I’d like to start my answer by complementing you on the tremendous love and dedication that you are showing your grandson Sam. It’s really wonderful to hear about such caring from a grandparent, even from such a distance. I’m also very sorry to hear about that incredible loss of money; - the program must not have been the best fit for Sam.
In the detailed information you provided during our chat session and in the body of your presenting question, you mentioned attempts at providing structure and discipline that were leading to explosive meltdowns. You also described problems relating socially at school. What I’d like to suggest is a comprehensive behavioral intervention that systematically explores what causing and what maintaining Sam’s problem behaviors. An intervention that will not only effectively explain specific behaviors but that will provide you, other family members and school staff with an integrated behavior change strategy to help Sam manage those behaviors that are getting in the way of his optimal academic performance levels.
One of the most practical and cost effective ways of helping XXXXX XXXXXe and improve his behavior is to work with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. You may have heard about Applied Behavior Analysis in work with young children with autism. What most people don’t know is that the same scientific approach behind ABA interventions for autism can be applied to help a much higher functioning person like Sam. A certified behavior analyst or ABA specialist, can provide, you and Sam’s parents and other grandparents, tools for collecting very precise information and then to use that information in the design of very effective positive behavior change strategies, that can be applied in his home and school settings. The analyst can also do the needed behavioral observation him or herself depending on your budget.
Having a behavioral intervention of the quality that a board certified ABA specialist can enable you to effectively rule out or identify areas of treatment that are not going to work with an environmental intervention, and which may require other types of intervention, for example medical. An effective behavioral intervention can also sometimes lead to reductions in the requirement for certain medications related to behavior, mood and attention. An ABA intervention is also equally suited to effectively teach and reinforce social skills targets and academic learning strategies that may reduce Sam’s reports of boredom or difficulties relating to others and problems-solving together.
If you do decide to work with an ABA specialist I do recommend that you:
Interview a number of behavior analysts (they usually do not charge for a first telephone or e-mail consult) and ask them about their experience working with teens that fit Sam’s description. Most behavior analysts will ask very detailed questions. If they don’t have directly relevant experience, you can ask for referrals to behavior analysts who do have relevant experience working with kids like Sam.
Ask for free internet links and other free information sources to really help you learn about ABA and how it can best help Sam. I’d then share as much info as you can with the other adults in his life. The more they know and understand about ABA the more likely they are to feel stronger commitment to working with such an approach.
You may also ask if there are any advanced ABA graduate students who are in the process of becoming board certified, who may be willing to work with you and your family for free or at a reduced rate, in order to accumulate experience hours for their practicum towards certification.
It is also highly recommended if you do work with an ABA specialist that everyone living and working with Sam get on the “ same page”, as much as possible, in order to maximize the the benefit to Sam of the intervention that is developed.
Here are some links that provide more information about applied behavior analysis:
Here’s a page for locating a behavior analyst by area:
You may also wish to explore “Direct Instruction” as a remedial strategy to help Sam develop academically here are some links for you to learn more. It’s one of the best kept scientific secrets in the world of education for higher functioning spectrum, attention disordered, and neuro-typical kids, that there is (why is it kept secret? – I don’t know.) :
If you choose to work with a behavior analyst, you can suggest an interest in exploring a direct instruction strategy at home, if there is a parent or adult willing to work with Sam.
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