We have all become increasingly aware of the incidence and prevalence of bullying in recent years. Those of us that work with children have been aware of the problem for much longer. Sadly, children with any sort of difference, delay or disorder are more likely to be the victim of bullying during their school career. Recent studies have found that children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their non-disabled peers.
We are gathering more and more information that proves many of the strategies that teachers tell students to use when dealing with bullies (e.g., walk away, solve the problem yourself) are not only ineffective, they often make the problem worse. I currently have a client in the 1st grade who is struggling with bullies in a public school setting. Early in the school year this child’s teacher set forth a “no tattling” policy for the classroom. As a result, my client did not report any of the abusive behaviors to which they were being subjected on a daily basis. After several months, my client’s parents became aware of the issues and contacted the teacher. When the parents contacted the teacher the first time, she spoke to the children involved. As a result, the bullying increased and my client was also harassed for “telling.” The second time my client’s parents contacted the teacher, they highlighted the flaws in her “no tattling” policy, outlining the fact that their child struggled with the abstract idea of when it was “ok” to tell and when it was “tattling.” As the parent of an elementary school student, I know that the level of abstraction necessary to decide when to “tell” is continuing to develop throughout the fourth and fifth grade. For students with delays and disabilities, these abstract language skills can take even longer to be fully established.
So, what should parents do? Your child might not be able to articulate what is going on with them at school, and they may not want to. It is important to be observant of any changes in your child’s behavior and to look for some of the signs of bullying and here. Creating an open line of communication with your child is always of critical importance. An app that was recently released has some excellent information and tips about how to talk to your child about bullying. Find professionals within your child’s educational setting that can help you…and don’t forget to include the Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) that works with your child in the discussion.
TALK was a proud participant in an anti-bullying campaign in the Atlanta television market during the month of December. View our anti-bullying spot here.
EXECUTIVE FUNCTION SKILLS
Do you talk to yourself? Good! It is normal and there is a reason we all do it. Self-talk shows that you have well developed executive function skills. Executive Function is a term for the set of mental processes that allow us to plan, organize, prioritize, remember and focus. Executive function skills help us see the whole picture and allow us to break down tasks to achieve a goal. They also allow us to use prior experiences to help us navigate situations.
Do you need to have dinner ready by 6:00? Adults with well developed executive function skills will work backward from that point to determine what needs to take place in order for that goal to be achieved. You will be able to realize that you need to leave work by 4:30 so you can swing by the store to pick up the missing ingredients you need for dinner. You are able to correctly estimate how long it will take you to drive to the store, collect the necessary items, pay for them and then drive to your house. You understand that the grocery store is logically configured by categories to help you easily find your items and you are able to select what you need in a timely manner because you can focus, remember and avoid distraction. The store is out of broccoli? No worries, you can substitute another ingredient in your recipe. If you need many items, you will have put together a grocery list. You know that you will need to have the recipe ready and you have a sense of approximately how long it will take to make the meal…. These are just a few of the executive function skills that go into preparing a meal! And we have not ever talked about the actual preparation of the food. Children and adults with executive function disorder will struggle with many, if not all, of the steps in this process.
Do you or your child struggle with Executive Function Disorder? Speech-Language Pathologists are key participants in the therapy team that treats EFD!