Tag Archives: behavior management

May I Have Your Undivided Attention? Fidget Spinners

 

Let’s just install ceiling fans in every classroom.

Ban Fidget Spinners with Bob Doman of NACDFidget spinners—what a wonderful invention—as though our children need something else to distract them. Let’s give children mini ceiling fans to carry around to help them pay attention—what a great idea! If spinning things help children concentrate, let’s just install ceiling fans in every classroom.

I have been arguing against giving kids on the Autism Spectrum fidgets for years. Do some kids on the spectrum like and want fidgets? Absolutely—they’re addicted to them. A fidget feeds their sensory addictions and helps keep them seated in their classroom chair when what is being presented quite possibly doesn’t fit them and goes on way past their auditory attention span. You attend to what you can process and if the input doesn’t fit your ability to process the information or what is being presented doesn’t match your knowledge/educational base, then you don’t pay attention to it (sadly this describes most children in most classrooms). Unfortunately, the operational definition of educational inclusion for children with developmental problems has really just come down to the kids sitting in desks and not making a fuss while surrounded by typical children. The special needs children then leave the classroom for a resource room where the instruction is hopefully more targeted and appropriate for the child. So, enter the fidget. The theory is that the fidgets help the children on the spectrum pay attention and avoid being distracted. As far as I know, there has been no good research to substantiate this, but I would suspect that if the research were directed at whether a fidget would keep a child sitting for longer periods the results would quite likely be positive. If, however, the study was testing whether the children learned more or if it helped their sensory issues, I believe the answer would be no. There has, however, been extensive research on the effects of any and all distractions while driving (paying attention) and the conclusion is that they are all bad. Try driving and watching your fidget spinner spin. You can give it another twirl if it stops and tell me if it makes you a safer driver.

One of the first things we recommend parents who have children on the spectrum do for their children who engage in visual DSAs (Debilitating Sensory Addictive behaviors), is to remove or a least not turn on any ceiling fans. As most parents with children on the spectrum with visual issues know, the kids will stare at ceiling fans endlessly if given the opportunity. None of these parents will tell you that their child is paying better attention or is more present while staring at the fan. The fan takes them away—it doesn’t help them focus or concentrate. Most visual stims or DSAs involve the child playing with and stimming with their peripheral vision. Your peripheral vision picks up movement and edges, both of which are stimulated in a negative fashion by ceiling fans, fidgets, waving fingers, staring at edges, etc. Fidget spinners not only distract with the visual aspect, but also with an audio and a tactile component—they hum and vibrate while they spin. So let’s have the child’s brain distracted with extraneous visual, auditory and tactile garbage and simultaneously help build a new addiction.

I’m sure to hear from “professionals” out there, particularly occupational therapists who just discovered that children have sensory issues, but having worked with Autistic children for fifty years and having learned how to help normalize their sensory issues, I am confident that feeding their addictions is not in their best interest in the long term. If the motivation and goal is to keep them content, in their seats and quiet at the cost of their development, then. . .

Now, enter the logic that begins with the erroneous premise that if fidgets help kids on the Spectrum pay attention, then perhaps they will help typical kids pay attention. Sadly many, if not most, children have successfully learned not to pay attention already and the last thing they need is another distraction. Parents and teachers often mistake the child looking in your general direction and apparently listening as attending. At best, we often mistake listening for paying attention. Listening is something you do when you’re watching your favorite sporting event and the game is tied with seconds to go and someone talks to you about the weather. Listening is something you do when you’re talking to someone on the phone while you’re checking your email. Ask the child who appears to be “listening” to repeat the last sentence of something you just said or read to them. When we talk about learning we are talking about changing the brain and to change the brain we need to put in specific appropriate input with sufficient frequency, intensity and duration. Of the three components, intensity is the most important. Intensity means focus and focus means that I have your undivided attention. We need to help teach children to focus and give undivided attention, otherwise parents and teachers are largely talking to themselves.

If we want to be proactive and improve focus and attention, we need to do a better job of targeting the input to fit the child. Teaching algebra to a child who still is struggling with basic math isn’t going to work. Speaking in paragraphs to a child who has difficulty following a two- or three-step direction doesn’t work. Making many children sit in a chair and attend for more than ten minutes without letting them get up and move around a bit generally doesn’t work either. We need to pay attention to the individual and teach to their knowledge level so they have some context within which to associate the information. We need to be aware of the child’s processing ability (short –term and working memory) and target the structure of the input to fit them. We need to provide educational environments as free of extraneous distractions as possible—not contribute to them—and we need to focus upon the neurodevelopmental foundation and help build the child’s ability to learn, communicate and function.

Many children across the county are learning not to attend, not be present and sadly are learning that learning itself isn’t fun, isn’t exciting and that it doesn’t work for them.

Ban Fidget Spinners!

—Bob

What Do Behavior Development, Social Skills and Maturity All Have in Common?

NACD Blog Behavior, Social, Maturity & Splinter SkillsA great deal of time and effort is spent attempting to teach children, particularly children with developmental issues, skills that will assist in their daily life. Many of these attempts are actually attempts to teach splinter skills. Splinter skills are specific skills that do not generalize because they are not developmentally based. To generalize means that something taught specifically can be used and incorporated throughout overall function. If something cannot be generalized, it has very limited value and more often than not fades away. Whenever possible we want to dedicate the majority of our time and efforts to building the neurological foundation.

As children advance in their global development and function, they will generally acquire a vast array of associated skills commensurate with the advanced global/cognitive function. If we look at children from birth to five, where the development is typically the fastest, we see that the children over the course of each year acquire a broad range of new abilities that cover the full range of human function. These include the development of receptive and expressive language, gross and fine motor functions and skills, along with social interaction. In typical development, we essentially start with an infant who cannot control any part of their body and cannot interpret anything they see, hear, feel, smell or taste. In five short years, this same individual can run, jump, climb, take care of most and possibly all of their personal needs, carry on a conversation and interact socially. They have knowledge of everything from the name of an insect to the quarterback for the Rams.

Most of what the typical child has learned they were not specifically taught—they have learned what they have simply because they could. As their brains have developed—as their processing, short-term memory, working memory, and executive function have improved—their brains have simply been able to absorb more, understand more and do more.

If we are intelligently and wisely teaching a child or a young adult, whether they are two or twenty-two, we are teaching them things that are commensurate with their global neurological function or maturity. If we are attempting to teach specific skills that are not appropriate for their global function, we are actually attempting to teach splinter skills. Splinter skills are very specific situational skills that do not generalize. To some degree this can be done, but rarely well or quickly and rarely does it stick.

Many of the functions that we would love to see change, the appropriate behavior social skills we would be delighted to see emerge and the maturity that we hope for, are really reflections of what is termed executive function. If we understand executive function and how it develops and is built, we can dedicate more of our time to what works and not so much to what doesn’t.

If we are to be successful in helping a child develop and gain foundational skills including behavior, social skills, and maturity, we must first establish the neurological and cognitive foundation.

And now for the rest of the story…

—Bob

Related Articles

Discussion of the Relevant Perception, Structure, and Application of NACD’s Model of Working Memory and Cognition (NACD.org)

He’s My Best Friend’s Boy

NACD BlogYesterday I saw one of my favorite moms. She’s a great, dedicated mom who works very hard with her two boys. Her oldest boy has some significant problems, but he keeps progressing and is on most days her “easy” one. His little brother is very bright, doing great, and tends to drive her nuts. Because he is bright and still a little guy, he still does little kid things that get her; and more often than not, they are designed to do exactly that–get her attention. If asked the following questions, her answers would all be “yes”: Is he smart? Yes. Is he a nice kid? Yes. Is he a good kid? Yes. Is he a sweet kid? Yes. Then why should such a child drive her nuts? If he were her best friend’s boy, and not hers, she would love being around him and he wouldn’t drive her to distraction.

Parents, sometimes you need to take a step back and look at your kids through some new eyes and gain a little perspective. Most of us as parents take our jobs seriously, and often that means we try to give our children feedback on everything they do, all of the time, and particularly, anything and everything they do wrong. It is sadly all too easy to ignore all those things they do right.

Imagine how you would treat your best friend’s child. Your best friend is important to you, and if you were to have their child with you for a day, they would be important to you as well; and so you would want to protect them, take care of them, and give them good feedback. If during your watch they were to do something dangerous or harmful, you would give them feedback; but if they were doing little irritating things, you most likely wouldn’t even particularly notice and very likely wouldn’t comment if you did. You wouldn’t want your remarks and “helpful” input to be perceived as picking on them. You wouldn’t want them to go home and report to their mother that you don’t like them and that you were mean, and that being at your house wasn’t fun. But is it really okay or helpful to be on your own kids all of the time? No, it isn’t.

Most of the time we would all be better off treating our own kids as if they were “your best friend’s boy.” Nagging isn’t providing quality feedback, and getting on them all of the time is not quality feedback. Nagging just creates a negative environment, destroys your credibility, and makes your child wish he or she were someplace else.

He’s my best friend’s boy.

What do you think?

 

Dateline 2025: ADHD

Today in a joint announcement, the President, in conjunction with the US Department of Education, the AMA (American Medical Association), the NEA (National Education Association), and the PMDC (Parents for More Drugs Consortium, which is sponsored by the IDP – International Drug Producers Consortium-and BLP-Better Lives Through Pharmacology) were proud to announce that they have reached their joint goal to help every child in the nation receive an appropriate diagnosis and, through federal legislation and mandated funding, to provide every child with a minimum of two mind/brain-altering drugs. This project, which was begun in 2015, was an effort to have all children with ADHD “appropriately” identified and treated with amphetamines. It should be stated that the government wanted strict guidelines for the diagnosis: children needed to meet the criteria of not liking school and preferring screen time to reading. As part of the initial project, it was also realized that legislation would need to be passed to mandate drug administration over parental objections. The projected number at the time this was initiated was a conservative 65% of the school population. Consistent with what has now been proven through “research,” this number is now close to 85%, with the majority of these students also fitting into the WAS, Work Avoidance Spectrum, which was discovered through the ground breaking work of YAGI, You’ve All Got IT Laboratories. WAS has reached and surpassed all projections and has now reached epidemic proportions, touching nine out of ten of our children. 

In today’s New York Times (read the article here and watch the video below) there was an alarming article about the rise in ADHD diagnoses and the number of children being medicated for it. The article states that one in five high school age boys have been given the “medical” diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. 6.4 million children between 4 and 17 have been “diagnosed.” This is for an imaginary disease that was only created in the 1980s. This is not only shocking but also ridiculous and horrifying.

You can’t get a blood test to identify ADHD; they can’t do a chromosome test; they can’t do a biopsy to make this “medical diagnosis.” They might run through a checklist that includes questions about attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. To see the actual “test,” go to http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/diagnosis.html. Often the reality is that a teacher might suggest that you ask your doctor about ADHD, and then you tell your doctor that the teacher told you to ask, and he takes out his prescription pad.

The issue of using a medical model for developmental problems is of huge concern. We have seen thousands of children who have come to us with such diagnoses, all of whom are “NORMAL,” disease-free kids who, like everyone else, have some developmental issues. Put together a few common issues like poor auditory processing and a bad diet, just to mention a couple of many such issues, and—BANG!— you have a disease. No, you do not—you have an auditory processing issue and eat pancakes for breakfast. Giving you a label of a disease and drugs is not going to address your auditory processing or dietary issues. Ah, but most kids pay better attention when given the drugs, they say. Guess what? Most everyone pays better attention when using the drugs. Perhaps we all should take more drugs? But, then again, they have side effects; and gee, I wonder what they are going to find out about what long-term effects use of these drugs produce? Could there be effects on future generations? If you buy these drugs on the street, they are called all kinds of things, like “speed” and “uppers.” These drugs are psycho-motor stimulants, which can produce wakefulness, decrease appetite, and have a whole slew of side effects. But they do not fix what is broken or undeveloped. I just took a couple of minutes and put together a preliminary list of different correctable factors that could lead to this wonderful disease label if you would like to review it, scroll to the bottom of this article. To be fair, there are some kids who are bouncing off the walls who need medication while the broken pieces are being addressed; but that is a very, very tiny percentage. This trend to create symptomatic labels and medicate our children is truly horrifying. Doctors do not have methodologies to address developmental problems; doctors do not treat developmental problems; schools and teachers do not address and treat developmental problems. Schools complain and doctors write prescriptions. I wish I could get more people to listen and to understand what great potential we all have. We all have the potential to do better, we all have the ability to do better, we just need the opportunity to do better. And at NACD we so enjoy helping to do it!

I will have a lot more to say about this subject shortly.

Issues That Can Lead to a “Diagnosis” of ADD or ADHD

by Bob Doman

 Vision

  • Acuity/sight problems
  • Convergence issues
  • Tracking issues
  • Astigmatism
  • Underdeveloped central vision
  • Hyperperipheral vision
  • Excessive visualizing negatively impacting visual attention
  • Poor visualization
  • Low visual sequential processing
  • Reduced visual short-term memory
  • Reduced visual working memory
  • Reduced visual long-term memory
  • Excessive screen time

Hearing and auditory function

  • Hearing loss
  • Issues with processing specific frequencies
  • Otitis media/middle ear fluid
  • Ear infections
  • Figure-ground issues
  • Low auditory sequential processing
  • Reduced auditory short-term memory
  • Reduced auditory working memory
  • Reduced auditory long-term memory
  • Inadequate conceptual thought
  • Visualization/conceptualization imbalance
  • Visual vs. auditory processing imbalance

Physiological issues

  • Blood sugar issues
  • Food allergies
  • Food sensitivities
  • Excessive carbohydrates
  • Excessive sugar
  • Excessive food colorings and artificial sweeteners
  • Inadequate protein
  • Bowel/gut disorders
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Respiratory issues
  • Toxins
  • Environmental allergies
  • Cardiac issues

Motor issues

  • Poor fine motor development
  • Poor manual dexterity
  • Poor pencil grasp
  • Inadequate writing instruction

Behavioral issues

  • Lack of interest
  • Lack of intensity
  • Lack of proper intention
  • Global immaturity
  • Developmental delays
  • Avoidance behaviors
  • Excessive social focus
  • Lack of social awareness
  • Not present
  • Subdominant/emotional
  • Negative attention-getting behaviors
  • Poor feedback
  • Improper behavioral training

Educational structure issues

  • Poor instructional environment
  • Lack of intensity
  • Curriculum heavy
  • Educational content not engaging
  • Not directed to individual’s processing level
  • Negative environment
  • Low expectations
  • Excessively high expectations
  • Personality conflict
  • Excessive duration
  • Inadequate review
  • Lack of individual attention
  • Teacher’s speech or accent
  • Extraneous classroom sound/noise
  • Extraneous/distracting visual environment
  • Proximity of other students
  • Bullying
  • Cliques
  • Social pressure to perform
  • Social pressure not to perform
  • Social pressure to act out
  • Lack of parental involvement
  • Excessive parental involvement
  • Reading, math, etc. levels below class
  • Reading, math, etc. levels above class
  • Difficulties understanding English or language used in classroom