How to decrease agitation for (some) NLD students

You’re teaching. One of your students, you think, has nonverbal learning disabilities. He’s getting upset. With other kids, you have lots of tools in your arsenal; things you know by instinct or from training or from other teachers. But, with this kid, some of those tools don’t seem to work.. What might work?

With many NLD kids, in many situations, agitation comes from too much stimulation. So you want to decrease the amount of stimulation the kid is getting. How you could do this will depend on your classroom, the age of the child, how agitated he is and so on, but here are some ideas. Some of these require advance planning. But, as Gail Godwin said “Good teaching is one fourth preparation and three fourths theater”.

  • You  could move his chair to a quieter part of the room.
  • You could send him on an errand (“Could you bring these to the main office?”).
  • If you can divide your room into smaller groups, this might be a good time to do that, with the child in a small group.
  • If your class ever watches movies, this might be good.
  • You could have a “step out” room or place, where a student can go to be alone for a bit (be sure not to make this punitive)
  • Some NLD people (and people in the autism ballpark) are soothed by repetitive motions, sometimes called “stims”. Work with the student to find one that doesn’t disturb others.
  • Deep breathing and other calming methods that work for NT people often work with NLD people as well. Get the kid to take a breath!
  • Visualizing a calm place. Work with the kid separately to identify a scene or situation she finds calming
  • Other NLD people report that physical activity, especially things like pushing against a wall, are calming.
  • More general solutions could include headphones that block out some noise; also, many NLD people find music soothing.

Doubtless you can come up with others and you have to pick something that will work for this kid in this situation.

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