James might be anxious
But I didn’t do research:
What helps anxious kids?
My only attempt to address James’ specific needs was an impulse to help him avoid what made him feel uncomfortable: I had offered James the opportunity to give his oral at lunchtime to an audience of just me and my mentor.
While some resources do suggest modifications to the submission of assessment (such as presenting to fewer people), James’ offer indicates that he was not incapable of giving a presentation under the same conditions as his peers – in fact, avoiding such conditions may have had adverse effects on his development.
BeyondBlue warns that one shouldn’t “help [people with anxiety] avoid situations that make them feel anxious.” By allowing him to give his speech privately, I may have reinforced James’ belief that speaking in front of the class was something he could not do. Conversely, speaking in front of the class may have been therapeutic and helped James learn “to accept the temporary discomfort of an anxiety provoking experience.”
I realise now that I knew very little about James and his needs. I did not carry out any kind of assessment of his abilities or of the accessibility of my teaching methods or learning activities. While the formal and lengthy process of a Functional Behaviour Assessment may have been unnecessary for James, questions like those found in the SETT Framework may have helped focus on important areas of consideration and avoid assumptions based on vague and insubstantial evidence. Asking just some of the questions from SETT has already told me that one “tool” I could have used was to give James advanced warning and time to prepare before calling on him to contribute in class.
Beyond Blue (
 About.Com (
 O’Connor, 2010 (