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Archie is a 10 year old in the fifth grade class here at Friends’ School. He’s attended this school from preschool until now, a total of seven years. He lives in the neighborhood and tends to be one of the first kids in the classroom every morning. In general he seems to be a happy child, smiling often. He has a tendency to be quite goofy at times and struggles with impulse control, often speaking out in class or being disruptive by talking or making jokes. This seems to stem from his ADHD, which he is on medication for. Though he has many challenges related to his ADHD, he displays an aptitude for math, enjoys reading, loves computers and is full of random facts that he adores to contribute. His general health seems fine however we have noticed that he spends quite a bit of time in the bathroom on occasion.
We suspect that he may have digestion/constipation issues, however this is unclear and only speculation, as his younger sister is known to have these issues. He is on ADHD medication and takes that daily. He chooses not to eat a snack mid morning, but seems to eat a light lunch every day. He is of average height and weight in comparison to his classmates. He has plenty of energy daily and hasn’t missed any school due to sickness in these first 5 weeks of school. Archie is the oldest of two children. His younger sister is in the second grade here at Friends’ School. His parents are his adoptive parents, though his sister is biological – I do not know any further information about this at this time.
His parents are both Lawyers by trade, though the Mother is the only one currently practicing. His father is the Hockey Coach at DU. I see both parents frequently here at the school dropping off and picking up their children. In addition, their Nanny and Aunt are often here at the school and heavily involved in their lives. They also are very involved with them at home and are on top of Archie’s behavior including enforcing consequences.
Why I selected this child?
The decision on which child to choose was an interesting process for me. I found it quite difficult because I truly wanted to learn the most from this process as possible. Not only about this one individual child, but learning that will relate to future students in my classes. I knew that I wanted to choose someone that didn’t fall into the gifted/exceptional categories academically because in the future I don’t see myself working with kids that are outliers on either end of extremes, and didn’t feel I would learn what I wanted to by choosing someone from those categories. Once removing some of those kids, that also removed some of the obvious choices with quirky personalities! However, I find myself lucky to have a number of interesting and bold personalities in class and no one that seems to get overlooked or blend into the cracks.
I took a look at the kids that were right were they needed to be academically, however had some barriers to learning socially/emotionally/behaviorally etc. Who needed extra help in ways that I don’t currently know how to attend to? How do you support these types of kids and encourage them to be part of the group and follow norms without squashing their own unique personality? By asking myself these, among other questions, it became obvious that Archie was my choice. I see my future classrooms having at least a few children like him that have ADHD or similar learning issues. I want to know how to relate to these kids, encourage them, and support them. I also hope to learn how to help them manage their own behavior in the classroom to allow the other children to learn and not be a constant distraction which often leaves them feeling like an outsider or looked down upon by classmates.
Key questions about this child:
1. How severe is his ADHD disorder, when was it diagnosed, what is being done to help him compensate? What aspects of his learning are most affected by this disorder? 2. How to understand what life is like for him from his point of view? 3. What is the main cause for his inabilities to self regulate and his lack of impulse control? 4. Does his behavior change based on the time of day or day of the week? What about subject matter? 5. What are his strengths academically? Weaknesses?
6. Where is he developmentally in comparison to his classmates? National Norms? 7. Physical Development? (coordination, stamina, fine motor skills, rt/lt dominance, nutrition etc) 8. Mental/Cognitive Development? (multiple intelligences, level of executive function etc) 9. Does he have any other health issues? Possible digestive/constipation? 10. What is his background in regard to being adopted and does that have any bearing on his current issues? (ie. Drugs/alcohol birth parent? etc) 11. Does his sister have any similar behavioral or learning issues? 12. Who are his friends and how does he relate to them? Do any of his issues get in the way of those relationships?
13. How does his family & life outside of school affect his daily life in school? (ie extracurricular activities, consequences, family culture, parental expectations etc) 14. What language and questions are best when communicating with this child? What approaches work? What encourage him vs deflates him? 15. How does he function in large groups, small groups, pairs? 16. How does he respond when he’s faced with something difficult or makes mistakes? What motivates him to try harder? Participate?
Key questions for me to learn from this study:
1. What can we do as teachers to help him with these issues? 2. How can I connect with him and support him? 3. What can I learn from this child’s behavior and needs that I can use with other future students? 4. What exactly is ADHD and how does it affect a child’s learning? 5. How might I better support and motivate children with learning disorders? 6. When comparing students development in general, what factors influence their development?
Archie falls into the category of the Middle Years which occurs from the ages of six to twelve. This is a time when growth slows down in comparison with the periods preceding and following it (Stone & Church, 1984, p426). Archie is 10 years and 2 months old. He is one of the youngest children in his class, though his physical development seems to be consistent with that of a typical 10 year old. He is 56.5 inches tall and weighs 80 pounds. When directly compared to his 20 classmates, both male and female, his height falls in the middle of the pack at the 10th tallest and his weight slightly higher at the 15th heaviest. When compared to the national average growth charts in the United States, he falls into the 75th percentile of 10-year-old boys in both height and weight (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2000). His BMI, calculated at 17.6, places him into the 65th percentile for boys his age and is deemed a healthy weight (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012).
He has not hit his adolescent growth spurt yet, which is not expected until he turns twelve or thirteen. (see Appendix B for all growth charts) Overall, Archie’s general health appears good. Since the beginning of the school year, he has only missed one day of school due to being sick. This seems to be on par with others in his class. He has been clinically diagnosed with ADHD and is currently on medication for this issue. The medication is administered in the morning then again at lunchtime by our administrative staff. He has expressed the annoyance of having to take the medication during the day at school but said that it really helps him in class, so it’s worth it. Archie said he has been taking ADHD medication since he was in second grade and it has tremendously helped. In addition to the ADHD diagnosis, we have observed some potential digestive issues. A few times a week, Archie will disappear for long periods of time in the bathroom.
When asked if everything is all right, he says yes, however this is abnormal behavior for a 10 year old. It is understood that his younger sister who is in the 2nd grade does indeed have constipation issues, so we think that may be affecting Archie as well. Over the course of my 6 weeks of observations, this bathroom behavior continued which leads me to speculate that something is going on in regard to his digestion and elimination. The ADHD medication does not appear to affect his physical health, however his eating habits do seem to be affected. The majority of the children eat a snack every morning around 10am and Archie never does. I’ve asked him why and he says he isn’t hungry. He prefers to get on the classroom computers for the 15-minute duration of snack time. For lunch everyday, he brings a Vanilla Ensure along with a few other nutritious items. Ensure is a nutritional shake that has essential vitamins, minerals, fat, and protein, along with aiding in digestion and providing energy.
I was told he started bringing these last year to make sure that he was getting some nutrition during the day because he often times did not eat much. I also wonder if a secondary reason has to do with his digestive issues. He nearly always drinks the Ensure and occasionally eats the other items he brings. He is nearly always one of the first children done with his lunch and is eager to get on the computers to play a game. In addition to his daily snack and lunch habits, I have noticed that when offered snacks or sugary treats he never partakes. A few examples are during birthday celebrations or the harvest festival, both of which consist of potluck treats brought in by classmates. In addition, the music teacher says that he never takes the skittle reward claiming “he said he doesn’t need extrinsic motivation!” It seems that there is a clear link between his ADHD medication consumed during the day and his lack of appetite.
I am unsure of how he eats at home, however seeing that his height and weight fall into healthy categories, his current nutrition must be providing what he needs. Throughout the day, his energy levels are consistent, however his focus and attention seem to be best in the morning. Many times a day we gather the group into a circle. He tends to be fidgety and move a lot, so he is allowed to sit on a stool during these times (unlike other children who sit on the floor). These times seem to be the most difficult for him to manage impulse control, stay focused and suppress excess energy. These behaviors are consistent with his ADHD and there have been modifications in the classroom, such as the stool, to support him with that. His mood seems to stay consistently jovial throughout the day, and his bodily movements don’t seem to express this aspect of him. It appears his motor skills are appropriate for his age, though it is clear during observation that those skills are not nearly as advanced as many of his classmates.
His large motor skills show the most obvious discrepancy. His movements when running, kicking and throwing a ball are awkward, jerky and only mildly coordinated (See picture #8a in Appendix A). Children with ADHD are notoriously clumsy and tend to have problems with how they perceive their bodies in relation to space (Freed & Parsons, 1997, p64). His PE teacher says that he has never been that great at sports and often seems to exaggerate his bodily movements. She suspects some of the exaggeration is to be humorous and to distract from his lack of coordination in comparison to the other students. Energetically he seems to easily have the stamina to keep up with the sports and activities at hand, however, the interest in these activities seems to be lacking. This shows up not only in PE class but also on the playground at recess. Over many days of observing Archie at recess, never once did I see him participate in any kind of sport activity. Daily the other children are playing kickball, capture the flag, four square or tag, and he never chooses to join in.
He often chooses to hang out with the same 2 to 3 boys engaging in non-physical activities while talking and sitting on the picnic table, under the play structure or hanging from the chain loops. A few times I observed him reading by himself on the playground. I find it intriguing that his energy and body movements inside the classroom seem heightened, yet he does not feel the need to exert this energy outside of the classroom. Personal interest and aptitude in sports seems to play a role in this discrepancy. However, it leaves me curious as to what else might be influencing his physical behaviors and choices. In addition, it is said that during the middle years, motor skills blossom as children become proficient at many types of physical activities, skills and games (Stone & Church, 1984, p450). This also makes me wonder what he might be missing out on developmentally by not having interest in these physical activities.
His fine motor skills are on par with the other students in his class. Though his handwriting is not always perfect, when he takes the time, it is often much nicer than the other boys in the classroom. His written work, both writing and math, is legible, tends to be larger letters, and of average quality (see Appendix C ). His drawing and art skills are less advanced, more careless and not as refined as evidenced by picture #6b & 6b of his art project box in comparison to four other students (see Appendix A). His attention to detail in writing is much more pronounced than in drawing (see Appendix C, 4/5/6). He is right handed, holds the pencil appropriately and writes with adequate pressure.
He is sufficiently coordinated with scissors and math tools as well. There is no evidence that his fine motor skills are deficient, just not as advanced as some though on par or exceed others in his classroom. Overall, Archie’s physical development seems to fit the usual pattern of his age group. The differences I have observed are in his gross motor skills being less coordinated than others and his lack of interest in physical activities during recess and PE. I have not noticed any physical development issues that are affecting his learning or social interactions, though it is clear that his ADHD does have an impact on all areas of his life.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspects of Archie’s development are in both the social/emotional and cognitive realms. He is a generally happy child that comes to school everyday with a positive attitude and a smile on his face. He is caring and empathetic to others and is quite self-aware and reflective. He has the tendency to be quite goofy, often looking for ways to be the class clown and generate a laugh. Controlling his urges to speak out, move about or be appropriate in the moment is very difficult for him. You can see that he often acts first then thinks later. His impulses seem to get the best of him at times and often leads to him causing interruptions and getting into trouble. You can see that he is a good-natured boy and means well, however his low executive functioning skills make it difficult for him in the classroom. Luckily, his happiness seems to remain strong and resilient despite his social/emotional shortcomings.
All of this can be accounted for when viewed through the lens of a child with Attention Deficit Disorder. Therefore, we must first examine his cognitive development before addressing his social/emotional development. ADD is described as a neurological syndrome that has three primary symptoms: impulsivity, distractibility and hyperactivity. The American Psychiatric Association states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) that 3%-7% of school-aged children have ADHD (Freed & Parsons, 1997). Research shows that each year there is a drastic increase in reported cases and boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed. Why might this be? Children with ADD or ADHD (incorporating the hyperactivity component) are often easily distracted, find it difficult to listen, follow directions, trouble sitting still and control impulsive behaviors. It is not surprising that in the typical school system that a child with these issues would be looked at as a nuisance and difficult to teach.
Freed and Parsons (1997) say that the percentage is growing because of the cultural influences and failure of our educational system to understand and adequately address it [ADHD]. In their book, Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World, they make the argument that mostly gifted and virtually all children with ADD share the same learning style (Freed & Parsons, 1997, p17). They are often highly visual learners, with non-sequential processing and creative tendencies. Interestingly enough, Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory also addresses this discrepancy in learning behavior. Gardner’s multifaceted view of intelligence suggests a plurality in view of mind and intelligence, recognizing many different facets of cognition and their strengths and weaknesses (Gardner, 1993, p6). Our American school system has been set up to support left-brained learners who are strong at regurgitating information but weak at creative and problem solving skills. The ADHD child does not fit well into this rubric, which results in his disorder looked at as a problem as opposed to a gift. Both theorists suggest that there are students like Archie who think differently and possess strengths that are not explored or supported in the traditional school system of our left-brain focused society.
Luckily, we as educators are learning and expanding! As stated in The Compassionate Classroom, “The trust level rises markedly when students realize that a relationship based classroom teacher is supporting their common needs rather than ranking their academic differences.” (Hart, Hodson, 2004, p. 20) As I stated in my introduction, my decision to choose this child was in order to learn what I could do as a Teacher to help these non-traditional learners flourish in their education. Archie was formally diagnosed with ADHD in the second grade and began seeing the school psychologist at that time. His kindergarten/first grade teacher said they had been talking to the parents since kindergarten about the need for some intervention and possible learning issues, yet the parents were quite resistant up until the second grade. At that point, they did decide to get Archie evaluated and it was determined that he had ADHD and medication would help him.
Due to Archie being adopted, I found it intriguing that his biological sister also had ADHD. What is the hereditary link and how does adoption play a role? After further investigation, one study published by the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that out of 808 adopted children ages 4-18, 21% had enough behavioral symptoms to qualify for a diagnosis of ADHD. This is over twice the rate in the general population (Connell, P). They also say that 40% of children with ADHD will have a parent with ADHD, usually the father (Adesman, MD). Wow! It isn’t a stretch to start to see the link and why. ADHD greatly effects the executive function of an individual, so poor impulse control and accompanying behavior may account for the factors that make these numbers abnormally high. These adoptive children are exposed to more risk factors such as smoking, drinking, drugs, malnutrition, neglect, and unplanned pregnancy (Kunz, 2010).
Archie and his sister came from the same set of birth parents three years apart. It does not surprise me at all to think that these siblings were exposed to any number of risk factors seeing that the parents chose to give up one child and then got pregnant 3 years later and gave that one up as well! One of the areas most affected by ADHD is in the realm of executive function. In a 1990 study published in the medical journal Lancet, a discovery was found when using PET scans to measure the brain activity in 9 children with ADHD. The scans showed an abnormally low cerebral activity in the frontal areas of the brain responsible for concentration, language development, attention span, impulse control and logical, sequential reasoning. Conversely, they found higher activity in the occipital or rear lobe, which is the primary visual area of the brain (Freed & Parsons, 1997, p36). If the areas of the brain most affected by ADHD are associated with carrying out executive function, that would explain Archie’s behavior in many ways. His biggest issue is with impulse control.
He calls out answers and comments consistently throughout the day, and has a hard time waiting to be called on when he’s excited with an answer. His humor is often interjected at inappropriate times and if you ask him why he chose to do what he did, he often says he couldn’t help it and that he had to. It seems that in the moment, he doesn’t “think” before he acts. When in a group at circle his attention starts out on task but then diminishes quickly over time. If he is working independently he often needs to sit by himself in order to focus. I’ve observed that he participates in small groups pretty well, however if with certain kids he just goofs off. His strength seems to be in cognitive flexibility as he is able to problem solve, adjust to various settings and is socially aware of others and their point of view.
A great example of this perspective shift is when he is pulled aside for inappropriate behavior. Once removed from the initial impulsive moment he can easily see how his behavior was inappropriate or disrespectful to the class or teacher. Archie usually becomes apologetic and submissive, saying sorry and that it won’t happen again. I’ve been impressed by his mature response to these instances and level of respect shown. Many children might make excuse after excuse, however, he admits that it was a poor choice on his part and moves on. Theorist William Damon had an interesting six-stage theory on human moral reasoning and its relation to authority. It seems to me Archie falls into the fifth stage of special preparation where the superior is seen as superior and obedience is founded on respect and faith in the authorities concern (Stone & Church, 1984). Despite Archie’s ADHD diagnosis, he appears to be developing cognitively at his appropriate age level. In both 4th and 5th grade, his writing and reading assessments place him squarely performing at grade level (see Appendix D).
For the writing he was given a prompt to write a story, create a rough, then final draft. For reading, he was asked to read a short story out loud and respond to a series of comprehension questions. When comparing the two grade level evaluations, you can see the improvements made from year to year and the expansion of his abilities in these areas. If you take a look at his current writing samples, you can see his personal expression expressed and some really creative thinking, in addition to the accurate use of conventions (see Appendix D). Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. says that typical ten year olds combine ideas in short, choppy sentences but with enough punch to catch the readers interest (Ames, p42). This is evidenced by his personal narrative story on page 6 of Appendix C . He seems to enjoy math, actively participating and contributing in his 5th grade level math classes. His math worksheets and homework indicate that he has a solid knowledge of the curriculum being covered and can do it on his own in and outside of class (see Appendix C, 7/8/9/10).
He shows a similar eagerness and competency in Science, Spanish, Spelling and Technology. His music teacher says that he tends to goof off more than not and is awkwardly coordinated with instruments or drums in comparison to other children. However, he has expressed a love for music and is currently enrolled at The School of Rock in drum lessons. His parents said that he is doing quite well. I wonder if this individual musical instruction works for him better than in a whole class group environment. ADHD children have difficulty filtering out all the stimuli and their nervous system is on overload (Freed & Parsons, 1997, p55). If Archie feels more stimulation than other children, that can explain his difficulty in certain highly stimulating learning environments like music or PE. Middle years children typically turn their attention toward the world at large. Piaget describes this as the stage of concrete operations, during which children have limited capacity for abstract thought but can deal with objects quite fully (Stone & Church, 1984, p. 493).
Piaget believes that children construct their knowledge of the world though active manipulation with materials (Pawlina, 2011) Essentially, learning by experience. Archie is most engaged in school when he is actively “doing” something and problem solving. When administering the Piagetian tasks he showed competent levels of knowledge in laws of conservation, reversibility and demonstrated logical thinking. When asked why he knew what he knew, most of his responses were matter of fact and then expanded in very creative and unique ways. For example, in the water level comparison, he said they were the same amount because I didn’t take any water out….”unless it quickly evaporated” ha ha. Or when asked about the wood beads, he very animatedly exclaimed, “What do you mean? They’re ALL wood!!! So obviously more wood beads!” and laughed. Archie always has a humorous, clever remark to add in all his interactions.
Though not always appropriate, his sense of humor is one of his biggest strengths. This in addition to his creativity and ability to think beyond what he sees in front of him tells me that he has progressed beyond the concrete operational stage in ways that aren’t accounted for in Piaget’s tests. Critics of Piaget’s theory note that he does not account for other competencies a child has developed. I believe this is where Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory and Right and Left Brain Dominance theories realistically cover far more of the learning population in our world today. In taking a Right Brain, Left Brain dominance test (TPT, 2012) we concluded that Archie is a combination of both left and right brained. Though he is right handed and a right foot kicker, his eyes and ears are left dominant (see Appendix E).
We took some time to go over the typical characteristics of each and he claimed he identified with nearly all of the Right brain qualities. I then gave him The Connell Multiple Intelligence Questionnaire for Children (Connell, J.) which is a series of statements you are to check off if it describes you (Appendix ). Archie scored highest in the areas of Word Smart, Nature Smart and People smart. These categories correspond to Gardner’s labels Linguistic, Naturalistic and Interpersonal intelligence (Zeiger, 2012). This does not surprise me! In observation, it is evident that Archie is extremely creative with his words, both written and oral, he has a charismatic, humorous, and sensitive personality in addition to showing interest in science, geography and nature in general.
Archie’s social and emotional development seem to reflect similar advances as his cognitive development. Being that your happiness is generally based on your experience of the world around you, it is clear that Archie is at a happy place in life. Ames (1998) says that a typical ten-year-old has generally reached an enjoyable state of equilibrium. They love life and share it enthusiastically with those near and dear (p21). This truly seems the case for him as he comes to school every day in a pleasant mood, a smile on his face, eagerly interacting with classmates and has only complained about not liking homework! In his earlier years at Friends School, the school psychologist started to work with Archie to build his low self-esteem, ease anxiety and self regulate impulse control. Right off the bat she implemented play therapy, allowing him to choose materials that help him express himself. He chose a lot of mastery kinds of games that he was able to solve or figure out and this made him feel better about himself. She says he was always a well-intentioned kid, he just doesn’t think before he acts.
This behavior got him into a lot of trouble in 3rd grade, so she worked with him on better control and choosing which children to be around. At this time he had only been formally diagnosed with ADHD and on medication less than one year. She said, “Once his bio-chemistry was corrected, he had to go back to learn what the other children had already learned about choosing friends, making good decisions and controlling impulses. “ It makes sense that these areas of social finesse are behind those of his classmates and affect his interactions to this day. Social difficulties often accompany special needs learners and giftedness, I see this clearly represented in both Archie and other students with these labels in my classroom. Regardless of his past, I see that classmates really seem to enjoy his humor and contributions. No doubt his caring and empathetic nature, along with that humor, are his strengths socially.
When administering the Piagetian tasks, I asked him about how he thought 5th grade was going. With a big smile he said “fine, I like it.” I proceeded to ask about his friends and who was a best friend. Many times he said “I have lots of friends”, but no mention of a best friend. Louise Bates Ames state’s in her book Your Ten-to-Fourteen-Year-Old that some ten-year-old boys have a “gang” of friends whom they seem to like about equally: “To me they aren’t best friends. They’re all my friends” (p262). In my observations I noticed that Archie gravitates to specific friends during recess, while chatting in the classroom during transition or in the morning before classes. These friends are nearly always boys. He initiates conversation often in these circumstances; most times extremely enthusiastic about whatever it is he would like to share. On the playground, it’s most common for him to choose 2-3 boys to hang out with and have conversations throughout the entire recess, preferring that to any sport or activity.
The fact that he only chooses to socialize with other boys is consistent for his age group. Nearing the end of the middle years, the majority of girls and boys are not interested in the opposite sex…yet. However, they are aware that boy-girl relationships lie ahead of them (Ames, 1989, p38). Erikson describes the crisis of this period as industry vs. inferiority saying that children are aware and eager to acquire information about sex (Stone & Church, 1984, p451) Though I am not there for their sexual education classes on Fridays, I did observe during a field trip that Archie was joking around about those types of relationships, teasing a few of the girls, and making jokes of bladder infections. It was good natured and harmless, this indicates to me that he is aware of the future potential, though clearly not ready for it himself. Play touches on every aspect of development and learning (Rogers & Sawyer, 1988, pvii).
Due to his common choices at recess, I have not adequately been able to observe Archie’s choices of play. It is common for this age group to move from symbolic play into an interest in games with rules. This transition period roughly corresponds to Piaget’s concrete operational period of cognitive development (Rogers & Sawyer, 1988, p20). An exception in Archie’s recess choices was a time for a few days where there was a group of about 20 children of all ages who created a game using the used tires on the playground. I watched the interaction for two days in a row and was quite impressed with the level of creativity they all displayed in the rules of this game and how well they self monitored it’s progression. Archie was actively involved as one of the referees. He did not ever participate in the competitive aspect of the races, but immensely enjoyed being the keeper of the rules, telling others where to go, start the race and call the winner.
He even ran inside once to get a camera to capture the “photo finish” (see picture#3b in Appendix A). Piaget outlined two criteria for games with rules: competition and mutually agreed upon or formal rules to govern the activity (Rogers & Sawyer, 1988, p50). This playground game certainly fits that criterion. I think it is interesting to note that he chose a role where there was no competitive motivation, but allowed him to be in charge and step into a leadership role. I loved seeing this for Archie because leadership is an area I don’t think he has much experience with. This game gave him the opportunity for success! Research tells us that play contributes to learning and cognitive maturity in so many ways, I do wonder what impact the lack of play has on his social development. When working in groups, Archie is often supportive of the others and contributes, however is rarely the leader. Often he will get off task and interject humor becoming a disrupter.
This happens especially when grouped with certain other boys in the room. He seems to work better independently or with one other partner, especially when he is interested and there are hands on activities. Though he knows who these students are that trigger his inappropriate behavior, he still needs to work on making better choices. Therefore, it is paramount to help him facilitate good choices when choosing partners or groups. We actively remind him and others to make good choices, and if that is not displayed I quietly pull him aside and ask if that was his best choice of partner or behavior. He immediately get’s a sheepish grin saying “no”, looking down in humility. In any intervention of behavior that I’ve observed with another adult, myself included, he is consistently respectful and more than willing to listen, including the ability to quickly admit when his is wrong.
Ames (1989) says “Ten’s usually respect the teacher and often accept her word as law even more than that of their parents.” (p41) Overall, Archie is a well-integrated, happy child who is learning and developing socially and emotionally. He gets along with others, displays caring and empathy, is happy with the friends he has and enjoys a positive experience of school. Any shortcoming he has is easily explained by the affect ADHD has on his executive functioning skills and general maturity. It has been helpful to learn that I need to focus on helping Archie implement tactics that help him make better choices in the future, and not focus on bad behavior. Clearly, his impulse control gets the better of him, so any way to help him to increase his awareness around others is imperative.
Archie is a great kid, with lots of potential along with some unique learning needs. His sense of humor and excitement is contagious, making him quite a likable child. He has the combination of many factors influencing all aspects of his development. It is exciting to hear the feedback of previous teachers and therapists; his development has come a long way since entering the school in preschool. He has shown consistent improvement in his academic abilities from year to year and marked improvement from second grade until fifth since being medicated for ADHD. In my observation of him in the classroom, it seems that his behavior has much to do with his level of interest he has in the topic and who he is surrounded by. We are actively looking for ways to help him succeed and give him the right environment to promote his learning. Giving children many modalities of input and experience is key to tapping into all the intelligences of both right and left-brain learners.
Visual, verbal, kinesthetic, and artistic aspects must be incorporated into lessons to support all learners. Archie has consistently displayed higher than average intelligence when he is actively engaged and fully understands what is expected of him. It has been such a privilege to take a closer look at someone else’s life in an attempt to learn them better so that you may then be better. He has helped me create empathy for him and others that have learning impediments like ADHD, poor executive functioning skills or social/emotional deficits. It is fascinating to look back and review my initial questions posed for this study and see that I have been able to answer them all to some degree! Not only do I have a greater understanding of this specific child and his development, but an increased knowledge of what is going on for students with special needs and how I may help them.
As teachers, our understanding of where a student is at and how to get them to the next level is essential to our children’s learning. Vygotsky says that through observation, we can know a child’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) (Pawlina, 2011). In this space of what a child can do independently and what they can do with adult support, lies the opportunity of learning and development. This child study has provided that opportunity for acute observation and questioning of what a child with ADHD and right brained learning tendencies needs. We as educators need to adapt to the needs of our individual learners. Archie is lucky to be in a school where social emotional needs are a strong focus in the classroom. This allows him the support he needs to accommodate his reduced executive function skills, yet the space to express his creativities and unique personality. Gardner says in his 1993 book Multiple Intelligences:
In my view, the purpose of school should be to develop intelligences and to help people reach vocational and avocational goals that are appropriate to their particular spectrum of intelligences. People who are helped to do so, I believe, feel more engaged and competent, and therefore more inclined to serve the society in a constructive way” (p9). I completely agree with Gardner and see myself as a liaison to learning. Maybe Alexandra K. Trenfor said it best “The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see”.
Adesman, Andrew (2012) Expert advice: ADHD and Adoption. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from http://www.parents.com/parenting/adoption/parenting/adhd-adopted-child/
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Ames, Louise Bates. (1988) Your ten-to fourteen-year-old. New York, NY: Dell Publishing.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2000, May 30). Retrieved October 21, 2012, from http://www.cc.gov/growthcharts
Connell, J.D. The Connell Multiple Intelligence Questionnaire for Children. Scholastic Teaching Resources Retrieved October 21, 2012, from http://printables.scholastic.com/
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