Friday, October 29, 2004

Articles on managing children with emotional and behavioral disorders

Meet Dr. Bruce Perry

This web site focuses on traumatized children, primarily abused and neglected children. One might think it's not relevant to most children with cognitive and behavioral disorders (autism, ADHD, CDD, etc), but the articles outline a series of techniques that may be considered for all fragile kids. The target group is teachers.

For example, here are the suggested techniques for supporting "self-regulation"
* Model self-control and self-regulation in your words and actions when you are frustrated with a classroom situation.

* Provide structure and predictability. Children with self-regulation problems are internally "unstructured." The more freedom and flexibility they have, the more likely they are to demonstrate uncontrolled behaviors.

* Anticipate transitions and announce changes in classroom schedules.
* Reward children with good self-regulation capabilities with freedom and flexibility that will offer them opportunities for spontaneous, creative play and learning.
* Try to identify the most "reactive" and impulsive children and keep them apart from each other. Pairing children who face these challenges can escalate the problem.
* Remember that impulsive and aggressive children can create an atmosphere of chaos and fear that inhibit the capacity of other children to learn. Don't be afraid to immediately re-direct inappropriate words and actions. Your actions will make the rest of the children feel safer.
* Seek help. Don't be afraid to point out a child's self-regulation problems with parents or other school personnel. Early identification and intervention can save the child and family years of failure and pain.
The author speaks with more confidence than science supports, but that's fairly typical of this genre. As usual one must review the suggestions and figure out which make sense for an individual child. Some may be counter-productive. In some circumstances and settings it may be helpful to pair impulsive children, for example.

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