Social - Emotional

26. Low Self Esteem

Our child had no confidence. Working with the classroom teacher, we provided opportunities for a correct answer, even if it was about the weather. We offered our child an opportunity to have some small successes on which to build.

27. Too Much Stimulation

The Pre-K classroom had too many children and too much noise and movement for our daughter. She was given an “I need a break” card to use when she became overwhelmed. Our daughter, who is now in fourth grade, does not need the break card now. It allowed her to regulate her own anxiety level and allowed her to stay in general education Pre-K instead of going to PPCD (Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities, a self-contained special education placement.)

28. Overreacting

If my daughter lost an item, like a pencil, it would cause a near-panic attack. I taught the teacher how I dealt with this at home. I would remind my daughter that it was a very small deal. Not a big deal. At home, I reminded my daughter that I could replace the pencil but I could not replace her. The teacher began to cope successfully with my daughter and any lost items that came up.

29. Carrying Objects to School

My son would take small objects that were meaningful to him to school. Teachers and staff were taking them away from him. These small items were security objects to him. The teacher recommended that my son be allowed to put the item in his pocket. He generally did not need to play with the thing. He just needed to know he had it with him. Teachers were willing to work with that plan and to understand the differences our children with disabilities have.

30. Anxiety

During her first week of school she was taken by ambulance to the hospital three times due to anxiety attacks. If our daughter began to focus on the negative, her teachers would give her a time goal. They would say, you only have so many minutes left of math, or it’s only one hour until the day is over. We trained her teachers to help her focus on the positive aspects of her day.

31. Overly Sensitive to Certain Words/Ways of Speaking

Our son has certain words that are extremely annoying to him. We gave the list of the words to the classroom teacher so she could avoid them. We also worked to desensitize our son to the words. Whispering was also very annoying to him.

32. Sex Ed

Our son has a maturity issue. He is 13 but his maturity is some days 10 and some days 4, depending on what the issue is. He is in 7th grade so they have started a little bit of this and are using the “Right Choices for Youth” curriculum for sex education. He is not on the level of the other children on that classroom. As a mother, I think the classroom teachers have to learn what the child’s brain is ready to take in. You can’t be talking about stuff that is over their heads. It just clouds their brain. The teachers have caught on to that. I have always gone and viewed the films ahead of time. The school gives you that choice. Our son came home and said that a teacher came up to him and asked him if he wanted to sit in on this one. This one is on sexual abuse. He said, “No, I think when I am sixteen I will be ready to learn about that. It makes me really uncomfortable.” I appreciate the teacher being aware of the level of maturity of my child with disabilities.

33. Bullying

Children with disabilities are oftentimes easy targets for bullies and many times the bullies are quite adept at hiding their actions from the teacher. The bully can also be another child with disabilities. Our son started refusing to go to school in 3rd grade. It took the parents and the teacher, quite a while to discover that the girl sitting next to him was pinching him when the teacher wasn’t looking. A change in the classroom seating chart took care of the problem. In addition to being educators, teachers sometimes have to be a bit of a detective also.

34. Trouble Interacting

Our son has always had trouble interacting, even with something as simple as speaking with other people. He has difficulty warming up to people and situations. Our solution was to encourage him to look at himself from other people’s eyes. We would have him ask himself, “How do others see you?” He is a genius in his field which does not require very much social interaction but he works very hard to create and maintain relationships.

Moderator: Your suggestion to classroom teachers would be to have the teacher engage in their own compassionate one-on-one conversation with a student and ask them what they think others were thinking of them when they acted the way they had been acting when they were not engaging with anyone else in the group.

Another participant made the point that her son would respond that he does not judge people by what they look like. He judges their heart. The parent making the point about seeing yourself as others see you replied that others are still looking at what you do and judging you so each child needs to deal with those issues. He will be creating a larger group of friends for himself. Encourage your student to “look at life outside the barrel.” Get out and see how people look at you, what are they thinking? Describe what you just did and if you saw somebody else do it what would you be thinking?

Another parent/guardian interjected, “Think logically, not emotionally.”

35. Finding My Child’s Strengths

My child asks me, “Are you for me or are you against me, Mom?” I work on finding where my child’s strengths are and sharing that knowledge with my child’s teacher. Children with disabilities may not be socially equipped, but we work on finding what a social strength is with our son. He is a very good reader and he is a very expressive reader. It was World Autism Awareness Day a couple weeks ago and the school staff set up an event and he went around to a couple of the classrooms on his campus and read in their classrooms because that was his form of being social. So, it was an example of putting him in a successful situation. Not getting up and giving a speech but doing something he was comfortable doing and exposing him to social skills. And I think it is important for a teacher to see where a student with disabilities has strengths and let that strength rise. As the student feels more comfortable and confident, their successes will bring on other successes. I would recommend urging classroom teachers to allow our students with disabilities to be in social settings that push them beyond their present comfort level.

36. Reactions of Others

Our child would arrive at his general education head start class and begin exhibiting some of his self stimulating behaviors. The general education students would stop their work and begin to stare and lose their focus. The classroom teacher resolved the situation by telling the other students what to expect. Further, she taught them it was none of their business and the aide would help their classmate if he needed help. They were to go on with their work. Encourage the classroom teachers to be up front with the other students in the class. Tell the classmates specifically what their concern is and what should be none of their concern.

37. Two or Three Steps Behind the Class

Our daughter has spina bifida and used a manual wheelchair when she began school. We worked with a Physical Therapist and a wheelchair company to get the right power wheel chair for our child. She experienced a huge leap in her independence in the classroom and an improvement in her socialization because she can now keep up with her classmates.

38. Social Skills

Our son did not understand that you do not hug everyone you see. The teacher, who is a behavior specialist, produced a video modeling a peer appropriately greeting another person and burned it to a DVD for him to watch.

39. Questions about Her Disability

Classmates had questions about our daughter’s disability. The classroom teacher asked us to come in, read a book about it on their level and explain our child’s condition in our own words.