Support from his parents, professionals and his teachers have helped create an effective learning environment for Keagan Lim, a cheery boy who attended SPD’s Continuing Therapy Programme (CTP) at SPD@Tampines.
Keagan is a Primary One student at St Andrew’s Junior School. He is a cheerful boy and is always full of energy. When Keagan was younger, his parents noticed that he had a short attention span. Keagan was easily distracted and was often absorbed in his own thoughts. He would walk off from a task that he did not like. His handwriting would deteriorate after a few sentences as he had no interest in the homework assigned to him. When something made him upset or angry, he would shout at his friends, kick the walls or chairs, or lie on the floor to show his unhappiness.
Keagan was referred to SPD’s Continuing Therapy Programme (CTP) for attention and behavioural issues and started attending occupational therapy (OT) sessions in January 2016. At the therapy sessions, SPD’s Occupational Therapist, Ms Grazel Ng, worked with him on his attention, on-task behaviour, handwriting skills and emotion management skills on a one-to-one basis. These include teaching him calming methods like thinking happy thoughts, humming songs, listening to music and practising his handwriting by short passage writing, cloze passage and comprehension exercises.
In addition, Grazel advised Keagan’s parents on how they could help improve his behaviour at home. Grazel also worked with the allied educator at Keagan’s primary school and his form teacher to help them work better with Keagan in class. For instance, before assigning Keagan a task, his parents and teachers would let Keagan know their expectations such as the number of tasks to be completed and the duration for the tasks. She also encouraged them to use specific praises like “good listening ears!” and “I like how you use your words to tell me that you are frustrated with work”, instead of generic praises like “good boy” or “well done” to encourage desired behaviour. They were also advised to help Keagan develop confidence to ask for help and to know that his parents and teachers would be there to help him when needed, and to discourage him from giving up on his tasks which he felt were too difficult.
With these help, Keagan’s attention span has improved and he is able to spend longer periods of time at his desk and completing his homework. He is also better at managing his emotions. When frustrated, instead of acting out, he would now calmly verbalise his dissatisfactions and manage the situation using the calming methods he learnt. He is now attending full day school and participating actively in all lessons, up from the previous two hours when he started school initially.
Keagan’s progress shows the importance of how the support of his parents, professionals and teachers, and also Keagan’s willingness to improve, helps to create an effective learning environment for him and how they each play a role in supporting a child with attention and behavioural issues.