What must you do before a psych eval/emotional eval?

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by MissEducation, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. MissEducation

    MissEducation Companion

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    Oct 20, 2009

    I want to ask someone at my school this question but I don't exactly know how to put it...

    I have a girl in my class who is what is commonly referred to as a psychopath/sociopath. Although some would assume I'm exaggerating or using that term lightly, I'm not. The loose definition of a psychopath is someone who:

    does not conform to social rules
    uses other people for profit or pleasure
    acts impulsively
    is irritable and agressive
    recklessly disregards his/her own safety and that of others
    is constantly irresponsible
    is unable to feel guilt, remorse, or empathy

    I am not qualified to classify this girl in that way, but I feel like the fact that she exhibits these behaviors (and the fact that it negatively affects her class performance and behavior) are grounds for having her tested for some type of emotional disability or getting a psyc. evaluation. I know that typically I need to do some interventions first, talk to parents, etc., but I've already tried everything I can think of to reach this girl and she is still just impossible to get along with. Her mom blames schools/teachers for everything so she is unwilling to accept the fact that her daughter may have a problem.

    What can I do? Who at my school should I talk to? (Counselor? Special ed. teachers?) She is capable academically but she is so anti-social and self-centered that she has virtually no motivation and absolutely no respect or empathy for anyone. She is no stranger to the admin. staff; she is in trouble a lot. It's not like they're not aware that she's got some issues...

    :help: TIA
     
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Oct 20, 2009

    I would first visit the counselor. I also have a suggestion (and I'm not suggesting that you are), but, it wouldn't be wise to offer your diagnosis to anyone else. I had a student a few years ago who came to us via referral after referral from other schools. He was expelled from every school he attended. He had 60 referrals in three years of school. He was supposed to exhibit all those symptoms you have described. He was on tons of medications and that didn't seem to help. He was eventually diagnosed with a form of autism, which brought him into our class. Once he was removed from the stresses in the general education classroom, he blossomed into a wonderful young man. He is now in middle school and doing well.
    My point is that we should not rush to judgment on our children. There may be other things going on. Again, MissEducation...I'm not suggesting that you are doing anything wrong.
     
  4. Icare

    Icare Rookie

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    Oct 20, 2009

    psychopath/sociopath

    I agree with the pp, this is a very very strong label to give that your not qualified to do. (although it sounds like you want to help)

    Many of those behaviors can be explained by other things, so I would just refer her for testing and hope she gets the help she needs.
     
  5. MissEducation

    MissEducation Companion

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    Oct 21, 2009

    I know I'm not qualified to diagnose her, but to get technical, you can't be "diagnosed" as psychopathic because it is not a disorder - it would be like being "diagnosed" as shy, or funny, or good at math. It is simply an organization of personality traits.

    Again, I know I'm not qualified to label her as this and I wouldn't mention it to her or anyone else I work with, but psychopaths (though they are often associated with serial killers or criminals) are actually much more prevalent in society than I ever realized until I did some research a few years ago. Some research suggests that 2-3% of society is psychopathic, meaning there'd be about 1 in each class on average! I didn't mean it as a derogatory term. I simply don't know how to deal with this girl because it is impossible to appeal to her sense of ethics or empathy. Only negative reinforcement seems to work, and not very well at that.

    Not trying to be defensive by the way - just thought I'd clear up my original post in case it seemed brash.

    I guess my main concern is how to refer her if she is already known by the counselor and the other admins. to have major behavior/social issues. I don't want to seem like I'm bossing around our counselor, but I don't understand how she's gotten this far without being referred.

    Thanks again!
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 21, 2009

    I'm not an expert in statistics, but it doesn't seem accurate that 2-3% of society = 1 student per class. That seems way, way off.

    I'm also pretty sure that sociopathy and psychopathy are different. Sociopathy is a medical diagnosis--Antisocial Personality Disorder. Pyschopathy isn't diagnosed in the same way, but it is still a medical label given by medical professionals. It's not a term to be thrown around lightly or by unqualified people. Even if it does apply here (and I don't know that it does), it's not something you can or should say without medical support.
     
  7. Icare

    Icare Rookie

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    Oct 21, 2009

    ADHD and Autism can show the same traits. And I would be offended if my childs teacher was convinced my child had something that can be tied to serial killers or criminals.

    I agree, it really isn't something you should say or post without medical support.
     
  8. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Oct 21, 2009

    In response to your original question, I wouldn't feel bad questioning the counselor as to the reasons this child has not been assessed if these behaviors have been ongoing for some time. There may be something else going on that she can talk to you about. Or, maybe you can keep this child from slipping through the cracks. Don't give up on her!
     
  9. blindteacher

    blindteacher Cohort

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    Oct 21, 2009

    I would definitely go to the school counselor. I would keep any labels you are thinking to yourself if I were you since you're not a medical professional. Just my :2cents:
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 21, 2009

    Repeat that to yourself as often as necessary.

    Refer her to a counselor, but talk about her behaviors, not your admittedly unqualified diagnosis. Document, document, document-- concrete examples that the counselor can use to discern the nature of the problem. Include documentation of days that go well-- what seems to give her a good day as well as what seems to trigger a bad one. Let someone who is qualified have all the background information necessary to make an informed diagnosis.

    The fact that YOU haven't found a way to reach her does not mean she's unreachable, simply that you haven't found the key. She's 12 years old, and hasn't been diagnosed. That means that 6 or 7 teachers have found her behavior to be somewhere within the realm of "normal."

    Don't give up on this girl. Don't assume that the fact that you haven't reached her yet means you never will. Instead, work on alternate strategies-- find the "hook" that will start the process of learning.
     
  11. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Oct 22, 2009

    Thank you, Alice! If anyone referred to my child as a psychopath, I would be livid.

    People, let's remember we are dealing with children here.....we grow and shape them, that's our job. Its not always easy but it is the tough cases/children that help us become much stronger educators.

    Feeling a little frustrated with how much insulting of children has been going on lately (i.e. wild animals, psychopath). I don't mean to offend anyone personally so I offer my apology already. I know teaching such kids can be draining and we reach the end of our rope at times. I still believe that we should be their advocates, however.
     
  12. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Oct 22, 2009

    Oh dear, so the student has one of those types of parents who won't claim the responsibility that things are probably screwed up at home. She wants to blame everyone else for her daughter's problems & behavior. That's going to be a tough road ahead! :dizzy:

    Have you ever looked in her student file to try to see how she was when she was younger like back in grades 3+? It's good to try to see at what point this psycholotc behavior seemed to start. Things like this don't just all start one day out of the blue. I would find it hard to believe that there were no previous psychological documents/notes in her file already written by past school psychologists, but some kids do slip through the cracks if no past teachers, etc wanted to get involved.

    Do you know anything about her home life? Parents divorce, mom has new boyfriend, mom's boyfriend is living in the house, etc. So she's in middle school now. I'd be interested to observe her & see how she is at recess. Who are her friends, what do they do at recess time, etc. Maybe she's been introduced to drugs or something...they can at that pre-teen/teen age.

    Yes, talk to the school psychologist right away for sure. Bring samples of her work. If you don't have any samples of her writing about anything personal, I'd give the class an assignment to write about their home life, family, etc. To the class, it's another english assignment, but to you it's to find out things & I bet you'll really find out a lot then!
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 22, 2009

    Where does it say that? :confused:
     
  14. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Oct 22, 2009

    Right here in the original post.
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 22, 2009

    I think maybe mom may have a problem because she's not convinced her daughter is a psychopath.
     
  16. MissEducation

    MissEducation Companion

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    Oct 23, 2009

    I did not mean to incite so much anger with my post. To be honest, I'm a little hurt and disappointed that my post was taken that way. I have reread it and to be honest I think some people read too much into what I wrote and made assumptions that are not true.

    I was using the criteria of that term to describe her behavior and to explain why I was concerned enough to be thinking of referring her to the counselor. How does that in any way imply that I am going to tell the girl, her family and my co-workers that I think she's a psychopath? As I previously stated, I'm not saying that she IS a psychopath - I said "what is commonly referred to as"... and I did this to explain what type of issues I have observed in my class.

    The truth is, there are a LOT of disorders in this family that are recognized by reputable psychological institutions as being much, much more common than most people realize. (2-3%) By perpetuating the stereotype of "psychopath = serial killer" we are not moving any further in understanding how to teach such students.

    The sensitive nature of such topics was what led me to post about this online first. I want to follow the correct procedure without ruffling feathers or offending. I was in no way trying to take it upon myself to label the girl; I was just trying to explain the nature of my concern.

    Please do not assume that because I have such a concern that I have given up on the girl, am "tearing her down" or that I blame her family.
     
  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 23, 2009

    My suggestion is that in the future you avoid putting a label on behaviors and instead just state the behaviors. Rather than saying that the student is a pyschopath because she does this and this and this, just say that she does this and this and this. Does that make sense? That way you'll avoid coming across like you're diagnosing.

    The issue, at least for me, isn't that psychopath = bad. It's that you as a teacher are not qualified to make any sort of diagnosis. I would have had the same reaction if you had told me that the student was bipolar or had a heart defect because she seemed like she did (even though you had never been advised of any medical issues by the parent or school nurse). You can't make any diagnosis, because you're not a doctor.

    You can, however, make observations. Keep them objective and straightforward. Your observations should be the same observations that every other person seeing the child would also make. Instead of saying something like, "Student is psychotic," say "Student frequently touches peers, takes their belongings, states that she hears voices, and scratches her arms until they bleed" (or whatever the behaviors are, I'm just giving examples). A qualified professional can use that information to make a diagnosis or referral.

    Hope this helps!
     
  18. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Nov 3, 2009

    I agree with you.

    This is a public, anonymous online forum. You have not broken any rules that I am aware of. This is not a BBSST, or special ed/inclusion/ referral meeting with the principal, district, or parents.

    Sheesh, it's an online forum for heavens sake, you didn't reveal the child's identity so I don't see what the problem is. We all say things online that we wouldn't say in person.

    Anyway, just my 2cents...
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 3, 2009

    Honestly, I don't think that's true.

    I can't think of a single thing I've ever posted here that I wouldn't say in person.
     
  20. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 4, 2009

    Back to the original question--if you were a teacher in my school, this is what I would tell you:
    -document the behaviours/responses/reactions that are causing you concern. Be as specific as possible and stick to the facts--what was done and said by everyone involved.
    -document all interventions you have already tried
    -document all conversations you have had with the parent about your concerns and how you have intervened to this point
    -meet with the counsellor, special ed department, previous teachers and/or administration to come up with a new plan to try in the classroom over the next 5-6 weeks.
    -share this new plan with the parents and student
    -continue to document
    -after the 5-6 weeks, meet with all involved to discuss how the plan worked and discuss next steps, which may or may not be further referrals

    I know that the entire process can be frustrating and seemingly endless. It's important to call upon the supports available in your school to ask for help, but also to recognize that referrals for testing usually come at the end of a long period of interventions.
     
  21. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Nov 4, 2009

    I don't know who you're referring to, but hopefully it's not me. I was telling you honestly what I think you should do & another poster simply asked how I knew about something I said & I answered her. I certainly wasn't angry about anything. All good here.:)
     

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