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Your Child's Behavior and Special Education

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-03-03 (Revised/Updated 2014-03-14) - Has your child with learning disabilities developed behavior problems that you believe are related to their frustration with their education. For further information pertaining to this article contact: JoAnn Collins.

Main Document

Quote: "Special education personnel often rely on punishment rather than positive behavioral supports and plans."

Are you the parent of a child with autism that has behavioral difficulty at school? Has your child with learning disabilities developed behavior problems, that you believe are related to their frustration with their education? This article will discuss 8 things that you must know about your child's behavioral difficulty and special education.

1. Your child's behavior is trying to tell you something unfortunately you have to figure out what it is! It may take time, but it is worth the effort!

2. The earlier special education personnel address the negative behavior, the easier it will be to positively change the behavior. Some special education personnel let negative behavior go for a long time before trying to deal with the behavior.

3. There is a huge connection between academic difficulty and behavioral difficulty! A lot of children who are asked to do academics that are too hard for them may show this in their behavior. If your child develops behavioral difficulty at school be sure and investigate whether they are having difficulties with their education.

4. The reaction to a child's negative school behavior will either improve the behavior (deescalate) or make the behavior worse (escalate). A person that overreacts to a child's behavior will make the behavior worse. Also untrained staff may also make the behavior worse rather than better.

5. 300.324 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that if the child's behavior impedes the child's learning or the learning of others, the IEP team must consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports to address the behavior. Positive behavioral supports and plans have been shown to increase a child's positive behavior, which in turn, decreases their negative behavior.

6. Special education personnel often rely on punishment rather than positive behavioral supports and plans. Research has shown that punishment only works in the short term to change a child's behavior.

7. According to IDEA a child with a disability can only be suspended for 10 days at a time. After that a manifestation determination review (MDR) must be done, to determine if the child's behavior is part of their disability. If the behavior is part of their disability, they may not be suspended for more than 10 days or expelled!

8. Many schools are relying on seclusion and restraint for children with disabilities. Insist that your child's IEP specifically list that your child is not to be secluded or restrained in any way. Many children have been killed, injured, or have suffered emotional trauma due to the use of restraints and seclusion. Insist on the use of positive behavioral supports and plans.

By understanding these 8 things you will be able to effectively advocate for your child.

Reference: JoAnn Collins is the mother of two adults with disabilities and has helped families navigate the special education system as an advocate, for over 15 years. She is the author of the book Disability Deception, and has recently released an E book entitled: Behavioral Basics; 6 Easy Steps to Improving a Child's School Behavior! For more information on behavior, special education, and to purchase the E book please go to: For a free E newsletter entitled: The Special Education Spotlight send an E mail to:

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