TTU's Wheeler answers questions about child behavior on PBS.org

Many parents who view public television across the country are turning to Tennessee Tech University professor John Wheeler for answers to child behavior questions.

Wheeler, an expert in the emotional and behavioral development of children, answers questions about a variety of child development and behavior issues in a featured online column on pbs.org.

"This column is great for communicating evidence-based practices in a family friendly way," said Wheeler, associate dean and director of doctoral studies in TTU's College of Education. "My kids grew up watching PBS children's programming, and I can see the results. I thought participating in the online question and answer feature would be a great way to help parents to find the information they need and to help PBS."

Wheeler says he encounters two types of questions on the site: ones related to typical child development questions and others about behavioral problems. Some recent examples of questions related to problem behaviors include "My son has been diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Is this causing his behavior problems?" and "My three-year-old has tantrums if he's fed a few minutes late. How should I address this?"

"Since I don't have the whole context to these questions about challenging behaviors, I prefer to give general information to these parents and redirect them to resources in their area," said Wheeler. "General child development questions are also common, and I am able to give practical advice based on what we know about typical child development."

Wheeler has been in the field of special education for 27 years, having begun his career as a teacher of children with disabilities. Since that time he has been a university educator and researcher with expertise in the design of instructional and positive behavior supports for children including children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Prior to his appointment at TTU, he was associate professor of special education and director of interdisciplinary training at the South Dakota Center for Disabilities in the Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, at the University of South Dakota.

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