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Expert Q&A

What can I do about a child with LD who has begun to act out?

The most effective way of dealing with this problem is for you to work with your child’s teachers and speech therapist. You and the professionals at your child’s school spend the most time with your child and know her best. Home and school working together on this issue will help send a clear message to your child of consistency and support throughout her day. Ask to have a meeting with her teachers and speech therapist and together, brainstorm possible reasons for why your child is acting out so dramatically. There is always a reason behind negative behavior and if you can determine the cause, it will be easier to find a solution. Some things to consider: is she facing any new or increased stressors at home or school? Is she receiving enough attention? Has she become frustrated with her limited ability to communicate her needs? The key is to figure out why she is feeling so desperate for power and how to channel that need into something positive.

The best solution will address her need and reward the desired behavior (perhaps through a sticker chart that will lead to a reward that is meaningful to her). The idea is to teach her new skills and socially appropriate ways of expressing herself. By rewarding her when she behaves appropriately, you are giving her incentive to replace her old behaviors with ones that everyone can live with. There should be carry-over between home and school so that she realizes that all of these important adults in her life are working toward the same goal. This could be as simple as notes back and forth that are read aloud to your child in which her appropriate behavior is praised, or as elaborate as a reward chart that is used both at home and at school. It is likely that the professionals at your child’s school have had experience implementing behavior management plans and that they will be able to assist you.

The following articles provide insight into potential reasons why students with learning challenges misbehave and helpful advice on reducing these behaviors:

You may also want to consider whether the type and level of services your child is receiving is appropriate and if her qualifying label is sufficient. You may need to convene an IEP meeting to discuss addending her IEP and pursuing further testing, if appropriate.

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