The purpose of this assignment is to reflect on a specific case regarding a student with challenging behavior. It is a summary of student strengths and critical need areas, identification of important skills to be targeted on IEP. This case is referred to Lionel who is a 14-year-old sixth grader at WeblyHeightsMiddle School.
Keywords: behavior, skills, assessment.
Lionel’s Case Study
The purpose of this assignment is to reflect on a specific case regarding a student with challenging behavior. The case study is referred to Lionel who is a 14-year-old sixth grader at WeblyHeightsMiddle School. Early this year the pupil assessment team identified Lionel as having an emotional disturbance and staffed him into a full-time special education class. The evaluation report described him as an “extremely defiant adolescent who frequently uses verbal and physical aggression to get his way.” This paper will provide a summary of student strengths and critical need areas, identification of important skills to be targeted on IEP.
Lionel presents quite a complicated case when one can hardly see anything positive in him. It would be helpful to look at his potential strengths though. For that reason it is important to analyze some of his most overt characteristics regarding academic, functional, behavior, social and emotional areas. Emotionally, Lionel is known as a person who is quick to anger and he often resorts to violence. Socially, he often acts defiantly regarding authority figures such as teachers, the principal, etc. And his behavior problems are closely connected to his emotional and social areas and can be characterized by such words as defiance, aggression and emotional instability.
Based on those characteristics it is possible to single out Lionel’s potential strengths since he seems not to have any at this point. Potentially, he can develop very healthy emotional life as he appears to be a very emotional person. He can be successfully driven by constructive motivation provided that his instructor is successful to penetrate his “armor” of defiance and win over his trust. His further potential development and emotional healing will have to be closely connected to his family and, in particular, to the relationship with his mother. That issue will be discussed in this paper further. As based on the information received these potential strengths are not considered since no assessment has been performed as related to the possibility of commencing his emotional healing and restoration of family ties.
Critical Need Areas
The critical need areas may be as the ones that pertain to main areas of life such as academic, functional, behavior, social and emotional. Lionel seems to have serious issues in every above aspect. His emotional life appears to be of the highest importance since it has a detrimental effect on every other area such as behavior, academic progress, functional performance and social life. However, the root of the problem may lie in low self-esteem that is caused by dysfunctional family background. Again, family has to be in the focus when performing assessment.
Important Skill Areas Targeted on IEP
As far as targeting important skill areas on IEP, academic area has to be of the highest priority. It is a short-term objective while emotional and family areas will be long-term projects. The question of classroom techniques will be discussed in the following passage, while it is worthwhile to note that academic area has much in common with functional area. It is Lionel's functional performance that affects his ability to perform well academically and it can be improved greatly through extracurricular activities. Students with special needs feel better when they participate in “extras” such as sports, art, music, drama, etc. Good performance in one of those areas may have an overall positive effect and bring positive changes to the student's academic progress (Melodie Bitter).
The classroom setting and techniques play an important role in situations related to students with challenging behavior. Teaching adaptations may be required as they may help to enforce the elements of discipline to the academic process. M.A. Mastropieri and T.E. Scruggs insist that it is important to illustrate the rules giving clear examples and specific rewards for following rules as well as consequences when rules are disobeyed. They stress that is significant to be consistent when enforcing rules, but one should make sure the overall classroom atmosphere is positive, not punitive (M.A. Mastropieri, T.E. Scruggs). As it is often quite an unpleasant experience to interact with students with emotional problems, it is still important to respond to them as individuals rather than just responding to their overt behavior.
Together with enforcing discipline and creating positive environment it is important to adapt instruction using various approaches to present the content adequately. If necessary it would be helpful to teach students classroom social skills. It is also advisable to present clear and enthusiastic teaching, provide additional review, and teach self-monitoring for attention. Many would find it worthwhile to adapt evaluation through distraction-free environment for exams.
As it was mentioned before, developing parental communication may be the most important long-term investment. The information provided on Lionel’s family offers possible causes for the student’s present behavior, which are the following: lack of parental care, absence of positive motivation, and dysfunctional family background. All that results in low-self-esteem and defiance and manifests in poor academic and functional performance. The school social worker or a psychologist/person assigned to work with Lionel will have to establish a continuous contact with his mother motivating her to be more involved with her son. She, in turn, may also need the help of a psychologist.
It appears that only general assessment of Lionel’s situation and family background were made. There may be various ways to administer assessment related to his circumstances. One is to make an assessment of the ways to cooperate with his mother and another is to conduct an assessment of Lionels’ emotional “openness” to build basic relationships with people in order to find ways for him to open up for instruction. Another helpful assessment may be a study of his interests to arrange for his extracurricular activities.
Assessment can be predictive in order to gather the information that predicts necessary actions. It can also be formative in order to obtain information for ongoing action planning. And, finally, it can be summative to provide the information about the effects of the work (Michael Powers).
To summarize all the above it is important to note that Lionel’s emotional life appears to be of the highest importance since it has a detrimental effect on every other area such as behavior, academic progress, functional performance and social life. However, the root of the problem may lie in low self-esteem that is caused by dysfunctional family background. While paying attention to academic and functional progress, it is worthwhile to help build parental communication since it can be decisive in eliminating some of the most detrimental causes of Lionel’s present behavior such as lack of parental care, absence of positive motivation, and dysfunctional family background.