Saturday, 14 May 2011
There are individuals who, throughout the day, experience extreme levels of pressure in their Stress Tank, but manage to keep their tank from exploding until the school day is over and they get home.
It’s also common for these individuals to have strong reactions during the day that go unnoticed by teachers and peers. For example, it might look like they are listening and paying attention when, in fact, they have completely shut down their system. Or they might lock themselves in the bathroom during recess – just to get away for a while – without anyone noticing.
For these individuals, a long day, full of demands and expectations, can cost a lot of energy and often comes with a price. It can be compared with how most of us would feel after the first day at a new job. Can you imagine feeling like that every day?
Furthermore, the communication between parents and teachers can become problematic and challenging when they see two different pictures of how things are going.
The following is an example of that.
How is Ellen doing?
Ellen is doing well in school. She is ambitious and focused and gets good results on all her tests. Ellen has ADHD and Tourette syndrome, but her teachers barely acknowledge that. They think just about anyone gets some sort of diagnose these days.
Although Ellen is behaving well, her teachers has had a few complaints about her parents. Ellen’s homework usually doesn’t get done. And who is responsible for making sure that her homework gets done? Her parents are! Ellen is also absent from school on a regular basis. They estimated that she is absent about 20% of the time, and for some reason she usually misses Wednesdays. And who is responsible for making sure that Ellen shows up to school? Her parents are!
The school principal schedules a meeting with Ellen’s parents to emphasize their responsibility for Ellen’s education.
Ellen’s mom attends the meeting and Ellen’s teacher starts by expressing how well Ellen is doing in school and how good she is behaving. Ellen’s mom quickly responds, “I know Ellen is behaving in school but…” And she goes on to tell her side of the story.
Ellen’s mom tells them how when Ellen comes home after a long day of school, she throws her bag in the hallway, runs to the bathroom, and locks the door behind her. In the bathroom, she releases all the pressure that has been built up during the day. She no longer has to worry about what people think, and she doesn’t have to hide her tics. She comes out after half an hour with messy hair, completely exhausted. On good days she at least brings a sandwich to her room before locking the door behind her to watch episode upon episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Sometimes she’ll come out to yell, scream, and fight with her brothers. She has no energy for extracurricular activities and rarely hangs out with friends.
What parent can then successfully knock on her door and say, “Ellen, it’s time for you to do your homework”? After a few days of school, Ellen is often so exhausted that there is no way of getting her out of bed.
“What am I supposed to do then? I can’t carry her to school!” says Ellen’s mom.
Home problem or school problem?
Is this a home problem or a school problem?
It’s without doubt a school problem. And the situation is so serious that if allowed to continue, Ellen might not make it to school at all in the near future.
So what needs to be done?To improve the situation and ensure Ellen's future success, a balance between her energy “takers” and "givers” needs to be created and upheld throughout her school day. With the help of visual support, Ellen’s teachers and parents need to have conversations with her to assess what activities, places, and individuals give or take mental energy in her life.