Help with mentally handicapped student

Discussion in 'Special Education Archives' started by sandimreyes, Feb 12, 2005.

  1. sandimreyes

    sandimreyes Comrade

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    Feb 12, 2005

    I have a student who has been diagnosed educably mentally handicapped. This is his second year with me in Kindergarten. It was decided among the VE teachers, myself, and the parent that he should be retained last year and that he should remain with me to help keep his comfort level and structure. In addition, because of his close relationship to me, it was decided that rather than leave for special services, he is to remain with me for the full day and be monitored by the VE team. He does not go out for any specialized instruction.

    This has been a satisfactory arrangement for me because I adore this child and even though he's not achieving the official academic goals that were set in his IEP (which were ludicrous goals to begin with...) he is improving in many ways and I can see a lot of growth.

    Here is my problem...he refuses to share. The parents and I have tried every way we know to teach him, but he isn't getting it. I know that there are specific techniques for the mentally handicapped. Does anyone have any suggestions? He becomes violent about this at times and the other day, he hit a child in the head with a rock, leaving a HUGE lump. He rips things from other people's hands and is prone to throwing fits.

    On top of all of this, he is suddenly aware of his difference from the other children and at least once per day starts crying, saying, "Nobody likes me." The children in the class don't treat him any differently than anyone else, but because of his disability, he is unable to deal with anything he views as rejection.

    I feel terribly and really want to help this child, but am not trained in special education. Any suggestions are appreciated.

    Thanks!
    Sandi
     
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  3. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Feb 13, 2005

    Sharing may be something he never picks up on. I have a 26 yr old brother with Downs and that was one thing he didn't pick up on... well the part where HE has to share. :) He would share some as a child but rarely does he share anything as he's gotten older. If I ask him for even a bite of a chip or something he'll tell me "find your own"... but if I have something he wants, he expects me to share and gets aggrivated if I don't.

    Maybe emmerse (sp?) him in sharing lessons, videos, stories, anything. It may take him a few minutes to think things over in order to share, too. It takes my brother 30 minutes to process some requests such as even taking a bath in the evenings or to even go out to eat.

    Roll play scenarios (sp?) with him... little skits about sharing and let him see how he might feel if he wants someone to share and they don't want to share with him.

    I wish I knew exactly what would work. GOOD LUCK!!

    Lori
     
  4. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Feb 13, 2005

    Sandi,

    What would happen if you tried "trading?" You have one object, he has another, both are very motivating for him; you say "Ok, my turn, let's trade" and switch the toys VERY BRIEFLY. When you return the toys back, say "Thank you for sharing, its your turn." This is kind of a precursor to sharing, it makes it clear that sharing isn't permanent, that the object will be returned. My SLP tries this with one of my students a lot (not that he needs it--he just doesn't like to share with her, haha!).

    Again, like Lori said, there isn't one specific way to teach sharing and its going to take a lot of time. I'd use social stories to reinforce the idea of sharing outside of play time.

    Ellen
     
  5. sandimreyes

    sandimreyes Comrade

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    Feb 13, 2005

    Thanks so much for your ideas. I will try both of them. He does understand the concept of most read aloud stories, so that might work. The trick is to get him to transfer the meaning to his own situations. That's where the role-playing will help. The transfer idea is a great one, too! I'll try that one tomorrow morning!

    Thanks again!

    Keep the ideas coming!
     
  6. AMK

    AMK Aficionado

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    Feb 13, 2005

    I would recommend a social story to show him different times where he should/can share. Let him practice "sharing" with others and you can model a few different ways of sharing.
     
  7. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Feb 13, 2005


    This is why social stories would probably be helpful--when you write the story, you can include situations that are familiar and meaningful to him. Putting digital pictures of him and his peers in the book can really increase the motivation factor as well. It may also increase his peers' interest in helping him learn appropriate behaviors.

    I just love social stories so very much. :D I can't say enough lovely things about them.
     
  8. marydoll

    marydoll Rookie

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    Apr 13, 2005

    Political Correctness

    Hi

    I think you need to re-think the term you used "mentally handicapped" you need to reconsider the term. As teachers we need to be aware that language and images used in documents such as teaching materials, publications and posters can also cause offence or reinforce negative stereotypes, especially if you are reffering to someone who has a "disability"

    DISABILITY
    When referring to a disability or sensory impairment, check with the individual how they wish it to be described.

    The term 'the disabled' is disliked because it implies that disabled people are a group separate from everyone else. Preferred terms are: 'disabled people' and 'people with disabilities'. Similarly, the term 'handicapped' is negative, and the preferred terms are 'disabled' or 'has a disability'.

    Avoid negative references to disabilities, for example, 'wheelchair bound'. Preferred terms are 'wheelchair user', or 'person who uses a wheelchair'.
    Other negative phrases include the terms 'suffering from' and 'victim of', which invite pity.

    Avoid using the term 'the blind'. Preferred terms are: 'blind people', 'partially sighted', 'visually impaired people'.

    Avoid using the term 'the deaf'. Preferred terms are: 'deaf people' or 'people with hearing impairments'.

    Avoid using the term 'mental illness', the preferred term is 'mental health problems'.

    Avoid using terms such as 'mental handicap', 'retard', 'backward'. The preferred term is 'someone with learning disabilities'.


    These are guidlines that are set out to help people refer to others and not cause any embarrasement or label them with a name. How would you feel if someone reffered to you as the "person with the big ugly face or a mental woman" you would be offended., as do people with a disability. These are people who are members of our society that need to be treated in the same way as we do, they should'nt have a label. You don't have one, or rather you don't have a derogatory one. This is just food for thought and update others who are ignorant to the disabilities others have to face and deal with every day.


    No offence to your post, I just feel strongly about labelling people, its not neccessary
     
  9. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Apr 13, 2005

    Labeling is necessary, ask the federal government; that's why cross-cat rooms exist and how specialized programs find students/clients. Yes, educable mentally handicapped is a bit archaic of a term, but medical diagnoses are perfectly valid labels.

    Also, if you speak to many individuals who are deaf or HFA, they take great pride in this label and get angry if you remove it through "person first language."

    I guess I just think there's a big difference between using a label/diagnosis accurately and broadly slinging them around with no validity.

    Ellen A.
     
  10. sandimreyes

    sandimreyes Comrade

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    Apr 13, 2005

    If you will notice, in my original post, where the "label" was used, I did NOT refer to the child as mentally handicapped. Instead, I stated that his school diagnosis was that of "educably mentally handicapped". It is simply a way of specifically noting the ability to which this student can be expected to perform based on the assessment given to him. This is not MY term, but the school's. It is necessary to give his situation a name or label to better allow others to have a base understanding of what can be expected from this child. It is not meant to harm or put anyone down. Without "labeling" his abilities, we would not be able to create the right academic and social plans for him.

    In addition, please note that I have mentioned how I REQUESTED to keep him in my classroom full-time because I just ADORE him. I am very sad to think that I have to let another teacher enjoy him next year.

    I placed a plea to gain help, support, and knowledge. I think criticizing the phrasing of such a plea is counter-productive. We should try to focus on the positive.

    By the way...

    Using continuous positive reinforcement, roll playing, and practice, the hitting has stopped and he is sharing almost 100% of the time. He even uses his words to tell me, "I don't like it when __________ says/does _________." I am thrilled at his progress. Thanks for your support.
     
  11. Amanda

    Amanda Administrator Staff Member

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    Apr 13, 2005

    :love: He's lucky to have you as his teacher, Sandi.
     
  12. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Apr 14, 2005

    Yea Sandi--I'm glad everything worked out! Role playing is often such a great tool, as silly as it can seem when you're doing it. That's so awesome!
     
  13. marydoll

    marydoll Rookie

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    Apr 14, 2005

    Hi

    i was in no way criticizing you personally I just feel the label is very "jurasic" and in England the term is not used ever, and if it is some feel upset and insultued by it. I think what you are doing is fantastic, and congratualte you on the succes with the student. I worked within the field for over 8 years and understand from the people in this country how upsetting they found the term, As I said in my post I was not out to offend you or your posting, I just wanted to have my say on what you had written,

    Good luck with the rest of the work you are doing


    Regards

    Mary.
     
  14. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Apr 17, 2005

    People who actually HAVE these disabilities don't usually care about labels; I've heard them laughing over them, in fact, and referring to themselves as cripples, deaf, etc. Over the years (and that's a LOT of years) I've come to believe that political correctness is more for parents and administrators than for the actual disabled people themselves. They don't give a toot about labels. Parents do. I am, myself, half-blind, extremely clumsy from Muscular Dystrophy, and occasionally I have to lean on a cane. Do I care about political correctness? Not even the smallest tiny little bit that anyone could ever measure or imagine. Few of us do. Let's all try to lighten up. Labels are seldom the kindest thing in the world, but a sense of humor will lighten up ANYTHING.

    (I have a 'handicapped' hanger for my car but I never use it. Those places are for people much worse off than I am, as my father who had no legs or eyes used to tell me.)

    You should have heard HIS opinions about political correctness when it came to disabled people. You would die laughing. If I may crack a joke about dead people.
     
  15. marydoll

    marydoll Rookie

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    Apr 17, 2005

    do you know what, your right! Maybe its just that society has driven us to be so careful about what we say and how loud or to whom. I totally agree with you, and feel sad that I too may have been one of them, I dont like the PC but as a teacher working with adults with learning difficulties, the Term MH sounds awful, there are some that don't worry, but there is still a few that it hurts and upsets.


    nice to chat to you, been very interesting and worthwhile

    marydoll
     
  16. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Apr 17, 2005

    I work now with college students of ALL ages (18 - 87!) and many of them have a college-level IEP. Most will not share it with their instructors because they wish to be treated no differently than anyone else. In their own words, college is for people who can handle it, and if they personally can't handle it, then they don't belong there. Most have said, in conversation and in written work, that if they had been 'forced' to keep up, instead of coddled and accommodated so much, maybe by now they'd be more advanced than they are. I have several students at this level who can barely read; yet they absolutely refuse to be treated any differently, or have their work evaluated 'differently.' It just takes them a little longer, and unfortunately, occasionally it's impossible. We have a tiny little handful who will seek help from our tutoring department, but mostly, they want to do it themselves, the honorable way. (that's a quote.)

    Accommodation? "It's insulting," I've heard over and over again.

    I agree.
     
  17. 1voice

    1voice New Member

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    Apr 19, 2005

    Hi,
    I'm a mom of a child with special needs. She does have a specific medical diagnosis and literature claims that individuals with this diagnosis are "severely mentally retarded"-----terms I absolutely detest. Just because my child is nonverbal and has lots of gross and fine motor problems doesn't mean she can't understand what is going on and learn. Communication is her biggest barrier for letting us know what she knows or understands as she does not speak at all (part of her diagnosis) nor does she have the fine motor skills to learn sign language appropriately; so of course the only way she will be able to communicate to the best of her ability is through pictures or an augmentative communication device which of course we are working on but of course she is only 4 years old at this time.

    I agree with Jane in that the political correctness of the terms used are more for the parents and administrators. As badly as I want to deny it, I know my child is severely delayed--obviously in the physical and speech sense which most likely effects her cognitive level too, and I don't know why, but it really hurts me to think my child will most likely be labeled severely MR-----so of course I do everything I possibly can to try to help her learn cognitively on target by reading to her age appropriate stories, pointing out and telling her about objects and things since she obviously can't ask "what's that" or "why is the sky blue" etc. Hopefully someday when she can adequately be tested it will all pay off :angel:

    Also, my daughter goes to an early childhood education preschool and my daughter at this time is only classified as "developmentally delayed", but the teacher told me that on school forms they can put MR, BUT that the schools can not make diagnosis, so unless a doctor has given the diagnosis of MR for me not to even worry about MR listings on school forms. I guess they just have to classify them some way.

    Sandi.....in regards to teaching sharing, one idea that I wanted to share that we do a lot with my daughter is by using a ball and playing catch. We not only work on motor skills, and verbal prompts of "throw" and "catch", but it is teaching her the idea of sharing by allowing someone else to have the ball in their hands while my daughter has to await her turn to catch the ball. We give my daughter praise of doing a good job catching/throwing/ as well as sharing.
     
  18. ViolaSwamp

    ViolaSwamp Habitué

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    Apr 19, 2005

    1voice I like that idea. I think playing simple games that have turns would be meaningful to try. Another thought (might be kind of cruel, I don't know) is picking something that he would want to do and not letting him play--at first at least. Keep saying "just a minute, I want to play first" and remind him to be patient. Perhaps it is too high for him cognitively, I don't know. Perhaps it would be reinforcing negative things, I don't know.
     
  19. sandimreyes

    sandimreyes Comrade

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    Apr 19, 2005

    All children can learn. It is really that simple. And all children learn differently. Most times, I can come up with a variety of ways to teach things, so that all the children can "get it". My wonderful little boy that I am teaching has learned unbelievable things in the 2 years that I have had him. He was almost completely non-verbal when he came to Kindergarten last year, crawled around on the carpet most of the day, and didn't seem to understand any of the class rules. According to developmental assessments, he was functioning on the approximate developmental level of a 2 1/2 year old.

    NOW...he speaks in complete sentences and will usually use more than one sentence at a time. He can sit and complete a simple project with continual prompting. He listens to stories, makes predictions, and can discuss it later, showing comprehension. He can draw parallels between stories. He sits at the writing center for more than 30 minutes at a time writing a "book" that he then reads aloud to the class. He shares (YEAH!), plays with others, initiates contact and play with others, etc. Well...I could go on forever...the point is that he has LEARNED.

    I become frustrated with myself at times because I can't seem to reach him about certain things, but that's why I reach out to all you wonderful people for suggestions! :)

    My little boy's "diagnosis" came from school testing. Not the doctor. Multiple psychologists, social workers, teachers, guidance counselors, etc were involved in many different assessments to figure out his special needs. IQ testing was done to determine approximate learning capabilities (notice I said approximate...I do NOT box children in with tests). I don't understand why someone said the school can't make the determination. In our system, children are developmentally delayed until 6, and then further assessing is done, if they are still experiencing difficulty. In this boy's case, it was severe enough that the testing was completed early.

    Positive reinforcement has been the key for this child. Every times he even turns in the right direction, I begin to praise him for making a good choice. It has worked WONDERS! ;)
     

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