Educating the general ed staff about Belle

  • Belle is very close to her brothers (and their girlfriends!) and shares in their interests and careers. They all support Belle in her passions and education.
  • Our family travels a lot to visit the boys, to join Dad on business trips, and to supplement Belle’s education. Sometimes our trips are influenced by her special interests. We went to Scotland to research the Loch Ness monster and Japan to immerse ourselves in sushi and the Kitsune.
  • Belle loves to organize family events and is very helpful in preparing for a family party (designing the theme and décor), hosting large groups at our cottage (writing a script and filming her cousins in a movie-planning day trips and meals), and making sure everyone has a fun time (waterskiing, tubing, hiking, trying new foods, or going to the mall).
  • We have found that Belle exhibits behaviors at school that we don’t see at home. Her anxiety is much higher in school and she often finds herself in “fight or flight” mode. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, and behavior theories we have learned how to help Belle work through situations that caused regression, but it takes a lot of preventative supports, use of effective reinforcers, and team communication.
  • We have found that the cause of the negative behaviors that Belle has displayed basically fall into 2 categories-escape and attention.
  • Regarding escape-our main form of prevention is modification of curriculum that is presented to Belle. If she is given something that she perceives as being too hard she might refuse, get angry, or leave the room. Other strategies that we have found helpful are giving Maribel choices, motivating her with the use of reinforcers (points), and putting escape into her schedule by allowing her to ask for a break when necessary, giving her the option to do the “work” in homeroom or at home, and even allowing her to “earn” early dismissal on Fridays. These options have been very effective.
  • We have found that “assuming compliance” is a good thing to keep in mind when placing demands on Belle. She wants to comply, but might need some time to process the request or her options related to it.
  • Regarding attention- Belle loves attention from her teachers and her peers. Her general ed teachers last year reported that Belle was not disruptive working in the class or coming or going, but several of them said that when they gave Belle some time to talk to them, visit with her peers, organize an activity (like drawing anime in art), talk about her special interests, ask about the teacher’s interests, and to help the teacher, Belle was much happier. Basically, we have learned to teach and reinforce replacement behaviors when Belle’s desire for attention conflicted with the teacher’s agenda or the student’s time. Belle can’t always articulate what she wants in appropriate ways. If you have a question about how to channel her energy and interests please bring it up to Chris or Kathy and we will problem solve it at our biweekly team meeting which will include a behavioral consultant. There is not a problem without a solution!
  • Belle is considered “high functioning” but has many skill deficits which greatly affect her performance throughout the day. Her social deficits are huge, her emotional deficits become obvious as she is challenged, and her language deficits don’t allow her to express her thoughts and feelings in a way that is productive. Processing information is very slow and somewhat spotty. She knows a lot about a lot of things, but has huge gaps in knowledge due to lack of interest, lack of access to modified curriculum, and years of being assigned to a self contained classroom. This is all new to her (but luckily, not as new as it was last year).
  • Belle is greatly affected by anxiety and fear. She’s afraid of new situations, changes, things being different than what she expects, people keeping information from her, adults reacting or “panicking”, being excluded or “shunned”, failure (she won’t try if thinks she can’t do something), and what she perceives as negative body language and facial expressions.
  • Her tolerance of challenges and uncomfortable situations is greatly affected by her sensory issues. Her hearing is very sensitive and she can’t tolerate “yelling”, balloons popping (she won’t go near balloons), things dropping (books, heavy objects), or other banging, flushing, clapping sounds. She will cover her ears and ask to leave.
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