Reducing the Heat – Working Together to Solve Problems



The difficulties are immense for children with neurological conditions that interfere with learning. Their parents and teachers struggle, too. Often they lack knowledge or skills to help, leaving children feeling misunderstood or that they are being punished for their learning differences.

Cooper Fagan, a student at CHILD, speaks about his school experiences. Here is what he shared with Linda, a CHILD Staff Member, on August 6, 2015: “I am not ‘Hot’ anymore. My anger has changed.”

What is it that you like about CHILD? Here, school is fun and entertaining. Teachers are helpful.

Is that different from your last school? Yes, I am not pinned down by teachers, not getting grabbed for no reason at all.

When did you get pinned down? I was always getting pinned down! Things sucked, I would get mad. I was always getting pinned down!

At CHILD, are you “pinned down?” No, things are different. You learn how to work out a problem.

Are you able to say what made you mad? Yes, I felt a lot of anger and hatred. No one listened, cared. People would yell at you. Teachers would throw you in a quiet room for no reason.

So what do teachers at CHILD do? At CHILD you can walk around school more. Teachers can be annoying, like other teachers, but they help you.

What do you mean annoying, how do they help? Well it is hard work to learn how to work out a problem. Teachers at CHILD ask a lot of questions; that is annoying. They listen, though. They help you look at your problems. They help you find ways to solve them.

So, after one year at CHILD, what is different about you, Cooper? My anger has changed, [I am] doing better at school. I am not that "hot" anymore. Here, I do not get tackled, thrown into a quiet room.

Cooper, I am asking a lot of questions, is it okay if I ask a few more? Yes, I’m okay.

Is there anything different about your parents since you started coming to CHILD? They are happier, [they are] not crying anymore, not feeling bad because they are sending me to a bad place. They like my teachers. They like [that] I get asked questions.

Cooper, tell me what three words a friend would use to describe you. My friend would say, “Awesome, friendly, nice.”

I know graduation is a long way off since you are nine years old, but what is your favorite subject? I like science. I would like to do more real science, experiments?

Wow, Cooper, you talked about big changes and shared a lot, may I share what you told me today? Are there special things you would like people to remember? My anger has changed. I am learning to solve problems. [I], still do not like lots of questions, but [I am] learning. I have friends. We talk. Yes, you can share what I said and print it.

Children’s Institute for Learning Differences (CHILD), is a three-component 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides therapeutic day-school services and pediatric clinical services for students and private clients (ages 3 - 18), and support and training for parents and professionals. CHILD addresses needs of children often denied access to local education programs due to challenges posed by severe sensory processing disorders, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, emotional-behavioral disabilities, autism, and extreme anxiety. Students are placed at CHILD by their parents or in partnership with school districts and most transition back to their home school districts within 1-3 years. CHILD provides therapeutic interventions to reach children who would otherwise continue to fail at school. The goal of all CHILD programs is to align the efforts of children, their families and school personnel to increase understanding of learning differences and help children overcome the obstacles to their learning, so they are able to successfully transition back to school programs in their home communities. At CHILD, the focus is on developing a set of durable core strengths – increased levels of self-regulation, an increased ability to maintain relationships, and increased coping skills – to help children achieve ongoing resilience. CHILD employs a project-based curative curriculum with integrated arts, videography and outdoor education. CHILD is guided by the belief, “children do well if they can.” CHILD follows the Collaborative and Proactive Solutions ModelSM developed by Dr. Ross Greene which is an empathy-driven, non-punitive, psycho-educational approach to a more accurate, compassionate understanding of challenging behavior. With tools like the Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems (ALSUP) developed by Dr. Greene, staff at CHILD isolate the triggers for counterproductive behavior and identify each child’s lagging skills. Dr. Greene’s research indicates that children who are challenging are lacking skills, not motivation...skills like flexibility/adaptability, frustration tolerance, and problem solving. Credentialed/licensed teachers, mental health counselors, occupational therapists, and speech/language pathologists develop and implement activities sequenced over time to help children master behavioral and sensory challenges. Small class sizes and high teacher to student ratios ensure focused attention for each child. Students are encouraged to express themselves and actively engage in problem solving with staff and fellow students. As students increase their problem solving skills, they build the resilience required to participate in more typical settings.

CHILD is an approved Non-Public Agency (NPA) by the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), and is certified to provide in-service training.  CHILD is accredited by AdvancED and is a member of the Washington Federation of Independent Schools.