Why your child's "bad behaviors" may really be a cry for help

Could your child's"bad behaviors" really be a cry for help? Clinical neuropsychologist Jerome Schultz, PhD, discusses possible causes and treatments of children with learning disabilities and other special needs.
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Why your child's "bad behaviors" may really be a cry for help

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I describe something that I call saving FASE, and it’s really based on an acronym: F-A-S-E. When kids with learning disabilities experience things-either in their own minds or in reality- are too difficult for them, they react like any other person or any other animal. They react in fear and that’s the F in the saving FASE cycle. Fear means I’m scared that I will look stupid. I’m scared that what’s coming to me now will be too difficult for me and I don’t know what to do about it. Fear gives rise to anxiety which is the body’s reaction, so kids-their heart rates go up, their breathing changes-and they’re really looking for the exit door. They’re looking for a place to get out of this situation because they don’t have a really sense that they have any control over it. So fear leads to anxiety, leads to stress; and these kids are really like deer trapped in the proverbial headlight. They’re looking for a place to get out of the situation because in their minds they don’t have any way to conquer this fear. So, fear, anxiety, stress-the E in the saving FASE cycle is escape. They’re looking for a place to go. That’s why a lot of the kids who have learning g disabilities or ADHD turn off, turn inward, try to run, flee, kids wandering around the hallway, going to the nurse’s office, taking frequent trips to the bathroom, acting aggressively in class-we often misread these behaviors as bad behaviors or oppositional behaviors or we see them as the behavior of an unmotivated kid. In my view, these are the behaviors of a kid under chronic stress. These are kids in a situation that they’re constantly scared of because they don’t want to look dumb. It’s really a simple formula, but, from my point of view it’s at the root of everything that we see in kids that we describe as negative behavior. Once we understand the role of stress and anxiety in the lives of these kids, and we know how to teach them to get around it or past it, things get better. It’s an incredible formula for success and that’s why I wrote my book, because I want to provide a guideline for teachers and parents to teach them how to do the things that are necessary to allow kids to feel more successful in school; less stress, less anxiety and more competent.

Could your child's"bad behaviors" really be a cry for help? Clinical neuropsychologist Jerome Schultz, PhD, discusses possible causes and treatments of children with learning disabilities and other special needs.

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Jerome Schultz, PhD

Clinical Neuropsychologist

Dr. Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is a former middle school special education teacher. He is currently in private practice as a clinical neuropsychologist and is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School in the Department of Psychiatry.  For over three decades, he has specialized in the neuropsychological assessment and treatment of children with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and other special needs. He was on the faculty of Lesley University in Cambridge MA for almost 30 years, and served there as the Founding Director of a diagnostic clinic called the Learning Lab. Before returning to private practice, Dr. Schultz served as the Co-Director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Development at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Teaching Hospital.

Dr. Schultz received both his undergraduate and Master’s degree from The Ohio State University and holds a Ph.D. from Boston College. He has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology. He currently serves on the Editorial Board of a journal called Academic Psychiatry, and is on the Professional Advisory Boards of a website called Inside ADHD.com, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America.

In addition to his clinical and educational work, Dr. Schultz serves as an international consultant on issues related to the neuropsychology and appropriate education of children and young adults with ADHD & LD and other special needs. In his current role as neuropsychological consultant to several large school districts in the Boston area, he is on the ground, in schools and working with kids and their teachers several days each week.

Dr. Schultz created an award-winning video called “Einstein and Me” about living successfully with a learning disability, and has written extensively about children with learning, behavioral and emotional challenges. He has a special education and psychology blog on the Huffington Post. His book, called Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It, (Jossey-Bass/Wiley) which examines the role of stress in learning, has received international acclaim.

 

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