My Magic Wand...Well, It's Not Working
September 11, 2013 3:52 AM Subscribe
I'm the special education teacher in a therapeutic high school and I've got an amazingly smart male student with an assortment of behaviors (sleeping, work refusal) and diagnoses (depression, selective mutism) who needs help and I'm looking for some suggestions. Have you ever successfully worked with a kid like this? How?
posted by kinetic to Education (34 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Suffice it to say that I've never worked with such a stubborn kid.
Basically, he has a history of trauma and he's been diagnosed with clinical depression. That's why he's in my therapeutic school. He goes to classes, individual and group therapy daily, and the entire staff reports the same: he usually sits in class, puts his head on the desk, and will sometimes fall asleep. When awake and a class direction is given ("Everyone write a sentence about ..."), he sits there, smiles, silent as a stone, and does nothing.
He shrugs and doesn't talk.
We've had meetings with the kid and his parents and they report the same at home. His recent psych evaluation indicates a relatively high IQ and no learning disabilities. So he is capable of doing the work, he just doesn't.
We've met with the kid and put behavioral plans into place (before my time), where the credit system was explained to him ("if you do ..., then you will graduate, but if you do nothing, you'll be here until you're 22," etc.). They've also put a behavioral plan where the kid was given a choice (he can choose to write or the staff will write for him, or he can begin now or wait 2 minutes), and also an incentive plan (he loves video games, so if he did x, he'd earn video time).
Nothing. This kid did NOTHING. In 2 years at this school he's earned less than one semester's worth of credit.
There have been very brief (3-5) day stretches where he would occasionally respond to a demand and just do it. When that has happened, there's been no rhyme or reason. He got a lot of positive reinforcement when he did the work, but then just as suddenly, he'd again go quiet.
* he has been drug tested and is clean, so the sleeping isn't substance-related
* he is not on any medication that would cause this physically
* he has the same lack of response to therapy where he sits and doesn't speak
* we cannot change his school placement
What HAS worked for me, in response to the shrugging, is to smile and say I'm not fluent in shrug, could he please use words? And then he smiles and starts talking. But that's as far as I've gotten.
If you were/knew/worked with a kid who had depression and selective mutism and a work refusal issue, please share your ideas. How do we get this kid to do the work? And what should we absolutely not do?