Silence: what's heard when your child shuts down

Once you become a #coach or advocate with multiple clients, you notice that there is a scale of avoidance: children hiding textbooks, forgetting homework, complaining of stomachaches, refusing activities and experiencing panic attacks are some. Whatever you observe and is applicable to your child, they are all a potentially serious problem. Your child will be unavailable for instruction and possibly susceptible to depression. Here are some short pointers for taking action:

Forensic inquiry

Number one is parent #advocacy: do not settle for a description of a trigger, or antecedent, as "a non-preferred" activity. For a child that only hides only English Language Arts assignments, you should find out what it is about those assignments that triggers this response. This inquiry may necessitate a Functional Behavioral Assessment by a #BCBA or additional assessment for a learning disability. If the avoidance becomes full-blown resistance to any cooperation, you may need to consult with a therapist and coach and the school, at additional therapeutic services.

Avoidance and Discipline

The second key point to remember is not to #discipline because of the disability if the child has no replacement behavior skills. One of my clients came to me with a scenario where the school accused the parent of being responsible for #truancy. Their child was having panic attacks in the bathrooms and being consistently late for class. This child had ADHD and Anxiety Disorders. Here you can see how the student code of conduct- which mandates #attendance in every class- is used to justify procedures that don't allow for behavior related to disability. If your child has panic attacks or any physical symptoms of anxiety or depression, get a psychological evaluation privately and also request that the school do the same thing. Your child psychiatrist can write a supporting letter to the school. According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), one of the appropriate school services for anxiety is Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

When Mental Health issues eclipse skill deficits

Third: if all school and home issues are not addressed equally, poor academic performance may be attributable to depression or anxiety - let alone ADHD or Dyslexia. Children who have major depressive order can become "blocked" when taking tests but also any aspect of daily living is impacted. Effective instruction misses it target when it's ignored. I have seen this first hand with children who have autism, ADHD and a learning disability where the Behavior Intervention Plan is vague and the child acts out during core classes. If your child has a coach, they may not be "available for coaching" until working with a #therapist and being able to manage their symptoms.

Nip this slide in the bud

Isolate and address the particular reasons for your child's mounting mental health issues. Don't let the slide into discipline and alternative placement in school begin and address family discord at home equally.

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