Saturday, 19 January 2008

Diet and Nutrition and behavioral problems

Talking about diet and nutrition, I would like to share with you an experience that my very dear friend Emma once had. Emma is a HET practitioner and trainer. She is now also regional manager for the Healthy Schools Programme and was instrumental in many of the healthy schools getting their accreditation by training up HET practitioners in school to assist the children and their families. She is a remarkable ambassador for HET!

Anyway, back to the story….. we were talking one day with the HET group about the importance of home visits and providing support to the families of the children we work with, helping them to access the HET tool kit for life.
It is always helpful to visit the family at home especially when the parents or carers may not have had a particularly happy time at school as it can trigger what we call ‘core issues’ – or unhappy associations from their own schooldays.

Emma had arranged to make a home visit to see a young man with whom she was working. He belonged to a ‘travelling Family’ and was missing a lot of school because he found it difficult to settle, make friends and couldn’t cope with the rejection. This all reflected in his unhappy behaviour and consequently he was missing an awful lot of schooling.
Having arranged to visit the family one day after school, when she knocked on the door a very apologetic ‘Mom’ answered. ‘Mom’ expressed concern that the family had just settled down for their evening meal. Emma said she really wouldn’t take too much time, she just wanted to see the young man concerned and give him his ‘Flower’ drops to help with his behaviour and would then leave them in peace.
The family had been housed in area where a lot of other travelling families had been housed.
At this point Emma was led into the family sitting room – not an overly large sitting room as it happens but there sat the young man concerned, with his Dad, Gran, Granddad, Aunty, and 4 brothers and sisters, all sitting round in a circle with the family pet… standing up the corner was a fully grown cross shire pony (we’re talking about 12 hands here folks!)
The family were sitting in a circle and the meal consisted of a can of beans and a fork. Each member of the family in turn, took a mouthful of beans ( cold!) and duly passed on the can and the fork to the next person. When it reached the pony he too was given a forkful of beans (yes off the same fork!) and then the can and the fork proceeded on yet another round of the group.

Emma, myself and the group all agreed it must have been a Night MARE!!!

True story folks!!

Click the link for more info on HET and how to deal with kids behavioral problems

Saturday, 22 December 2007

A day in the life of the HET woman

The Festive season and holiday period is a long and challenging time for most children and families of those diagnosed with behavioural problems – and others!
How many parents/ carers have worried over their child saying the most awful thing at the worst possible time to the worst possible people?

See… you are not alone – this happens to everyone and the truth is it doesn’t have to be with a child with behavioural problems – either.

During the time when I was implementing the HET programme at a pupil referral unit and researching various ways of measuring its effectiveness – I had the privilege of meeting J***.
A PRU or pupil referral unit is a school where children who show behaviours which are so extreme that they cannot cope in mainstream school are sent – the idea is that they are shown strategies that help them cope better and then are reintegrated back into mainstream
Well back to J***

J*** had been born deaf, part of his hearing system was missing so he was never going to be able to hear or speak properly as a result. However he did have a magnetic device implanted which could help him work with sound – but being magnetic of course, it wasn’t long before the other kids in the unit sussed out that “Goal of the day” could focus around who could flick the closest paper clips at J*** and get them stuck on the side of his head.
When he did manage to really wind some of the other kids up – they would take rough justice into their own hands and invariably, J*** ended up magnetised to the side of a filing cabinet with his feet dangling off the floor.
Sadly, he did manage to wind a lot of the other kids up and spent many an occasion dangling off a filing cabinet somewhere until a member of staff got him down!

J***’s lot was generally not a happy one and his behaviours reflected the vicious cycle he got himself into. Unfortunately his Mom and Dad were not in a position to really help him as they had separated and were quite clearly far too busy getting at each other, blaming each other and putting each other down. Most of this strategy involved using j*** as a way to get at each other and sadly could not agree over anything. J*** ended up the pawn in the game playing out between them – to try and get them to agree together some consistent boundaries to support him was mission impossible and they would end up fighting each other, thinking they were getting at each other but only really getting at J***.

The Festive season in a pupil referral unit is always a time of great challenge but the important thing to survive the season is to maintain a sense of humour at all times.

It was the day of the Christmas dinner – all the important dignitaries of the City had been invited to share Christmas dinner with the children, governors, inspectors, Mayor, educational psychologists, doctors – you get the picture?…
Well…. there I stood waiting patiently in the dinner queue when in stormed j*** - evidently not having a happy moment, having had to hang around on the side of a filing cabinet for a while – so I called him over in front of me into the dinner queue to avoid the possible, yet somehow inevitable ‘kick off’ point.
“J***, come over here with me in the queue and get your dinner first.”
Imagine the stunned silence that fell over the crowded room as this blue eyed, curly blonde haired, angelic, 7 year old little boy turned round looked at me and yelled across the dining hall at the top of his voice...
“Suck my C**k!”
What could I say or do ?– As a staunch vegetarian? Other than reply..
“Well if’s it’s all the same to you – I think I’ll stick with the Rudolph’s pie – thanks!”
For other suggestions on surviving the festive season with a child with behavioural problems – or what to serve on Christmas day – to avoid a hyperactive diet – please visit our site