Penfield Behavior Clinic: My Year with DJ

By Kimberly McCormick, LPC — When I began working with DJ and his family, the intention was to complete the standard 8-week program with the Behavior Clinic.

We would address the following three behaviors:  opposition (saying “no”, screaming at mom and dad), aggression (hitting, kicking, throwing things at others) and listening (ignoring requests).

Treatment, however, took on a different direction very quickly.

DJ had a difficult time attending during sessions, was easily distracted, displayed impulsive behavior and was unable to sit still for even short periods of time.  These behaviors were not only creating problems at home between DJ and his family but also creating problems at DJ’s school as he was unable to attend during class.

DJ’s mother and I spoke at length about these concerns and she spoke with DJ’s pediatrician and teachers.  DJ’s mother had a difficult time sorting through all the information that had been given to her by the teachers, IEP team and DJ’s pediatrician, so I attended the IEP evaluation with her.  It was at that time when we learned DJ was more than 1 year behind in all areas, as a result of his inability to focus at school.

I then completed several measures and questionnaires with various individual’s in DJ’s life and upon reviewing the results, gave him a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  Along with our standard treatment to address the initial concerns, we began to create routine and structure to assist DJ with the hyperactivity, impulsivity and short attention span.  I also assisted his mother with contacting a child psychiatrist in the community, to address possible medicinal treatment.

DJ’s mother had many reservations regarding medication and I spent extra time over the course of several weeks discussing what medications are available, how they work and what the side effects are.  After DJ’s mother was comfortable with beginning a medication regime, DJ met with his psychiatrist.  Due to DJ’s age and his growing body, finding the appropriate medication and dose was a process.  During this time his mother became frustrated and I discussed this frustration with her.

After several months, DJ was finally on the proper medication and was able to attend and focus.  He was re-evaluated by the IEP team and scored at or above his age range in all areas.

DJ was happy and began thriving in school.  His teacher observed a significant change in his behavior as he was able to sit during instruction times; play well with his peers, no longer was distracted and began making great gains.  His behavior at home improved as well.  His mother was consistent with all the recommendations I had made and he was no longer aggressive or oppositional.  He also began listening to his mother and their relationship grew stronger.

I worked with DJ and his mother for almost one year.  Their progress was significant and it was a journey filled with highs and lows but the outcomes were extremely rewarding for DJ, his mother and myself.

Learn more about the work Marquette’s Behavior Clinic is doing at Penfield Children’s Center!

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Kimberly McCormick, LPC, is a Family Counselor at the Penfield Children’s Center Behavior Clinic, where she provides in-home therapy to families of children with significant behavioral and emotional problems.  She is also a Pool-Counselor at Roger’s Memorial Hospital, West Allis location, on the Child-Adolescent Inpatient and Eating Disorder Units.  She received her M.S. in Professional Counseling from Concordia University-Mequon and her B.A. in Psychology and B.A. in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She plans to continue providing mental health services within the community in an effort to prevent child-abuse and neglect. 

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