ODD/severe behavior

Discussion in 'General Education' started by REW, Oct 15, 2021.

  1. REW

    REW Rookie

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    Oct 15, 2021

    I am looking for suggestions for a ODD-like behaviors. Major task avoider, says they are too smart. That the rest of the class are dummies. The child is bright. He is not above grade level. He has plenty of kinder standards he needs to learn still. I differentiate instruction for them/their table. Everything I give is “too easy” or “stupid” even if I know it’s not. Half the battle is learning procedures of being a student. Admin said “if they know it why make them sit through whole groups? Just give them something else.” I argued, if the child participates in task avoidant behavior how do I *know* they know? I can’t differentiate if I can’t figure out where they are at and they won’t participate in the activities. Also, if he learns now they don’t need to participate it will continue on.

    That is the first part. When I push participation as a must do activity (ie: new topic or assessment) the child will run, jump, and/or climb on furniture. Scream at peers, calling names. Hit, kick, throw objects. It becomes a major safety issue. What always sets the child off is not getting their way. The child has straight up told me “I always get what I want.”

    My team lead has said leaving the classroom is a reward. Fair enough. But how am I supposed to teach with this kid acting like this? Every parent mentioned them during conferences. EC/Behavior plan is in progress. I don’t have a TA. I have back up activities daily for students and have to use multiple activities daily. The team led said I need to put him in time out and the parents need to come shadow him at school. The parents have no authority. Having them come shadow wouldn’t be helpful. Which she was dumbfounded about, but shrug. He wouldn’t sit in a time out. She said I need to restrain him. Ok. Fair, but (a) I’m not formally trained; (b) if I have to restrain or feel like I need to I am calling admin. Period. There is something big going on for the child that is being addressed for the first time ever at school and with outside professionals. I’m at a loss because admin says to call and they got me. But in reality, everyone bends to the team led. She’s a bully to put it nicely. So if she doesn’t like how it is being handled she’s going to make it known that I lack classroom management. They keep comparing the child to one with Adhd who was medicated. She said the child just needs to be medicated. While I know the child is manipulative, it also seems far more intense than a behavior or classroom management issue. The child doesn’t seem to see or hear you in the heat of it.
     
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  3. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

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    Oct 15, 2021

    All I can do is offer my deepest sympathy. I had my 1st just like him about 7 years ago. He did worse stuff than you mentioned even and the school dynamics were similar. It motivated me to start saving $ like a mad woman. These types of kids started to increase.
    I am very saddened by how many people use drugs as a 1st answer to their kids' problems. This kid is used to getting what he wants and the parents have not learned how to correct his behavior. If he has some type of problem that causes this behavior, he needs to go to a smaller class where he can get more attention and they can teach him a lot including: You do not always get what you want.
    The best way I learned to deal with this type of violent, disruptive behavior was by quickly clearing the classroom w/out giving the kid any attention. You can find links on how to do it effectively on you tube. Watch the Oregon teachers talk about it. It is not fair to the teacher, the child with the problem, or the rest of the class to have to tolerate the disruptions.
     
  4. Tired Teacher

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    Oct 15, 2021

    Here is a link that will make you know you are in good company. Also, in the interview they talk about having their kids go to a different room without them. This is not the way I found it works best. It is better to get your admin, counselor, or someone who is free often to come watch the 1 flipping out and get the rest of the kids out asap.
    Classrooms in Crisis: Outbursts plaguing Oregon classrooms - YouTube
     
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  5. REW

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    Oct 16, 2021

    Thank you, Tiredteacher.
    This is such a difficult situation. I’ve had LOs with anger issues before. I’ve typically had a TA who could kind of take over while I addressed the behavior. I don’t have that this year. Due to the team lead being a bully. I said “listen this kid flips everyday at this time. I need a TA so that I can address the behavior before it starts.” She said no because her preferred person wants that time. It just sucks because I know I am doing everything possible. The kid has had 6 years of learning they can do whatever they want- plus there is something bigger going on. It is so condescending of her to say “if they know something is going on they should have addressed it right away. If it was my daughter…” I cut her off. Parents can be in denial, they may not know better (that a behavior is atypical), plus the pandemic. The pandemic alone has greatly impacted the learning and overall development of children. Children are resilient, but to what point?

    I find it interesting about learning loss mentioned on the video. I felt guilty mentioning it to admin: my class scores are suffering. On assessments, I can tell exactly what days they had an outburst and classroom learning was interrupted. I feel confident continuing to call for behavior support because this is something that will impact the children in years to come.

    (I purposely undershared the severed of the behavior. I have been punched, bit, scratched, and more. They have ran out of the classroom and out of the building - to avoid tasks. Called every name in the book. This isn’t typical misbehavior.)
     
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  6. otterpop

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    Oct 16, 2021

    I have a student like that that’s the slightly older version of this. He’s very thankfully not disruptive, but only because he just does what he wants quietly and ignores all other instructions. You can’t give a consequence because he’ll just say no and still do what he wants, and rewards don’t make much of a difference either. Student has an IEP for behavior but the SpEd teacher isn’t sure what to do about him and says she’s never seen anything like it. Honestly at this point, I let the child do what he wants to do quietly. If someone on the admin team thinks I should be doing something differently, they can let me know specifically what that action is, but right now it’s what allows me to teach my other kids. If I do push an activity, that is when the child becomes disruptive and very defiant. I think the schools need a plan for students like this that’s bigger than what a teacher can do alone. My school has basically no consequences, it’s all PBIS and positive reinforcement, but when you get rid of consequences entirely, you’re going to end up with students like this.

    Can the student engage in a different activity while you’re teaching the rest of the class, such as a learning program on a computer with headphones on? Then you can check on the student one on one. It sounds like the child needs more one on one and small group support, and if you don’t have an IA it’s hard to offer that during whole group instruction.
     
  7. EdEd

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    Oct 16, 2021

    Hey REW - interestingly you mentioned the behavior tends to happen on certain days or times - for example, you could tell based on assessment results which days the student was having trouble. Could you talk a little more about this - what tends to set the incidents off, how long they happen, do they intensify over time or to certain responses by teachers or students to the initial incident?

    I also offer sympathies - this kind of behavior is tough enough without admin & fellow teachers who aren't at all helpful.

    To weigh in on some of the responses you're hearing from your fellow educators - certainly it could be helpful to, for example, differentiate more, but behavior of this level of severity is not simply a matter of lack of differentiation, obviously. If ADHD is an issue, certainly medication would be a big component of the support plan, but this behavior seems to include more than just ADHD, so even that's not a "full" response.

    From a structural perspective, is your behavior plan your own, or is there a team/support person involved? It does seem like this should be elevated to something more significant than just a classroom teacher trying to solve the problem, as awesome as I'm sure you are ;). Not sure what the pathway is for more support in your school - behavior interventionist, RTI/MTSS, etc. Hopefully there's something?

    From an assessment perspective (following up on my first comments), it seems like the running hypothesis is task avoidance, perhaps with some attention issues mixed in. Is this what you're thinking? From an efficiency perspective, it seems unlikely that the most efficient way for this student to avoid tasks is the behavior you're seeing. There seems to be some other emotional/regulatory issues at play. Do you get a sense that the student seems really worked up during these episodes, or if the student is really in control of him/herself, with the behaviors being more chosen, manipulative, or otherwise controlled behaviors? After things calm down, does the student seem exhausted and upset, or does s/he go back to normal, perhaps even smiling or seeming amused by things?
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2021
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  8. REW

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    Oct 16, 2021

    EdEd I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s task avoidance mixed with attention seeking. The parents seem terrified of setting the child off. They avoid requiring the child to do things and if they do it’s bribery.

    The first time the child is set off is during the transition from phonics whole group to independent work. I modify and differentiate. During whole group, I was correcting everytime they blurted out or whatever. Now they just have just a corner and pretty much just ignore them. They like the attention of being a know it all and proving they are the smartest in the class. If I just ignore, sometimes it escalates. Sometimes not, but always escalates on independent work. Or desk work (Ie: chaining activities- each child has their own work folder as I give them directions orally to change specific sounds). If I tell them they can use our computer app that is differentiated they won’t be disruptive (or as disruptive), but still won’t participate authentically. I’ve teamed them up with another student and it’s hit or miss.

    The other time is the transition from math to our reading time (read aloud + comprehension/vocab). The child’s watch goes off at 1pm. I’m tracking that to see if there is a correlation. Some days are ok-ish. They started talking about the afterschool program they go to and friends get to go straight home.

    Additionally, any change no matter how slight is a trigger.

    Thus far due to the severity of the behavior is has been removed from the classroom. Sometimes sent home. When the child is set off it is like they aren’t even present. The child describes it as basically an outer body experience. They know they did those things, but it’s not them. It is literally a compete split. Professionals are involved in and outside of school. It is a formal behavior plan with the EC team. It is actually very scary how the child describes the experience. When they do finally come out of this state they are exhausted physically and mentally. Usually, they’ll fall asleep (or fight it).

    It is definitely something MUCH bigger going on that isn’t just a give some medicine or set up a “safe space.” I am not a newbie when it comes to behavior and classroom management. It is so aggravating because the team lead doesn’t grasp what is going on and assumes all parents have the knowledge to address special needs. They don't. And it’s hard to navigate these water, especially during a pandemic. She also thinks we are just coddling the child and they are being manipulative. I’ll admit, I do think manipulation is possible. But at the worst of it- it isn’t manipulative. The things they say are coddling when out of the classroom is purposeful physical activity and connection to help rebalance them.
     
  9. Tired Teacher

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    Oct 16, 2021

    I totally understand the under sharing as I would not even write on this board what 1 of mine did regularly. There are so many parents who did not learn how to parent nowadays. They unknowing give their kid whatever they want and do not teach them how to get along in this world in order to have temporary peace in the household. All it does, is backfire.
    Then the teacher has to try to deal with it. In my case, the 1st kid was very manipulative. I learned to give him zero attention when we all walked out quickly. I trained the other kids if they did not look or comment, but moved out asap, we'd do something fun. ( I always had fun off the cuff activities ready that yr.)
    Then I called someone to come stand at my door and watch him out of the corner of her eye. When no1 was talking to him or directly looking, he tended to calm down a lot quicker. They did have to body block or shut the door a few times. The person did not even approach or talk to him until he had calmed himself enough to not be dangerous. ( He had been taught breathing and other techniques. I am not sure if that helped him or not.) I think the lack of an audience is what helped the most.
    I know what you mean about ignoring that behavior during class and it escalates. It is awesome you have pin pointed the triggers. If the office says they have your back, set up a plan with them to stand at the door to make sure he is supervised. ( Maybe admin won't want to do it and step in and switch the aide to your room.)
    Get out with the rest of your kids. It is the school's responsibility to help make school a safe place. I was not a teacher who asked for help before that yr. The special ed teacher did not want him in her program b/c she was very unskilled. She'd criticize the way I handled it too. It was frustrating and disheartening, but I survived.
    Also, the kid actually became more pleasant and eventually decreased the outbursts. The outbursts still occurred, but they became less severe and less frequent by the end of the year.
    That was the 1st time in my life that I "demanded" a meeting with higher ups. Having a plan to remove the other kids did not make the situation close to perfect, but made it doable.
     
  10. EdEd

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    Oct 17, 2021

    Thanks @REW - Given the utter exhaustion you're describing, it seems like more than intentional, attention-seeking, manipulative behavior, but something more related to mood regulation, cognitive shifting, etc. It sounds like there are certain things (e.g., certain activities, learning modes) that are likely stressful or nonpreferred which trigger the behavior, but then the behavior sort of takes over and becomes its own thing.

    As a side question, how is his relationship with you and other students when his behavior is good? Does he seem to like people, and otherwise be liked? Does he seem genuinely sorry or embarrassed that these situation happen?

    As for the parents, if this is truly more of a regulatory issue, it's not terribly surprising that the parents aren't involved as they've probably been pretty frustrated too, and may be embarrassed themselves that they don't have any answers. Of course, I don't know.

    One quick resource that comes to mind is "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. It's pretty well-written, and has a lot of good practical advice for kids who have a difficult time "shifting cognitive sets," which basically means moving from one thinking mode to another (often involving transitions, having to stop preferred activities, etc.). It's an executive functioning issue at heart that involve attention regulation, mood regulation, etc. It can be really frustrating to deal with. This book is also just generally really helpful for thinking about behavior.

    Of course, I don't know that that's what's going on, but when you say he falls asleep after and describes it as an out-of-body experience, that pretty much fits the bill.

    As a side note, if that is the issue, it's not really any sort of "diagnosis" in the sense that it's a specific disorder with specific interventions - just a pattern of behavior. It would probably trigger an ADHD diagnosis because of attentional issues involved, but ADHD is really just our society's term for our observation of a particular set of executive functioning deficits related to attention regulation and impulse control. These may be clustered with other executive function deficits as well, so I wouldn't necessarily go on a diagnosis quest, but just start to think of how his thinking and emotional regulation skills are affected here.

    Of course, I haven't even begun to offer any specific suggestions on what to do! Truthfully, it's hard to do from a distance, and can be fairly layered in terms of intervention, but I think that Ross Greene book would be gold in this situation. A big underlying theme is essentially teaching the child how to deal with those transitions, generally by starting with easier-to-manage situations, then ignoring smaller situations (picking your battles). It can be really helpful to try to de-personalize the behavior, as much as it seems really personalized, because assuming that's it's intentional and manipulative can lead to a more confrontational & punitive approach, which can be counter-productive. You mentioned having dealt with a lot of behavior before, so I'm sure this is all obvious to you.

    It also may be worth thinking through more de-escalation strategies to use in the moment that focus less on rewards/consequences, and more on "crisis de-escalation" stuff. If he's actually accurate that he's not really aware of what's going on, then he's beyond the point of reason, therefore beyond the point of rewards/consequences. I might focus less on whether classroom removal is seen as a reward/punishment, for example, and how you can help him calm down to the point of being able to reason through things. If he says challenging or confrontational things in the moment, instead of responding to what he says by countering it, may say something like "we can talk about that more later on" - all with more of a calm, soothing tone, rather than a stern or disciplinary tone.

    It can be tough when other kids are watching to not respond with consequences because we think other kids won't find it fair, or that it might encourage other kids to do it too. I'd try to explain to the class sometime, maybe when he's gone during an incident, sometimes people get really worked up, and need to calm down before anything else happens. That there are often consequences of behavior, and that you'll be talking to him later in private, but that you are choosing to instead focus on learning when with the whole class. This helps you save face.

    One other small strategy idea that comes to mind: Perhaps try to practice with him in a fun, game-like manner having to switch to less preferred things. For example, sometime when you have a minute or two (hard to find, I know), tell him with a smile that you want to play a game and practice what it would be like to ask him to do something hard or that he doesn't like. Make it fun and silly at first. For example, tell him to pretend that he really doesn't like to put his finger on his knee - that it's difficult and no fun. You're going to come up to him in 5 seconds and ask him to do it, and you want him to practice doing it and not having any reaction for 10 seconds. There can be some sort of prize associated with this (small). Then, through lessons, start with things that might be ever-so-slightly less preferred, but easy for him to transition to. Give him a cue before asking him to do it - tell him in 10 seconds you're going to come back and ask him to read one sentence. If he can read it without getting upset, he'll get a point (or whatever). Then, gradually ask him to do more challenging things, but only at a rate at which he's successful - if he starts to fail, back it up - ask him to do easier things, or moderately challenging things but for a shorter period of time.

    All of this is a lot easier in the context of a more calm relationship and successful self-management, so to whatever degree possible, try to remove as many challenges as possible for now. Focus on small steps, and work toward those more challenging situations. If other kids see him getting out of things, remind them that you're working on those expectations with him privately. Part of that more "calm relationship" also probably involves building up the strength in the relationship between you and him - not sure how you all get along, but if it's strained (which it often is in these situations), it would be awesome if you could find times throughout the day to just spend quality time that involves few expectations or demands, and a lot of positivity between the two of you. Often times there are underlying behavioral issues, but strained relationships becomes secondary triggers that are hard to work past.

    Anyway, this is long enough - hope it helps some ;)
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
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  11. REW

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    Oct 18, 2021

    That book is definitely on my radar to purchase. Is it worth the audible credit? :)

    It definitely starts minor and if I can catch the behavior quick enough. I can usually get them down. Being a solo teacher with no TA it’s difficult. The more other students notice and/or comment the more to the left they go.

    cognitive shift and being related to executive functioning makes total sense. It definitely is WAY more than a simple adhd and give medication.

    The child is embarrassed by the behavior. I have received “I’m sorry” drawings/letters that show they know what they did- but also showing how it felt like it wasn’t them. It’s really a little scary. They want to be liked and are liked by peers, overall. They like to be right next to me or in my desk chair. They seem to have a secure attachment at school. Or as secure as possible. It is very clear how exhausted the parents are and I think the attachment is more avoidant or disorganized. Thankfully, they do have professionals in their corner.

    One of the things we’ve been trying to do is give them breaks from the classroom at specific times since we know those two trigger points. Build relationship, empower them, and so forth. Sensory processing *may* be something going on (very sensitive to noise and it seems like visual stimuli). So what looks like coddling to this lead teacher is really not understanding the situation. That’s really where I am upset the most because I don’t feel like I need to share the child’s situation with her to pass judgement.
     
  12. otterpop

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    Oct 18, 2021

    This is such helpful info. Rew, I hope you don’t mind me asking EdEd a follow up question, but I’m curious how you’d approach issues with executive functioning / problems transitioning when they result in other students getting physically hurt. My student who is everything described here will punch / kick / poke / throw pencils when upset. There’s very little warning. I know you said not to engage but do you still think it’s good to say something along the lines of, let’s talk about this later, when there are physical issues?

     
  13. EdEd

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    Oct 19, 2021

    Sounds like you're on the right path @REW - yep, I think that book is worth the audible credit ;). Would be interested if you end up getting it what you think, and if it's helpful at all.

    With your follow-up descriptions, I'm becoming quite a bit more sure that it isn't an intentional, manipulative situation that would warrant more strict consequences, but more of what we've been talking about here. Again, sounds like you're on the right path.
     
  14. REW

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    Nov 7, 2021

    Just a short update:
    Things have been improving. Consistency is key and relationship building. We’ve worked on very natural and logical consequences. Pick and choose battles. Something I’ve realized is the kiddo really values 1:1 time with me. So I make intentional time to have 1:1 with them. I’ve only had to evacuate the classroom once in the last month. Other issues have been mild to moderate and manageable (although exhausting).
     
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  15. EdEd

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    Nov 9, 2021

    Fantastic news @REW - all sounds very positive!
     

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