Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Excuse Me, I Believe You Have My Chair

The last week before February break was an uber test-a-thon for me. I was on a mad dash to finish testing four kiddos before the time off, with the aspiration to work on reports over break, and be ahead of schedule for my March 1st CSE meetings (ha).

The last IQ test I had to give before sweet freedom was with a fifth grade kiddo with comorbid Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. He was being evaluated as an initial eligibility case, due to continued behavioral and academic difficulty within an Integrated Co-Teaching classroom as a general education student. During cognitive testing, he was very cooperative (achievement testing was utterly the opposite, woah), but highly active. We tested in an unused classroom/meeting room, and upon entry, he immediately launched himself at the spinning office chair. Normally I take it, but I gave him the caveat that he could sit in it as long as he was appropriate and able to get the work done. He agreed.

No lie, the kid spun himself in a circle for the duration of the IQ test, except when he had to look at pictures or write. He would lean back with his eyes close and use one foot to keep the chair spinning. Normally, I'd put the kabosh on that immediately, because I need kids to focus to get accurate test results. You'd think he'd be totally off-task and infatuated with the chair, but he continued to answer questions very eloquently and quickly. Believe it or not, when he wasn't moving, he actually had a harder time concentrating!

At the end of the assessment, I was gathering up my things and making small talk with him, and he stood up, remarking, "Oh. I think I'm going to puke."

...really? Really? You think? Kid, you just spun for an hour and a half, I'm surprised you didn't wear a hole in the floor, let alone lose your bland and ambiguous school lunch.

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  1. Awesome sauce! I love when kids are totally surprised by the consequences of their own silliness!

    On a different note, was there anything in your observation of this student that indicated that he might have sensory needs that are not being met? Just curious because I had a similar student who was so destructive to all matter around him, he was nigh impossible to contain.

    I am also curious as to how differently the student looked during achievement testing.

  2. Oh kiddos. Yeah, I definitely think he had some sensory concerns on top of some uber ADHD, but I think it can sometimes be hard to tease out which is which. The fact that I noticed he worked better when he was moving than when I asked him to be still or he had to come to the table to look at something speaks to the sensory needs, I think.

    As for the achievement testing, I saw the ODD side come out, with a side of high test anxiety. Where he was nonplussed by the timer on IQ testing, he had a meltdown when I had to time academic fluency tasks. He was punching his paper, putting his head down, whining that things were "too hard," and refusing/shutting down. He didn't respond much to encouragement, reasoning, and explanation. It was a big deviation, and his scores were definitely impacted somewhat by the behavior. On IQ measures he was scoring average-low average (80-91), he was scoring very low on most ELA achievement measures (62-68; math was in the 80s).

  3. As a parent of a kid who sounds just like this, this sounds completely sensory related. I would bet money that after a period of sessions with an OT (who specializes on sensory issues) you would see a totally different kid. With my daughter, her vestibular system was so out of sync that she needed to spin in order to concentrate and to just feel "right" (her term). This book may be a great resource

  4. Thanks for the insight, Anonymous! I wish that our building OT personnel could target sensory concerns, but they generally focus on more "typical" OT deficits, like fine motor and writing needs. I would love to see how some sensory focused OT would help this kiddo. I may bring up this at his CSE meeting at the end of the week, thanks!


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