My Son Threw a Shoe in Class Today

behavioral issues My son threw a shoe in class recently.  In this case, he was working at the chalk board, and a classmate noticed that one of his shoes was untied, and kindly went to tie it for him. The good news was that my son didn’t throw the shoe at his helpful classmate.  The bad news was that after he threw it, he hid under a table and refused to leave.

When asked why he threw the shoe, my son says he was acting shy.  My suspicion  is that he lost his concentration and panicked when he could no longer keep up. Am I proud of him for hiding under a desk  instead of kicking and screaming? You bet I am.  But I also know that we needed to find a better way for him to self-regulate in the classroom.

Traditionally, behavioral issues like these would be addressed by a functional behavioral assessment, followed by an IEP with a behavioral intervention program.  The assessment would help determine what is causing the undesirable behaviors, and the plan would help create the right measures to correct it.

But sometimes there is a simpler solution.  

The first step is prevention.  By elementary school, many students are familiar with transition prompts, such as visual schedules and reminders.  For our son, transitions are the major trigger of a meltdown.  There is nothing worse than when a child is working hard to follow along with what is going on in the classroom, only to be abruptly interrupted.  Sometimes the interruption comes from a change in venue – like a trip to the playground, the cafeteria or a pull-out for therapy.  So, prevention in the form of these schedules and prompts can help make transitions more tolerable.

But  at other times, interruptions are unavoidable as little kids do unexpected things, and because of that, meltdowns are bound to happen.  When it does, the child is often removed from the classroom and taken into a resource room where he can work it out on a mini-trampoline or a swing (thankfully, the  old practice of using time out rooms and physical restraints have been outlawed.  If any remain, report them!).  Pull-outs may be helpful at times, but may not be the best solution.  First of all, a pull-out is a transition, and transitions are HARD, especially when a child is already in the throes of  a meltdown.  And, although pulling a child out of  the classroom is standard practice, it isn’t always necessary to leave the room.  For example, a beanbag chair can be set up in a corner of the classroom itself as a ‘quiet place’ to self-regulate.  It is much more comfortable than the area under his desk!

Another technique to try is a hand signal.  The teacher can simply raise her hand in the shape of a letter ‘C, which stands for CALM.  The signal is a visual cue, which reminds the child to stop, take a few deep breaths and realize that he is going to be okay.  I like hand signals because they are discreet and can be used in all types of public settings.  Also, anyone can use it, particularly the general ed teacher or Connor’s paraprofessional.

Another way to prevent a meltdown is to enlist the assistance of other students. A  little  positive peer pressure and a kind word from a classmate often can help diffuse a difficult situation.  Children have the ability to communicate with each other on a level that we adults just don’t understand!

Finally, I would recommend enlisting the help of the school’s occupational therapist.  The OT can provide all types of gadgets to help the child self-regulate,  such as hand-held squeeze toys and weighted vests. One of our favorites is a  headphone product called B-Calm.  It was developed by a sound engineer for a dentist who had young  patients who hated the sound of a drill.  The sound engineer figured out a way to drown out noise and replace it with soothing sounds. Unlike a simple I-pod with headphones (which just added extra noise), B-Calm suppresses the sound of voices and provides a haven for classroom sensory overload.

I can’t say that we’ve totally wiped out meltdowns, but we are well on the way of getting them under control  I hope you can use some of these ideas to help keep your child in the classroom, where he or she belongs.  Good luck!

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Have you ever wanted to throw something at someone?

 

 

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L. Mae Wilkinson
Quiet advocate, volunteer parent mentor. Semi-retired corporate marketing and management consultant.
L. Mae Wilkinson

autismisnottheboss

Quiet advocate, volunteer parent mentor. Semi-retired corporate marketing and management consultant.

0 thoughts on “My Son Threw a Shoe in Class Today

  • July 10, 2009 at 3:38 pm
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    I get urges to throw my food at someone’s head all the time, just because it always seems like it would be …comical to say the least.

          As far as transitions go, I hear it helps a lot to give a sort of warning.  Like, instead of just stopping math and going on to reading, letting all the students know, “I’m about to erase the blackboard, and when I’m done, we will start reading lesson.”  That way, they’re more prepared and can distance themselves more readily.

    Reply
  • July 10, 2009 at 12:23 pm
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    your sons reaction was a learned behavior i guarantee. and yes ive wanted to throw something before. especially during a game of catch with a football.

    Reply
  • July 10, 2009 at 10:06 am
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    instead of acting out in class I would self-regulate myself by doing subtle, untracable things

    I.e. I would replace all the pieces of chalk in the chalk tray with string cheese

    I would remove the over head projector light

    Tape up the over head scrolling screen so the teacher couldnt pull it down

    unplug the ethernet cable from the teachers computer

    turn the time on the class clock forward 30-45 minutes

    you know…stuff to keep me occupied, maybe it’ll help the son idk….

    Reply
  • July 9, 2009 at 3:57 pm
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    i once threw a bucket at my dad…he then proceeded to march to my room and kick down my door. bad experience…

    WHY

    Reply
  • July 9, 2009 at 2:52 pm
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    I think maybe he was having G.W. Bush flashbacks? Just a thought!

    Sail on… sail on!!!

    Reply
  • July 9, 2009 at 1:24 pm
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    I’m glad to hear that your son’s incidents are becoming less frequent.  I can’t even begin to imagine being in your shoes when something like that happens.  I would try to be calm and by the sounds of it, thats the key along with keeping the kid in the same setting.  I’m sure yelling at the kid isn’t a good idea.  Though, if it keeps going longer than i have patience, i’d probably have a meltdown too.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2009 at 9:50 am
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    Now I know how that Iraqi journalist felt when he threw his shoe at our former president.

    Reply
  • July 9, 2009 at 3:32 am
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    i remember in elementary school i got angry at this kid who always thought he should be better than me because he went to tutors. but i always got better grades than him & i guess he just looked down at me. i got tired one day & threw an eraser in his lunch. he didn’t bother me again. 😀

    Reply
  • July 9, 2009 at 1:02 am
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    When I’m at work, I throw my small stuffed alien at my supervisor. She retaliates by throwing her stuffed dog at me. This will continue for five to ten minutes before we realize we’re not doing work and then get back to our desks…

    Reply
  • July 8, 2009 at 8:06 pm
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    I’ve always wanted to throw hard, specifically metal things at my old coach. 

    I still do. :

    Reply
  • July 8, 2009 at 1:10 pm
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    “Have you ever wanted to throw something at someone?”
    Thankfully Killzone comes with grenades for just that purpose.

    Reply
  • July 8, 2009 at 9:29 am
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    When I was in third grade I threw a chair at my teacher.  Actually throwing things was a common occurrence in elementary school but usually the target was the wall.

    After I threw the chair, and returned from my suspension, most of the kids told me they wished they’d been brave enough to throw a chair at that teacher.  Then another teacher said the same thing to me.

    Reply

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