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Case Study Early Childhood - Essay Example

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As her teacher in the upcoming academic year, it becomes important to understand the challenges faced by Abby, and to develop an effective behavioral…
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Case Study Early Childhood
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Running head: PLAN FOR ABBY CASE STUDY Abby’s case of Selective Mutism How to devise strategic behavioral conditioning Plan as a teacher Name
Institution name
Abby’s case of Selective Mutism
Abby Barnes is a seven-year-old first-grader in Philadelphia Public School who has shown signs and symptoms of Selective Mutism. As her teacher in the upcoming academic year, it becomes important to understand the challenges faced by Abby, and to develop an effective behavioral conditioning plan for her on the guidelines of Ivan Pavlov’s theory of behaviorism.
Current Challenges: Kids having Selective Autism usually speak comfortably at home, but their mannerisms are quite different at school or socially where they interact nonverbally (through various gestures) with their classmates or friends (McHolm, Cunningham & Vanier, 2005). Abby subscribes to similar symptoms. The challenges she faces are of psychological and cognitive nature, which naturally gets conveyed through physical restraining of expressions (McHolm, Cunningham & Vanier, 2005). She has developed anxiety-related issues and social phobias as well, like she becomes anxious whenever a question is asked and seems reluctant to reply, though she wants to answer. This means that she has proceeded to the next level of Selective Mutism. Her expressions and attitude change suddenly, like she freezes, her face gets stiff; jaw tightens, and when she speaks her voice is inaudible (Cole, 2006). She has not only restricted her use of speech, but is socially inhibited in other ways too. She never mixes up with her classmates, and only talks to one girlfriend. She has a fear of negative evaluation by others, and is afraid of social ridicule or embarrassment. It is due to the inborn social phobia, which stops her, from using public bathrooms anywhere, or to inform her teacher when she needs a break (Cole, 2006). Her humorous nature and boss like aggressive attitude at home, and shy or unconfident mannerism at school shows her confused cognitive environment.
Current Strength: Selective Mutism is a kind of phobia just like people have fear of heights or water, Abby is having fear of speech outside home, or at social environment (McHolm, Cunningham & Vanier, 2005). At home, she is good at playing board games and cards, which mean that she is an intelligent child, and has the tendency to overcome her fears. She seems inclined towards taking control of her expressions, but is reluctant due to the fear of embarrassment. The hint of flexibility which she has shown as a response to her current teacher’s tactics establishes that she wants to change and become social.  The fact that Abby’s Selective Mutism is not a reaction to any mental or physical trauma from the past, and there are no signs of any disruptive behavior at school, adds potential to her psychological and cognitive strength in this context.
Actions to take at Home, School, and Social levels: The most effective method for a strategic plan is the constant process. Simple everyday practices should be initialized daily. First step towards conditioning Abby’s social behavior is to structure a morning routine for Abby, especially on school days according to the time schedule provided by her teacher.  She should be allowed to speak to people other than her siblings like guests or visitors. She should be asked to talk to people on phone, and deliberately left alone to answer a doorbell. Adopting the practice of playing dumb before the child claiming that she could be understood only when she speaks might prove beneficial. Similar home-based situations will definitely enable Abby to speak more audibly, and allow her to stop restricting her expressions. Selective Mutism can only be treated if the child gets plenty of social activities (Kearney, 2010). Although Abby is already having extracurricular practices, but horse riding and dance classes do not let her mix up with people socially because this is instruction based activities. Under supervision, Abby should be asked to speak to neighbor’s kids or other consistently appearing people like the mail carrier. The conversation should start by saying just hello and gradually Abby should be encouraged to add more words. Feedback should be given at every point, of these practices about her speech, volume, and eye contact. Abby should be taken to regularly visited places like the market, and asked to speak at least one audible word to her parents. Patience is a virtue in this situation as it might take several visits to the market before she speaks the first word outside home (Kearney, 2010). To influence Abby’s learning process, and behavior at school reference could be taken from Pavlov’s theory of behaviorism which suggests that “learning is influenced by associations between behaviors and consequences, and behavior could be conditioned by the instructor through rewards or punishment to attain the desired outcome” (Stavredes, 2011). At classroom setting, the base for improvement has already been provided by Abby’s current teacher Kim Russell (Cole, 2006). As the next step, reducing isolation will be helpful to facilitate increased speech later on. She should be asked to participate in group projects even in a nonverbal fashion, and called on in class more to do things like writing on the blackboard. Peers and classmates could be asked to praise Abby’s speech whenever she converse, and refrain from pointing the fact every now and then that “Abby does not speak”. Teacher should ask the other students to initiate a conversation at lunch time every day. She must be rewarded for engaging in a successful group based session where she has managed to speak more than expected. Taking a basic and natural life scene and transforming it into learning and rewarding situation will help Abby fight Mutism (Kearney, 2010).
Assessment: To make assessments on the signs of improvement shown by Abby, regular parent-teacher meetings should be held. Parents need to assess the changes in their daughter’s behavior, and teacher should notice it at school. A log should be created to understand how Abby reacts to strangers and on certain occasions where she feels anxious or confused. By creating and maintaining an improvement log, it might become possible to evaluate where extra effort is required and where Abby is having difficulty.
Cole, W. (2006). Why abby wont talk. TIME Health Magazine. Retrieved from,9171,1154189,00.html
Kearney, C. A. (2010). Silence is not golden: Strategies for helping the shy child. Oxford University Press.
McHolm, A. E., Cunningham, C. E., & Vanier, M. K. (2005). Helping your child with selective mutism: Practical steps to overcome a fear of speaking. New Harbinger Publications.
Stavredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. John Wiley & Sons. Read More
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