Help for middle school student

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by waterfall, Sep 3, 2011.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I had some teachers asking me about a middle school student yesterday. I really wasn't sure what to tell them(I have no experience with this age group), so I told them I'd think about it and get back to them- so I'm hoping you all have some fabulous ideas! This student is an 8th grader who is on an IEP for ADHD. In my experience, kids only get IEPs for ADHD if it is really severe. Apparently the student is extremely intelligent (IQ is off the charts) but literally can't do anything in regards to following a routine or just making it through a school day. Last year, they literally had teachers walk him to his next class, all year, even if the class was down the hallway. The way this school is set up, all the 8th graders have the same exact schedule. So seriously, the 30 kids that were in the class before with him are all going to the same exact place. Even knowing that, and having the exact same schedule all year, he couldn't manage to follow the other kids to the class. One of the teachers was telling me that she walked him from art to math class every day, which was just down the hall. On the way there, she'd ask him where they were going/what class he had next and even in January after doing this all year he'd be confused. They also had to constantly have a teacher or peer go to his locker with him and tell him what supplies to get out, what he needed next, make sure he put other supplies back into the locker, etc. The middle school is so small right now, and they're extremely worried about what he'll do in high school next year (which will be HUGE). I guess mom is anti-medication so he's not on anything. He's technically on another teacher's caseload, and I tried but I can't see his IEP paperwork on our website because of that, so I have no idea what it says there. The teachers say they weren't given anything last year nor were the 8th grade teachers this year, so they couldn't help me out there either. According to them, the middle school special ed teacher has "done nothing" for this student. It's hard for me because I just don't know anything about middle school...I have some basic ideas but feel they're too babyish for the students age, and this seems like such a severe case with the things they described, I just don't understand how a student could still be acting that way! It seems that moderate interventions aren't going to help if he still didn't even know that math was after art, down the hallway, after being walked there every single day all year. Yesterday they found him wondering about the cafeteria in kindergarten lunch and he had no idea where he was or where he was supposed to go. Apparently he'd left his class to go to the bathroom, which was 3 levels up on the 3rd floor. Please help!
     
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  3. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Sep 3, 2011

    Does he not have a daily written or visual schedule? If so, how does he do with it?

    If not, that would be the first place I would start (and why has no one done this yet!?) Visual schedules don't have to have pictures on them - they can be made really age appropriately. Perhaps it could go on the cover of an agenda or something he carries throughout the day. Also, often if a student has never had a schedule, people often assume it "doesn't work" if it doesn't automatically correct all the students' problems. Someone will have to teach him how to use it and figure out what format and cues make the most sense to him.

    How about color coding all the things he needs for a particular class (book cover, folder, notebook, calculator, etc.) Then you can post a key in his locker - math = red, english = blue, etc. Or, if that's too babyish, make a list of supplies needed. If that is too hard, can the supplies he needs be kept someplace in his classrooms? Or just keep his books in his classroom and carry everything else in his backpack?

    If he gets distracted by the craziness in the hallways, perhaps his teacher could let him go a few minutes early, cuing him to look at his schedule, etc. How about a "check in" and "check out" period at the beginning and end of each day where he sees the special ed teacher, advisor, whoever who helps him list what he needs to bring home, pack, etc. The focus should be on slowly making the student responsible for this. I'd highly recommend a routine and visual organization and supports to show what to do, where to go, how long, what's next, etc.

    I'd imagine following a schedule, following organizational cues, etc. would be something the SPED teacher could be working with him on - maybe during a homeroom or study skills period? Also, I would imagine if those are the things the student has so much trouble with, those should be the things on his IEP.....
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    That's the thing- I can't see his IEP or any of his information because he's on the middle school sped teacher's caseload. So I have no idea what he's actually supposed to be getting- the teachers are just telling me his sped teacher has "done nothing" for him. The only thing I got out of them was that he is allowed to carry a backpack around with materials for more than one class (it's a rule in the middle school that there are no backpacks in classrooms, so this is an accommodation for him). All of the students have a written schedule, so obviously that's not working for him. I assumed a picture schedule was too babyish for middle school. I will see about the color coding. I did check in/check out with some of my less organized students last year. I don't know if this student even sees the sped teacher at all (she doesn't do pull out, and since he's high academically I don't know if he'd qualify for push-in services in his regular classroom), so he may not know her or be comfortable with that. Considering he ended up in the kindergarten cafeteria trying to find the bathroom 2 doors down (and forgot where he was was supposed to go back), I'd also be concerned about him making it to the sped teacher's room. Her room is next to mine in one of the elementary wings, so it's not a place he'd ever go otherwise or be used to. I'd also be concerned that if they let him go early he wouldn't know where to go or couldn't make it there on his own. I thought about maybe assigning a peer to go with him, but again having no experience with the age group, I worried that might be too babyish.
     
  5. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Sep 3, 2011

    Is his schedule a personal schedule (not just the little paper one you get at the beginning of the year) that is meaningful and makes sense to him? Has he been actively taught to use a schedule?

    Often people assume schedules "don't work" because students have not been taught to use them. It might take a while of prompting him to use an organized, personalized system that matches his strength and learning style. If following a long written list is too difficult, how about teachers handing him an actual paper or object that he has to carry to his next location? It could be an index card, a supply he'll need for next class, even a sticky note with the teacher's name, room number, class on it. That way, if he forgets, he has something physical right there in his hand to remind him. Also, visual cues outside the rooms might be handy. Clearly written signs with the name of the class, teacher's name, maybe a color code or design that matches the card he's given.....there are tons of ways to organize this to make it less obtrusive while still facilitating independence.

    Also, a peer is better than a teacher, but he's not always going to have a peer to guide him around through life. Sounds like the student really does not have the ability to:

    a)remember where he is supposed to go
    b)scan environment and pick out social clues to where he is supposed to go or
    c)initiate asking for help

    so those are the things I'd suggest focuing on teaching. Perhaps on the bottom of each schedule cue or on the bottom of a written schedule on his agenda, it could say,

    "If I can't find my class, approach a teacher or student and ask, "excuse me, where is Mrs. __________ room?" It sounds like he'll need explicit instruction and guided practice in this. Also, walking through the school with him and actually pointing out what to look for.........room numbers, classroom signs, maps, etc....explicitly explaining.....when you are going from class to class, you look for the room number signs. These help you find where you need to be. Then have him practice walking down the hall, at a quiet time, actively looking for a specific room number/teacher's name/etc. Sounds REALLY obvious, but you'd be amazed at what pointing out the obvious can do sometimes.

    Perhaps when he leaves class, there could be an arrow on the wall or floor, or the teacher could quickly point in what direction he is to start walking.

    Aye yay yay.
     
  6. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    He has a typed out schedule with the time, teacher, subject, and room number on it. It's on his agenda. The entire 8th grade class has the same schedule, so even if he was confused, theoretically all he'd have to do would be to find any 8th grader, and since they're all leaving the same room and going to the same place, there would be numerous 8th grade students right in front of him. All of the teachers have name plates outside the door with their name, subject, and picture. The art teacher was telling me that last year when she was walking him to math, she'd ask him every day what subject they were going to and he had no idea. She'd then point to his written schedule and ask him, and he'd say, "oh yeah, math." When she asked him where math was/what direction they were going, again he had no idea even though all he had to do was walk straight down the hallway. Yesterday when they found him wondering about the cafeteria, he literally couldn't name the class he'd just left (they had to look up the 8th grade schedule to see where he should be). I haven't met the student, but I just can't imagine how someone who is so bright could be so low-functioning otherwise. I mean the way they describe him, I'd expect to see a severe needs student, not a kid with a genuis IQ. I mean after repeating every single day what class they were going to, showing him on his schedule, and walking him there every day he still had no idea? Or he couldn't simply follow the rest of his class that was going in the exact same direction? They only have 2 minute passing periods, so the kids simply don't have time to get sidetracked or walk anywhere else- his entire class would be walking directly to the next classroom. I just don't get it. How can he memorize anything for his classes if he can't memorize "art, math" or even read it off a schedule? I guess I'm going to have to find some time to go meet him and see this for myself.

    I will pass on the ideas about leaving his supplies in the classroom and having him carry something specific to his next class. I guess maybe I'll understand this situation more if I can really see what's going on with the student...but again with my own entire caseload of kids scheduled, I don't have much time to be dealing with other people's caseloads. I can try to go see him during my planning period, but I don't know what's going on in 8th grade during that time.
     
  7. bethechange

    bethechange Comrade

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    Hmmmmm. Maybe if he does better with auditory cues you could try a small voice recorder? Before he leaves a class, the teacher could help him find it on the schedule, record where he is going, etc.?

    Baffling. I've never seen some version of a schedule fail for a kid after they've been taught how to use it!
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Yeah, to be honest now I'm just curious...I definitely want to meet the student and see what's going on for myself.
     
  9. catlover

    catlover Rookie

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    Sep 3, 2011

    Thinking off the top of my head here -- that sounds too specific and too severe, to me, to be due to his ADHD. I would almost think he has a specific impairment to spatial memory. One such disorder is developmental topographic disorientation (wikipedia has an article on it, but I'm a new member and can't post a link).

    One idea would be for someone to develop step-by-step navigational prompts. Instead of taking him down the hall, his art teacher could hand him a half-sheet of paper that says:

    You are going to math class with Ms. Smith.
    ___ Exit Ms. Wilson's class and turn left.
    ___ Ms. Donovan's door is 10 feet down the hall. Go past her door.
    ___ Mr. Smith's door is 10 feet after that. Go past his door too.
    ___ Ms. Smith's door is the next one. Go in and give this sheet to her.

    As he passes each landmark, he marks it off. You will probably have to fine-tune them to get landmarks that work. If you laminate the sheets, he could use a wax pencil and then you can reuse the same sheets each day. If he does have a specific impairment to spatial memory, using linguistic prompts like this could be very helpful.

    Don't know if it would work, but it could be worth a shot. Best of luck.
     
  10. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Sep 4, 2011

    That does not sound like ADHD

    On the tests done on him, any odd scores?

    He's having difficulty following visual instructions, so he needs verbal prompting. Could be visual perception issues that have been compensated for by his twice exceptionality.

    It definitely sounds like the student would benefit from auditory input.

    Hmmm.

    If he has trouble with the schedule, lets just assume he has trouble with remembering what he reads, so when the teacher goes over it, that is how he remembers it. Maybe a form of dyslexia?

    No, would've been noticed.

    It sounds like he would highly benefit from a full neuropsychological evaluation, to figure out what is going on in his head. Could be that he has issues with integrative memory (Which I do, it's pretty much the only thing that prevents me from having an even better memory than I already do)

    If the student has prior medical history, such as premature birth, things like periventricular leukomalacia may want to be investigated by the parents.
     
  11. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Sep 5, 2011

    I have a student like this. Last year, before we realized there was a problem, we'd find him wandering all over the school. We thought it was an escape mechanism. He, however, had a much lower cognitive capacity than this guy. He has a buddy now that helps him get to class. Like your guys, mine all have the same schedule, so it helps.
     

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