Therapy for Behavior Disorders
Children with fragile X often have a variety of behavioral challenges. Behavioral challenges are one of the main areas listed on checklists for the identification of persons with fragile X syndrome. Intervention for difficulties with attention, anxiety, and interpersonal relations requires careful planning for both medication and behavior modification.
Parents and educators may need to devise behavioral plans to help children with fragile X to cope with everyday demands of home, school, and community. Poor eye contact, hand flapping, and lack of awareness of social cues may cause difficulties in peer interactions, making inclusive educational placements more of a challenge. ADHD may also impede academic progress.
Behavioral interventions, including calming techniques and modified environments, are important components of the IEP for children with fragile X. Clear, concrete plans, with appropriate cues (e.g. visual signals for quiet mouths) and appealing rewards (e.g. stickers which lead to prizes) are essential for early childhood and school age children. Older adolescents and adults may need specific behavioral plans in vocational training, so that they can function in the work setting in the most appropriate manner. Adapting and Modifying are key for children with fragile X syndrome.
Many of the strategies used for children with ADHD who do not have fragile X syndrome are appropriate for those with fragile X. These include seating near the teacher and away from distractions, use of a private carrel at times, short tasks with the opportunity to move around often, visual cues for sequences of events, and interactive lessons, that do not always involve sitting and listening.
Transitions and changes in schedule are especially difficult for many persons with fragile X and require careful planning by teachers and parents. Pictured schedules on the board or on velcroed cards can be used to lay out the sequence of the day. Changes, such as an assembly, can be written out or pictured and inserted in the proper sequence. Some unusual circumstances (such as a loud assembly) may call for time in a quiet room, with calming items such as a beanbag chair and a videotape, rather than the scheduled event.
Reprinted with the permission of the National Fragile X Foundation. © 1998-2007 NFXF.
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