LEARNING STRATEGIES TO HELP TRAUMATIZED YOUTH IN THE CLASSROOM (Part 2)

Data Collection and Connecting Meaningful Interventions to the IEP

Miss Peters knew that Jimmy had made some progress in the classroom because his shut downs and aggressive behaviours weren’t as severe as before.  Within the first three months of the new school year, she learned that Jimmy had experienced complex trauma from the time he was born to about 4 years of age, she learned about how complex trauma can affect children in the classroom, and she implemented numerous PEACE-ful Schools Strategies (click here to learn more about PEACE-ful Schools strategies).  Miss Peters was thankful that she had a new perspective and plan for Jimmy but she wanted to know if there was a way to track Jimmy’s progress in a systematic, concrete way.  She also wondered if there were specific interventions based on Jimmy’s complex needs that could supplement his existing Individual Education Plan (IEP).

Miss Peters met with the learning assistance teacher, Mrs. Smith, and asked if she had any ideas on how to track his progress within the 7 Developmental Domains (click here to learn more about the Developmental Domains). It just so happened that Mrs. Smith had recently attended a 3-day workshop with Dr. Geddes and his team and she learned the skills and many benefits of becoming a “CTR Coordinator”.  With this new knowledge, Mrs. Smith suggested implementing the Functional Developmental Assessment for Schools (FDA-S) for Jimmy and Miss Peters happily agreed.  They met with the School Care Team, including Jimmy’s foster parents, and together answered questions pertaining to the 7 Developmental Domains by ranking Jimmy’s development on a scale of 1-5 when compared to his same aged peers.  Once the questionnaire was complete, a graph illustrated Jimmy’s developmental profile, and the team was offered specific interventions for each Developmental Domain.  The team now had a baseline and documentation suggesting meaningful goals and strategies for Jimmy’s IEP.

Jimmy’s Developmental Profile illustrated areas of strength and areas for growth.  For instance, Jimmy was ranked high on the Neurological and Biological Maturity domain indicating strength in his basic body regulations, fine motor and gross motor skills.  On the other hand, he was ranked low on the Over-Reactive Stress Response, Emotion Regulation, Behaviour Regulation, and Attachment domains indicating significant concerns in these areas.  The team reviewed the list of recommended interventions and chose 5 to add to Jimmy’s IEP.

Miss Peters loved the idea of creating a “cozy nest” (Over-Reactive Stress Response Intervention) within her classroom because she usually sends students to the counsellor’s room to access a quiet space, and this can sometimes escalate Jimmy’s behaviours.  In the “cozy nest” she used a shelf to section off a little space in her classroom and set up bean bag chairs, soft lighting, headphones, silly putty, calming scents, meditation cards, and a glitter jar.  Furthermore, Jimmy tends to have a lot of energy, so she liked the idea of creating a “gas station” (Over-Reactive Stress Response Intervention) to drain excess energy.  For the “gas station” students had access to a mini trampoline, slam balls, and a list of techniques for students to try (i.e. chair dips, wall pushes, crab walks, etc.).  The new IEP goal stated: “With support, Jimmy will access the “cozy corner” or “gas station” to help regulate to the green zone.

Miss Peters also implemented the strategy of posting a feelings chart (Emotion Regulation Intervention) to help Jimmy identify physical sensations, language related to these sensations, and strategies to self-regulate.  The classroom EA spent some time teaching all of the students how to use each strategy, and then reinforced these skills with Jimmy by taking him through the stations on his own.

The team chose rituals and routines (Attachment Intervention) as the next intervention because Jimmy’s behaviours always escalated when transitioning between subjects. The team now had a better understanding that students who have experienced maltreatment often do not have predictable interactions with others. Thus, building rituals creates a predictable rhythm to the day, patterns of behavior and a sense of “normal”. Miss Peters played a 4-minute song and would say: ““Ok, students. We are getting ready to move from Reading to Math.  Please finish what you are doing.  Sometime between now and when the music stops, please take out your math books.”

Miss Peters felt confident with her new list of school interventions in hand and the Care Team thought that these five interventions were a good place to start.  They outlined each new strategy in Jimmy’s IEP and they all looked forward to meeting again in four months to complete the FDA-S again to monitor Jimmy’s growth.

About the author

Angela Murphy

Angela has a passion for supporting children and families through a collaborative approach. She brings expansive knowledge from her work in Aboriginal communities and has a profound respect for delivering safe and caring practices. To read more about Angela click here: https://www.complextrauma.ca/about/our-team/

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