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      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   06/04/2017

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jlp

Running away

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jlp   

Ds32 has discovered running away! In the last 10 days or so he's managed to get out of the school grounds twice and ran away from me last night He's 5 1/2 and diagnosed with atypical autism and Pathological Demand Avoidance.

 

I had a terrible day with him yesterday, he bit his best friend at school (luckily the best friend's mum is my best friend so was understanding) and ran away from me after school - he didn't want to go to Grandma's for tea. He usually loves it there but sometimes gets into really contrary moods.

 

He crossed some roads, one busy, without even looking and I lost him altogether at one point and had to ask a man if he'd seen a small boy in a yellow top.

 

Anyway, got him back and he was punished by not being allowed out to play when we got home (he adores playing in the street with his brother and friends), when dp found out he'd crossed roads he smacked his bum too.

 

This morning he woke up in a much better mood, ate his breakfast and got dressed without the usual fuss. We were actually early for school for once and he was running round with ds1 and the boys from his class (ds1 attends an asd unit attatched to ds2's mainstream school)

 

As soon as the bell went his mood changed and he decided he wasn't going to school, I got ds1 in then eventually managed to get ds2 in by walking away and he followed me in (he likes to sneak behind you and thinks no-one can see him). Handed him over to his support worker - he wasn't happy and went running off down the corridor with her in pursuit so I left (making sure the security door and the gates were closed behind me) as if I stay he doesn't settle down.

 

Walking back to the car I heard some almighty screaming and then ds2 appeared running out of the gates, followed a minute or so later by half the school staff. He'd ran straight down the corridor, through the school and out of the back door which should have been locked.

 

It took ages to leave him again, part of me wanted to bring him home there and then but if I did that he'd think you run away and you get to go home.

 

So fed up, he was hysterical and really upset saying he just wanted to stay with me.

 

I'm not sure what to do next, I think I might email and see how his statement is progressing. He's not had a good spell since going back after Easter. I'm sure there will be a review of the school security as there was last time so for it to happen again isn't good - his support worker is nice but she's not young and has asthma and joint problems so not great with a child with a tendancy to run.

 

Last week he ran away too - Yesterday when dp went to collect him he was called in for a word. Ds2 had apparently made a model out of some blocks. At tidy up time another child had tidied his model away and ds2 went beserk - pulling the work off the walls, chucking things, lashing out.

 

He was taken out by the TA but continued running round the school causing mayhem so was taken out into the yard (often happens so he can run some energy off and cool down). Apparently he announced he was going home and off he went.

 

Apparently he got quite a way from school, almost to the main road They were all very shook up and school had to have an emergency meeting last night to discuss what happened. The school gates can't be locked due to fire and health and safety so for now the dinner ladies are posted at the gates for lunchtime.

 

 

 

 

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KarenT   

Oh poor you.

 

The school do seem to be trying very hard to accommodate him but they're just not managing, are they? Do you think they can manage with him in the long term, or is it time to look elsewhere? But then, I guess your options are limited until the statement is finalised.

 

Try to keep your chin up, it's a tough time just now but at least the system seems to be doing their best for him at the moment.

 

Karen

xx

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baddad   

Hi jlp -

No real advice, but one observation which may hopefully help. While not 'good' reinforcers in any way, maybe the responses to these incidents are acting as reinforcers for your son? If he has half the staff running after him etc and sees lots of action surrounding/related to his escapes that's quite a firework display he's created. Please appreciate I am not suggesting he is 'attention seeking' (though that is something you may need to consider?) - it could be something far more complex than that. It could be that orchestrating this kind of chaos provides him with a sense of 'control' over events, and if that's something he needs (as i think PDA implies?) then that could be a big motivator.

 

Also, giving him something he can control within the school environment (maybe a 'Time Out' card?) might alleviate some of it, but as always something like a Time Out card becomes a double-edged sword if it becomes a source of 'avoidance' rather than 'relief'.

 

While I can understand why the school might respond with 'all hands on deck' It could be better while you work to resolve this to have him under close guard by one or two members of staff who handle everything very clinically (i.e., no conversation/discussion and no fireworks) and a similar response at home to the withdrawl of privileges or imposition of sanctions.

 

Hope that's helpful

 

L&P

 

BD :D

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I agree with baddad.

 

Also, maybe your son would be better in a small group rather than with a whole class, whenever possible. Do they do some sort of social skills group at school, my son enjoyed it when he did that in a small group (it also got him out of a lesson he particularly didn't like).

 

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Suze   

Hi, the time out card is a good idea, it really helped my son.Have the school asked for outside advice from autism support/outreach in your borough.It sounds like there needs to be some stratergies in place to keep your son safe.Also please don,t be upset with me but smacking his bum is not going to help the situation at all.How is hitting him hours after the event supposed to teach him not to run away?Please don,t do this ... :unsure: , sorry but I can,t put it any other way. Best wishes suzex

Edited by Suze

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The school could consider deciding on a "safe" place for him to run to when upset - one indoors and one outdoors. We did this with one child - the reason being, it was better to know where he was and that he was safe, rather than not know (he never did leave the grounds, but we had some heart-stopping moments as we have large grounds with lots of trees and bushes, and gates at two ends). If he went to these safe places, we would just watch him from a distance, and only go up and have a chat once he had calmed down. He now no longer needs to use these places.

 

Although the school can't lock the gates, they could make them harder to open by children (eg: a bolt on the outside, or two different locks (bolt into ground + bolt into post)), in order to give the staff time to catch up with him.

 

Myself and another TA used to start at the gates at each end, and do a pincer movement, so we knew he could not leave the grounds without us seeing. When we found him, we would not approach, just watch him discretely for a while and then start to chat to him as he calmed down. We would usually ask him to come and help us do a job, or distract him with an interesting stone/insect and then he would come in.

 

Whilst he is prone to run off, it would be worth making sure he wears something bright and distinctive, and to consider taking a picture of him each day on your phone (or carry one in your bag). Just in case you need to call the police. At school it could be a bright coloured cap/jumper.

 

My eldest went through a phase of running off when he was about 10, and it was horrible. He did it twice from school (found a small hole in the fence even though it was a very secure school) and decided to walk home (12 miles away down the A31). The staff did manage to get him to come back. He also did it several times at home, and in the end I just had to shout after him "You need to be back in 10 minutes" as I had two other small children at home and was on my own. Various people in the neighbourhood used to keep an eye out for him, and let me know if they saw him on his own. He did have a good memory of the area, and there were no very busy roads, and he did come back eventually. As some people said, if I tried to follow him and he saw me, he would run further away. The first time it happened, he ran from my Mum's house, and we did not notice straight away (lukcily she lives on a long straight road, so we coudl see him further down the road). My brother got in his car and I ran, and we did manange to corner him between us. I am not sure where he would have gone from there, becuase he did not know that area.

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Karen A   

Hi.My friend has a son who has ASD who is a runner and escape expert.I remember the description of one New Years day walk when the son was a very little way in front in the country side in Scotland.The next thing they knew he had dissapeared.A search was started by the family but he could not be found.Fortunately someone else out for a walk came across him and the individual was a doctor and realised that he had SEN.He cannot talk.The person called the police.I think my friend also called the police and they were reunited.The police were very helpful once they were aware of the situation.It is surprising how fast some children can move and how expert they can become at escaping.This young man could be out of the front door in a second.Fortunately the back garden had no exit. :)

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jlp   

Thanks all, I will speak to the Head when we go back on Tuesday and ask if there's any way the gates could be made harder to open to slow him down, they have slidey bits that should slide into a slot but these are padlocked so they don't move - even if they were slid into position, that would slow him down. Also visitors often leave the gate open.

 

Luckily the uniform has bright yellow tops so he is easily seen if he has his jumper off.

 

Ds1 was also a runner and had safe places to run to so it might be worth thinking about, ds1 only left the grounds once however, he tended to head for the field. Ds2 is a very different and his PDA is very obvious within his personality, he tends to do the opposite of what he thinks people want. School did buy a tent for ds2 to withdraw to in the classroom but he realised this is what people wanted him to do so refused to have anything to do with it, sigh!

 

Suze, you're right about the bum smacking. I personally never smack. DP and I differ quite a lot on how to deal with the boys, I'm probably a bit soft and he's a bit too strict - we're continuing to try and aim for a middle ground and usually manage to but sometimes it all goes out of the window. I'm not upset with you mentioning it, I was upset myself at the time.

 

Baddad, that's an interesting way to think about it - the second time he ran from school, I would say it was a definate fight or flight thing, pure panic and needing to be with me. I wouldn't rule the possibility out though as he is quite capable of trying to create a reaction, if he's doing something at school and is ignored (as they've been advised) then he'll do something worse until it's something they can't ignore.

 

Must go as he's having a tantrum..

 

Any thoughts on suitable sanctions...right now he's being kept in from playing out and not allowed on the PC, DS, PS2 etc while grounded, at first it was for a week but I thought this might be over the top. Dp's thoughts are that it should be a week.

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Suze   

Glad you were,nt upset or offended by my post, just felt that the smacking could make things worse.Just to say that , your boy is still young and emotionally because of the autis side he will be even younger.As far as the sanctions go try to stick to small instant ones that have an immeadiate impact , but which with positive behaviour he can earn back quickly.A week might be a little too long for a 5 1/2 yr old to cope with IYSWIM :unsure: , Don,t know others may disagree , but 24 hrs would seem reasonable to me, providing he understands etc.Best of luck suzex.

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baddad   
Any thoughts on suitable sanctions...right now he's being kept in from playing out and not allowed on the PC, DS, PS2 etc while grounded, at first it was for a week but I thought this might be over the top. Dp's thoughts are that it should be a week.

 

I'd agree with Suze that a week's a bit long, and also it takes the behaviour/consequence out of the equation, because even if he doesn't run over the next few days he'll still be grounded. I'd probably apply an evenings grounding/sanctions only on the days he runs, so he can see that A means B will happen. There's a slim possibility if PDA's a factor that he might try to manipulate that by 'running' last thing at night so the grounding is ineffective, and if that happens then a carry-over into the next day would make sense (if he has the understanding to work out that running at night = no sanction, then he would have the understanding to connect one day's events to another day's sanction - he can't have it both ways, IYSWIM), but outside of that I think a fresh start to each day is probably the best. Again, considering PDA I would avoid having a 'reward scheme' for days that he doesn't run as that would probably end up as a negative reinforcer where he expects rewards for not behaving badly rather than for behaving well - a subtle, but big difference :)

With regard to 'middle ground' - def the best option with both of you playing on the same pitch... the problem at the mo is that no matter how much you try not to, if mum's reaction is generally 'softer' than dads and visa versa it undermines the consistency and is ripe for manipulation and playing you off one another. Again, a factor of PDA - if he sees you two are disagreeing about sanctions then no matter how reasonably you do that he will see himself as the engineer of your confllict, which is a big pay off...

 

HTH

 

L&P

 

BD :D

 

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Sally44   

I would definately speak with the school about this. My son used to be mainstream only and although my son is not a runner he is a hider, and he can easily find himself in situations that are potentially dangerous. One instance I was late to pick him up from school and when I arrived I found him behind a bush crying. The school was locked and no-one had noticed that he had gone outside. When I raised this with school they told me that 'all the children are taught in reception year that they are not supposed to leave the classroom until they see their parents'. I know it was my fault being late. But that statement just made me see red, because they were putting the responsibility back onto an autistic child that has severe communication difficulties to 'assess and understand the situation and the implications of his actions'. I know that he would have seen other children putting on their coat and leaving and he would have just followed them.

I know that these issues are common place with children like ours, so the school should be able to do something.

At this same school I have twice been involved in running after and apprehending a different child who 'was a runner'. Again this child crossed two busy roads, and I was appalled that knowing what they did, the school still did not seem able to get a handle on it.

And your son has PDA. This is different to an ASD in that the demand avoidance is pathological (obviously :wacko:) , and therefore that is going to involve avoidance behaviour and running away is a pretty common one.

But I would definately talk it through with school and put your concerns in writing, and if the school cannot provide a secure environment (and find out if it is 'can't or won't'), then you may need to maybe speak with someone at the LEA, maybe the inclusion officer(?) to see what they say, and if the school cannot put something more secure in place, and this is a real area of concern, then you may need to look for something else.

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