Results of shadowing difficult child

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Shari, Feb 24, 2009.

  1. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Actually, it wasn't a waste. I'm anxious to find out if the para with difficult child felt he was behaving normally or not, but he pretty much ignored me for the hour or so I was in the classroom with him.

    And I saw the meltdown coming from a mile away.

    He was in art with the "middle" para. One he gets along with really well, one sort of, and one not so much. He was with "sort of". There was no praise. I realize at first grade that's pretyt infantile, but we're talking about a kid who needs a 1:1 in the first place. He offered his crayon to another student who couldn't find hers, he helped pick up crayons when the box got dumped, several piddly things like that, he did the right thing and para said not a word.

    He was struggling with his project and she jumped in to help him. Instead of asking, she took the pencil from him. He liked what she did, so it turned out ok, but I could see the initial frustration with that.

    Then came the end of art. He was just finishing up his project. In art, if you finish early, you can do free drawing or "stations", and when the teacher gave the 5 minutes warning, and he started picking up the pace in orer to do free drawing. That was the first warning bell for me. He finished his project with 2 minutes of art left. Obviously not enough time to do much of a free drawing. Para let him start free drawing. He came to me and asked me to draw him a horse. That was the only time he acknowledged my presence. I drew the horse and he went back to his seat with less than a minute left, and it was clean up time. Para told him to clean up, and it started. He refused, went to get another pencil from the pencil box, she grabbed him and took the pencil from his hand and put it back, then physically walked him from the pencils back to his seat. Back at his seat, he refused to sit down, walked on past his table, threw the picture on the floor, and went to the corner behind the teacher's desk and sat down behind a planter thing with his knees to his chest and hands around his knees. Para followed and grabbed his hands and pulled him up and then it was over. The fight was on. She pulled him into the hall and was heading for the office with him, he was fighting and it was starting to get physical and I finally stepped in.

    They still made him go to the office to his "safe spot" and he threw a big fit in there, but SpEd teacher and principal were also there by then and I was able to point out a few things to them that they thought made it not last as long.

    But I think I coul dhave prevented the entire thing to begin with.

    After that, SpEd teacher asked me to stay behind in the conference room until they were back in her room after recess. Back in her room, he was working with "sort of" para again. They had a math worksheet to do. He was not interacting with me, but wanted to sit on the floor near where I was sitting to do his paper, and "sort of" didn't think that was appropriate, so she made him move to a table, and it brought another mini-meltdown. This time, he dove under the table, and they left him alone. After a few minutes, he started singing, so the SpEd teacher set a timer and told him she thought since he was singing a nice song, he was probably ready to come work, so when the timer went off, he needed to come out and work. He came out in 15 seconds. Personally, when he started singing, I'd have jumped in and sang with him engaged with me again, then brought him out to work, but either way, it worked without a complete meltdown.

    So based on what I saw today, he doesn't like "sort of". He treats her like he treats my mother in law, who he doesn't like. And she doesn't work with him the best. At no point did she ever get on his level, give him positive feedback, make sure she had eye contact...heck, in the art room, he was sitting behind the teacher's what? Leave him.

    I don't know if we are doing this again tomorrow or not, but I'd like to. I'd like to see if I'm jumping to conclusions or that's really it, but I think I could have avoided any meltdown today whatsoever.

    It was interesting.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Looks pretty obvious to me!
    Great job, observing.
    It's so much easier to sit and watch when you're not the one in the middle. :)
    So, will they take your input?
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    That sounds like a very productive session. Would "sort of" accept constructive feedback? Let her know that her degree of attention to him is very good, she's fast on the ball withh im, but if she could give him more praise where appropriate, a quick word even in the tiny things, she might have even more success with him. He isn't an easy kid, but it's not something he has personal control over, he really struggles to have control and her ongoing encouragement will work wonders.

    She needs to know that what she is doing is good, for most kids. But he needs a little more, simply because he is struggling so much harder and needing ongoing support and GENTLE direction.

    Another point - when he has had one meltdown, a second (or subsequent) is much closer to the surface. That is why it is so important to try to prevent that first meltdown. Once it's happened, you need to back off faster and further to prevent the next. Getting to this point is to be avoided where possible (but don't feel too bad if you miss - we have to all learn to adapt, to help a child like this, and not let guiltslow us down. You make your own quiet notes and move on).

    You are doing almostvexactly what we did with difficult child 3. It was my observations of his apparent inability to do any useful work while I was in the room, that had me telling the teqacher, "I think I need to stop coming in to observe."
    The teacher replied, "Oh, he's always like that, whether you're here or not."
    That finished me - if he wasn't able to work, how on earth could he ever learn? Year in, year out. difficult child 3 had a brilliant aide, she could prevent most meltdowns (except ones that happened due to teacher interference - other teachers, not class teacher) but for us there were too many other problems which school couldn't solve sufficiently for him to actually accomplish anything.

    I think you're doing a really great thing. The teacher wanting to talk about it too - again, she's trying to really do something constructive and productive here. Pats on the back to all of you, even "sort of". Because even she is paying attention to him (judging by her fast response with him pickig up a pencil). She just needs to change her mindset to hi a little, and maybe read "Explosive Child" (or at least a summary of it).

    Well done, everybody!

  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Wow Shari, that's great insight.
    Do you think "sort of" will be receptive to it? If she can understand what she's doing that's not providing difficult child the support he needs, then they may have better interactions all around.

    Fingers crossed!

  5. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Sounds like a productive morning! Hope "sort of" is willing to listen.
  6. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    That sounds like a very productive experience! How nice to get to be the "fly on the wall" and have the chance to observe problems first-hand and then be able to offer advice and work on solutions!

    Keep up the good work!

  7. ML

    ML Guest

    Very productive, Shari. I hope they listen to your feedback. I'm really glad you were able to observe like that, you really got valuable insight.
  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I was really surprised by the outcome. Of course, I don't want difficult child to be having meltdowns, but I was glad he still "did what he does".

    The middle of the day was a little odd, tho, and something just seems strange...after the first meltdown, there was a 30 minute period that they didn't want me to shadow him. That confuses me, since we were all pleasantly suprised by the fact that he seemed to have acted "normal". And they are still talking about half days.

    I am going to request we do this again tomorow, at least for this same time period. Like I said, I feel like seeing him one time is more of a "jumping to conclusions" than a real basis. Other than this para does have a lot of things she can improve on.

    And Marg, thanks for the tactful way to do that! I hate hate hate being the critical one, and I'm not good at it.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    About saying unpleasant things in a tactful way - you look for the positive, and reinforce it. And you can ALWAYS say something positive! If you think about it, we get a lot of practice saying positive (but truthful) things when we try to find things to praise in our difficult children.

    Many years ago when I was a child, I was reading a particular entry in "Personal Glimpses" in Readers Digest. It was an anecdote about an English king who went through a phase of beleiving himself to be a good singer, and trying to hire the foremost opera singer of the day to coach him. The opera singer, NOT wanting the job but also not wanting to offend the king, got out of it with extreme diplomacy by saying something like, "Your Majesty would have the most wonderful voice if only the upper register had the power and clarity so lacking in the lower."

    Now THAT'S diplomacy!