The behavioral challenges seen in children with Down syndrome are usually not all that different from those seen in typically developing children. However, they may occur at a later age and last somewhat longer. For example, temper tantrums are typically common in 2-3 year olds, but for a child with Down syndrome, they may begin at 3-4.
When evaluating behavior in a child or adult with Down syndrome it is important to look at the behavior in the context of the individual’s developmental age, not only his or her chronological age. It is also important to know the individual’s receptive and expressive language skill levels, because many behavior problems are related to frustration with communication. Many times, behavior issues can be addressed by finding ways to help the person with Down syndrome communicate more effectively.
As the concept of chronic absenteeism gains traction across the country, some people are under the impression that it’s just a politically correct way of saying truancy. However, the two terms describe different aspects of our absenteeism problem and require different approaches to bringing students back to school every day.
First, let’s take truancy, a term that generally refers to unexcused absences. In the past, federal law required states to track truancy but left it to states to come up with the definition.
With its focus on unexcused absences, truancy naturally leads to a focus on compliance with the rules. Students are missing school without an excuse, skipping school and violating mandatory attendance requirements. Fixing the problem becomes a question of ensuring compliance, often left to front-office administrators, and in the most severe cases, to the legal system. Policymakers often recommend punitive consequences for truancy – such as suspensions, jail time and fines – for children and parents. Some communities and courts have devised effective approaches to reducing truancy, but in other places, punitive efforts are pushing students out of school.
Chronic absenteeism, on the other hand, incorporates all absences: excused, unexcused and suspensions. The focus is on the academic consequences of this lost instructional time and on preventing absences before students miss so much school that they fall behind. It recognizes that students miss school for many understandable issues such as asthma or homelessness or unreliable transportation, for which a punitive response is not appropriate.
Like truancy, chronic absence has no common definition, though many researchers and schools monitor how many students are missing 10 percent or more of the school year. That’s about two days a month, or 18 days in most school districts.
When a child’s emotional needs get in the way of his or her education, a request can be made for an assessment to see if the needs are severe enough for Special Education or a 504 plan. Put this request in writing. If your child is already in Special Education, the assessment would find out if counseling should be added to the IEP as a related service.
Because Special Education counseling is to help students with their emotions so they can benefit from their education, when writing a request for an evaluation, use school examples. Areas might be grades and meeting grade level standards. School attendance, behavior, or discipline are other areas.
Opening presents is supposed to be fun, not frustrating. But for kids who have trouble with impulsivity, gift exchanges can be full of potential pitfalls. Here’s what to look out for, and how you can help before the big day and in the moment.
When a child with a disability engages in behavior or breaks a code of conduct and the school proposes to remove the child, the school must hold a hearing to determine if the child’s behavior was caused by his disability. This hearing, a Manifestation Determination Review (MDR), is a process to review all relevant information and the relationship between the child’s disability and the behavior.
Consequences for problem behaviors should not discriminate against a child based on his disability. Yet, schools continue to suspend and expel students with disabilities for behavior caused by their disabilities.
Based on practical experience, Attorney Bill Brownley provides a “how to” guide attorneys (and parents) can use during the review to determine if the child’s conduct was “caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the child’s disability.” (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, p. 264). This guide describes how strategy, preparation, and documentation demonstrate a connection between the behavior and the disability, keeping the issue out of the hands of the school’s disciplinary officer.
Sometimes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Consider, for example, the widespread belief that there is a ten day limit on the number of days that a child with disabilities can be suspended from school. As with many widespread beliefs, the common version of the rule is only partially true. Here are nine things that every parent should know about the so-called “ten-day” rule and the laws governing the suspension of children with disabilities who are entitled to services under IDEA: