior issues and I am really at a loss as to how to address it. It doesn't help matters that the school is completely limited on the kinds of consequences they can give to the kids. Even some time out situations are considered 'restraints' and are not allowed in a school setting.

If anyone out there has had these kinds of problems and would care to share what has worked for your child, I would be ever so grateful. We have tried tempting her with rewards at the end of the day for good behavior but she doesn't seem to even care.

Joseph IS doing so well though, and that is certainly something to celebrate. Now if he would just teach Zoya how it's done!


Leah S. said...

Yesterday I got an SOS call from Axel's school and he'd only been there for 3 hours. He DESTROYED a classroom!!! Today I spent all day at school, lurking in the hallways so if staff gave me the signal I could step in! Ohhhh he saw mama's face and got the hugest eyes ever! Like, "Where did SHE come from?" then leaving again. Boy did he sober up FAST! I only had to step in twice, and both times you could see his face trying to figure out how I just appeared at the wrong moment for him! LOL


Ashley fluttered around the class room, singing, dancing the taping the pencils and feet and all. She is ADHD and FAS. She does better in a self contained classroom where there are 10 students, 1 teacher and 3 aides in the room.

MoonDog said...

but she only started school recently didnt she? she hasnt been in all year? Andre was just like this in the beginning. he is much better now. I encouraged his teacher to be firm with him and not let him get away with it because I KNEW he was capable and had been pushing the same issue at home with results. he would wander away from dinner thinking he could just come for a bite. We dont work that way. we sit and eat. and he would sit and eat or not he would sit. it took a lot of reminding and practice. he still forgets to push in his chair at school but otherwise he has made great strides with his teacher working so hard with him. sometimes verbal reminders or visual cues help. I remember when Ethan came home he was ALWAYS hands on Maia. hitting or touching or pushing. I made a little man out of construction paper with his hands on his own body and put the word hands over it and I told him what it meant and it didnt happen overnight but after A LOT of reminders I started to see him LOOK at the sign and stop and think. I once saw him put his hands out to push maia and stop in his tracks when he saw the sign and then didnt do it. Remember every kid learns differently and maybe the teacher isnt telling her in a way she understands and remenbers

Csmith said...

It's always the innocent looking ones, isn't it! Sounds like she's really testing her boundaries. With my oldest son we used to send an index card to school with him every day. At the end of the day his teacher would draw a happy, sad or in-between face on it indicating his behavior with any added comments she wanted us to know. When he got home he would get privileges based on that. Video game time, tv, time with a parent, a special treat or extra chores and an early bedtime. It really worked as long as we were very consistent.

~*Brittany*~ said...

So I would first think of two things (as a teacher) 1st is this just because she doesn't fully understand the whole school "way"? How long has she been going now? could it just be that she doesn't know or understand why she has to stay in her seat?

2nd. I would wonder if she doesn't get frustrated due to difficulties with her communication to her teachers (based off what I know) and so is having a behavior problem as a result? You might be surprised how many behavior issues are due to kids feeling unheard

Jester 6 said...

How I wish I had advise for you! I have a child who has the same issues. She's not ADD/ADHD, she didn't live in an orphanage, and she has no major medical needs or any other real reason to have issues at school. I think it falls under the category of "each kid is different". As her teacher tried to put it nicely, "B just seems to beat to her own drum". Now, how do you respond to that at a conference?!?

Anonymous said...

Children with FASD have a hard time with short-term memory, with impulse control and with executive functioning. Many of the "secondary characterisitics" of FASD manifest similarly to ADHD, autism, and other alphabet-soup diagnoses. It is important to remember that the root cause of FASD is irreversible brain damage caused by alcohol. You can try to manage her secondary characteristics and related behaviors, but you cannot "cure" her of them. The National Organization of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) has some great resources for parents and educators on working with FASD kids.--Nora

Anonymous said...

Our daughter, adopted 9 years ago from Ukraine, has an FASD diagnosis. For the first 18 months we worked a lot on following directions and saw much progress at home. In a school setting she had a much harder time. It's just so stimulating with all the kids, noises, lights and general busy-ness. We finally put her on ADHD medication and saw amazing improvement. It did not dull her personality. She was (is) still the sweet, loving little girl she ever was, but she was just able to focus. I know meds aren't for everyone, but our daughter's quality of life, academic achievement, self esteem and behavior improved dramatically. It's been 9 years and we're now decreasing her ADHD meds. The downside (with our daughter has never experienced, but our son does) is a decrease in appetite.

Ellen said...

One of the most devastating effects of FAS and FAE is the tremendous difficulty the person has in learning from consequences. It is a terrible disconnect and leads to some awful situations in older people with these conditions. As you get to know Zoya more and more you will be better able to assess the degree to which this impacts on her. While we want to provide every opportunity to learn and to learn as much as possible, for people who have such difficulty learning cause and effect in that way, "consequences" as in time out or other reinforcers may be of little benefit and in a sense, just a frustration all around. As suggested by "Life's Pebbles'" comment, placing enough structure so the child has little opportunity to wander and get into difficulty may be the best solution. The nature of the damage and the difficulty is quite different than, for example, kids with Down who may take longer to learn but do have the ability to make the cause/effect connection. Some of it may well be behaviour and that is the piece you will ultimately need to figure out.

Claire said...

Maybe a sand timer on her table would help? We used them in the school where I worked for kids who found it hard to sit down and focus on one activity. They knew that had to stay there working until all the sand had run through. This works fine, unless they hyper focus on the timer, not the work!

The Ritzmanns said...

We have experienced our fair share of school problems when it comes to our little one with FAS. We have been working with a development/behavioral pediatrician to find a medication that helps him focus and be much less distracted and impulsive while at school. We think we have found one that is working (after a couple didn't), the problem is that is surpresses his appetite, and our little guy can't afford not to eat as he is undersized already, so we try to get a big (that is a relative term with a picky eater) breakfast in him prior to taking the medication.

Good luck. We continue to enjoy following your blog.


Anonymous said...

maybe she is just feeling a little better and fluttering her wings. we all have times like that. i say what that child has had to deal with and is dealing with, tell the teacher to gently guide her back to her desk. I am so proud she is not vomiting as much and doing a little better. she is probably amazed that she could really feel this well. Praises to God.

Anonymous said...

Hi Charissa!
I agree with the previous comments.
I've found this is just really characteristic behavior in kids with FAS, especially kids who were adopted at a slightly older age.
In my experience, it's a result of the attention deficit and learning disabilities that are associated with FAS, and as one of the others touched upon, it's also a result of her unfamiliarity with the school atmosphere. It's very foreign to her, and it's possible that she's A) not understanding what's expected of her or B) testing the boundaries in terms of expectations in the school environment (or a combo of both!)

I was always very anti-medication for ADD/ADHD...that was, until I saw how this condition was limiting my child's opportunities! (Which were already affected by her learning disabilities and language barrier.)

So in desperation and in an attempt to help her succeed to the best of her ability, we gave the medications a try. And I WISH I HAD DONE IT SO MUCH SOONER! I'm so angry with myself for holding off for nearly 2 months, refusing to medicate her!

It's made her so much happier too, as school and learning was just one big horrible ugly area in her life --- it stressed her, it stressed her educators and it stressed us --- but now, it's becoming enjoyable for all involved! She's developing confidence at a much faster rate too, which is just incredible!

Now, I don't see how we lived without the medications! I DON'T think meds are the solution for every child, but I do believe that it's worth a try. Worst comes to worst, you discontinue the meds because they aren't effective for your child.

Also, is Zoya in a mainstream classroom? I wonder if that's the right place for her. We have a school that provides a combination of one-on-one special education services, combined with a typical mainstream classroom. I've had kids start out almost 100% in the one-on-one room, and now, I have two kids who visit three days a week for an hour! All the rest of their time is spent in a mainstream classroom. It's been a lifesaver for us.

Our kids were so delayed in terms of language, inability to read/write, and no previous schooling, that placing them in a mainstream classroom was just overwhelming. It was all meaningless to them, as it was just way over their heads.

One of my kids (now 22) described it like this: imagine you're in a classroom, they all speak a different language that you can barely understand, and they're learning trigonometry. But you can't even count to 10 and you have no idea how to write the various numbers. Those lessons are totally meaningless to you because you don't have the necessary foundation. So you find ways to amuse yourself.
So if one-on-one special education support services (in our district, it's called "resource services") aren't available and you don't have a choice but to leave her in a mainstream classroom, it may be helpful to have her re-assessed and placed in a lower grade to give her a better grasp of the fundamentals (plus, the expectations of younger children are much more lax -- they have shorter lessons, integrated with play, etc. because those kids have a short attention span and they're just starting to learn about expectations in a classroom. In short, they're learning to be students. Perhaps that may be more suitable for Zoya at this point?

In any event, I wish you luck with little Miss Zoya! I'm sure she'll find her way soon -- just a matter of time!