Spec Ed and behavior problems

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Spec Ed and behavior problems

Postby RevSears on Fri Jul 16, 2010 3:55 am

So me and the wife had a little debate that was started by someone at church. I was unsure where to post but i thought i'd ask you guys about it.

Is there a line (for behavior, not disability, but related to it) that is severe enough to keep kids out of school? For example I've seen kids with FASD and autism that can become very violent. is it really their right to attend school even though they have to be contained at times? and pose a risk to other students? my wife says, YES! i say no way.
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Re: Spec Ed and behavior problems

Postby Darko on Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:10 am

My wife is a teacher and has had several special needs students, including autistic children prone to violence. In those cases, the kids typically have a para-ed who is assigned to them all day, working one-on-one. They remove the child if they start getting agitated (contrary to popular belief, autistic children don't just randomly flip out; there are always specific warning signs and/or external stimuli known to set them off), and the school does have a special padded room for extreme meltdowns. As long as the adults in charge have proper training in dealing with special needs children, the whole process runs smoothly. It's also important to note that an important aspect of keeping the kids in the general population is teaching them socialization and what is/isn't appropriate behavior. If they never get a chance to be around neurotypical children, their problems will only get worse as they age. However, all of the children who have come through my wife's classroom have shown marked improvement (not just since their time in her class but since they've entered the school) in behavior, to the point where, at fourth grade, children who started borderline uncontrollable are, in comparison, extremely mild (usually the occasional cry/screaming tantrum or panic during a fire-drill as opposed to violent outbursts and throwing things on an almost daily basis).

Now, having worked in the mental health field myself for a time, I know that there are some very, very extreme cases where it is not appropriate to try to integrate them into a normal public school. Still, I think there should be a public education option for such children (as opposed to the ludicrously expensive private schools that put a huge burden on parents already dealing with many huge financial burdens related to their child's disorder). Basic education is a right afforded to all American children, and autistic children didn't ask to be born with a mental disorder, any more than blind, deaf, or otherwise disabled children did. They shouldn't be excluded just because it's more difficult to teach them.
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Re: Spec Ed and behavior problems

Postby RevSears on Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:35 am

Part of the problem i see, at least, is that they paras (including me) do not have the proper training. Subs do not have the proper training! (including me again) Issues like when a mant hold ( a type of training here) are allowed to be used. Verbal assault is also a serious problem i have seen. At one school, kids, especial other special need children, were truly terrified of a violent youth who threatened such things as , "I'm going to drill through your eyeballs," and " I'm going to kill you and eat you." Constantly removing him and bringing him back only reinforced that if he wanted to leave the classroom he simply needed to misbehave.

Also i disagree that education is right. It certainly wasn't at the countries founding, and I'm not sure the constitution intended us to accrue more and more rights. But if it is a right, a student must respect the rights of others correct?
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Re: Spec Ed and behavior problems

Postby Darko on Sat Jul 17, 2010 4:41 pm

Education is most certainly a right; in fact, it's a responsibility. That's why all children are REQUIRED to be put through some form of education. Even if you home school, you still have to meet certain criteria and milestones set forth by the state (to make sure you're actually teaching your kids, not just sitting at home with them letting them play 360 all day). Just because it's not in the constitution doesn't mean it's not a right. The original constitution didn't allow for women or minorities voting, or an end to slavery, either. As far as respecting the rights of others, it depends on how old of a child we're talking about here. There could be some argument made if the child in question is in his or her teens, but children younger than that who suffer from severe autism or other disorders often have little or no control over their emotions or resultant actions. They're not 'acting out' to purposefully disrupt class or upset people, they, as part of their disorder, have no in-born concept of their actions affecting the world outside of themselves. It would be like asking a neurotypical person to consider how their actions affect people living on Mars. They can, of course, learn to function to various degrees, some very successfully, some just to the point where they can make it in their day to day adult life without getting arrested but will never have what we would consider friendships or other interpersonal relationships. But the only way they get to that point is by socializing them and getting them used to life in the mainstream world. I agree that just removing a child from the room doesn't work, especially if they don't want to be in the classroom in the first place. That's why in most schools I've encountered, they always make sure that the move is from the classroom to a LESS fun place without visual or auditory stimuli (they call it the Resource Room at my wife's school) where they are instructed and monitored in a more one-on-one fashion and must work on whatever they were working on when they were kicked out of the main classroom. The students who have tried throwing tantrums just to get out of being in the room have only done so two or three times before they realize that it's just a lot of hassle for them for no pay off. Again, there are always extreme cases that should not be part of a general school, but the solution is to send them to a place better equipped to deal with them, not just to toss them out in the world. Without ANY structured environments or any socialization, their issues would only get exponentially worse as they get older, until eventually they wind up in prison and/or state institutions because they have no concept of how to interact with the world.

You touched on one of the real solutions; more training. As autism, ODD and other disorders are becoming more common, it's not just enough to know how to teach 'normal' children. That's why my state (and several others) require classes in how to deal with severe special needs for teaching certification (which is required to be a full teacher or a sub) and requiring more intensive special needs training for para-eds who work one-on-one with the more severe cases. I think more states need to adopt these practices. For instance, if I were to hop the border to Idaho or go live with my family in Texas (or go to several other states, those are just the ones I'm familiar with), I, as a recipient of a bachelor's degree, could be a substitute teacher. I have never taken education classes, and I have no idea how to manage a classroom of neurotypical students, much less special needs kids, but I could be put in charge of 20-30 of them for a whole day. I'm sure my bachelor's in creative writing would really help me. I think it needs to be standard practice that, if you're going to be in charge of children in a school, even on a temporary basis, you need to have been fully trained to do so.
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Re: Spec Ed and behavior problems

Postby Matthew on Mon Jul 26, 2010 12:36 pm

Just read all of this, and I really have no first hand knowledge of any of this, so forming an opinion is difficult. I know that trying to put everyone on the same playing field is difficult, but also segregating all special needs kids isn't the answer either. It seems very gray, and of course with the underfunding of public schools this is even more difficult.
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Re: Spec Ed and behavior problems

Postby RevSears on Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:51 am

Matthew wrote:Just read all of this, and I really have no first hand knowledge of any of this, so forming an opinion is difficult. I know that trying to put everyone on the same playing field is difficult, but also segregating all special needs kids isn't the answer either. It seems very gray, and of course with the underfunding of public schools this is even more difficult.


Very true on most parts, but i'm not sure I can agree with you on the underfunding. I think they key is more mismanaged funds. I went to a Highschool that was only 12 years old and got a brand new gym floor, while we were using books that were falling apart. We spend way too much money on transporting kids to sporting events etc.
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Re: Spec Ed and behavior problems

Postby RevSears on Tue Jul 27, 2010 6:06 am

Darko wrote:Education is most certainly a right; in fact, it's a responsibility. That's why all children are REQUIRED to be put through some form of education. Even if you home school, you still have to meet certain criteria and milestones set forth by the state (to make sure you're actually teaching your kids, not just sitting at home with them letting them play 360 all day). Just because it's not in the constitution doesn't mean it's not a right. The original constitution didn't allow for women or minorities voting, or an end to slavery, either. As far as respecting the rights of others, it depends on how old of a child we're talking about here. There could be some argument made if the child in question is in his or her teens, but children younger than that who suffer from severe autism or other disorders often have little or no control over their emotions or resultant actions. They're not 'acting out' to purposefully disrupt class or upset people, they, as part of their disorder, have no in-born concept of their actions affecting the world outside of themselves. It would be like asking a neurotypical person to consider how their actions affect people living on Mars. They can, of course, learn to function to various degrees, some very successfully, some just to the point where they can make it in their day to day adult life without getting arrested but will never have what we would consider friendships or other interpersonal relationships. But the only way they get to that point is by socializing them and getting them used to life in the mainstream world. I agree that just removing a child from the room doesn't work, especially if they don't want to be in the classroom in the first place. That's why in most schools I've encountered, they always make sure that the move is from the classroom to a LESS fun place without visual or auditory stimuli (they call it the Resource Room at my wife's school) where they are instructed and monitored in a more one-on-one fashion and must work on whatever they were working on when they were kicked out of the main classroom. The students who have tried throwing tantrums just to get out of being in the room have only done so two or three times before they realize that it's just a lot of hassle for them for no pay off. Again, there are always extreme cases that should not be part of a general school, but the solution is to send them to a place better equipped to deal with them, not just to toss them out in the world. Without ANY structured environments or any socialization, their issues would only get exponentially worse as they get older, until eventually they wind up in prison and/or state institutions because they have no concept of how to interact with the world.

You touched on one of the real solutions; more training. As autism, ODD and other disorders are becoming more common, it's not just enough to know how to teach 'normal' children. That's why my state (and several others) require classes in how to deal with severe special needs for teaching certification (which is required to be a full teacher or a sub) and requiring more intensive special needs training for para-eds who work one-on-one with the more severe cases. I think more states need to adopt these practices. For instance, if I were to hop the border to Idaho or go live with my family in Texas (or go to several other states, those are just the ones I'm familiar with), I, as a recipient of a bachelor's degree, could be a substitute teacher. I have never taken education classes, and I have no idea how to manage a classroom of neurotypical students, much less special needs kids, but I could be put in charge of 20-30 of them for a whole day. I'm sure my bachelor's in creative writing would really help me. I think it needs to be standard practice that, if you're going to be in charge of children in a school, even on a temporary basis, you need to have been fully trained to do so.



I agree with you on a lot of your statements. I really agree that we need more training in this area. I also like some of your descriptions of how to handle situations in earlier posts. Juneau isn't like that. Perhaps part of my frustration comes from generalizing some local problems.

A small note about training. Schools and degrees are not everything. I've only had real difficulty as a sub with one student and one classroom (two separate incidents.) And with the classroom, in talking with other subs, i firmly believe the main culprit was the teacher's normal operating procedure and tone. Some of the skills needed for school are learned in college, but i've felt for years some college classes are a waste of time, in most cases. I do not feel i could walk in and truly teach a class or develop a lesson plan (i could teach them the bible wouldn't that be nice?) but for a sub yes. So i'm glad i have that chance here in AK. But i also fear we put too much trust in paper degrees that may or may not truly prepare the teacher for the job. (and on a related note, i'm sure we don't always fire, or re-train the ones that slip through w/o the knowledge/skills they need)

Legal rights are an iffy thing. I do not feel it is wise to declare some thing is a right without it being listed in the amendments somewhere. Demanding as a right when clearly public schools weren't even dreamed of, puts it on par with demanding abortions are a right. (not morality here, i'm talking legal arguments. Common sense, a sense of entitlement, or even tradition (outside of legal precedent) does not make a legal right)

Can you at least agree that there are some kids who do in fact abuse the system? I'm not saying it's typical. But kids who begin to understand, i get out of this work if i act up, and then do so. Even if they have been diagnosed with something. I've played up a stomach ache to attempt to get out of school, isn't it possible some of them play up? Granted if handled properly it could be harder to do.
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Re: Spec Ed and behavior problems

Postby Darko on Wed Jul 28, 2010 4:22 am

RevSears wrote:

I agree with you on a lot of your statements. I really agree that we need more training in this area. I also like some of your descriptions of how to handle situations in earlier posts. Juneau isn't like that. Perhaps part of my frustration comes from generalizing some local problems.

A small note about training. Schools and degrees are not everything. I've only had real difficulty as a sub with one student and one classroom (two separate incidents.) And with the classroom, in talking with other subs, i firmly believe the main culprit was the teacher's normal operating procedure and tone. Some of the skills needed for school are learned in college, but i've felt for years some college classes are a waste of time, in most cases. I do not feel i could walk in and truly teach a class or develop a lesson plan (i could teach them the bible wouldn't that be nice?) but for a sub yes. So i'm glad i have that chance here in AK. But i also fear we put too much trust in paper degrees that may or may not truly prepare the teacher for the job. (and on a related note, i'm sure we don't always fire, or re-train the ones that slip through w/o the knowledge/skills they need)


It's not the college work or the 'paper on the wall' that makes teacher certification valuable. It's the actual classroom experience during field placement and student teaching. You can read about how to manage a classroom or effectively teach children and understand it all in an academic sense (and that IS important), but putting that into practice is a completely different thing. Adequate field placement/student teaching experience, well supervised by both a master teacher (the one whose classroom you're working in) and the professors is invaluable. The best education programs are the ones that include ample in-classroom experience even before the student teaching section of the program (in contrast, my sister-in-law went through a less than quality program to get her degree in music education. She aced all of her classes and was a program favorite right up until she got to her student teaching placement, which was her very first exposure to a classroom, and had no idea how to control or teach the children in any practical way. In response, her professors declared her 'hopeless' and failed her). Of course bad ones slip through, but that's true of anything. Strangely, at least in my experience, the bad ones tend to be the deeply entrenched teachers (the ones who have been there 20+ years) who have decided that they know what's best by virtue of longevity and no one is going to tell them otherwise. And they're basically impossible to get rid of, too (and no, merit-pay isn't the answer....it works real well on paper, but is a super duper pandora's box).

Legal rights are an iffy thing. I do not feel it is wise to declare some thing is a right without it being listed in the amendments somewhere. Demanding as a right when clearly public schools weren't even dreamed of, puts it on par with demanding abortions are a right. (not morality here, i'm talking legal arguments. Common sense, a sense of entitlement, or even tradition (outside of legal precedent) does not make a legal right)


But it is a legal right. Or, rather, it's a legal responsibility to submit children to some form of regimented schooling (public, private, or home). If you do not, CPS can and will take your children. There's no caveat for them being difficult.

Can you at least agree that there are some kids who do in fact abuse the system? I'm not saying it's typical. But kids who begin to understand, i get out of this work if i act up, and then do so. Even if they have been diagnosed with something. I've played up a stomach ache to attempt to get out of school, isn't it possible some of them play up? Granted if handled properly it could be harder to do.


Of course they do, but that's not unique to children with disabilities. I don't know a single kid who, at some point, hasn't tried to play up an illness or injury to get out of a day of school or a homework assignment. Heck, one of my wife's former students tried to pull, "my parents are divorced and my dad has started dating again!" to get out of doing homework (because his mother had taught him that he could use that with her to get out of doing anything around the house). That's why the people who work with them need to be educated about the disorders so that they know what is and isn't typical, what is something to take seriously and what is just drama. And the kids need to be taught (and can be) that their tricks don't work, just like any kid (and usually, they learn their tricks at home...so many parents are, legitimately, so concerned about not doing the wrong thing that they let their disabled children get away with anything), not just so it will make classroom life easy, but for their own safety (so they don't become the boy who cried wolf and then get in serious peril when they actually do need help and no one believes them). It's also important to remember that, for a lot of these disorders (not all of them, but a lot), it's not an intentionally malicious thing for the kid. They're not thinking, as a 'normal' kid, "I'll lie to my teachers about a stomach ache, and then they'll let me out of school." It's much more a cause/effect reaction for them, "When I do X, Y happens." They don't, on their own, understand that 'X' involves a level of deceit, or that it causes problems for others (which is part of the autistic disorder, an inability or difficulty comprehending the world outside of the self). It may seem like a small difference, but it's an important one. When dealing with a neurotypical defiant child, it's really a battle of wills and for respect, and needs to be handled as such. But with a child with a disorder, defiance isn't really defiance at all, it's just learned behavior that needs to be untaught. They aren't acting out because they have no respect for the teacher (often, they have no concept of what respect is). If a teacher approaches such a child as they would with a defiant neurotypical child, all that will be accomplished is a ton of frustration for both sides.
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Re: Spec Ed and behavior problems

Postby Professor on Fri Oct 22, 2010 3:12 pm

The largest factor when working with students with disabilities, especially those that manifest violent behaviors --- is proper training. Like previous posts have stated, degrees aren't everything. What is needed is the proper training in working with behaviors – like Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Using this system, especially school-wide, allows for most behaviors to be addressed in all classrooms. Typically, the first tier of students or 85% can be dealt with using procedures and having a structured setting across the continuum. The next 10% of students on the second tier would require interventions and supports, with the last 5% or third tier, requiring Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBA's) where Behaviors Intervention Plans (BIP's) are developed to address adverse behaviors.

What most people don't understand is that it is important to identify the antecedent or trigger of the behavior (Why is it happening?) In doing so, allows for a replacement behavior to be taught. This is all done with proper training and if teachers or aides are not trained, then it all amounts to nothing.

I am also a firm believer in inclusion. For some students, the only chance that is provided to model appropriate behavior is when included in the general education classroom. Likewise, it builds compassion and tolerance for general education students to understand that God creates people differently. While some argue that certain students with disabilities may not understand or learn the academics of the classroom, they can learn social, life, and daily living skills. School is not solely based on academics, if that were the case then education could and should be strictly technology based with students working on computers at home. What schools also do is to provide the social training that many students, not just students with disabilities, require in order to become productive students. I believe everyone can learn, what is needed is training and tolerance when workings with students with special needs, especially those with Emotional or Behavioral difficulties.
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