Introduction & Literature Review

What does a teacher do when faced with a disruptive student who exhibits aggressive behaviors and is also uncontrollable in a class with his peers? Many schools have alternative programs for students who demonstrate these kinds of disruptive behaviors. However, despite the existence of these programs, it is difficult to find a consensus on a definition of alternative programming. For example, Kauffman, Lloyd, Baker, and Riedel (1995) state that few, if any, alternative programs for students that exhibit signs of emotional or behavioral disorders are unique. According to the literature, a successful intervention program is not due so much to the components but rather to the accuracy, strength, and intensity of its component parts. Thus, schools choose programs that are individually designed to meet the needs of the students.

The literature on alternative programs for behaviorally aggressive deaf students is sparse. However, in one study, Lennan (1975) addressed the advantages in using behavior modification with the deaf. Behavior modification has been used with a wide range of special education children with impressive results. The results have demonstrated that behavior is learned and is subject to change according to the guidelines or perimeters set. Lennan (1975) found a variety of affective outcomes that resulted from the behavior modification approach. These advantages included that: (a) behavior is addressed within the environment in which it occurs; (b) the use of behavior modification promotes individualization by teachers in working one to one with the student; (c) behavior modification helps staff to become more objective, consistent, and positive with their students; and (d) regular positive feedback from teachers is given at frequent intervals during the day.

Studies show that deaf students are more often labeled with behavioral problemsbecause of the lack of communication skills needed to express themselves. This can result in disruptive or aggressive behaviors rooted in a feeling of frustration and anger. Ewing (1961) states that without explanatory words, situations can mislead the deaf child and often arouse distressing [frustrating] emotions that may find expression through violent and passionate behavior. Greenberg and Kusche (1993) suggest that the estimated rate of behavior problems in deaf children is very high. The fact that deaf children have a relatively high rate of behavior problems makes them appropriate candidates for such interventions.

Brinker (1990) states that there is no factual evidence that placements based oncertain observed or inferred child characteristics results in improved behavior and enhanced learning. The small number of studies focusing on programs for aggressive deaf students and the array of findings provided a rationale for the question my study attempted to examine. The purpose of my study was to analyze whether placement in the alternative program in a southeastern region school for the deaf was appropriate for a deaf eight-year-old male who exhibited aggressive behaviors. Thus my question became: Is the early intervention alternative program in a residential school for the deaf the appropriate placement for an aggressive eight-year-old male?

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