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Physical Disability - but real issue is behavior

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George White
 
 
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George White
 
 
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Physical Disability - but real issue is behavior
Old 09-01-2017, 06:16 PM
 
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Recently I worked with a kid with a pretty significant physical disability. The information I received from his parents was that he was struggling with math and it was because of his teachers who ignore him and make him feel bad for not knowing the answers. I work in a capacity as a tutor, usually 1:1 in a private setting.

However after working with him for awhile I discovered that this really isn't at all the problem. The kid actually has pretty significant behavior issues and they are enhanced by the attitude of the parents who blame everyone and never put any responsibility on the kid.

As an example, after significant review (a few weeks) he was given a test to see where he stood and how to develop the next session of materials and as well I wanted to see if I needed to change my strategies, what worked, what didn't etc. . It was a 20 minute MC test, and a 40 min LA.

He did three of the MC and then started to sulk :

-turned around in his desk
-head down, staring at the floor

This is a kid who is going into high school, and talks about (and does) all the typical HS activities, but yet this level of behavior I normally don't see anywhere close to that age.

He never even looked past the first page to see if he could do any of the next questions. When he was given the long answer, he did do any work, didn't even read it. Then just got up out of his desk and started walking around the classroom, reading books, etc. . I reminded him this was a test, and he sat down and was just very vocal and sulking.

The biggest issue I face is that this kid actually leverages his disability and his parents are protective to the point they see any punitive action in an extreme negative light (how dare you punish my kid - don't you know he is disabled). I am unsure how to be productive as he is totally passive, refuses to do work, and just wants to sit in his desk .

Given the classes he has to do in high school (math, typical sciences) I can't imagine he can succeed while refusing to do any work. But with his parents blaming everyone else and refusing to even think he could be the problem, it isn't obvious to me how to proceed, especially when they take any criticism of him as being unjustified.

Ideally I would like them to actually watch a teaching session, or even a part of it, which I have suggested, but they can't.


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A Different Approach
Old 09-03-2017, 07:55 AM
 
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This older kid has had years to perfect his M.O., so you may need to try an unorthodox approach with him. Instead of expecting him to complete traditional assessments and assignments, how about developing a project-based approach centered around a subject that he can relate to? I like to offer my students a range of suggested topics that are especially well-suited to endless possibilities: photography, culinary arts, animal study, travel, etc. I usually steer them away from sports and music. Use technology to create a digital notebook and eventual presentation replete with informative text (including Q and A), original photos and video clips, interviews, data charts (and interpretation using math). The complexity of the project should be adjusted to match the student's level of engagement. The end result will be an impressive product that everyone can be proud of: parents, student and tutor!
Subsequent projects can be tailored to be increasingly more academic with conventional elements that were previously rejected by the student.
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Can you video
Old 09-03-2017, 01:30 PM
 
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your interactions with him? Would that make a difference to the parents?

FWIW, as a SpEd teacher, I have seen this behavior before. In cases of physical, mental, emotional or academic disabilities, the knee jerk reaction to "cut them some slack," excuse bad behavior or fail to discipline the child because they feel sorry for them.

They are not doing the kid any favors.

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Old 09-04-2017, 10:22 AM
 
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Thanks, I have suggested they watch, or participate one of the lessons, they are not interested. On some level this seems to point to me they are possibly aware of the issues and don't want to deal with them.
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Old 09-04-2017, 10:33 AM
 
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Thanks for the response.

To be clear, the material isn't presented in a typical manner, as in here is a worksheet, go do it. It is always presented in-context, leveraging something the kid is interested in, or is aware of. For example during a section on percentages we looked up various "upgrade" modifications in a PRG-like game he plays and explored how to use percentages to maximize choices. We then watched videos of people playing and making choices, and looked at evaluating them.

But I can't get him to engage to actually do any of it himself (writing, drawing, making, etc.). He just wants to sit back and watch someone do all the activities. The problem is that the learning that takes place here is very mild and thus I find myself repeating concepts over and over with little advancement. Now there is some learning sure, but it is maybe 5-10% of what would be expected.

The passive nature extends to testing as well and testing is so critical to long term retention.

I would like to integrate him into a larger class, ideally where other people have similar physical issues, but that isn't an option as his parents want 1:1. I would be curious if the parents, or even the student, would react if the tutor/instructor had similar, or ideally more extensive, physical limitations.


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