Sunday, April 1, 2012

Don't Laugh at Me

I recently evaluated a little kiddo who was a rather interesting case. Here's an excerpt of the email I sent to the receiving psychologist at the building that Y will be moving to:
Y is an interesting kiddo. He's a very caring, sweet young fella with impulse control issues. Although he's sensitive and very eager to please adults, he's kind of on another planet. He has a great rote understanding of expectations, but his social skills are really low. He doesn't understand how to engage peers appropriately, and because he's so impulsive, he might hit, poke, or become a nuisance because he doesn't know any better. He hit really high on measures of ADHD and Autism; it was hard for me to tease out which was more handicapping. 
I recommended a classification of Other Health Impaired due to the significant impulsive and inattentive behaviors, characteristic of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and made note in Y's file to monitor the symptoms of Autism, as a change in classification may be necessary as he gets older. We found placement for him in a 12:1+1 class.

I also included in my email to my psychologist friend a great kiddo story, which I shall share in long form with you now. Get ready!

Y came down last week after having a negative interaction with a peer. He sat down with Ms. B (my fantastic co-worker and co-facilitator of last year's social skills/anger management group) to talk the situation out, discuss choices that were made, and better choices for the future. Y explained that a peer had physically maligned him in some way (might've been a hit or kick, I don't remember), and Ms. B asked Y what he said when it happened. Y, in his rather precious impulsive robot stutter, began to sing:

Don't laugh at me.
Don't call me names.
Don't get your pleasure from my pain.

We blinked, smiled, hid chuckles and "awws" behind our hands (well, we didn't want to laugh at him, did we?). We were rather surprised and amused. You kind of had to be there, but it's now one of those things that we bring up out of the blue when everyone is silent and productive, causing the entire office gleeful merriment. 

Turns out, "Don't Laugh at Me" is a song by Peter, Paul, and Mary. Our music teacher from last year taught the younger grades the song during one of her folky guitar sing-a-long sessions. And, as we discovered in a post-lunch stroke of genius, it also turns out that I had a CD with a copy of the song on it, much to the amusement of my office mates. They did, indeed, laugh at me.

Early last year, I ordered a copy of the Don't Laugh at Me Program from Operation Respect. It's a great concept, with a VHS tape and CD of lessons and pro-respect music, as well as a paper lesson guide with good ideas for small groups. What the program lacks, personally, is application for the urban setting in which I work. Unfortunately, Peter, Paul, and Mary songs will not be relateable or effective for the majority of my little ones, and certainly not many people of any demographic over the age of 7. However, it would definitely be possible for me to pick and choose a few lessons if I wanted to use them in small groups. Plus, it's free, so go check it out!

What's that? You want to hear Y's sweet jam? How could I say no!

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