I am an experienced special education teacher who has a classroom with seven children and four teacher aides. The children all display behavior problems and developmental delays. They range in age from 6-9 years, with developmental ages between 2.5 and 4.5.
My question has to do with head banging. I have one boy, who is autistic, who really bangs hard. His forehead bruises and bleeds, never fully healing. He has only been with me since summer school started July 5th; before that time, he was in a Much different setting. Parents report that head banging has been an ongoing behavior since he was 6 months old, which is when they adopted him. There appears to be some lingering sensory need for the head banging, but most of the communication behind the behavior is frustration and the need to control/avoid.
I want to help this child succeed in this program, which is less restrictive than an autism classroom. My present behavior plan for the head banging is to physically prevent, and calmly redirect him back to the activity at hand. Otherwise, the head banging and tantruming are carefully and calmly ignored. We have a picture schedule, sensory program, structured program, and loving, therapeutic classroom atmosphere. I have not been able to connect the banging with any person or situation; it just happens. I am requiring him to participate fully in classsroom groups and activities- when he forgets to be angry, he enjoys himself. He is more social and verbal than most autistic children, thus the placement in a more social classroom. Our activities are the same every day, created to nourish communication and social skills, self care, physical and occupational skills, and sensory needs. He was isolated behind a partition with one aide and dictated his own schedule in the old classroom. I am sure that made him happier. Do you think my expectations are too high? My gut tells me to continue to include, rather than exclude him. Any advice?
Time will tell. You are hoping that, by exposing this child to a fuller range of experiences and interactions, his developmental skills in the various areas will improve. There is no doubt that you will see some change. The question will be whether the new situation is too demanding in general. Since he's been in your class for such a short period, and will require a lengthy adjustment to accomodate himself to the new requirements, no conclusions can yet be drawn. It's to be expected that the head banging would be prominent during the early weeks, since the environment is so new.
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