Thursday, June 10, 2010

Who's Really Wearing the Cranky Pants?

Although it rarely happens now, not too long ago the only reports that came home from school about Ashley were ‘bad news’ reports. Most of the time, they spoke of her negative behaviors. She was described as being in a bad mood all day – being uncooperative, and one of my all time favorites, non-compliant. (I wrote a long time ago about that compliance thing…).

But the child I would see at home was completely different. She was pleasant, smiled and laughed a lot, played with her siblings, and was just a joy to be around.

So why were things so very different between school and home?

What I figured out a long time ago about Ashley was that her feelings and actions took their cue from the feelings and actions of people, especially adults, around her. I’m sure this is true about most children with significant special needs, but I feel it is even more honed in Ashley because of her dual sensory impairment (deafblindness).

Ashley can read my moods and feelings extremely well. She was able to when she was very young, and she continues today with that skill. She’s not using visual cues to pick up on my moods and feelings – she can’t see me smile or frown or cry. She can’t hear a change in the tone of my voice – angry versus sad versus happy. But somehow she knows.

She knows when there is ‘drama’ in the house. She knows when I am feeling rushed or impatient, and when I am relaxed and happy, she is relaxed and happy. When she senses that I am sad or down in the dumps, she will snuggle or put her face just inches from mine and smile her biggest smile.

Somehow she knows.

So, could those school reports of negative behaviors and bad moods be more a description of the adults in her environment at school than a true reflection of what she was feeling?

Maybe, just maybe, Ashley is not the one who needed the functional behavior assessment and behavior intervention plan!

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