depression in very young child

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by ciounoi, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Nov 29, 2012

    At the preschool I currently work at, we have a student who is just about to turn four. We've had him about 6 weeks but still don't know much about him (paperwork is sloooooow). He's currently in foster care and his speech is often unintelligible.

    I've never met a preschooler quite like this one, and the rest of the staff in the room feel the same way. This little boy basically seems depressed. He has a very flat affect... he's only begun to crack a smile after several weeks. He is very, very huggy and all he really wants to do most of the time is hold somebody's hand. He will go up to just about any adult... he doesn't need to know them at all, it just seems random. When in school, he doesn't play with the other kids and rarely finds ways to play by himself, he's usually following one of us around. However, when we try to engage him since he seems to want our attention very badly, he doesn't want to do it or loses interest after a very short time. Usually, he is not a behavior problem, but sometimes we will ask him to do something and he just won't (we're going on the assumption that he can understand what we're saying since he is able to understand us quite well most of the time!). Sometimes he will throw himself on the ground, cry, etc. Fairly normal for his age, but we can't figure out what will trigger it.

    Has anyone had a child like this? In my experience, most rough home lives tend to translate into more obvious behaviors (hitting, kicking, meltdowns, etc.), but I've never seen a kid act like this before. Any suggestions to work with this child would be appreciated. :)
     
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  3. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Nov 29, 2012

    It seems like you all are providing some good support. If he's only been with you 6 weeks, it may be that he just changed placements and is still in transition mode, which is to say things may improve once things stabilize a bit in foster care (assuming they do). I'm assuming there is a social worker, so I'd try to engage him/her, and stay in close touch with the family, all of which is obvious but still probably the most sensical things to do next. It may be that therapy would be appropriate, but that wouldn't be something you'd necessarily do.

    In terms of the tantrums, it seems that the trigger is being asked to do something nonpreferred. Do you have a sense of things he likes and doesn't like? Does he typically tantrum with having to pick things up, stop certain games, participate in group vs individual activities, participate in activities without adult support, etc.?
     
  4. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Nov 29, 2012

    Thanks for the info! He does have a meltdown when we ask him to do certain things, we're just not sure what those certain things are! He likes the gym, and he tends to have trouble leaving. Within the classroom, however, it can vary. Work groups are iffy... he's alright in some groups, not in others. Basically, more data is needed, it just seems so random right now. :)
     
  5. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Yeah, sounds like more data would be good :). If you do have a sense of certain triggers, though, you might consider reducing those triggers in the short-term until he gets adjusted, when you could gradually reintroduce number of nonpreferred activities/expectations, etc.

    In terms of the tantrumming, what's your current response, and what's the course of the tantrum (length, does it get worse, does he respond better to certain things)?
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Nov 30, 2012

    Could have an attachment disorder. I forget the exact term for it, but a person on the sped advocacy forum I go to adopted a child and the child has a slew of emotional problems from going through foster care, mostly PTSD and other related issues
     
  7. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Nov 30, 2012

    Unfortunately, can't really give you much of an answer yet! With school closures because of Sandy and Thanksgiving break, we haven't really developed a consistent plan (the teacher is also new this year and is still adjusting how the classroom is run). As I said before, his tantrums are definitely in response to a demand from us (he won't tantrum if he's just by himself), but because he's so clingy and wants to be with an adult 95% of the time, it's hard to tell exactly what sets him off. The tantrums themselves are not too much of a big deal... he basically says NO and throws himself on the floor, sometimes will cry or scream. The classroom teacher will usually tell him that he needs to stop and do the work/leave the gym/whatever the demand is, with varying degrees of success. I usually pick him up off the floor or ignore the behavior and redirect, also with varying degrees of success. He seems to respond a little bit better to me - this could be because when I have behaviors to deal with, I rarely if ever give any attention to the behavior, or it could be because I usually run the fun art project work group. ^^
     
  8. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    That's what I was actually thinking of too... this child is so very affectionate with just about every adult he sees, I was wondering if he had some kind of attachment issues.
     
  9. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Nov 30, 2012

    You don't know if there was abuse in the home?

    Do you give him choices when you ask him to do something? That might help. Does he respond to any positive feedback?
     
  10. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Not sure about that, but he is in foster care, so we're assuming there might have been.

    We haven't done many choices because the things that we do are generally not choices. :) The classroom teacher feels it very important that all the kids do each of the work tasks, for example. Choices in less structured times of the day (playtime) are given, but since his preferred activity is basically being our shadow, it doesn't really work. Same with positive feedback... he just wants to hold someone's hand and doesn't seem to be very motivated to do anything else.
     
  11. EdEd

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    Nov 30, 2012

    Yeah, definitely sounds like you guys have had quite the Fall. Well, it sounds like you are doing okay with the tantrums, which is good.
     
  12. RayNarayan

    RayNarayan Rookie

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    Dec 3, 2012

    I must say that you are doing a great job. It is important for you to look after children who have this kind of a problem. Children who come from broken home often go through depressions. It is important for teachers to guide them in the right manner.
     

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