How, as a teaching assistant, do I support an 8 year old child who refuses to engage with or speak to adults yet is vocal at home and with his peers
8 year old boy - vocal at home and with friends but refuses to talk to teachers or engage with adults at all. Unwilling to participate in lessons, group discussions or volunteer own ideas. Need ideas of how to support him on a 1:1 basis and within the classroom
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My first question would be to ask if he interacts with any adult such as his teacher at any level. Does he react with body language? I assume he is on an IEP because of the 1:1 basis and many students feel pointed out by having someone in the room next to just them. Can you help others near him so that he is not the only one receiving help? For a student to use such a passive-aggressive mode suggests anger or frustration. Does he truly understand in class? Discussions and volunteering in class expose him in class. Does he talk with all his peers or with just some of them? Is he accepted by all the students? When he has a lesson to complete, can you bring 2 or 3 others to have them contribute to the answers each on their own white board? I found the white boards a big attraction instead of paper and pencil, and each child answered one question on their board. Do his parents talk to you? I have an IEP son and the teachers who talked to me found out some of the answers to puzzling questions. Do you sit in on conferences because my son's teaching assistant was a goldmine of information which parents and teachers both used. Can you set up a method of nonverbal communication with him as a bridge to verbal? The answers to all these questions should help figure out why he is doing this. I am suggesting that 1. talk to his mom if you are allowed to find out what she sees as the problem. 2. Talk to the teacher, ask about white boards or some other way than paper and pencil to communicate his answers and if you can bring 2 peers into the group. 3. If you think he will refuse, can you take him into the hall to concentrate and remove from distractions? I suspect he is getting a lot of attention from his refusal to do anything. Is there a way to ignore whether he responds to adults and have one of his peers ask the questions in his small group of 3? As for you personally, I would back off a bit if you can, but make him understand that you will not be going away, that you are there to help him be successful. You are in a tough but oh so necessary spot for that child even if he never lets you see it. Good luck.
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