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Individual Difference Student Profile Yelena German Instructor: Kae Jensen EDUC 205: Development / Individual Differences Spring 2013


Individual Differences Student Profile A first grader whom I had the opportunity to observe first appeared to me as a typical boy with no disorders. However, he has academic and behavioral problems in addition to Autism Spectrum Disorder thus making him an exceptional student. On one of the days, he had notified his teacher and aid, of his new name, Steve. In the following paragraphs, I will refer to him as Steve and discuss his general information, cognitive development, socio-emotional development, and summary of the findings. General Information Steve is a seven year and seven month old American boy. He lives with his family and has two brothers. The older brother is in middle school and the younger brother is just three years old. Steve spends all day at school with an aid who helps and guides him during the school day in a full inclusion classroom. He has speech and language therapy once a week for half an hour. His daily schedule is like any students in his class with some changes. Steve rides a special education bus to school. After school, he rides the bus home where his stay at home mom is with his younger brother. Physical Development Steve has blonde hair and blue eyes and is right handed. He can write, cut with scissors and use other supplies just fine which tells us that his small muscles are fully developed. Steve has overall good physical health and does not seem to show any health concerns. Steve eats school lunch and a healthy snack later in the day. He is normal in his weight and height and does not have any exercise habits besides jump rope and monkey bars. During this school year, he learned how to jump rope and play on the monkey bars. He brings his jump rope to school on a


daily basis and let one of his classmates borrow it for one recess when she asked him. Ninety percent of the time he spends at recess he is alone. While observing him during recess, I noted he was on monkey bars a lot. I did see him play with the ball for about three minutes due to the delay of his large muscles During physical education class which he has twice a week, Steve spends all his free time using his jump rope. He could jump up to twelve times at a time and was proud of himself. I did not get a chance to talk to his physical education teacher about his other accomplishments and his struggles in his age group. Cognitive Development As I was noting his age, I noticed he started first grade when he was already seven years old. The data was not available to me regarding his prior academic history, school history, and grades. I do know he has speech and language therapy as noted earlier, and goes to the resource room fifteen minutes before the bell rings at end of the school day. I once had the opportunity to observe him for the whole day. It was the day for library and music. Observing him in both settings, he liked the library but not music. During library, all the students, including Steve were listening to a librarian read them a book and then all had a choice to pick a book and read it quietly before they checked the book out. Steve had been reading the book, A Very Hungry Caterpillar, for couple of months now and taking it home week after week. He also had another book he liked at the beginning of the year which he kept borrowing for a couple of months as well. When he was reading his current book to me, I noticed he memorized some of the sentences as he read half of the book before it was time to check the book out. Steves fluency level is behind what is expected at his age and grade level. He reads about 14 words per minute as his teacher noted.


As far as music, he really dislikes it. Every time the teacher turns on some kind of music, he uses an assistive technology device, his headphones, which he uses in music class as well as in a regular class if music is played. His attention span is very short in music class, which is only half an hour long. He didnt stay on task and asked a couple of times to go get a drink of water. In a regular classroom, Steve participates in most class activities and can be creative when he is motivated to do something. His aid is there to guide him when he does not follow directions after his teacher explained everything to the whole class. This does not happen every time; it depends on what the activity/assignment is and whether he likes it or not. Steve has a home base in the hallway where he can go with his aid to work on the assignment at his pace. To help Steve complete assignments, stay on task, and listen he has positive reinforcements like praise and stickers. In addition to positive reinforcement, he has negative reinforcements like flipping his behavior card to a different color or staying in class during recess to finish his work. A token economy seems to work very well with Steve. During the week he can earn money for being a good student and doing his work. On Fridays, he can spend it in the resource room. He really likes to get something for his good behavior and hard work, and it sure helps a lot as I was told by his aid; it helps him to stay focused on school work and be engaged in learning. His teacher sometimes uses Premack Principle as one of the positive reinforcers being used when he does all his work and showed good behavior. As for punishment, all of the students, including Steve, have green, yellow and red small size cards. When a student is not listening or being disruptive, he/she is told to switch the card to yellow. If they continue they switch their card to red. During the time I was observing, Ive never seen anyone with a red card by their name; students didnt get that far in misbehaving.


Looking at Piagets stages of cognitive development, Steve is in concrete operational stage. He understands math and can add and subtract in his head without using any manipulative or his fingers like other kids do in his class. Steve has no problem in math, but needs some assistance in language, literacy and social studies. Socio-emotional Development Steve does not talk with his peers unless someone is the first to ask him a question or tell him something interesting to which he wants to respond back. Steve has deficits in using communication for social interaction with his peers. He has a lower level of social play with his peers appropriate to his developmental level and age group. Steve respects adults and listens to what they have to say. If you let him talk during the time he should be doing his work, he could tell you a story or something related to the pictures from assigned reading material. During a normal typical school day, emotional or behavioral problems may appear. Usually Steve does great during the first part of the day; no signs of behavioral problems. It is during the second half of the day when he does not want to do his work and it gets harder for the teacher and/or aids to get him do his work. Sometimes he had to stay in during recess and finish his work and it is then he shows internalizing disorders. Other times staying during recess does not work, so he ends up taking his work home. Steve needs to work on accomplishing new social and academic demands; this places him in the Industry vs. Inferiority Stage in Ericksons theory of psychosocial development. Summary, Conclusions, and Implications Based on my findings, Steve has a great potential in school success while receiving special education services. With reinforcers, he does quite well. He almost always finishes his school work but he needs help with his self-determination skills to help him with good


choice/decision making, goal setting and attainment. Steve receives related services like transportation and speech-language pathology that make his educational experience easier. Steve is being included in all of the classroom activities and seems to enjoy most of them. He does not have friends whom he could talk to or play with on daily basis, but if one could come up to him and want to talk and play with him, he would definitely do it.


References Taylor, R. L., Smiley, L. R., & Richards, S. B. (2009). Exceptional Students: Preparing Teachers for the 21st Century. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.