Behavior Issues with my 7 year old. Should we seek a Behavioral Counselor?

by Pam
(Lake Mary, Fl)

My son was diagnosed with SPD at the age of 3. He went to OT for 2 years until we decided it wasn't helping with the "new" behavior issues we were having. His occupational therapist explained that his behavior issues did have to do with his Sensory Issues. My husband and I just felt that the OT he was receiving wasn't helping with his current issues. We had many issues with our son in Preschool, like being sent home because of his behavior issues. We were VERY worried about his behavior in Kindergarten.


Well, the summer before kindergarten (a few months after stopping OT) we enrolled our son in karate. OMG!! He did a total 180! All of our friends and family even noticed his change. Needless to say, we had NO issues in kindergarten. My son is now 7 and is 3/4 of his way through 1st grade and for some reason he NOW is acting out in class. His teacher says that he talks back a lot, won't do the work she gives him in class, and one day even started running around the classroom yelling,"I can't take this anymore." We have tried giving him OT (push ups) for every time he talks back at home, which seems to work, but his teacher says that she wouldn't be able to implement it at school. We are at a loss with him right now! All punishments or incentives that we give him for behaving good at school seem to go down the drain once he gets to school. He even tells me, before he leaves for school, that he's going to be super good, but comes home with a bad mark and/or comment from teacher.

My question really is, should my husband and I look into a behavioral counselor? PLEASE HELP!!

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Jan 24, 2015
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Seek out the Guidance Counselor!
by: Anonymous

I had the same problem, I went to the Guidance counselor and explained I was worry anxiety and nerves were causing my son to act out, as he is well behaved at home. The Guidance counselor implemented a check in program and he's only had two bad days since! Plus I think the teacher backed off a little knowing that we were genuinely concerned that his anxiety was causing him to act out....we are very proud of him....and he is doing so much better...sounds like your son is having some other problems, the acting out is just a way of dealing with it...My son was also used to more aggressive behavioral correction and so culturally his new teacher was very different. He sounds just like my son, shutting down, not doing work, he is probably feeling anxious or depressed talk to him a lot about how being away from home and being around other kids is making him feel, chances are he will open up and shed some light on why he is acting out.

Also explain that he is going to run into all sorts of teachers and bosses his whole life and some are more lenient and others aren't and he needs to learn how to respect every person for who they are, most importantly adults. Last but not least show up in school and visit, let him know you will not come to field trips, school outings, or volunteer once a week a lunch unless he tries harder to control himself. You will get to know his teacher better and he may have less separation anxiety or depression seeing that you are comfortable with his teacher and the school surroundings.

May 09, 2011
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Behavioral therapy
by: Anonymous

I recommend behavioral therapy. My daughter has been going to her therapist for 2 years now. It has helped her, but me too.

May 12, 2010
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Neufeld DVDs
by: Anonymous

The DVDs are in sets. The first is a general introduction suitable for parents and he discusses techniques that are applicable to all "types" of children. As you learn more you are taken more indepth. There are another two sets (each set is eight hours long). He does specifically have a an hour long DVD dedicated to understanding Sensitive Kids. They are however mentioned throughout the other sets too.

Neufeld is a Developmental Psychologist and his approach is to understand what drives the behavior. Rather than only focusing on the physical reaction a child has to sensitivities (eg clothing, food, noise etc) he helps explain what may be causing it.

In my experience, having worked with an OT and Wilbarger Brushing Protocol on a purely physical level, and now after a year of implementing the Neufeld's developmental approach to behavior, we are seeing huge results. I have come to realise that our six year olds sensitivities were being heavily influenced by the way we disciplined/ consequenced her. Think about it: How would you feel about being punished for something you can't help? Shouted at, put in a time out etc because you feel anxious and that kicks your sensory system into overdrive. The overwhelmed child reacts in a fight or flight manner and as parents we react by trying to make them see things our way. One thing leads to another and the child's behavior is all we focus on, rather than the underlying physical and emotional cause. It is a downward spiral, and I know because we were being pulled down by it. We have changed our approach to her, and now that we better understand her, we really are helping her.

Again, this is not a quick fix. It has taken much time and energy but we are seeing the rewards every day.

May 12, 2010
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behavioral
by: Anonymous

how well do you know his teacher? She could just be one of those teachers who shouldn't be a teacher and that sparked him rebelling, also try to distinguish how much of it is SPD and how much of it is your son getting older and trying to either use his SPD as an excuse to push limits or your son could just be testing his boundaries. Things to think about the teacher or classmates, is she too soft on him, or too hard on him, does she "talk back" to the students or try to explain things and does she have patience.

Also, try to see if there are kids that are teasing him, who is trying to "look cool" for, or does he feel like he is able to control the situation by being 'bad' in class (then you have to determine what is out of control that he would need to feel like he needs to control something). Karate teaches discipline, i'm sure if your son was diagnosed with SPD that it helped with the input aspect of it but it more seems what you are describing is behavioral not because of the SPD but because it's your son.

Follow through at home, maybe implement a punishment at school that his teacher can follow -- like if he doesn't do his work or talks back he is not allowed to go out to recess... push ups are a little military ... it's all about teaching him what behavior is appropriate and what is not... Also, be a good role model --- if your mad at your husband, your son or someone else in your life do you resort to talking back or snapping instead of talking it out. do as i do not and as i say... not do as i say not as i do. teach him respect in everyday life not just after he does something wrong.

good luck i hope this helped

May 11, 2010
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Question
by: Anonymous

to the comment about the dvds.
Does this man in his DVDs ever address sensory issues?? Just wondering if it is about dealing with sensory or JUST behaviors NOT caused be SPD
Thanks for the info, kim

May 11, 2010
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SPD and Anxiety
by: Betty

The fact that his behavior changed when he started karate is probably an indication that he felt calmer when someone else was took the lead. His instructor was in charge and directed the children in an organised, sequenced routine. Very often sensory/anxious or alpha children respond very well to this type of environment as they can "rest" knowing that someone else is in charge and they don't have to think about what is next.

We have done a great deal of work with our SPD six year old working on her underlying anxiety issues and this has helped her sensory difficulties tremendously. An anxious child is is a state of high alert which means that their senses are in overdrive. Calm the inner child and the sensory problems subside. They never leave though, as the moment she gets upset/anxious, sensory problems flare up. It is her escape from the anxiety to present as sensory eg: when she has to leave the house in the morning, none of her clothes feel "Right" but if I take the time to calm her and talk her through it, she is able to get dressed. Not a quick fix at all, but much better for all of us :)

May 11, 2010
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Gordon Neufeld
by: Betty

I would highly recommend that you look into the dvds by Gordon Neufeld called Power To Parent. We have used his principles with our SPD daughter with great success. We discovered that punishment and consequences in the home didn't do much long term good for our daughter when she went out into the world. We needed to address her anxiety issues, which were presenting as really bad behavior, and were being misunderstood by us. He attempt to hide anxiety presented her as a talk back, rude and often belligerent, over confident child when in fact she isn't. A change in out method has completely changed who she is. It is hard work but so worthwhile. Good luck.

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