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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET going on, and that can feel overwhelming when a youngster is on the com- plicated side or taking up a great deal of energy already. Luckily, we often have much of the information we need on hand. Our job is to assemble what we know in useful form. Consider, for example, the plea for help that opens this chapter. Julia plunges into her description of classroom life with more desperation than organization. Even so, her keen observations touch on many of the areas our teacher drop-in group will have to sort through to make sense of what’s going on. First, Gabrielle’s behaviors can be very problematic. A number of them suggest that she is lacking some of the developmental skills kids need to do well—things like the ability to slow down her body, focus her mind, and control her impulses. Second, Gabby may be weighed down with some troubling feelings. Her way of pulling back from her teachers and talking back to her mother indicate that she may be both angry with others and feeling bad about herself. Third, the quality of her relationships with adults has become filled with tension, as her teachers get increasingly annoyed and her mother’s eyes fill with helpless tears. In addition, Gabby is “starting to push back big time” and “turns away even more than she used to.” It appears that the back-and-forth between how this child behaves, how people respond, and what she does next as a result—what we might call interactive patterning—may be causing her worrisome behaviors to become more extreme rather than less so. Finally, things at home don’t seem to be going any better than things at school. Certainly there’s a lot to be worried about. We also learn, however, that Gabrielle isn’t always as difficult as she appears at first glance. She’s bet- ter at snack and lunch than at other times. She has some interesting play ideas on which she contentedly elaborates when no one is around to get in her way. In addition, she has genuine empathy for others when she’s not at the mercy of her impulsivity. She is smart and curious, too, and has a great sense of humor. In fact when Gabby’s strengths shine through, she is, in Julia’s words, a “neat kid.” Behavior, developmental skill, emotional well-being, adult-child rela- tionships, interactive patterning, life at home—all of these are at the core of what we need to understand about Gabby’s struggles. Times when things go better or worse, the capacity for play, the ability to feel for and reach out to others, and strengths that peek out from under difficulties—these, too, are of great importance in our efforts to make sense of what is going on. Now, how do we take such broad-ranging areas and organize them From Reflection to Action COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 7