A book recently published to help teachers assist students with psychological disorders has a local connection: a chapter — No. 10 — co-authored by Kara G. Wisniewski, Ph.D., NCSP. She is the Brewer School Department school psychologist.
Recently available on Amazon, the book is titled “Understanding and Managing Behaviors of Children with Psychological Disorders: A Reference for Classroom Teachers.” Published by Bloomsbury and edited by Jered B. Kolbert and Laura M. Crothers, the book “was written for classroom teachers,” said Wisniewski.
Crothers and Kolbert drew upon professionals from the United States and elsewhere to write specific chapters for the book, which provides teachers with a brief description of various mental health diagnoses and associated behavior-management techniques to help teachers target the problematic behaviors. The American Psychiatric Association’s manual, titled “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” defines the disorders and describes their related behaviors.
Teachers play a pivotal role in helping to identify and manage problem behaviors, according to Wisniewski. The Bloomsbury book is a detailed resource guide for educators, she indicated.
“Our goal is to intervene as early as possible to help a child,” Wisniewski said. “Clinical studies have repeatedly shown that the earlier the intervention and treatment, the greater the benefit for the child.”
Wisniewski wrote 40-page chapter 10 in collaboration with psychologists Tammy L. Hughes, a professor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, and Michael E. Tansy, in private practice in Phoenix. The chapter focuses specifically on children diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD). Such children display particular behavior that affects the child’s ability to function socially with other students and to participate meaningfully in a classroom setting.
While pursuing her doctorate at Duquesne University, Wisniewski studied with Rolf Loeber, Ph.D., the principal investigator for the Pittsburgh Youth Study. She wrote her dissertation on boys who exhibit behaviors associated with ODD and CD.
Wisniewski coordinates and provides “school psychological services for both general and special education students” in pre-K through 12th grade. The Brewer School Department uses a “team-based approach” that brings together the student, parents, teacher, principal, and school counselor to develop and implement the most appropriate educational program, she indicated.
“The school and home must be working together” for the child’s benefit, Wisniewski said. “The treatment outcomes are much better with us working as a team.”
Brewer school counselors “are trained how to work with student behavior issues” and to assist teachers, Wisniewski said. Also available to help students are Penobscot Community Health Care medical professionals assigned to Brewer Community School and Brewer High School. With parental permission, any Brewer student can access the PCHC services.
“We work collaboratively with the staff and school to meet the needs of the student,” she said.
Wisniewski was pleased to contribute to the Bloomsbury book, which “pulls together the current best practices in supporting the educational outcome for these students,” she said. “The book offers some helpful hints for more individualized issues a teacher may see in the classroom.”
Wisniewski, Hughes, and Tansy started writing chapter 10 in summer 2011 and finished it last June. “For me, just being involved in a project like this is a wonderful way to translate research into practice,” Wisniewski said.