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Hydrocephalus Educational Observations for Teachers

What the Young Person Might be Experiencing

Some children and teenagers with Hydrocephalus may have ‘off days’ and ‘on days’. For example, they could be experiencing:

Physical discomfort:

  • A shunt blockage or infection;
  • Migraine;
  • Low energy levels (may get tired very easily).

Problems in understanding:

  • How to explain the difficulties they are experiencing and how to ask for help when they really need it (leading to frustration that can ‘boil over’ when they get home);
  • How to ‘stand back’ for a minute and think about what they are doing, or are about to do;
  • How to scan an ‘environment’ (e.g. a corridor; a computer screen) for ‘cues’ that will give them information about what is where;
  • How to ‘read’ a task and explain what it means in terms of what they need to do;
  • How to reflect on their work and compare it to the standards required.

Feelings of under-achievement, due to:

  • Problems with balance and poor spatial awareness;
  • Difficulties with co-ordination and fine motor control;
  • Difficulties in remembering instructions and following discussions (poor short-term memory for speech);
  • Difficulty in concentrating on, and organising their work (not ‘getting on with it’ without reminders; losing things, or forgetting ‘where they are’ in their work);
  • A lack of total independence in self-care management skills (over-reliance on others);
  • ‘Shyness’ about giving their own ideas and opinions (not often saying ‘I think’, followed by something no one else has said);
  • Too few ‘social’ experiences;
  • Not being able to ‘keep up’ with the job, or with work, at the same level as others.
  • What the Teacher or SNA might be ‘seeing’

It is very easy to jump to conclusions about ‘behaviour’. In the list below, each ‘difficulty’ is followed by a possible misinterpretation.

A difficulty in:

  • Concentrating (can be misinterpreted as ‘laziness’, i.e. needs to be ‘stood over’)
  • Following instructions (deliberate ‘awkwardness’);
  • ‘Getting on’ with others (‘selfishness’ or ‘self-centredness’);
  • Doing neat work and organising it properly (carelessness);
  • ‘Thinking it through’ before giving an answer (not taking work seriously);
  • ‘Keeping to the point’ (‘waffling’; ‘not taking work seriously’).

Each of the above ‘difficulties’ represents a skill that needs to be worked on. Working Together

The last point in section 1 only holds true for ‘competitive’, ‘I win, you lose’ environments. If the ‘ethos’ of the workplace/college celebrates individual differences and achievements, no matter how small; and ‘people looking out for each other’, this will be less of a problem. If these young people do get the idea that there is nothing they are good at, they will begin to have a poor image of themselves and may become very withdrawn and unhappy.

They may need help, and a great deal of positive feed-back to learn how to:

  • Speak about the skills they need (what they are expected to be able to do), and the skills they have (i.e. what they can do; what they have difficulty with);
  • Describe a specific task, and what that means in terms of what they need to do;
  • Describe the help they need;
  • Repeat (whisper) instructions to themselves – so that they can remember what to do – and write them down, so that they can refer to them;
  • Review the work and explain how it compares with the goals that were set.