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Trying to get a feel for what to do for this kid-feedback wanted
Old 08-10-2019, 03:17 PM
 
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I have a student this year who was flagged as a behavior from his last years teacher. The first few days I sure saw this but then as I worked to connect with him I started to realize that what he is is actually a really smart, sensitive, quirky kid who puts up a lot of walls and has maladaptive behaviors that he uses for defense mechanisms (ok I know a lot of behavior kiddos could be described this way but this kids "wall" of behaviors is much easier to see through than most-in his case within days it was very obvious)

He is a work refuser-but, despite being very smart, the minute he has to put pencil to paper to express what he knows he struggles, is easily frustrated, and seems to be putting so much of his cognitive processing into making his pencil work that what he has to say gets lost and what he does get written down looks like a kinder wrote it. He is a decent reader but he writes like he doesnt have good grasp on the phonics system. Well, now I know why he refuses to do his work-he cant do it, at least not to the level that he knows he should be able to. Oh yeah, and since he refused to be helped on assignments. I think he doesnt like the fact that he needs help. I come over to help and the shut down happens. He has let me help him a couple of times but, it seems like I have to ask if I can help him at just the right moment (after is frustrated and realized that he needs help but before he is so frustrated that he shuts down). Keeping an eye out for "right moment" is gonna be a challenge in a classroom with a lot of other needs.

So, work refusal has clearly been working for him for quite a while. I refuse to let this continue. This a smart kid who deserves to learn, progress, and achieve. He has gotten pretty mad that I wont let him just refuse, do nothing, and then go on about his day. Accountability came as a shock to him actually.

He is also VERY negative. But I am already chiseling away at that. I take a few minutes of every day to just stop and chat with him about life, his interests, how things are going one on one. This kinda through him off guard at first and getting him to tell me anything was as painful as pulling teeth. But, eventually (7 class days in) he took the bait and started talking. He is into...rocks of all things. He wants to be a geologist when he grows up . SO I have been connecting with him about rocks. I had a "Mega Rock Learning Center" that scholastic send me by mistake a few years ago so I put it under my desk and I pull it when we have free time for him to use. This negative, closed off kid who had refused to even look at me or give me high five or hand shake in the morning and at dismissal just made me a card to tell me I am the best teacher ever. I also started getting high fives . SO, the shell that he has used to repel people-actually not that hard to crack.


SO that is a lot of back ground info to ask-this kid has had zero previous intervention or services. It seems like his previous teachers blamed his lack of achievement on attitude and refusal to attend and participate rather than a learning problem. He also hasn't been flagged for emotional needs-just notes in his file about a bad attitude and being rude and defiant.

So there is, in my opinion, a clear learning and or fine motor issue here (maybe high functioning autism-he has no friends, has narrow interests, and talks in a whisper and cant write and has a flat affect) and social emotional needs beyond the norm. But I dont think he would be academically low enough to qualify for Sped services. If the issue is fine motor, OT is not a stand alone service in my state (I know this from experience). And while he clearly has social emotional needs beyond the norm he isnt destroying any classrooms or punching people in the face. I think I can probably make a lot of growth with him this year on my own. But, I know something is wrong here. So do I put him on my (very long this year) RTI list and gather data, or do I leave him off since I dont think he'd qualify and just try to make more than the usual progress with him and then add him to the list mid year if I am not getting the progress I hoped for?


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Gather data
Old 08-10-2019, 04:13 PM
 
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But I think it's too soon to really know.
You've made a HUGE connection with him which will take him far.

You say he is a decent reader. Could you try speech to text so he can say his answers or say his writing? Then any fine motor issues he may have won't cloud his production, giving you a clearer picture of his abilities.
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Old 08-10-2019, 05:27 PM
 
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What grade is this?

Could it be that he is a perfectionist, and thatís why he does the work refusal- since he knows itís not perfect?
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Old 08-10-2019, 07:08 PM
 
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Third grade-he could be a perfectionist. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing you are capable of high quality work but then looking at what you produced and feeling like it looks "terrible".

I had a perfectionist a few years ago-but he was easier to peg as a perfectionist becuase he always erased a lot and the tantrumed that it wasn't "right" and was "terrible" (funnily enough he sister was also a perfectionist-something in the genes I guess). This guy is refusing and then when I can get him to do it...eventually...after several offers to help and his refusal to even acknowledge that I am talking to him and gving me a "go to hell" look, he will do it just so he can get to the "better" thing that is coming next. When he does work he dont rush or turn in crap-its not very good but you can tell its the best he can do.

Then you talk to him and BOOM you realize he has a bunch of good answers and ideas locked in his brain-and thats where they stay. He has long elaborate ideas but what he manages to get out is what amounts to a letter strands without spaces that is phonetic mostly but also missing sounds.

What he says: "I think that the main character is the type of person who wants to make everything exciting and so he comes up with crazy ideas to keep from being bored"

What he writes: iTinktHaTdumAncaRactRiswantseks iTigsTuf

and the letter are largish, not well formed, and tilting to and fro.
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Old 08-10-2019, 07:20 PM
 
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I agree with dee. Continue to gather data. He may eventually end up in RtI or tested for dysgraphia or other learning disability. Right now, you have the relationship connection and can build on that to break through the walls to see if its perfectionism, attitude, or learning struggles which are causing him to refuse to work.

If his success is significantly different orally vs written OR when text is orally read to him vs he reads text himself you should speak to your interventionists/diagnosticians about possible needed testing.

Let us know. Sounds like you are doing great things for this student!


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Old 08-10-2019, 07:27 PM
 
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I just saw your second post. Does he have learning gaps? Did he miss school due to changing schools or moving around, etc? If not, put together samples of his written work and either record or write down what he orally tells you for answers to take to your interventionists/diagnosticians.

If, as you say, he is giving you his best, this attitude and refusal to work may be a defense mechanism to preserve his self esteem.
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Old 08-10-2019, 07:45 PM
 
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Quote:
I just saw your second post. Does he have learning gaps? Did he miss school due to changing schools or moving around, etc?
NO learning gaps, super stable life with good parents who seem to care a lot but they do both work hard and long hours. No trauma that I can find in his file or from reports from previous teachers, and he is already in outside counseling the negativity.

his previous teachers just said, "oh that one, yeah he has always been like that. He was the most pessimistic first grader-never a had a good thing to say about anything and never wanted to try, not even in P.E.".
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Refusal to work child
Old 08-10-2019, 07:51 PM
 
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I had this child. You are definitely doing all the right things. One thing that helped me in the first few weeks was to keep a pack of post itís near me at all times. I would visually check in with him Every 15 minutes (no lie) and jot down the time and what I noticed.

A pattern emerged. Eventually I realized he had ADHD. Smart, excellent reader, horrible writer with good ideas, no math confidence...yet once he could calm down enough to think things through, he could do it.

Keep doing what youíre doing...itís making a difference. My child hated school until he came to me and I was firm, consistent, and paid positive attention to him.
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Old 08-11-2019, 07:33 AM
 
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Connecting is what he needs first of all, and you are doing a great job!!

I think it's too early in the relationship to push any SPED services - it will still likely scare him off. But I would maybe look for some books (if you do read-alouds) that happen to mention finding different ways to do things you don't do well. I'm sure there are a lot out there (the first/flashiest that come to mind are stories I've seen on TV about someone who paints with their feet or something) but you want anything that can start a natural discussion among the kids about how they "get around" things they don't do well. This will make it easier to bring up any interventions later.

And of course, include some assignments (or options) sometimes that aren't writing-based, so he has a chance to feel proud of work he does do well.
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Old 08-11-2019, 03:56 PM
 
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As a parent of a high functioning autistic child writing was his downfall in elementary. Can you do text to speech on the computer? Scribe for him. Set up a graphic organizer and have him orally tell you the information and you organize it and scribe it. That was how I finally got my own child writing. Split it into chunks. You write a chunk then have him write a chunk. Computers are what saved my non-writer.


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Meanwhile...
Old 08-18-2019, 06:57 AM
 
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While I would concur some analysis is in order, in the meantime, I'd try some "out of the box" things. The first thing that pops into my head is art. If your art teacher is available and interested, ask her about therapeutic art--our elementary art teacher has made some real inroads with kids coming to the art room just to "do" art. But it can be even more basic. Instead of writing, can he draw? I had a student who was learning English... we often encouraged her to journal in comic strip format.

In another situation, I "got through" to a high school student known for similar behaviors by making him prove to himself he could do one little thing, then we started creating standards together. There's a long story with this but I thought the principal showed great insight when he asked me if D was really who he was or was he acting the way he thought others expected. When kids build a wall around themselves, I look for a hole. I don't try to tear down that wall. It's there for a reason and it may well be working great for them.

I think you've made more progress together than you both may realize. Keep poking into that hole. Even a third-grader is struggling with who they are and who they are becoming. Sometimes (not saying that's true here) we try too hard to turn them into who we (or the system) thinks they should be.
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Old 08-19-2019, 05:20 AM
 
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Late to the party, but I wanted to share something from my kid - who sounds just like your kid - from last year. Same - his parents seem okay, and his school record is great. No gaps.

However, from closer inspection, his mom was a PITA. She was on top of every little thing that her little sneaky booger did and it was never his fault. In second grade his 2nd year teacher started the year on maternity leave. As soon as she returned there was an incident with a book where this boy was found with another student's book. The returning teacher called his parent and parent went off on her for accusing him of stealing. I guess it was ugle. So, in return, teacher let him do whatever he wanted to do. He didn't work (and was significantly behind before that), escalated behaviors, etc.

When I got him, I couldn't believe that he had never been referred to our student assistance teams. There was no paperwork on him whatsoever. After I finally talked to the second grade teacher (and I knew his kinder teacher, so got the same scoop there) I had to go to mom because no way could I just let him coast. In the end, both his mother and him ended up liking me. He is smart, but the paper and pen connections just weren't happening. He did end up qualifying for sped in ELA and because it was significantly effecting his math, we were able to get him in for that, too. He is making big strides in the smaller group.

Keep doing what you are doing. Just because he is smart doesn't mean he isn't having a disconnect. He may have a significant learning disability that effects his pen and paper participation.
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