Chat With Rhonda
Well as I promised it is now time to begin to address the upcoming school year and issues that arise from that. As I said there are typical four subcategories of RAD children with some doing well at home on summer break and those who prefer to be at school. Well the focus of today’s chat will be those children who dislike school and do their very best at sabotaging the whole year. Their idea is to be suspended as soon as possible so they can return to environment (home) where they feel that they are in control and safe. As caregivers begin to set up about a month in advance some structure or program that can resemble the average day of or child once school begins. As a care giver it is our responsibility to contact the school and set up team meets to address the issues and concerns that may arise during the year. It is also our responsibility to present ourselves not as some stressed hysterical caregiver but a reasonable caregiver who is willing to work with the school system. Remember that school personnel are educators not therapists and they wanted to educate not do therapy. They very often do not understand or realize the depth of our children’s issues and needs. So as caregivers we often time find ourselves in positions of educating the educators. A generalized portrait of a child with attachment issues is that they are usually average or above average IQ with learning disabilities or delays. They are usually socially isolated from peers, have poor impulse control, low frustration level, and are frequently easily agitated or may become violent. At the very least these children are going to have significant complications in dealing with and participating in school. As these children travel through their academic career they are labeled and relabeled as the problem child and that nothing seems to work to help them cope and deal in school. If the child is young enough to attend Early Childhood Special Education Programs, it is beneficial for the child to participate for at least one and preferably two years. During this experience the child will begin to develop cooperative play skills necessary to be socially accepted, learn transition skills, begin to catch up on developmental delays, and learn to accept female authority. If the child is too old to receive this assistance for their academic career, here are some other suggestions to assist schools and parents. One of the most important issues is to develop a working team of school officials and parents together so that the child understands that there is a united front. For children with attachment issues, consequences for their behaviors and choices need to be natural and immediate. School must be prepared to act at the moment of the child’s behavior and not to expect parents to be able to consequence them for the school behavior after the fact with any type of success. Parent’s need to accept and support the school in immediate consequences for their child’s behavior at school. Children that have been traumatized and have attachment issues have a difficult time understanding verbal instructions so if instructions can be broken down into simple sentences or Polaroid pictures of the child doing the steps is very useful. Also they have significant difficulty in sequencing. So to give them a written list for the sequence that you want them to learn is effective for them to lower their frustration and begin to be successful at sequencing and achieving certain outcomes. Most of these children do better in school if they only have one teacher and are in a calm, consistent, and nurturing environment. If they are to the age and grade where they have to start transitioning from one classroom to another, an aid that will go to each classroom throughout the day is beneficial as it provides the consistency and structure that these children need. Often parent aids or substitute teachers are very frightening to these children due to the unknown of whether this person is safe or will they be able to keep the child safe. This then usually causes the child to dissociate or begin to act out. Due to this intense reaction to these situations sometimes it is better for the child as well as the school that these children stay home when there is going to be substitutes in the classroom. Also these children are very much over stimulated and have a black and white thinking pattern. Some days are going to be a lot of extra stimulation such as drills, visitors, changes in structure or routine, and field trips are going to cause the child to act out more. It will need to be addressed between the teacher and parents what will be in the best interest of the child and how to provide the added support for them to feel safe in these situations. One of the most important interventions to use with children with these behaviors at school is to utilize the natural consequences. If a child does not do their homework, they lose privileges or are at risk of failure of that grade. To turn the table on the child so that they completely understand that it is only their choice that either gets them what they want or a natural consequence that they do not want. When this is done successfully it will begin to eliminate many of the power struggles that these children will engage teachers and parents in.