At what point do you hold students with behavior disabilities accountable?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by waterfall, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Phenom

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    I have a student who is formally identified as OHI with ADHD (didn't quite qualify for the behavior category), but his problems in class are all behavior-oriented. He's extremely book smart and could do very well in school if he'd just do the work. He's very knowledgeable of his IEP and accommodations, which on the one hand can be a good thing, but on the other hand he uses it as an excuse to do no work. Or, giving him the benefit of the doubt, he actually believes he's not capable of doing the work because of his disability. He constantly says that he can't do xyz because he has a disability and it's hard for him. He'll sit in class for hours and do nothing. His parents believe that the teacher shouldn't even prompt him gently with things like, "get back to work, let's get started on this, etc." because "he knows he should be working but is incapable of doing so because of his disability. You're just making him feel bad about himself when you say things like that." He has a behavior chart with rewards attached, but he frankly doesn't care if he gets the star/reward or not. The teacher has tried asking him what he wants as a reward, hoping there would be something he'd work towards, but he never comes up with anything. The parents are very involved and clearly care about his needs but they are extremely difficult to work with because they buy into this "can't do anything because of the disability" thing. They don't believe he should have any consequences at school at all, because having a disability is not his fault. At our last (4 hour) meeting with these parents, the classroom teacher had tried to bring up that he realizes it's hard for the student (the classroom teacher actually has adhd himself), but the student is still making a conscience choice when he decides not to follow the behavior plan or to sit in class for 3 hours without even attempting anything. His parents just say that they were both like that as kids and that their son just needs to "get through" school so that he can work independently as an adult (they own their own business, supposedly because they also can't function in a "normal" work environment).

    Today was our first day of state testing, and I was shocked that the student actually sat there and wrote several pages (he has NEVER handwritten anything at school- he always says he can't because of his disability). So clearly, he is capable. I'm guessing mom and dad drilled into his head that this was really important. However, in the second session of the test the students were asked to revise their work and make a final copy, and he got very upset that he would have to write everything over. He spent almost the entire session sitting under the table (thankfully, quietly), and then managed to get up and at least copy what he'd had before in the last 10 minutes of the session.

    At what point do you draw the line between realizing that the student has a disability and holding them accountable for their choices and behavior?
     
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  3. a2z

    a2z Aficionado

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    Mar 13, 2012

    Define 'hold accountable'. That way we all know if you mean punish, give zeros, etc.

    The other thing I am thinking as to when you hold him accountable has much to do with past history (prior to him coming to your class). I know many kids that are diagnosed ADHD a few years into school have been 'held accountable' having detrimental effects to the persons self-belief and willingness to try. Years of being in trouble for things that your executive function could not manage in ways that those without issues could change the entire emotional relationship between school/teacher/schoolwork and ability to break free from the emotional strong hold.
     
  4. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Waterfall----that's a great question! It seems to really come down to your administration and your relationship with the parents. Is your administration willing to hold this child accountable and go to due process?

    The problem that you are facing is that it could take years to overcome the feelings and behaviors that this student has learned from school, parents, etc. The student may need someone to scribe and then slowly build up to him doing more classwork. Whatever you decide will need to be worked out with administration and the parents. But if administration is not willing to go due process and the parents aren't willing to change anything, this will be a difficult road.
     
  5. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Mar 14, 2012

    Do you have a behavior plan that the student has bought into? Has he had input into the goals? If so, then stick with it, but don't focus on the failings, but the successes. If you set goals with him for completion of assignments, and have some record system that notes progress and any rewards, then keep it going and see if it is a motivator. If it isn't, you'll have to change it after a sufficient period of time.
     
  6. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Mar 14, 2012

    Hmmmm... in your opinion, does he actually have a disability, or is this learned helplessness masquerading as a disability?

    A few things:

    -If the student isn't willing to work on the behavior plan, the behavior plan isn't working. I'd scratch it. I'd second the suggestion to find something more motivating for the student and see if that works. It might be like pulling teeth to get it out of him, though.
    -I might try asking his parents what the student CAN do and take it from there (Is he able to do work at all? How long? What kind of work?). That could be one way to get parent support behind prodding this student into completing work without making them think that you're not taking his needs into account.
    -Perhaps you could take the focus away from work from this student being completed and correct, and instead focus on getting the student to just try. I'd explain that you think the student is capable of doing some work (perhaps using testiing as an example), and perhaps amend the behavior plan to just include... trying. Other things like work completion (as opposed to just picking up a pencil for a pre-determined amount of time) and quality of work might be able to addressed later.
    -As for holding this student accountable, this is what I currently do for my middle-school students. I always assign a consequence (which thankfully pretty much all of them do not like getting) for inappropriate behavior. We use TALID sheets to record their points for each period of the day. If a student decides to curse me out, that's fine, he can go right ahead. In fact, I won't say anything about it and won't respond at all. At the end of the period, however, I will inform the student that he has lost a point for poor staff interactions and detail why he lost it. More cursing may follow or the student might just take the point loss, but whatever he does, he's received that consequence and he might think twice next time! This may or may not be applicable to your situation, but hope it helps!
     
  7. a2z

    a2z Aficionado

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    Mar 14, 2012

    I'm sorry, but it is NOT a teacher's job to decide a child that has proper documentation denoting a disability and an IEP to decide the child doesn't have a disability.
     
  8. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Mar 14, 2012

    Please note that I was asking her opinion - never suggested that she decide the student does not have a disability. Waterfall has mentioned this child before, so I was wondering.
     
  9. a2z

    a2z Aficionado

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    I did know you were asking her opinion. You did say, "In your opinion". That was very clear.

    Also, can you clarify your other statement, "does he actually have a disability, or is this learned helplessness masquerading as a disability? ". Seems to me you are wondering if he doesn't have a disability. Yet you state, "I never suggested that she decide the student does not have a disability".

    My point is that we are not medical experts. If the doctors have determined he has ADHD and ruled out other possibilities and the child has an IEP so the school has determined him to be a student with a disability, we shouldn't even go to SECOND GUESSING the diagnosis. That is not our place or our job.

    Having opinions such as this taint our ability to objectively deal with the situations. If you develop an opinion that the diagnosis of ADHD isn't REAL but due to the child getting away with things or being babied for years you miss the concept that the brain does not function the same way as someone that has ADHD. The fact is a person with executive function issues does not process information in the same way as someone without it. By ignoring the doctor's diagnosis and the school's determination, you would not approach the student in a manner that takes this into consideration.
     
  10. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Well yeah, of course, I am not suggesting we make diagnoses. I am just genuinely curious. The PP can answer my question or not. Honestly, though, I'm not really interested in arguing about this because I agree with you. Not sure how it came across as a suggestion to diagnose the student, it was not my intention.
     
  11. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Habitué

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    Day one. :)

    But, it's easier, I think in an ED classroom. We do constant positivite reinforcement, and have a ticket rewards system, as well as a Behavior Wheel. They care because everyone is getting tickets, and don't want to be left out. In the past 4 years I have only had 1 student who didn't enjoy the ticket system, and he had some severe depression.

    We talk a lot about our choices, and the results of those choices. "If you choose to not do your work now, you will have to do it during free time since you're using your free time now, by not working.") I don't yell about it, I just give it to them in matter-of-fact tones. I set a timer so I can see how long it takes them to start working. Once they are working I thank them and turn off the time.

    That being said---if parents are admitting they were the same way, I'd try asking them what they think would have helped them as students. Then ask if they think that would help their son.

    This sounds like a sticky situation. I do wish you the best on it! Keep us posted. :)
     
  12. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    I'm having a similar problem, but don't have any good suggestions.

    My little guy has Asperger's, is so smart and sweet, but loud and active. No matter how many times I talk with his support teachers about how to redirect and deal with his behaviors, they think he just needs to pull it together and behave for them.

    Which then makes me feel like a horrible classroom teacher, because I can't make him pull it together all the time.
     
  13. waterfall

    waterfall Phenom

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    Ok, well to start about the disability: Yes, I do think it's "real", however, I've also never seen anyone so enabled. So I guess the answer is both- the disability and the fact that his parents reinforce that he should do nothing at school. Today we did two state tests and he started right away and finished without stopping. I'm guessing his parents must have told him that these were really important and he actually needed to do them at school. Normally, they don't see the value in completing anything at school and say he can just gather his work and bring it home for them to do together. So there are no consequences from home, and they don't want us to do anything either, so I mean, from the kid's perspective why would he bother doing the work at school? They make it very clear that they think school is a "hoop to jump through" in order to get to a career. We have asked them what helped them in school and they both say they just "sat through it" and studied/did work in college when it was important to them. I have noticed that his dad seems to have a very difficult time sitting through our meetings. His mom says she never actually paid attention to a lesson until she got to law school and actually cared.

    Zelda, that's kind of what his teacher would like to do- yes, there are rewards for positive behavior but he also wants to have consequences for negative behavior. Typically a student who chose to do nothing during work time would be expected to complete the work during free time. Students with accommodations get time and a half to complete things, and if it's an accommodation it's not taken out of their free time. If they choose to sit there during that entire extended time also though, that's their responsibility. This student has every accommodation under the sun, so it's not like they're just expecting him to do everything. It's also not expected to be perfect- at this point his teacher would just like him to do something, anything to show he's trying. His parents don't think he should be expected to make up work or complete work because of the disability. Like I said in the OP, we've tried tons of behavior plans with rewards attached, and nothing motivates him. He can have whatever he wants at home, so he doesn't see a need to ask for stuff at school. Even with the option of choosing his own rewards he doesn't really care. Really, like I said before if he knows nothing is going to happen if he doesn't do the work, and he doesn't care about a reward, why would he do it? I can't say I'd be too motivated to do anything in that situation either.
     
  14. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Can the student get smaller chunks of the work? Is there any work that the student does prefer to do? Maybe make all school assignments like a test--so he takes them seriously?
     
  15. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Habitué

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    Oof. Yeah, if neither parent nor child cares...boy, I'm not sure what you can do in that situation.
     
  16. waterfall

    waterfall Phenom

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    His work is already chunked. He will complete multiple choice if given enough time, but nothing that asks him to write or show work. He will not complete classroom tests- it's only been these state tests, I'm guessing because his parents clearly don't want him to fail the state tests and have told him they're important.
     
  17. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Mar 14, 2012

    If I have to write something by hand, I will pretty much shut down because I hate writing by hand because I associate writing by hand with the pain I get every time I have to write by hand.

    Okay, I think I wore out the words "writing by hand" in that sentence :p

    What I mean to say is that the student may be somewhat complacent and underestimates themselves (There, that is a better way to phrase it than complacent). Perhaps some self-advocacy goals should be added to the IEP, along with something to help his self esteem, so he knows that his disabilities don't define him as long he doesn't let them hold him back. He might be surprised at how much he can do, even if he has to expend 10 times the effort of other students to do something.

    Self-advocacy would be important because learning about your disability is something very important. Before I knew I had dysgraphia or ADHD (I didn't find out till high school, when my neurologist told me because my parents never did), I knew I wasn't like any of the other students, but I didn't know why. That feeling of "Why me?" or "I don't know why I can't do x" (Although I knew it was due to my early birth, I wanted a more concrete answer than that)

    Knowledge is empowering.

    And going off on long tangential stream-of-consciousness posts can be entertaining. Perhaps something useful can be found in this post for your situation.
     
  18. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    But, at least you got to type it.
     
  19. bros

    bros Phenom

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    True.

    I tend to type rather long-winded posts right before I go to bed for some reason :p
     
  20. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

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    Oh phooey.

    The diagnosis in the IEP should inform our sense of the student, and we must play our part in providing the accommodations to be found there, but our overall sense of the student and our strategies for how to teach him are developed also in light of our expertise in our subject matter and in teaching generally. We are active members of the team for substantive reasons, not for purposes merely decorative or to be told to view the student as an instance of disability and nothing more.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Aficionado

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    A person is not a disability, but to ignore how a particular disability will impact a person IS important in determining strategies. To even further say that a teacher can decide independently of the team and testing that the student doesn't have a disability even though testing and teams have decided he has, will impact what strategies the teacher chooses to address the issue. For behavioral matters or "invisible disabilities" it is easy for a teacher to do such things. But if the same concept was to be applied to someone with a outward physical disability, the teacher would be determined a quack if he or she decided the kid that can't walk didn't really have that disability and applied strategies that would work for people that can walk.

    Strategies are developed based on current ability levels, but the disability and the impact on the student needs to be taken into consderation in developing proper strategies. To ignore the disability would only surve to create strategies that may not work because they don't consider the disability.

    So, it isn't phooey. One needs to consider that people with ADHD lack skills in various areas including planning, initiation, persistence, etc. It is well documented. To say this student really doesn't have a disability but it is learned helplessness and even to think it is acceptable to go there independently is illegal. That is working independently of the team, which includes the parents.

    A teacher that really believe that the child doesn't have a disability should take it up with the IEP team and a thorough evaluation should be done, particularly if it has been a while since the last evaluation.
     

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