Meet Felipe. Felipe is one of the most adorable little kids you’ll ever meet. He has perfect curls and long, long eyelashes. Teachers and administrators he meets out in the general education world fall for his charm all the time. They come up to me and say, “Aww, Felipe is just so cute!” Sometimes, I’ll even find myself battling to be the disciplinarian when he plays around, doesn’t finish his work, and has to stay in during recess to do it.
With a little bit of encouragement, Felipe is usually very compliant and willing to work. Recently, however, I’ve noticed a complete change in his behavior. Felipe needs constant redirection for every task. He’s less willing to work with the classroom aides. He shortcuts in line and is not willing to share, and there are times when he has simply been rude toward both adults and other students.
What’s baffling is the fact that the change in Felipe’s behavior has not affected him academically. In fact, he continues to excel. In the beginning of the year, Felipe could only write two sentences in his journal, but the other day, wrote an entire story that was a page and a half long and had a complete beginning, middle, and ending. Felipe’s reading has also improved and he is now reading on grade level. Math is Felipe’s strong suit and he’s been attending math in the general education classroom since the beginning of the year.
What’s not baffling, however, is that there have been changes recently in Felipe’s world, both at home and in school. At home, there’s been a change in after-school care, and at school, there’s been a change in the speech pathologist. The other day, Felipe mentioned a sibling that I know he doesn’t have and he very uncharacteristically had a bathroom accident as he was coming back from Speech with my other students.
I’ve mentioned this change of behavior to his mom and we’re in the process of setting up a time to meet. She says she’s also noticed a change in his behavior at home and mornings have been especially hard.
Personally, I feel like Felipe’s been showing a pattern of regressing to little kid behaviors, but maybe I’m being overly sensitive and too concerned. It’s not uncommon for all students to test their new surroundings and get a feel for how far they can go — this I know. However, my gut tells me that there’s something more to the change in Felipe’s behavior than just a kid testing his new environment.
Not having any of my own kids, I’m having a hard time comparing what I see in Felipe to other kids. I know talking to Felipe’s parents is the right thing to do, but I also don’t want to make something out of nothing if he’s just being a kid and will figure things out for himself soon enough. What do you think? Does it seem like Felipe is simply exhibiting behaviors that any other kid would in his circumstances? Or does it seem like there’s something more going on?