Join hundreds of special needs practitioners in the TES Special Needs Group. Whether you work in a special needs school or you’re an SEN practitioner in mainstream you’ll find lesson ideas and inspiration here.
Hi! I wonder if anybody here can offer any insight about an 8 year old child whom I occasionally teach. Something just isn't adding up with him, and I'm finding it hard to know how to handle him. Here are some incidents to give you an idea:
Maths lesson: After a detailed starter explaining how to solve sums by partitioning, I put sums on the board to copy and answer. He copied sums off the board and came to me saying he'd finished, and the sums were easy. He hadn't answered a single one. I said "But you haven't answered them!" His reply: "The answers weren't on the board." (Stunned silence.)
*English lesson. Sat quietly on carpet and apparently paid attention to lesson intro, made eye contact, answered questions etc. As class began the first task he asked "what are we doing?" I told him crossly we were collecting adjecties (I had made this abundently clear, and we had been learning about and continuously referencing for about a fortnight at this point) He then asked: "what's adjectives?" The children all laughed because this was a bizzare thing to say considering how I've been drilling it in. I, once again, was lost for words.
*P.E. lesson. He doesn't listen or follow instructions at all. Seems totally and inappropriately carried away with glee at being barefooted and 'loose' in a large room, running and jumping about/squirming on the floor. Instructions to sit still/put equipment down etc are completely filtered out unless you stare at him in the face and repeat several times.
*He is very easily distracted. e.g. When in a very solemn, intense and high stakes interview with the headmaster (parents on the brink of being called in), having been explicitly told to 'look at me and listen', he turned around to look at the door or window at the slightest noise outside. Not once, but three times, despite headmater being quite irate about it.
He just doesn't seem to be 'taking things in' and processing situations normally.
Other info: He plays football with his friends on the yard, is 'one of the lads' (i.e. part of the silly crowd); he's achieving a high level 2 accross the board; he smiles when being told off, and he will interrupt conversations, repeating the same sentence over and over and over again until he thinks you have listened to him.
I would be super grateful to hear any thoughts you might have about him!
I'd start with getting him assessed by the speech and language therapy service. It seems as though his receptive language skills are delayed, particularly in comparison with his expressive language.
Try showing him visually what he has to do, with picture clues and/or written instructions and see if these make any difference.
Have you spoken to the SENCO? (Or are you the SENCO? If so, have you spoken to your LA's SEN department?) What about last year's teacher? Have you spoken to his parent(s) to see if they have similar concerns and whether they've had any input in the past: often they can have and you won't necessarily have been told. Sorry if you've already thought of all this.
My instinct is that it's more than just speech and language but it's hard to comment without actually observing him. I definitely think some sort of assessment needs to be carried out. I'm also fairly certain that speech and language will at least play a part in his difficulties so I'd definitely call on them for advice.
viscoelasticityMaths lesson:His reply: "The answers weren't on the board." (Stunned silence.)*English lesson. "what's adjectives?" *P.E. lesson. He doesn't listen or follow instructions at all. * 'look at me and listen', he turned around to look at the door or window at the slightest noise outside. He just doesn't seem to be 'taking things in' and processing situations normally.repeating the same sentence over and over and over again until he thinks you have listened to him.
Maths lesson:His reply: "The answers weren't on the board." (Stunned silence.)
*English lesson. "what's adjectives?"
*P.E. lesson. He doesn't listen or follow instructions at all.
* 'look at me and listen', he turned around to look at the door or window at the slightest noise outside.
repeating the same sentence over and over and over again until he thinks you have listened to him.
Even though you had introduced the concept of adjectives, words about words are notoriously difficult for children who find language a problem. However you talk about them, you only heap more words about words on top! Sometimes it is successful if you aim more to show how the adjective words function and look initially for simple sentence patterns like 'a --------- ball' (and other nouns of course).
PE Language-impaired kids often do not understand the rules of a game. Nor do they respond very accurately to group instructions.
'Look at me and listen' may not be interpreted as 'listen to me and what I am telling you'! So either he may have listened to everything and turned to source it, or he can't focus on the essential and ignore extraneous sounds.
Sometimes children do repeat things at you until you reply - they have to learn to accept a simple 'yes'/'okay'/'not now' rather than a full version of say-back from you which confirms you got the message.
Does sound as if some investigation is needed plus some visual cues like task order notes in words or pictures. Build in 'plan, do, review' so he knows he has to do all the steps of the task.
Don't know if this adds anything.
viscoelasticityand he will interrupt conversations, repeating the same sentence over and over and over again until he thinks you have listened to him.
and he will interrupt conversations, repeating the same sentence over and over and over again until he thinks you have listened to him.
This bit sounds like one of my little girls who has a degree of autism.
What do other staff think?
There is also a possibility that it might be Auditory Processing Disorder, which wouldn't show up on a standard hearing test.
If you google APD there is a UK website.
Sounds like some degree of autism alongside another problem to me.
Speech, Language and Communication needs assessment, as well as the hearing test, to rule that out. If nothing is resolved as a result of that, recommend the parent seek a GP referral.
However, if he's 8 years old, he must have been in school for some time, unless he arrived last September, so what's the back story, either from your school, or Early Years.
Seek advice from those who previously taught him as well if you can. I agree with posters that it may be S<, SLCN or possibly ASD.
Thanks for the replies! I will go and read up on those acronyms now!:-)
He is in a class other than mine, but we do a lot of banding, so I've started to teach him quite often in the week. His class teacher also thinks something isn't right, but neither of us could pinpoint exactly what was getting lost in the chain of listening, processing and responding appropriately. It doesn't help that he isn't very well behaved, and appears totally unaffected by being told off. He is however very reward-oriented, and will do anything for a treat or prize, but doesn't bother if there is nothing tangeable for him at the end of it. I think this is probably a result of his parents using bribery to keep his attention and get him to do things. They don't accept that there is anything wrong, and just say the lessons aren't exciting enough for him.
We have a new SENCO after having effectively been wthout one for two years. We have referred him to her, but she has a lot to catch up with so it may take her a while.
Completely agree with the advice to get auditory processing ability assessed (not just hearing!). My son processes auditory information more slowly than typically developing children so while he's still working up a response to the first question, a teacher will often assume he hasn't understood and reword the question or ask another, which totally confuses him - it's like a word traffic-jam as far as his working memory is concerned. I'd recommend speaking slowly and clearly and using visual cues to support what you say. And also get the child's working memory assessed.
The reward/sanction issue is not uncommon in children on the autistic spectrum - or those with ADHD - and is most likely due to abnormalities in dopamine function. In the brain, responses to rewards and sanctions aren't opposite sides of the same coin, they operate independently, so it's possible for people to respond differently to each. Also be aware that some children will do what you want them to do only *after* they have had the reward - you've promised it and they can't understand why they haven't got it. 'Bribery', as you call it, is a key component of ABA which is one of the few strategies used with autistic children that has a reasonably successful track record.
Hope this helps.
Also don't forget to collect evidence and to note which interventions you have already tried and are trying, otherwise you will have to work through suggestions that are made before anything useful is provided. Is he on the SEN register yet? If not it sounds as though he needs to be on it.
maizie There is also a possibility that it might be Auditory Processing Disorder, which wouldn't show up on a standard hearing test. If you google APD there is a UK website.
I would agree with this post. I teach in a special school (MLD with speech and language problems) with lots of autistic children and although the child may have some of the characteristics of an autistic child I think it sounds more like the son of my friend who has an auditory processing disorder. (He is also dyslexic.) He is nearly 8 but if you were to say "Go and fetch your shoes, then put them on and go fetch the ball from the garden" He might get his shoes but would not remember the end of the instructions. I woulf suggest trying to break tasks up into small easily accessible chunks. e.g In the maths lesson he would be asked to copy the sums off the board first. Then when he had done that ask him to work out the answers. My friend finds it very frustrating because you presume something has been understood but actually it hasn't. Good luck getting the support at your school. My friend's son has not been able to get any funding and was told there was no point trying to get a statement for him.
I would refer him to the educational psychologist asap. The PE lesson with the sensory feeling of bare feet on the floor and having to run and squirm round the floor is very much like one of my children. He has a diagnosis of autism and ADHD. Said child has very good verbal skills and appears to understand things while working at a level 2. However the use of symbol prompts, Makaton and a visual schedule has transformed him, particularly in PE.
Top of page
TES Editorial © 2012 TSL Education Ltd. All pages of the Website are
reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, resell or exploit any material on the
Website for any commercial purposes. TSL Education Ltd Registered in England (No 02017289) at 26 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4HQ