Alex Durfey is a twelve-year-old boy in the seventh grade at Willis Middle School. He has been in school for seven months; it is early in March. You and several other teachers are beginning to think that he may need some special education, due to similar behaviors and problems with his academics that are appearing in several different classes.
Alex comes from a single parent family and has one older brother. His mother works nights and he is often left in the care of his older brother, who has dropped out of school and has problems of his own. Alex often comes to school tired and not well groomed, and complains of being hungry. He has been in several different schools in the last seven years, many in different towns.
In school Alex is behind in most of his subjects. He reads far below grade level and in math he does not seem to be able to understand the concepts that the teacher is teaching and lacks some of the basic skills to complete the problems. Across the board, in his academics he seems to be functioning below grade level. He loves art and is often drawing, doodling, and making things with his hands. He also is physically agile and loves sports. When he can control his temper, he does well in physical activities.
As far as his behavior, he does not often participate in class discussions or projects, choosing to listen or withdraw from the group entirely, sometimes physically and often mentally. Sometimes he seems to go off into a world of his own. If asked to start or complete his assignments in independent seatwork, he becomes belligerent, talks back to the teachers or aides, and has on occasion torn up his work and/or thrown his books. In assigned group projects, Alex generally withdraws and lets the other student do the work. In team sports, he becomes easily frustrated or angry and will argue with the other students, or get into pushing and shoving with some of the boys. He has even become aggressive with the gym teacher. After school, while waiting for the bus, Alex is easily provoked into pushing and shoving with other students (both girls and boys) who are waiting. Teachers are now alarmed at a recent truancy problem, as well as his leaving the classroom or school, if he gets angry.