In this article by CBS News, we are able to look at two very helpless situations. that involve an 8-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl, who are ADHD-diagnosed and not able to control their behavior or follow instructions. The result of this set of incidents brings the school staff to call the police and the police to utilize handcuffs to control the behavior.
Teachers and law enforcement officers need training in brain states
Obviously these students have some significant needs.
They appear to be severely dysregulated and are not following instructions well. Because of this, a type of power struggle ensues which elevates frustration and anger, which ends in major conflict. If students are not regulated then the potential exists for them to become antagonistic, out of control, and maybe even violent. That merits the need for restraint to protect the students and possibly those around them.
The other side of this is to understand how frustrating it must be for the officers to be forced to deal with these students and have very few tools to use except forced restraint like handcuffs. It may be easy for some to say these students weight less than 60 pounds and should be no threat, but when someone is in an anger hijacked brain state, it is difficult to know what to do. Therefore, restraint seems like the best choice.
Recognizing different brain states and dysregulation
This is why we desperately need our teachers and law enforcements officers to be attuned and aware to brain states, to know principles of brain regulation in children, and how to help regulate a child before they begin a relationship with them. In so doing, we would give these officers a whole new set of relational tools to help the students become more regulated. Additionally, maybe if the teachers knew this information, we could avoid this kind of situation altogether.
Once again, we use the grid that children need to regulate before they can relate, and that they need to have a relationship before they can reason. Particularly in situations where there are some brain deficiencies, these realizations become so much more important.
But also our teachers, disciplinarians, police officers and others who are in charge of students need to know the principles of brain regulation and how to de-escalate a child who is struggling with self-regulating.
Rather than a major confrontation or children ending up in handcuffs with pending lawsuits, maybe parents, schools and officers can work together with these students to have a better way to deal with some of their deficits. Wouldn’t this be a better way to handle students with symptoms related to learning like ADHD?
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network