Saturday, January 18, 2014

Natural Consequences

I am learning so much at my job.  I've written previously about what a difficult transition it's been.

I work with kids with some hard-core emotional and behavior issues, who don't respond to normal punishment techniques.  At all.  They don't care about school or good grades.  A suspension is a welcome day off.

So we practice something called "natural consequences."  There isn't much disciplinary action that goes on because it won't deter the negative behaviors anyway, but somehow these kids have to be made to realize that the real world isn't going to tolerate the way they act, talk, and behave.

It's not a way I'm used to thinking. I'm used to a stricter, rule-based environment.  It's taken me a long time to get used to the fact that actions that would get a kid kicked out of a typical school are not exactly tolerated here, but are dealt with in a much more forgiving manner.  It's a place where negative behaviors are recognized as caused by biological disabilities, in most cases.

While we accept that much of these kids' behavior and lack of impulse control is due to a disability, we also have to teach them how to survive in the outside world.  A world where they will find there are natural consequences to their behaviors, whether or not they are in control of them.

A student who was given a bit of freedom to say, go outside for a short walk, and who threw litter on the ground and tried to knock over a street sign won't be able to go out and walk the next time he wants to.  And it's explained to him in a very calm, nonblaming manner.  I might say something like "well, the last time we walked, your actions were inappropriate, and so now we'll have to stay in the rest of the day.  We can try going out again tomorrow."

It can be very frustrating.  But these kids have shown time and again they have no respect for authority and no motivation whatsoever to do right and follow rules.

Sometimes our plan of doling out natural consequences works; sometimes it seems to have no effect.  We stick to the consistency of this routine, though, and hopefully it finds a niche in these kids' brains and sticks.

I love it though.  It's shown me one more example of how diverse the world is, and how much I don't understand about different kinds of people.  I thought I knew the Special Needs World because I'm a part of it, but even within that world there are variances so wide, we have no idea what each other might be dealing with.  I was completely clueless as to how much of what we define as simply "criminal" behavior is actually caused by a brain disorder.  As I get to know these kids I can see the incredible lack of control they have over their emotions and impulses, and I'm drawn to help them.  I see the frustration and anxiety they live with almost every moment of the day, and I'm awed and inspired when they manage to overcome their own deficits.

And I want other people to understand.  You know that impulse to bite your fingernails?  Or to twirl your hair?  What if that impulse was instead to break things?  What if your fingers itched to tear books?  Be thankful that your impulses are controllable, or at least acceptable in society.  Not everyone is so lucky.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Labels

#youmightbeanautismparentif 2012 in review 9/11 memories ABA therapy Acceptance acronyms advocacy affection aggression AJ Aliza Aliza the playwright All I really need to know... Alphabitty Moments American Girl Ann Coulter antibullying anxiety anxiety in parents of children with special needs apple orchard apps for autism AppSmitten Arbaclofen Arbitrary Thoughts ARC autism autism brushing autism portrayed in TV shows Autism Shines awareness backyard band baseball bath toys beds behavior problems being tall Birthday Boys biting blog change blog hop blogging books bottles brushing bubbles Burnsville Fire Muster bus Cabin Fever in Minnesota candy Carly Fleischmann Carly's Voice cats cats and dogs chewys Chicago childcare for special needs children childhood Children's Museum chocolate Christmas Church circumin clinical trials Clonidine CNN Hero of 2011 coffee communication comparisons computer Conference cost of special education Courage Center Curcumin daddy dance dance competition dance moms Dental surgery dentist developmental milestones diagnosis diapers Diego Disability Day dogs Dolphin Tale Doomsday Preparation Dora Doritos drug trials DVD player early intervention earrings Easter ECSE Parent Retreat electronic gadgets electronics Everything I need to know... Evil Overlord fall falling asleep at school families family fashion fear Featured Feel Good Friday field trip fireworks first day of school Flash Gordon Food Chronicles food issues in Fragile X and autistic children forms forts Fragile Face of God Fragile X Fragile X advocate Fragile X and autism Fragile X Awareness Day Fragile X carriers Fragile X in the news Fragile X presentation Fragile X statistics Fragile X Writers friends fundraiser for Fragile X funniest Funny Gabrielle Giffords Galveston games getting carsick Girls' Night Out Giving Spirit glasses global warming going home Good Morning Great Quotes guest blogs guest post haircuts Halloween hearing test Heaven is for Real hippotherapy holidays Holland Holly home life homework hotel hugging human behavior hyperactivity IEP Meeting IEPs in the news inclusion inspiration integration iPad iPad apps iPad apps for autism IQ testing Jack Jablonski January First Joke journal entry kids with Fragile X and animals Kindergarten Kindle kisses language study learning to talk leaves lemonade stand Lily Little Einsteins losing teeth Mad Gab makeup mall Mall of America marcia braden McDonalds media sensationalization medications Melatonin Miami MIND Institute Minnesota Bloggers Conference minocycline Miracle League monkeys mosquito bites Mother's Day movies MVMOM Used Clothing and Equipment Sale nail trimming names naughtiness neighbors nicknames nightmares normal off topic one thing leads to another online dating Operation Beautiful oral sensory orphan drug act other bloggers Our Wedding outside overstimulation panic attacks parade parental stress Parenthood park Partners in Policymaking penicillin people with disabilities pets pharmacy fun photography Photoshop picnic Pictures pinching pink shirt Pinterest playing outside playing with toys poem politics poop potty training Presents protecting autistic children rash reading to kids research Retreat riding a bike Robin Williams Roger Ebert routine RSS feed RUSH University San Diego Sandy Hook Elementary Santa schedules school school bus school notes school pictures screaming self image self-checkouts sensory Seroquel siblings with developmental delays sick kids sippy cups sleep smile snow pictures Snowstorm social situations speaking of the unspeakable special education special education evaluation special needs kids special needs parents Special Needs Ryan Gosling Special Olympics spelling spoon feeding spring break staying positive stimming Strep STX209 Stylish Blog Award suicide summer Sunday School Sundays sunshine survival mode swimming talking talking to kindergarteners Target teacher's aides Teeth brushing Tegretol Temple Grandin Ten Commandments textbook case of Fragile X thankful thanksgiving that window/mirror thing The Autism Store The R Word the rapid passage of time The Right Things to say to parents of special needs children The Santa Experience the Shedd Aquarium The Twin Thing The Wiggles therapeutic horseback riding therapy This is Autism topless trampoline traveling with special needs children TV twins with special needs Twitter typical Fragile X characteristics typical kids typing vacation Vacation Bible School video games videos volunteering Waisman Center water play way-back-Wednesday What I've Learned What's your song? when a special needs parent dies Wiggles Wii games Winner Winner Chicken Dinner winter wonder Wonder Pets Wordful Wednesday Wordless Wednesday Words of Wisdom World Autism Awareness Day YMCA You Tube Zack Zoloft zoo animals

Fragile X Blogs