Understanding how kids with special needs learn

Mona Delahooke explains how help a child who is struggling with challenging behaviors.
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Understanding how kids with special needs learn

We want to look upstream to the causes of challenging behaviors because behaviors can be thought of as responses. When we think about upstream, that is anything that could have contributed to the child's actual behavior, what we see. For example, a confusing, challenging behavior in a patient of mine was that a little boy would be bumping into other kids a lot and he would get in trouble for not keeping his body to himself and kind of bumping into other kids and being silly. What was happening is that this child had a need deep within his body to map out where his body was in space. It's called seeking proprioceptive input. So he would bump into other kids and occasionally drape himself over other kids to feel where his body was in space. It was what we call a sensory-motor need, but he was being disciplined for it. It wasn't a purposeful misbehavior, what was upstream to that was a sensory-motor need. We really want to understand and make sure especially for children with special needs that we're not disciplining them for upstream causes which are a response to a need deep within their body and not purposeful misbehavior. This is where we want to help teachers and everybody on the team understand the difference between a purposeful misbehavior and something that would be a response to the body's needs.

Mona Delahooke explains how help a child who is struggling with challenging behaviors.


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Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.

Child Psychologist

Mona M. Delahooke, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist specializing in the development of infants, children, and their families. Endorsed by the State of California as a Reflective Practice Mentor, she works with multi- disciplinary teams supporting children with developmental or emotional delays across the country. She is a faculty member/trainer of the Profectum Foundation and the Early Intervention Training Institute (EITI) of the Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic. Currently in private practice in Arcadia, California, she consults with parents, preschools, and school districts in the areas of developmental screening, assessment and intervention for young children and their families. Dr. Delahooke maintains a blog at www.thevisibleparent.com, where she regularly posts supportive information for parents and professionals.

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