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Seeing 'Misbehaving' Kids in Different Way
10/21/2013

John Barone ‘86, UST graduate, author and educator, knows about kids’ behaviors and the brain. Moreover, he is driven to share his knowledge, recommend better responses by adults, and reduce judgment and shaming of children who have neurological differences such as autism, AD/HD, and Tourette syndrome.

“What I want adults to know is that troubling classroom behaviors like daydreaming, forgetting homework, poor time management or any perceived weaknesses or deficits are not a reflection of the student’s will or character—but are a function of their development,” Barone said. “It’s not that the distracted child, with pre-meditation, ‘refuses’ to pay attention or ‘refuses’ to remember to bring their homework. If a teacher or catechist or parent is curious and investigates, they will find an environmental or developmental reason why the child is not doing well.”

He reinforces his argument by reminding that adults, too, lose keys, make impulse purchases, even daydream in workshops.

“These executive functions, such as time management, working memory and organization are centered in the prefrontal regions of the frontal lobes,” Barone said. “The fact that most adults haven’t mastered all of these things is evidence of why we can’t demand that every kid perform with perfection.”

Barone learned about executive functions working at The Monarch Institute for 13 years. “Dr. Marty Webb, founder, and all the faculty at Monarch taught me to accept children where they are, and to help them take ownership of their academic competence, executive functions, relationship development and self-awareness and regulation,” Barone said.

In Barone’s workshops, including an upcoming presentation for the annual conference of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) scheduled from 3:15  to 4:45 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 2, at the Marriott Westchase, he empowers anyone who is interested to understand and deal with “out of structure behaviors” by children from a developmental perspective.

The author of “A Place for All” said, “In our mainstream schools and church settings, we must do a better job of understanding and serving young people with disabilities.”

The Director of The Learning Resource Center at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory and the Executive Director of the DeBusk Enrichment Center for Academically Talented Scholars teaches adults the benefits of reacting and interacting differently.

“What can be powerfully effective is coaching young people in a manner that helps them to start taking ownership of their learning and their development,” Barone advised.

The educator reinforces the importance of caring for kids as individuals.

“Being treated as an individual was part of the value of my UST experience when I earned my B.A. in religious education,”  Barone said.  “Teachers there knew my name and cared about me as a person. My professors had a big influence on me beyond academics—Sister Mary Dennison, my advisor, played a big part in my formation and had a profound influence on the kind of leader I have become.”


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