The honeymoon is over.

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by ZoomZoomZOOM, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Sep 26, 2010

    Okay - - I need to know what you guys would have done in this situation.

    We've been back at school now for a month. There are 6 students in my middle school life skills classroom. I have three paras (one classroom, and two 1:1's).

    Friday morning at about 9:30AM, out of the blue - right when math work stations are beginning, one of my 6th grade gals with Downs has a total meltdown. I'm working at my table with another student and suddenly I hear her 1:1 say, "Oh no, we're not going to do this today," but she's calm and the student isn't yelling or anything so I go about my business.

    Then I notice that the student isn't calm at all but she's in the far corner of the room tearing up my stuff! So I get up and go over there, "M, what's going on? Do you need a break?" and she won't answer me, just keeps throwing my stuff around. So I say to her 1:1, "Okay, she needs to sit in time-out for awhile and calm down" and we take her over to the other corner of the room. Her 1:1 starts moving everything away from the corner - the recycle bin (full of papers) and my in-tray, etc. I told her, "No, she shouldn't need that, she'll sit her and chill out for awhile. No problem." So the student sits down in the corner and I go back to my table with my other student.

    Suddenly the recycle bin is turned upside down, then my in-tray is dumped, and she starts throwing all the paper around.

    Now, I lose it.

    Have you ever totally lost control with a student before? I don't get physcial, but I raise my voice when I get angry - and at that point, I was pretty angry. I took her by the arms, sat her back down in the corner and told her in a very firm, loud voice, that she was never to destroy my things. Those are my things and she's not to touch them. If she needs a break, that's fine - but leave my things alone. :rolleyes: The whole time she's basically mimicing me, sticking her tongue out, etc. !! Totally bizarre because this is the first time I've ever seen her act like that in the classroom.

    So at this point, papers are EVERYWHERE, nobody's working, I'm totally p.o.'d, and I tell her 1:1 to pull up a chair and basically box her in the corner -but not to touch (restrain) her - to give her a little room. So she does and I sit back down at the table again thinking it's under control.

    So then the student starts trying to tip my file cabinets over and some of my things fall off the top - but the 1:1 gets inbetween her and cabinet so she stops and sits back down. Then she starts to cry.

    I go on working.

    So then the student starts cursing. And her voice is slurred but you can totally make out what she's saying. And she's basically going around the room about all my paras and her classmates, "Miss. L is a N-----. Mrs. K is a N-----, Mrs. H is M---- F-----," and so on.

    I seriously didn't know what to do. Somehow, I managed to block her out and keep teaching and the other kids went on working as best they could. Her melt lasted almost 45 minutes. The whole time her 1:1 is talking to her quietly, "Why are you acting this way? Why are you mad? If you're mad or upset you need to use nice words-" blah blah blah. I remember thinking she was talking too much and giving the student a little too much attention for acting out.

    In the end, she was able to pick up and put back all of the papers on the floor and write a "sorry letter" the class (at her 1:1's suggestion). After she had everything picked up, I called her over to the table and did Edmark with her. I didn't lecture her at all. Should I have? My thought was, it's over. Let's forget it and move on. Plus her 1:1 had already talked her ear off.

    At the end of the day, I cleared out that corner of my room - that little nook where I was going to put my grocery store - and put a chair there for her 1:1. That way, when another melt occurs, she can go in that nook and not be able to destroy anything and her voice won't carry as well.

    Do you think I should have handled it differently?
     
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  3. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Sep 26, 2010

    Wow- what a story! I can see the honeymoon is over! Yikes. I do not have any suggestions for you, but I think you did as best you could at that point in time with what was happening. Now that you have cleared out a nook and have that space ready I think you are now well prepared. Is there anyway she could have left the room for a cool down walk, perhaps? It does not seem likely with the mood she was in, but perhaps that could be an idea so the other students can work.
     
  4. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Sep 26, 2010

    It sounds like you did the best you could given that the situation was a surprise. I agree with you that it sounds like there was way too much talk when what this child needed was some quiet time without attention.

    What kind of proactive supports are in place for this student? You may want to consider a visual schedule, social stories and/or scripts about what to do when you get upset, teaching about emotions and managing one's own emotions (The Incredible 5 Point Scale might work great for this particular student), a token system, a sensory diet...etc.

    Even with all that you may still see these "melt downs". And you will really need to look at the triggers and try to set up the environment so that the triggers are not there (but the expecatations of the student are still high - tricky balance some times).

    I think you have done the right thing in clearing out the area where she is to go to calm down. Remember that once she is in a state where she is destroying things she may not be functioning on much a cognitive level and talking to her will probably not be helpful. Is there a place that she can moved to rather than where others can hear her as it sounds like she has some language that the other students shouldn't have to listen to? If she is a flop-and-drop kind of kid this may not be doable. I would have her go to time out anytime that she throws or destroys something that she will not immediately clean up because I'm guessing you will see this escalation process. The learning assistant also kind of prompted her in to it from what I can read out of your explanation (i.e. Oh no... we aren't going to do this today... there is a challenge and the para has already kind of decided where things are going... at this point it is important to redirect rather than move the tantrum forward).

    I have a student and a son who can move in to this state that you speak of as things start to get out of control. It is really important to take proactive measures as once you are there its never easy.
     
  5. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Sep 26, 2010

    Can you make that corner of the room a break area? Can you put some paper in a bin there and let her go over to the break area if she wants to shred paper?
     
  6. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Sep 26, 2010

    Wow! This seriously sounds like a daily event in some of the classrooms in my school, except the one-on-one would let the students destroy our things b/c they are not in "danger" of hurting themselves:mad:.

    I would clear out the corner where the time out chair is and problem solve with the 1--on-1 as to what worked and didn't work in this situation. Maybe do an ABC chart to help you figure out what may have been the trigger. When the student was in crisis, your assistant should just be in close proximity to ensure that the student is safe and she should not be talking to the student at all.
     
  7. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Sep 26, 2010

    Agreed with P2BAT, assistant should not be talking to student AT ALL during this time.

    It's funny how these kids work, but often that kind of attention, even if it is perceived as negative attention to us, is sometimes exactly what the kids want. Who knows if your kid didn't just keep going because she was getting a kick out of the attention? Or perhaps she just needed her space and was unable to achieve that because the assistant kept talking? VERY little language should be used in these types of situations.

    I have huge 8.5x11 cue cards that I have made with visual cues on them.

    Nice words in school.
    Quiet hands.
    Calm body.
    Take a break.
    Raise hand when ready. (or "show ready" - my kids know this terM).

    I have them on a ring and I will flip to the appropriate one (calm body would have been the one you needed, lol) - and I hang it on the wall where the child is freaking out.
    If the kid comes to me and seeks eye contact, I give no attention to them - I do not respond to them AT ALL unless they are engaging in appropriate behaviors, not inappropriate or disruptive/destructive behaviors. If they come to me - I have another ring of the same visuals and will show them "take a break" or "sit in chair" etc while giving no attention whatsoever. Its borderline humorous at times, because it's so hard to not give them any attention.

    There are times when I crack and end up yelling, it just happens. It makes me sooo mad when they break my stuff, etc. But, I try really hard not to give them this attention that they are desperately seeking in the wrong way.

    I would also remove her from the room. I'd put a chair and a desk in the hall. Your stuff won't get ruined this way. Your kid wont' have an audience this way. It should be the 1:1's job to just watch her to be sure she is not harming herself or anyone else. Or destructing something. I have a feeling that if the audience was removed, this would have ended much sooner.

    Now that you know what she's capable of, I'd work, like others have mentioned, to figure out what the antecedents were to this behavior.

    I also have major "parties" for the kids who have good behavior, in this kind of situation. Even if the kid is over it and comes back to the table. I will say something like, "I am SO proud of all of you middle schoolers for finishing your math worksheets. John, did you finish yours? Awesome. Here's a treat. Bob, did you finish yours? Awesome! Here's a treat." I make sure to make it clear that they finished their work/project/task whatever they were doing during the time that crazy kid was bein' crazy.

    This way, it's clear that you get NO attention when you do that. I don't even say, "___, did you finish yours? No, you didn't. You were too busy screaming and throwing my papers. Dang!" I just leave it at the positive side of things and I KNOW they understand. Rats, I didn't get a treat because I was throwing papers.

    Another thing that works well for me is to use some sort of reward time/reinforcer time to clean up the mess. Sometimes, kids are manipulative enough to figure out that if I throw all of Mrs. ZoomZoomZooms papers everywhere, I'll get out of that stupid assignment that I hate doing. Score! Rip rip rip. "___ CLEAN THAT UP." Awesome, no work -t ime to clean up!

    So, I leave everything as is..... let the student choose to come back to work, etc. and then when everyone else has earned their fun time (recess/leisure/computer/PE, anything that is motivating) - I will say, "___, I am sorry that you made a sad choice to do _____. Instead of playing, you're going to have to clean up your mess. I hope you remember that when you make a mess, you have to clean it back up."

    Something like that. It's powerful when you mess up THEIR time and infringe on THEIR schedule.
    It's all fun and games when they're freaking out during YOUR time, but then you play the same card back at them.

    Just a few thoughts....
     
  8. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Sep 26, 2010

    I never let my students "miss out" on doing assignments because of their negative behaviors. I have one that I can see trying to think of what he could throw or a person to hit when he doesn't want to do an assignment. When he returns from time out, I may let him join us and then have him complete his missed assignments during a "fun" time or if it happens to be recess or if the other students have an independent assignment, I will have him finish his "disliked" assignment and then he goes in order as to what is on our schedule. I do not do recess make-ups if recess was missed due to inappropriate behaviors. I also don't remove the other students from the class when this specific student has behaviors because he wants to mess up the other student's schedules and he wants them to miss out on things. He is very manipulative and will all of a sudden be calm when we start an activity that he likes is introduced.
     
  9. teacher12345

    teacher12345 Cohort

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    Sep 26, 2010

    would compliance drills work during this situation? Touch your nose, touch your head, touch your tummy etc.?
     

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