What Tools are Available to Help You Identify Hyperactive and Problem Children?

To teach is to learn. Japanese proverb.

The school year has just begun, and you have already discovered one child in your class who needs psycho-educational testing. The next time you see the school psychologist, you ask how long the waiting list is for testing. “Two to three months!” you hear yourself exclaiming. You think to yourself, “That means Christmas before I get any results; the year will be almost half-over by then.” What do you do: make do, or take some proactive steps yourself?

Your inclination is to wait. After all, school psychologists are the experts, and what can you do anyway? There are, however, a number of ways you can, on your own, contribute to the assessment process, and in the meantime perhaps discover strategies for helping your students. These include (a) filling out behavioral rating scales; (b) observing children’s behaviors; (c) talking with children’s parents to see whether they notice the same problems at home; and (d) experimenting with different teaching and management strategies.

Before detailing these assessment tools, I’d like to look into one unresolved matter: who are problem children? To a certain extent, whom you or I perceive as problem children will depend on what each of us thinks of as problem behaviors. I find children who tell me to “get lost,” a problem, because I never know what to say next. On the other hand, you may know what to say next and find this behavior no problem to you. In this book I have tried to define problem children in terms of those behaviors the majority of teachers find difficult to manage: disobedient, acting-out children, who do not get along well with their peers.