Visual Interpretation

ESE 656

Identifying the Student

Tom is a 7th grade student who has a medical diagnosis of ADHD and learning disability in all subject areas. By parent’s request he is given instruction in general education despite his low intelligence scores which have been reported as low average range. It has been noted that Tom struggles the most with science. He does not turn assignments or follow teacher’s direction in science class which has caused disturbance and altercations. Sometimes Tom is out of control and shouts profanity which parents classify him as having a short fuse. Tom’s behavior has caused issues in his social life, he has few friends who are aware of his behavior and temper but are afraid of Tom’s temper. Even though Tom’s behavior is difficult there are no history of starting fights in school but according to parents he has gotten into several fights at their neighborhood. Due to Tom’s behavior he has been suspended from school, received school detention, and several office referrals.


Tom was sitting down in science class and seemed to not be paying attention to the teacher’s announcements. The teacher was announcing that for class assignment the students will work as a team and turn in one sheet per group. Before creating the teams, Tom was already refusing to cooperate and shouted a bad word while the teacher was calling out the groups. Tom ignored the teacher’s request to sit in a group with only girls, so she assigned him to another group which included boys and girls. Tom ignored teacher’s demand and was roaming around the class. The science teacher called him out several times, but he would ignore her and when the teacher started instruction Tom screamed nonsense words and few bad words.

Describe the Behavior in concrete, observable, and objective terms

At the beginning of the class Tom was calm even though he seemed to not be paying attention to the teachers’ announcements. When the teacher announced the students had to work in teams, Tom disagreed with the decision and refused to follow teacher’s instructions and used profanity. Tom has issues socializing with other students and has only few friends therefore the fact that he has to work with other students triggered his behavior. According to the student’s report, Tom has very few friends and have mentioned to be afraid of Tom’s behavior. As the teacher was setting the groups, I noticed that she gave Tom an option of where to sit but he still refused to cooperate. The teacher seemed tired of Tom’s behavior and continued to give instructions of the assignment while Tom was roaming the class. Since Tom was not receiving attention, he started shouting nonsense and bad words while the teacher was speaking.

This type of behavior is interfering with Tom’s education and social skills. He is not willing to cooperate, and his impulsivity and behavior causes him to get in trouble. He was diagnosed with ADHD which explains Tom’s impulsivity and behavior. “The principle characteristics of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity” (ADHD, 2017). Even though Tom has a disability his symptoms can be controlled by creating a plan that meets his needs. At home parents describe Tom as having short fuse instead of acknowledging that he has a disability. Tom might not be receiving appropriate intervention at home due to the lack of information their parents might have. Tom has been in several fights at his neighborhood and parents have not mentioned what type of consequences he receives or what triggers Tom to get into a fight. It seems that Tom is being guided by his impulsivity and his unwillingness to control his behavior or cooperate with adults.

Function of Behavior and Rationale

The function of Tom’s behavior is to escape and to receive attention. “Defiance and emotional outburst are not themselves symptoms of ADHD, but kids with ADHD are at higher risk of developing these behaviors. Some kids who have ADHD tend to become frustrated and overwhelmed by demands placed on them that they cannot consistently fulfill, because of inherent deficit in paying attention, reining in impulses, and controlling their activity level” (Why Are Some Kids With ADHD to Disruptive Behavior, n.d.). Tom has low intelligence scores in every subject area making it difficult for him to learn in a general class without a teacher aide. Tom can be acting up this way due to his inability to finish assignment or to understand what the assignment is about. The teacher mentioned that some assignments are challenging even for capable students and that is why they use a key point sheet to help them finish assignment. Tom is not receiving appropriate help and his behavior expresses his stress and inability to complete assignment.

To create a theory of Tom’s behavior I used the student’s report and parents input while using a Motivational Assessment Scale to interpret Tom’s function of behavior. The information on the student’s report informed me that Tom lacks social skills and aside from struggling in every subject area, he struggles the most with science. The Motivational Assessment Scale helped me identify student’s function of behavior my answering questions in a scale of 1 through 6. I decided to use this assessment because it helps identify the order of behaviors in which are frequently used. Using this assessment and Tom’s report I was able to identify the main reason of Tom’s behavior which is escape. He struggles with science and it is difficult for him to complete assignments therefore the best way to avoid them is by using his behavior to escape assignments.