The difference between “won’t” and “can’t.”
I was in a planning meeting for a little girl in public school, a PST meeting (problem solving team), and the hypothesis on which interventions were based went something like this:
Sally (not her name) has been engaging in inappropriate behaviors such as pinching and biting other students and adults. (Sally is six). The hypothesis of the PST is that when presented with nonpreferred activities/assignments, the student engages in these behaviors.
Well, upon looking more closely at Sally, it was discovered that her skill levels were all at pre-K rather than on level with the assignments presented in her general education first grade class; her IQ is in the lower 70s. Sally needs an IEP.
My gripe is this; the hypothesis is wrong, and while Sally’s maladaptive behaviors do need to be addressed, we want to get cleared up, on paper, that the hypothesis was incorrect in that the activities/assignments were not “nonpreferred”, they were impossible! If I know what the Moon is, and I am asked by my teacher to fly to the Moon, the fact that I don’t do it doesn’t mean it is a “nonpreferred” assignment for me.
It is really, really crucial that this small yet vital point of the disproved hypothesis be address and included in the paper trail for future stakeholders in Sally’s education–we don’t want to set the precedent that her behaviors are due to choosing not to comply.