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  1. #41
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    Just like with a horse-- if you push them beyond what their brain or body can handle, yes, you may get an explosion. But only (usually) if you've missed the 18 little warning signals that he was issuing along the way. A good trainer, when getting those early signals, takes a step back, tries it a different way, repeats the task until it's comfortable before moving on, etc. This is all you need to do. It really is not much different from teaching anyone, disability or no. When you approach teaching in this manner, he specific disability and medication is really not relevant. If she's zoning out from time to time, it doesn't really matter whether it's daydreaming, ADD, or an absence seizure. I have taught children with disabilities, from mild to profound, for 11 years and I can tell you unequivocally that two kids with the exact same diagnosis can have 100% different teaching needs. The same meds affect people differently.
    You teach the kid, not the diagnosis.
    Try to break down crushing defeats into smaller, more manageable failures. It’s also helpful every now and then to stop, take stock of your situation, and really beat yourself up about it.The Onion


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  2. #42
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    My niece has the same learning disability I have. She had incredible talent with horses but sadly, not the best instruction.

    Be intuitive or send this client to someone who is. THey will bring the best out in them. My niece did not have intuitive instructors after me and her riding fell apart. They kept insisting that she listen which was difficult when she was riding. She could not do both. I used colored cones and obstacles to cue her on which way to go and when to do things. She progressed rapidly. She went on miles of rides, entered shows and WON and just did well. English and western. Returned to her regular instructions she faltered and became fearful of riding and showing and now rarely gets on a horse.

    Get creative. Find what works. Makes us exceptional at what we do.
    “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
    ? Albert Einstein


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  3. #43
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    I usually out and ask the parents. I have the benefit of being one credit shy of my Ph.D in child psych (discovered i didn't want to be a psychologist when it was almost too late) and I preface my statement with my educational background. Sometimes the kids aren't even diagnosed and my little push can move things in the best direction for the child. That being said, if you are teaching a kid with LD that's severe enough to impact lessons, you probably need to get some education on learning strategies so you can be a good teacher for that child. I, for instance, won't teach autistic kids because I never learned how to teach them. Don't teach kids that you're not equipped to meet their educational needs as you will do them a potential disservice.
    glimmerling


    Member Appaloosa lovers clique


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  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by glimmerling View Post
    I usually out and ask the parents. I have the benefit of being one credit shy of my Ph.D in child psych (discovered i didn't want to be a psychologist when it was almost too late) and I preface my statement with my educational background. Sometimes the kids aren't even diagnosed and my little push can move things in the best direction for the child. That being said, if you are teaching a kid with LD that's severe enough to impact lessons, you probably need to get some education on learning strategies so you can be a good teacher for that child. I, for instance, won't teach autistic kids because I never learned how to teach them. Don't teach kids that you're not equipped to meet their educational needs as you will do them a potential disservice.
    Thanks!
    The bolded part is precisely the reason I am looking for ways to ask in the least offensive manner.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  5. #45
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    I am not an instructor of anything. I am a parent and my youngest has some issues...mostly anxiety related, with some sensory thrown in (or vice versa, it's a chicken and egg thing). He is on no medication as everyone involved doesn't consider it appropriate. He's fine most of the time, but will have the occasional big meltdown...usually related to extreme frustration with multiple demands at once that he doesn't feel he can meet and/or overstimulation. When he is having an emotional meltdown, there is no talking with him, he can't hear it and trying to engage him will make it worse.

    I do share information when it's appropriate. He is not ready (at 10) to go anywhere overnight with a group and an unrelated adult, I wouldn't subject him or the others to that. IF, for some reason he were, I'd certainly share information with the adult supervising the group. Information like: how to recognize that his stress/anxiety levels are rising and that he needs to be removed from the situation to sit somewhere quietly in the hopes of heading off the meltdown. If he does have a meltdown, not to try to engage him, as talking and reasoning will only make him worse, he needs to go sit and have his crying session by himself, he'll come back calmly when he's under control again (and it might take a while!), etc... Some group activities away from home might not be appropriate for him to be on as you can't hold up a whole group of kids, with limited adults present, while he gets himself together.

    IMO, if you are having specific issues with a child, ask their parents what they do to manage the problem behavior. You don't have to ask for a diagnosis (there might not be one, the parents might be clueless or in denial that anything is wrong, etc...). Just ask for help, by asking for specific tools and tactics that they find work with their child.

    If the parents can't or won't help you and the child's behavior is really a problem, whatever activity this is that you are doing might not be appropriate for this child. It's not OK for the safety or welfare of this child, or the other children in the group to be jeopardized because of some out of control behavior. I've been told twice that a particular activity wasn't working out for my child or that the adults involved didn't feel they were equipped to manage him because they didn't have enough staff or whatever...no problem. Not every situation is appropriate for every child and I'd rather know that he and everyone else is miserable and find a better situation for him than have him learning nothing because he's too freaked out or have the other kids not learning whatever it is because he's being too disruptive. I really appreciate having that communication, rather than the adults involved floundering around, for fear of talking to me about it, and making things worse.


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  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by glimmerling View Post
    Don't teach kids that you're not equipped to meet their educational needs as you will do them a potential disservice.
    I think, as with everything, it depends on many things - perhaps most importantly, what you are trying to teach them.

    I am helping with a dog obedience class for 4H. One student is, in my not at all expert opinion, disabled in some way. If I had to guess, I would say she has Asperger's, but I realize that I could be totally wrong, and in fact could have a medical issue and on medication that changes her behavior.

    For the class we are teaching - it really doesn't matter. It wouldn't make a difference if I knew she had Asperger's or a sensory processing disorder, or anything else, really. The *worst case scenario* is that she won't be a great dog handler. But to be honest, she is no "worse" than quite a few other kids who I suspect do not have any other issues or challenges.

    If it were teaching in a scenario where her physical safety and that of others was in danger -- e.g. riding -- it might make a big difference. But, maybe a child with mild autism is not as much as a safety issue as a fearless child with no disability (for example, one who thinks they are ready to jump after only a couple of lessons.) So, I think the blanket statement of saying not to teach kids you're not equipped to teach is a little bit of an over-generalization. Who (in the world) is equipped to teach everyone - disability or not? And how does *knowing* the disability actually change your decision-making process?

    I think that most parents would not object to being asked questions about their child -- "Jane seems to be frustrated in her riding lessons. Do you think she enjoys them? Do you think there is something I could do differently to help? Maybe I am moving too fast/too slow? What do you think?"

    That is very different from being asked if their child has a learning disability or other issue.

    My main issue with "classifying" the student is that it often becomes the default *reason* they have trouble, even if it is something else. (E.g. the teacher is mean or boring, the class is too crowded, the boots hurt, or they are afraid.)


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  7. #47
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    I haven't read through every post here, but I deal with this a lot, as I work with kids who have graduated from therapeutic riding programs, who want to continue riding.

    One thing I've started doing is giving my students a worksheet to fill out right before and right after my lessons. It takes them about 5 minutes or so, and for one girl with severe anxiety, I ask questions like "How anxious are you in general today?" "How anxious are you about your lesson?" and have her rate her anxiety level on a 1-10 scale.

    That way, I have something to show the parent at the end of a month that is generated by her child, and we can discuss what the mom is doing about the anxiety problem outside of lessons. In this particular case, the girl is on medication, but no other anxiety management program outside of riding, and I'm no therapist. I need to go to the parent with something concrete to show that the girl needs some help off the horse if she wants me to be successful with her daughter on the horse.



  8. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by S1969 View Post
    My main issue with "classifying" the student is that it often becomes the default *reason* they have trouble, even if it is something else. (E.g. the teacher is mean or boring, the class is too crowded, the boots hurt, or they are afraid.)

    That's exactly right. Even if the child DOES have a diagnosed disability or emotional problem, it's still important not to blame EVERYTHING on that when there could be something else going on that is holding them back. It's also important not to use it as an excuse to let the kid off the hook and not expect them to do their best.

    I've experienced both ends... My son was having a really bad time with one teaching assistant assigned to his classroom last year, she was MEAN and said unproductive things to him that really upset him. When I complained, I was told at first, "Well, you know he can be overreactive, fragile, etc...". Ummm, no, I watched this woman and she was immature, called kids names and stunk at her job, seriously and I'm not an excuse maker. I wasn't the only parent complaining. But, the first inclination was to blame the problem on the child's "issues".

    On the other hand, my son is smart and he can be manipulative. He will sometimes claim to be "stressed out" and make some crocodile tears, thinking he'll get out of something he finds difficult. It's also bad when adults buy into that because he has "anxiety issues" and let him off the hook and lower their expectations for him. Most teachers see through the ploy, fortunately and ignore it and push him to stay on task.


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  9. #49
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    Alagirl, I didn't read through all the replies, but I am a certified Therapeutic Horseback Riding Instructor. I'm sure you have been given this advice already: if you suspect that the child has special needs, don't wing it if you don't have the training, background or full information about the child. It would be safer for both you and the child if you can find a diplomatic way to broach this with the parents, and the child may be better served in a Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program. Best of luck.


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  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canaqua View Post
    That's exactly right. Even if the child DOES have a diagnosed disability or emotional problem, it's still important not to blame EVERYTHING on that when there could be something else going on that is holding them back. It's also important not to use it as an excuse to let the kid off the hook and not expect them to do their best.

    I've experienced both ends... My son was having a really bad time with one teaching assistant assigned to his classroom last year, she was MEAN and said unproductive things to him that really upset him. When I complained, I was told at first, "Well, you know he can be overreactive, fragile, etc...". Ummm, no, I watched this woman and she was immature, called kids names and stunk at her job, seriously and I'm not an excuse maker. I wasn't the only parent complaining. But, the first inclination was to blame the problem on the child's "issues".

    On the other hand, my son is smart and he can be manipulative. He will sometimes claim to be "stressed out" and make some crocodile tears, thinking he'll get out of something he finds difficult. It's also bad when adults buy into that because he has "anxiety issues" and let him off the hook and lower their expectations for him. Most teachers see through the ploy, fortunately and ignore it and push him to stay on task.
    Excellent reason for why information needs to be shared. It isn't about the "problem" but about how to get teach the child to the best of their ability.

    This is why any person that deals with children need to know the history of a child's conditions (as they might relate to what is happening). Parents that omit information simply because they don't want a stigma on their child, can very well cause more problems. I am all expecting that best in everyone regardless, but each person has different abilities and ways of dealing with things. As educators, whether in a classroom, the barn, or cub scouts, it is our duty to do the best for the child. Without certain information we are not able to provide that level of education.

    I am not saying that every little items needs to be disclosed, but parents must understand that when a person is acting in the role of educator we must know the best way to help them learn. Classroom teachers have all day every day to learn the best way. "Out of school" teachers have maybe an hour a week. The more information we have up front the faster we can adjust our style to compliment the child.


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  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by chai View Post
    Alagirl, I didn't read through all the replies, but I am a certified Therapeutic Horseback Riding Instructor. I'm sure you have been given this advice already: if you suspect that the child has special needs, don't wing it if you don't have the training, background or full information about the child. It would be safer for both you and the child if you can find a diplomatic way to broach this with the parents, and the child may be better served in a Therapeutic Horseback Riding Program. Best of luck.
    yes, precisely the reason I was asking.
    Kids are too precious to muck around and try things.
    I think we are well equipped with the people we do have around, but we need the parental input. And that was basically the question, how do I ask without putting the parent in a defensive position.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  12. #52
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    Alagirl, does your farm require a medical or liability release signed by the parents before kids are allowed to ride? There might be information there, and if you are professional staff in charge of the child, you should have access to it.

    Otherwise, I would suggest that you take note of a few instances where the child is having difficulty, then approach the parent after the lesson and say something like, "I am really enjoying working with your son/daughter, but I have a question about the best way to help him/her understand (issue here). Can you share your thoughts with me about how he/she learns best at home and at school, so perhaps we can integrate those methods here?"
    That may open the door to the conversation without any appearance of a judgement. The child may be an auditory, kinesthetic or visual learner, and once you know which type of learning style the child has, you will be able to adapt your lessons. Hopefully the parents will understand that you're just trying to help keep your lessons as safe and productive as possible for that child.


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  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by chai View Post
    Alagirl, does your farm require a medical or liability release signed by the parents before kids are allowed to ride? There might be information there, and if you are professional staff in charge of the child, you should have access to it.

    Otherwise, I would suggest that you take note of a few instances where the child is having difficulty, then approach the parent after the lesson and say something like, "I am really enjoying working with your son/daughter, but I have a question about the best way to help him/her understand (issue here). Can you share your thoughts with me about how he/she learns best at home and at school, so perhaps we can integrate those methods here?"
    That may open the door to the conversation without any appearance of a judgement. The child may be an auditory, kinesthetic or visual learner, and once you know which type of learning style the child has, you will be able to adapt your lessons. Hopefully the parents will understand that you're just trying to help keep your lessons as safe and productive as possible for that child.
    A physical is required, and I think it includes medication, but it is more a behavioral thing. I will check with the other volunteers.
    But it is mostly a matter of getting all ducks in a row (I have the impression that the mother has a bit thresh hold anxiety herself, but we are pulling her into the dark side, little by little )

    It is really mostly a matter of establishing the lines of communication.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  14. #54
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    Hi Alagirl,

    Acknowledging that you clearly stated in OP that your realm was non-HR.

    I have taught beginners to 2'6", all ages but 80% kids, full time since 1999. Starting with looking at a horse in a stall and asking, "So, how do you introduce yourself to a horse?" and take it from there. Teaching how to hold a leadrope. What a crosstie is. The whole beginner horsemanship and riding chimichanga.

    I feel your pain. I am a HUGE proponent of everybody, howeverly abled they are, doing what they can do! I don't worry much about labels or diagnoses in terms of how I classify students or set goals; I always think, "Let's see what you CAN do!" Obviously applies to fully able-bodied, but emotionally anxious 65 year olds as well as developmentally different 6 year olds. BUT:

    I have had parents bring children for horsebackriding lessons, without telling me in advance, that child did not have the use of one hand; that child was colorblind (not mentioned despite parent sitting ringside through several lessons where child was asked to trot over the red poles or the green poles); child had difficulty with auditory processing; child had difficulty with proprioception (sp); and goes on and on. These are great parents, and the kids are fantastic! I totally respect and understand that the parents don't want their children labeled or treated differently. BUT:

    I am putting the child on a 1000 pound animal that can run 25 miles per hour in an instructional setting in which I have ultimate legal responsibility (and, by the way, would actually prefer that no one got hurt, lawsuits aside). The parents are voluntarily choosing to bring their children to me for this purpose. It is their responsibility to inform me of anything about their child that might affect the success/safety of putting the child on a 1000 pound animal that can run 25 miles per hour in an instructional setting. The child's physical safety is my #1 priority, period.

    I don't need a formal diagnosis from a physician. It may simply be, "Trudy was up all night drinking Mountain Dew and doing nails with her girlfriends at a slumber party last night." Good to know; maybe today won't be the best day to try canter for the first time. It may be, "Steve is on the autistic spectrum and doesn't like loud noises, and learns better by watching than by hearing instructions." No problem, I can work with that, and we'll have a great time. If a child came with significant trunk/upper body weakness, requiring a constant sidewalker, I'd explain that a therapeutic program would probably help their child progress farther and faster than my program could.

    Of course, just because it's the parents' responsibility to tell you this, doesn't mean they will, and again, maybe it's because they don't want the child treated differently (a great philosophy toward raising a differently abled child, but always second, for me, to the first priority of keeping that child as physically safe as possible). Maybe they are still processing and coming to terms with their child's differences, whether those are diagnosable or just toward the outliers of normal behavior. Maybe they're unaware.

    I think several of the first few posts gave terrific suggestions for how to gently inquire for more information. Especially phrasing it in terms of, "I'm trying to figure out how I can be the best instructor ever for Susie." I have found that approach very successful. Especially when the parents see how you relate to the child. I had a sweet student, having trouble tightening the girth, look at me and say sheepishly, "I'm a little ADD." And I smiled back and said, "And I have asthma and a bad back, but isn't it great that we can both be here enjoying these horses?" and I stared pointedly into the cobwebs until student realized that ADD wasn't going to be a pass on tightening the girth for oneself.

    I'm childless, but I think the goal of wanting a differently abled child to be treated as normally as possible is fantastic. I wish these parents could feel confident that they CAN share a diagnosis, or less formal observations . . . and still see their child treated as normally as possible. Or treated slightly differently, because that gives the child the best shot at success, and who cares that it's slightly different. That would be progress.
    Last edited by Martha Drum; Jan. 26, 2013 at 11:42 PM.


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  15. #55
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    Martha, that was an excellent post!

    There is something to be said for teaching what is in front of you. Part of the skill in being an instructor, especially where beginners and kids are concerned, is being able to evaluate the student and then adapting your teaching style to suit your students' needs. I don't think parents NEED to share a diagnosis, nor specifics of it, but it is helpful sometimes if they say "Hey, Suzy has hearing loss in her right ear" or something to that effect.

    I usually make a point to become friendly with the parents of my students, because hey they are trusting their kids to me... but also, it helps me gain insight into the kids via snippets their parents offer up. Even if it is as small as "well Sally had the flu this week so she's a little tired today" or something. I do have one student who I am certain has an autism spectrum disorder, but the parents have never volunteered the info, and I've never asked. I've learned how to tailor the lessons to her needs, and she's made great progress. I am by no means a stellar rider and wouldn't consider myself a trainer nor a pro in terms of riding skill... but I think a large part of my success as an instructor has been my ability to relate to the kids and find what works for them in terms of what they need to learn, and gain both confidence and skill.

    Alagirl, my husband ran a summer camp for many years and you'd be surprised how many kids showed up with meds and pretty "interesting" medical problems that we were unaware of prior to their arrival. Sometimes we knew the "diagnosis," oftentimes we didn't. It did always shock me a bit that a parent would leave a child for a 2 week overnight stay, with virtual strangers, and not provide some background history to what is clearly a potentially complex medical issue. But at the same time, I know sometimes as a parent, you just want a kid to have as "normal" an experience as possible and you don't want to turn their challenge into a "thing." If safety and well-being is concerned though, I do think the parent has a responsibility to make the coach/teacher/caretaker aware of what is going on.

    Ok, enough rambling out of me.... interesting thread though.
    We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.


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  16. #56
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    well, this is a bit of a problem to do 'normal' when that can be a bit rough around the edges and the kid is not quiet there in terms of being able to handle it.
    I much prefer to ease them into it from the shallow end, vs pushing them into it at the deep end and watching the bubbles come up.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



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