Kim is a 4th grader who loves to go to school. She is a hard worker and is the first to notice if something is bothering one of her peers. Kim always has something nice to say, and will always stop to help another student who is feeling sad. Kim is well liked by her classmates and is always ready to do something fun.
Lately, Kim has been struggling with her schoolwork. She has begun to hate writing, and to make numerous spelling errors. While she loves math class and knows her multiplication facts well, Kim often makes careless mistakes on math homework and tests.
Her teacher reports that she must constantly remind Kim to sit still. She feels that if Kim spent more time listening, and less time fidgeting and playing with things at her desk, her work might improve. Kim not only distracts herself, but she can be distracting to other students as well. For example, one day, when her teacher was talking about volcanoes, Kim emptied a stapler by ejecting staples one at a time onto the floor. Not surprisingly, Kim recently told her mom that whenever the teacher starts talking, she gets bored.
Kim has difficulty staying out of trouble. She doesn’t always think or plan ahead before speaking or acting; instead, she just jumps right in. One day at school, Kim took everyone’s milk cartons, plastic containers, and lunch bags and stacked them to form a “Super Sonic Biodegradable Space Shuttle.” Everything went well until the rocket tipped over, and everyone was covered with milk. When Kim’s mom asked why she did it, Kim just said, “I don’t know. I thought it would be fun. I guess I just didn’t think about what might happen.”
Kim’s mom feels like she spends most of her time either laughing at Kim’s creative and funny stories, or arguing with Kim about doing her homework or cleaning her room.
Every night, Kim has a hard time falling asleep, and every morning, it’s a battle to get her out of bed. To avoid starting the day with a fight, Kim’s mom now packs Kim’s bag, so that Kim has to wake up only ten minutes before the bus arrives.
After school, Kim avoids doing her homework. One day, she spent all afternoon designing a tree house for the backyard, and didn’t start her reading homework until nine o’clock that night.
Kim has a great memory for some things. For example, she can remember what she and her brother ate when they had dinner with her grandfather two years ago, as well as what the restaurant looked like, and the gas stations they visited along the way. Similarly, when Kim goes on a field trip with her class, she can always describe the whole day in great detail.
Kim’s favorite parts of the day are art and science class. She has made some very creative art projects, and in science, is fascinated by anything that relates to outer space. Kim also enjoys playing soccer after school and says that someday she is going to play on the US National Soccer Team, unless she becomes an astronaut.
- Memory for events and experiences that are familiar to her
- Great imagination
- Caring for others
- Gets along well with peers
Areas in need of improvement:
- Having true sleep at night, and being fully awake during the day
- Fidgeting and playing with things during class
- Thinking ahead about what she is going to say or do ·
- Self-monitoring and slowing down during tasks such as math and writing
Possible Management Plan:
- Talk to Kim about the difficulty she is having in school. Make sure to describe Kim’s strengths, and spend time brainstorming strategies together to help her in class.
- Let Kim know that everyone’s mind needs enough energy or “fuel” to get work done. For Kim, this means being able to stay alert throughout the day, so she can concentrate without feeling tired. Explain that some activities require more effort (or “fuel”) and some require less. For example, just as a rocket ship uses more fuel to take off from the landing pad than to stay in orbit around the earth, Kim needs to use more fuel to listen in class than to talk to her classmates.
- One way for Kim to improve her listening is to become aware of the times when she feels bored in class. Suggest to Kim that she might be so fidgety because she is feeling bored or tired, and that moving around might help her mind “wake up.”
- Talk to Kim’s mom about strategies she might use to help solve the homework battle at home.
Leveraging Strengths and Affinities:
- Have Kim work on a math assignments with peers, requiring the group to stop and ask self-monitoring questions at each step of the task. Self-monitoring may include stopping to summarize after reading each paragraph or checking math calculations after finishing each line.
- Encourage Kim and her classmates to stop and actively plan before starting tasks, instead of planning as they go. For example, ask them to state the goals of each task and the strategies that they will use, describing their plans to each other. Have students create flowcharts (or road maps) that illustrate the process they will use to complete a task.
- Make use of Kim’s great memory for events, by asking her to write a report for the school paper about a recent field trip or event at the school.
- Have Kim practice her previewing skills by explaining or drawing a sketch of what her next art project will look like when finished. Kim could also write a story about the things that she would need to do to become an astronaut or a member of the US National Soccer Team.
- To practice planning and thinking before speaking, Kim could write a mock interview with a list of comments and questions she would ask a member of her favorite soccer team or an astronaut.
- Allow Kim to dictate some of her stories and then write down her dictation, leaving spelling correction for another time. If Kim wants, encourage her to use her art skills to illustrate the story.
Accommodations and Interventions:
- Work with Kim’s mom to set a bedtime and morning routine. Establish a bedtime routine starting at dinner or just after dinner. Encourage Kim to engage in low intensity activities before going to bed, such as reading a book or magazine or listening to music, instead of playing video games or watching an action movie. Suggest that Kim go to bed at the same time each night.
- Encourage Kim to use stretching and walking around as revitalization techniques throughout the day. Allow her to get up and move around the room, as long as she does not disturb others. Kim may also benefit from having a small ball at her desk to squeeze as she listens.
- Break long activities into short segments. Sleepiness may be diminished and arousal enhanced when big activities are broken into smaller tasks that require shorter periods of concentration, and are separated by brief breaks.
- Review the outcomes of tasks, asking Kim and her classmates to brainstorm alternative strategies to answer the question, “What could I have done (or said) to change the outcome?” Outcome review can be incorporated into a wide variety of content areas. For example, Kim can evaluate the actions of historical figures, characters in a story, etc., and discuss how plans lead to successful or unsuccessful outcomes.
- Stress the importance of organizing materials to insure efficient working conditions. For example, before Kim starts an assignment, have her preview the task and collect the materials that she will need to use. Show Kim how to keep materials, notebooks, etc. organized and easily accessible.
- Have Kim summarize, paraphrase, etc. important information in class, and then ask other students to agree or disagree, using their own words, etc. These techniques may help Kim actively heighten her arousal during important points in the lesson or activity. NOTE: Carefully consider Kim’s feelings when you do this. Avoid situations that will cause embarrassment or make her feel inadequate. Only question Kim if you feel she is likely to succeed at this task.
- Have Kim appraise her own work. For example, set a measure of work quality to follow, and allow Kim to self-grade or appraise the quality of her work before turning it in.
- Have Kim mark her progress towards a specific academic or behavioral goal, such as working for five minutes without needing a break, completing all homework for the week, checking math calculations before turning in each assignment, etc. Kim might enjoy using her artistic skills to record her progress on a graph.