Posts Tagged ‘Emotional Disabilies’
1. Use Plastic Flower Pots in Your Classroom and only throwable plants
2. Buy Unbreakable Lamps – Are there such things?
3. Always wear pull-away earrings-for those extra “special” hugs
4. Increase your supply of blue jeans – for that child who gives you extra “foot contact”
5. Patience is a Virtue
6. Sick Leave is there for a purpose —- Mental Health at risk can be considered
7. Find a really good substitute teacher
8. Use that little button in your room when necessary – administrators get the big bucks
9. Even the little ones can be really strong
10. Smile, Laugh, Eat Lunch with Others, Smile and Laugh, Remember –you LOVE YOUR JOB…Really!
“They don’t belong,” are words I can’t tolerate. I’m a special education teacher and I believe everyone belongs everywhere. It may take some children longer to acclimate to a situation than others, but with a team effort that includes the school and home, I believe it can be done. Unfortunately when a child has problems that include behavior and the child looks different, the feeling that “they don’t belong” seems to escalate.
One thing that works in my class when a student becomes overwhelmed with too much academics is reading books together as a class, that are projected onto the Smart Board. I’m fortunate to have my own classroom and a small group of boys and they all benefit from lots of read aloud so a book break is always beneficial. Seeing and hearing words and even being able to touch them on the Smart Board are very productive for these children with Learning Differences.
Sometimes I have to make really quick decisions about the book but the one site I always go to is biguniverse.com. They have a beautiful selection of top quality picture books and I’ve never gone wrong in any of my selections. I’ve started saving my favorites to my virtual bookshelf on the site so I can easily bring them up when I go to the site.
This week my special student and I are going to write a social story together using the create portion of Big Universe. We’ll write about what we can do when we feel really angry or confused. The site has 7,000 cliparts and I can even import my own pictures.
The three words “they don’t belong” should never be spoken together. It’s our job as a society to do all that we can to ensure that they aren’t. As teachers we are the first line of defense in helping our special children develop strategies to cope with situations that exist in the real world. I’m just glad there are sites like Big Universe that make my job easier.
Bullying in schools is rampant. As much as we would like to think our children are completely safe when we send them to school, we are sending them into a land mine of social fields that we have never thought to teach them about until recently. As a teacher I see bullying occur almost every day and I am constantly trying to find ways to stop the negative behavior and teach children why bullying behavior is harmful.
One of the big problems with bullying is its definition or how we perceive its definition. There are so many forms. The one definition everyone thinks of – the big mean bully who scares children – is one we have a lot of strategies to work with. It is the other kinds of bullying that are hard to teach both the bully and the child being bullied how to deal with. This type of bullying is emotional bullying. It’s very insidious. It can occur in the classroom right in front of the teacher. It occurs during a play group right in front of a mom. It occurs on the computer, during a messaging session. Emotional bullying is the worse kind because it gets inside the child’s head and that’s not as easy to heal as a bruise.
Taunting, teasing, and laughing inappropriately at a child are all bullying. Name calling, spreading rumors, forming groups and purposefully leaving one child out are all bullying. Even the negative connotations that eye contact and a nasty smirk with a child that is being taunted and teased gets across the room from the bully can be considered an act of bullying if it goes with previous behaviors of abuse. We need to give children some pictures or examples in their brain so that the next time they are on the playground, on the bus, in the hallway, or in the classroom, they can remember some of the appropriate ways to respond to a bullying situation.
Girls are great at emotional bullying. For years, maybe centuries, they’ve formed cliques. They have spread rumors, sent nasty glances, and slipped nasty notes into backpacks or purses. Boys can be just as good but in my experience they tend to bully only the ones considered lowest in the social scale. Girls don’t have a problem forming a social group against the beautiful blonde but boys don’t get together to bully the football quarter back.
The children I see bullied most often by boys are those least able to defend themselves. These children may be receiving special education services, or they may be socially naïve and immature. Boys do not want a challenge they can’t win fairly easily. They need the ego boost. How do we solve this problem?
The important thing to note with all of these acts of bullying is they begin early – in elementary school. Current surveys show that fourth grade can be one of the worst years for bullying in the elementary years. Don’t get me wrong. The other years are bad, but fourth grade stands out.
I have found books and videos help me to show my students ways to deal with bullying in a positive non threatening way. For young children the written word becomes proof and seeing it in a video confirms to them that a behavior is wrong. There are also many websites now that have books that show beautifully on a Smart Board. After reading the books and showing the videos it’s important to have a discussion with the children. Many of the books come with quizzes as do the videos. These can help you to assess their understanding.
Big Universe has several wonderful books that address bullying with gorgeous illustrations. Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully written by Audrey Penn, and published by Charlesbridge is one of theses books. For more selections go to Big Universe and type bullying in the search engine. A great site for videos on bullying and other character education topics is Discovery Education. If you are a teacher and your school subscribes to United Streaming, you’re in luck!
We can’t ignore bullying. Just saying we had to deal with it as children and we turned out okay, is not the way to approach the topic. Pick up a book and let your student see how to handle negative behaviors positively. Let’s not send any more bullies into our world.
Children with emotional and social difficulties often have problems understanding and expressing their needs. They may not understand why they feel the way they do. Even more complex than this is that they don’t understand the correct way to respond to the way they are feeling.
Children on the Autism spectrum need to be taught how to respond to facial expressions and how to make those expressions themselves. Many of these children show a flat affect unless they are shown how to smile, show surprise, all the things most of us take for granted. The average child reacts to anger over a bad grade by squeezing their fists, crying, putting the paper away and vowing to study harder next time. The child on the Autism spectrum doesn’t filter this way. They tear the paper up, call the teacher names, stomp around the classroom and make it known to everyone that they are unhappy. These children need to be taught how to respond appropriately to a bad grade or other disappointing situations.
Childhood disabilities in the school room are becoming more complex. There are many more children entering the classroom with multiple disabilities that can’t be clearly labeled and as educators we have to be able to respond to the child rather than the label. Just because we don’t see Autism or emotional disability on the label doesn’t mean there can’t be inappropriate emotional reactions, and not all inappropriate emotional reactions are related to Autism or emotional disabilities. Any child with any type of brain trauma may show the same type of inability to interpret cues. Teachers need to become researchers.
How do we teach children who are unable to respond to emotional cues? They need direct instruction. One great way is through Social Stories. These are stories that an adult writes using a situation the child faces on a regular basis and coming up with a solution. The story is then read with the child regularly. The child can be put in the story as a character. This is where the Big Universe create a book resource is invaluable. The child’s picture can be inserted into the book, as can pictures of the classroom, cafeteria, playground, wherever the trouble spots are. There are hundreds of ways to write great social stories using Big Universe.
After writing a social story on Big Universe the story can be published to the website! In the next several weeks you’ll even be able to order hard bound copies if you wish but my favorite feature is the publishing to the web because then it becomes official. Kids with emotional disabilities of any type respond well to knowing something is a rule and will be more likely to do something if they know it is a rule that has to be followed. What’s more solid than seeing their stories on the web?
We know about writer’s block in authors. We even know that when we sit down to write a letter or a memo we often have a hard time getting started. Yet, as teachers we expect our students to write with little notice on a topic we’ve decided on. We then place time constraints on their writing. Is it a wonder that so many of our children leave high school with such bad writing skills?
Of course, there are children who can’t begin writing even with the most detailed of prompts, days notice and given their own choice of topics. These are children with the ability to write but a disability that keeps them from even beginning the process. Many of these children have such an obsessive need to be perfect that they can’t begin writing because they need to see the complete picture, beginning to end, in their head first. Children who fall into this category are children with Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, Emotional Disabilities, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, and other highly creative kids who just need time. Often the best way to get these children to discover their own ability to write is to let them write – give them freedom.
A website that gives children the freedom to discover their inner author is Big Universe. This site has a book authoring tool where anyone can write, add pictures, print and even publish their own book. My fourth grade students with learning disabilities authored some incredibly creative books on Big Universe, often making them into sequels. bookChrisL and bookMahtabA were just two of these authors.
The confidence this site gave my kids is incredible. Many of them began the year not able to write good sentences. When they saw they could create books, writing sentences was no longer a problem. They are all now able to write good detailed sentences and were even able to write to a prompt for the end of the year assessment. Thanks to Big Universe my students went on to fifth grade with the ability and confidence they need to be successful as writers.