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Non-Compliance due primarily to VERY SHORT ATTENTION SPAN, early elementary

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Presenting Behavior:
Please describe the behavior:
Student fails to comply with directions, often based upon very short attention span, sees something new and interesting and leaves adult trying to teach them and wanders off, sometimes running through building.

How old is the student?
Early Elementary

Where and when does the behavior occur?
Classroom, hallway, playground

Frequency and duration of behavior?
Has improved, but usually still 3-5 per day for one -2 minutes

What happens before and after behavior?
When asked to focus on something, student leaves. After the student is given reductive consequence, which can sometimes be delayed by 15-60 mintues (miss minute of recess)

What does the student get from engaging in the behavior?
Access to some new item or activity

What is the emotional state of the student during the behavior?
Curious, calm, happy

Is the behavior intentional or involuntary?
A little of both as the short attention span is somewhat involuntary

Relevant health and mental health conditions?
Possible neurological impairment, few siezures when vey young

Student strengths and interests?
Very friendly and interactive with adults

Response:
It can be really tough to address students like this where the primary issue is attention, which in younger students can be more a matter of biology than purposeful intent. It's good to hear there is some progress. I imagine that will likely be how it goes with this student, small bits of progress over time as the student grows and matures. It's a huge benefit that the student's demeanor is good and the student is friendly with peers and adults.

My first thought with this student is to have visual cues at the student's desk to attempt to grab the student's attention and focus more than external stimuli. A visual schedule could be effective, where pictures on the schedule indicate what and where the student should be. The visual schedule could also have markers on it where when the student reaches certain points on the visual schedule, they get an incentive. Id they do not get to these "milestones" in their daily schedule, they do not receive the incentive. You could tie in the incentives and consequences you are already using. Tying these in with a visual schedule would help the student to visually see where, how, when, and what they need to be doing to reach the next incentive as well as what will lead to losing an incentive. It just helps to provide the student with a clear, consistent, and predictable visual stimulus and guide that is the same every day. You could use a consistent script with the student as well, like "Johnny, I see your not focusing on your work. What does the schedule say/show you should be doing right now to reach your next incentive?" This may or may not get the student's attention and focus back on what it should be. To make the incentives more enticing, you could have a list of incentives that the student chooses form or spins a wheel to choose. This could increase the student's buy-in having this fun anticipation of a "surprise". The incentives would need to be fairly small and minor since you would likely be giving them out frequently. For example, 3 minutes on the computer, 2 minutes to draw, getting to skip 2 problems, talking with the teacher or class aid about something they are interested in for 2 minutes, or even getting 2 minutes to go look at something interesting in the room. With this last incentive, they are getting what they want, but in a more appropriate manner and time, which is after they have reached their next visual schedule milestone and met expectations.

Another thought is to have a cue of some kind that indicates to the student that they are engaging in the undesired behavior and need to take an action to correct it. For example, if the teacher saw the student beginning to wander away from their desk, the teacher would say the student's name to get their attention, then give a cue, like rubbing their head. This cue would be predetermined so both the teacher and the student had chosen the cue, discussed it, and discussed what action the student was to take when the cue was observed. The action after seeing the cue might be that the student hops back to their seat or something fun that will encourage the student to follow the procedure and refocus. Another example would be the student freezes when they get the cue and then "rewinds" back to their seat (walks backwards as though they are rewinding like in a video). If you did something like this or the visual schedule above, be sure to fully explain it with the student and have the student practice before actually implementing.

There are those ball seats that help some inattentive and unfocused students a great deal while working. If the school has any of these, I'd give it a go and see if it helped. If the school does not have any, perhaps the parent would be willing to purchase one. I'd just get a medium sized yoga ball. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. When students sit on these, it helps meet their brain's need for extra stimulation and allows them to focus more easily on the task at hand. Additionally, there are bumpy seats that are smaller air filled cushions the student sits on that has bumps on it, which serves the same purpose as the yoga ball but may be less likely to turn into a toy by younger students.

Sometimes students like this can respond well to pencils with VELCRO® brand hook and loop fastener glued to them or other sensory stimuli such as VELCRO® brand hook and loop fastener glued to the bottom side of the desk so the student can rub it.

It could help to use attention grabbing techniques when working with the student to hold their attention better, especially if there seems to be certain times, subjects, or other predictable circumstances associated with the behavior. For example, while explaining something to the student, pausing in the middle of an explanation. Students will notice the pause and focus on the teacher to hear what is coming next. Another example is using the wrong name with the student while explaining work to them. The student will notice, correct the teacher, then focus a little more to make sure the teacher does not repeat the mistake. The teacher can then repeat the mistake, but with a different name a few minutes later to catch the student off guard, which will increase the focus and attention again for a little bit as they listen for the teacher to mess up again. Another example would be, while the teacher is explaining a concept and writing on the student's paper to show them, the teacher could say their hand got stuck and they need the student to move their hand to form the next letter, then the teacher thanks them and resumes use of their "frozen" hand. This could be done intermittently to keep the student more focused, vigilant, and engaged.

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PBIS World
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I currently have an 11 year old student who can attend for about 15 minutes then he is bored, starting arguments with peers, and making disruptive noises. We had a meeting about him last week and found he has some major sensory issues and will be started on a sensory diet. Some of your suggestions will be ones I try in my room as we are looking to find things that work for him. Thank you!!

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PBIS World
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Interesting, a sensory diet. I'll be curious how this diet affects the student's behavior and attention. Let us know if the diet has any affect after a while. Glad you found something useful in this thread.

Don't forget to check out the PBIS World page on sensory interventions and tools by clicking here.

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What would you recommend I use for tracking non-compliance behavior? This behavior begins the second he enters my classroom. Student doesn't make eye contact or follow any directions in the gen ed classroom.
Thank you

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