Special Education/Bullying on the Bus

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Question
Hi,
I do not know exactly what's going on with my daughter on the bus but this is what I gather. I do know that my daughter has this thing where she likes to sing and she is being made fun of for it. The bus driver asks her to stop singing to.  I think having everyone come down on her asking her to stop is making her sing more. I try to tell her to stop singing but I believe her stubborness is not from principle but from the onslaught from others.  She said she feels bullied. She's only 8 and she sings pretty well and I don't think loud. She just loves to sing. The bus is so noisy I am not sure it's noticed except that it's been flagged. I hate seeing my daughter cry coming off the bus and I've heard some kids make really snarky comments after her.  She asked me to pick her up from school from now on but since I work across town, it would be incredibly difficult. I am heartbroken. I called the principal and she very nicely asked me to ask my daughter to stop singing too. But I feel the other kids are contributing to this. What can I do?

Answer
Hello, Susan,

Thank you for writing to me with a very interesting question.  Your daughter loves to sing on the school bus and it seems to be distracting and intrusive to others, and is leading to bullying or at least negative relationships, and a poor start and end to the day.

Let me say that I appreciate her love of singing! But, it really is not appropriate for the singing to interfere with the kids or driver.

You say that people have asked her to stop, but you feel she continues because of the 'onslaught of others'.  Does this mean that she is getting negative attention from singing?  If so, then the attention from others may be rewarding or reinforcing her behavior.

You may want to ask for the school team, bus driver, and all others involved to meet and discuss this through a functional behavior assessment process.

The FBA is a problem solving process that I explore in detail in my book, School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders.  
http://www.amazon.com/School-Success-Emotional-Behavioral-Disorders/dp/159363431

Here is another link for more about the FBA.  If it is a sensory issue, the occupational therapist could be part of the team that helps you and partners with you to work through this.  If it is more of a mental health issue, the psychologist at school could be involved, or the counselor.  
http://www.behavioradvisor.com/FBA.html

The team would meet and identify the behavior to target:  excessive singing on the bus.  It would hypothesize why this is happening, collect data, analyze the responses or consequences from others, and make a plan to solve the problem.  

If she is singing for the noise on the bus, to gain attention because she may not know how to interact with others to get positive attention, sensory issues, self calming, or for any other reason, this is addressed by the team through problem solving.  Maybe she can listen to songs with headphones, have other times to sing where it will be appreciated, get a behavior reward for the replacement behavior of sitting quietly, watching a video on an Ipad, drawing or reading lyrics on the bus (just examples).  We want to identify what she should be doing on the bus, and reward her for that.  If she rides the bus without singing, maybe she could have a few minutes to sing at school.  

Transportation is a needed service, so I would try very hard to problem solve through this, before the situation gets worse and flows into bullying or negative interactions through the school day.  

I hope these ideas and my answer has helped you!  I wish you all the best as you advocate for your child!  Please feel free to follow up with me.  Thank you for using this service!

Special Education

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Michelle R. Davis, M. Ed.

Expertise

I can answer questions about disability definitions and criteria for services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004, No Child Left Behind, 504 plans, how to craft an IEP that drives the appropriate services, school placement, dispute options, and least restrictive environment. I worked in the public school system as a special educator and am now in private consulting practice where we assist parents as they navigate the special education process. I have expertise in all educational disabilities except blind/visual impairments and deaf/hard of hearing. This includes ADHD and other health impairments, medical conditions, dyslexia and learning disabilities, Autism, emotional disabilities, language processing problems, and interfering behaviors.

Experience

10 years as special educator and administrator in public school system; Director of ABCs for Life Success since 1998; Expert services such as analysis and testimony; Author: Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book: What you can do now to advocate for your exceptional child's education; Special Needs Advocacy Training Institute; internet radio show Teach Your Children Well: Hot Topics in Education; author School Success for Kids with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders released March 2010 (Prufrock Press).

Education/Credentials
Masters in Special Education with Emphasis on Inclusive Education (Johns Hopkins University); B.S.in Special Education (James Madison University); Conduct training for Universities, public and private schools, parent groups. Adjunct professor current George Washington University and prior George Mason University.

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