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

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pookie170

How to handle school......an EPIC!!

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Oh....where to start???

First of all, I was under the impression that things were going relatively well with my sons' high school placement. Not trouble-free, by any means but it felt fairly successful and I was happy with provision/feedback etc.....

Then, last week, disaster reared its' ugly head once again. It's becoming an old 'friend' in our house, this particular beast!! :rolleyes:

Anyway, my eldest was excluded because he struck a teacher. Talk about mortified...I couldn't quite believe it and my boy knew as soon as I opened the door that I was horribly disappointed, upset, angry....the whole gamut. I didn't rant at him, but managed to stay calm and concise. We've been over and over what happened, why he did what he did, why he cannot do this again, no matter what the circumstances are....

He actually said that he was trying to get the teachers' attention. I have walked him through how he can achieve this in an appropriate manner and that ensured he knows he did not 'nudge' (his word!!) his teacher- he was far too forceful.

Anyway, that was last Wednesday. Believe me, he has had consequences- no wrestling programmes/figures/magazines, no electronic entertainment whatsoever, not being allowed to join in on a day out to soft play (his younger brother was on holiday that week, tch!!!)......he's really felt it, too.....

The meeting arranged with the school took place yesterday- it took longer to arrange for 2 reasons-

1) The school wanted the ed psych and ASL manager from our LEA to be involved, it taken them quite some time to respond to the school..... and

2) This week is the week that my eldests' school has its' holiday! (On a purely practical level, this is a nightmare where childcare is concerned!!! But I did ask for it!!)

I can live with this. It happens.

So....present at the meeting were : Me, my OH, DS1, our new Ed Psych, the ASL manager and the school Social Work Manager. The meeting begins with the usual introductions- we've never met the Ed psych or ASL manager before. Then the school Social Work Manager(SWM) said her bit. She read out from the incident/assault report the teacher filed. Jist of it is, the teacher felt the assault was totally unpredictable and 'came out of nowhere'- he was struck from behind. (I am soooooo ashamed of my lad, I tell you......) She then spoke directly to my son about this incident/behaviour being totally unacceptable, that the police could have been involved and that while the school did not want to exclude anyone, they felt that this was their only option.

None of the above was news to my son, it had been WELL covered at home and at his grandparents', reinforced by disappointed aunties/uncles.....I quite agreed, in other words.

She went on to say that the school wanted DS1 back, but that any future incidents of this ilk could well have more serious and lasting repercussions. Fine.

I asked my son if he wanted to share his account- he asked me to do so for him, which I did, explaining that he thought he was nudging his teacher (he really seems genuine on this one- and I KNOW when he's trying to pull a fast one!!!) and hadn't meant to cause harm but that he was very sorry he had done so.

The SWM said that was all very well but there was nothing in the incident report to indicate DS1 had tried to get the teachers' attention. A bit more discussion of the incident followed, and then I brought up the fact that my son appeared to be behaving in an unacceptable manner more frequently during this subject (science) than in any other. I said I thought that my son was having difficulty with the lesson delivery style- the teacher is a little younger and less staid than most of his colleagues. Not that he's a bad teacher, far from it- I do think that the lesson style is difficult for my son to cope with, though.

Cue the bristles raising on SWM's neck- hackles were right up.....she launched into defence of this teacher (I honestly wasn't attacking him!!) and went on to say that my son was actually having just as much difficulty coping in Art classes, and that furthermore, the CALM trained staff have had to use the safe holding technique 3 times with DS1 since he started in September. She added, in a scandalised tone, that the school has an excellent record where use of CALM is concerned, and that last session, they didn't use the technique as often as they had had to already with DS1.

Well.....several thoughts occurred- I couldn't voice them as my son was there and I didn't want him to think I wasn't supporting the school.

The EP then interjected with her thoughts- and to my surprise, I found myself agreeing with her! She agreed with my opinion that DS1 has real difficulty transferring rules from one situation to the next and that she thought it might be useful for him to get a helpful keyring- with cards on it, each printed with a situation on one side and how to handle it on the other ie: 'To get someone's attention' and 1) Say their name 2)If no response, repeat a little louder 3) If no response again, lightly touch their upper arm ...... That kinda thing. Her next suggestion was to print off rules and display them in each class (as there are some differences from lesson to lesson- ie English and Woodwork have rather different rules!!) Sounds fab to me- and I said so, but SWM said that DS! was a clever boy and started repeating hi=ow he has to realise he can't behave the way he did.

:blink:

ASL wifey then said that she wanted to move the focus on to resolution, and involved DS1 in wmaking a list of what had to be done for him to reattend. DS1 came up with several pertinent suggestions, ie-Apologise to teacher, Listen to adults in school, Adhere to the rules and so on.

SWM then burst into another rousing chorus of 'He's a bright boy, and can't behave this way again', to which EP suggested that he was having real difficulty keeping hold of 'theory' when emotions went haywire. (This is a well-documented facet of DS1's behaviours- shouldn't be news to the school at all!) and wanted to get him started on a social skills programme- including social stories etc.

.SWM's bristles rose again- "All our boys are on the spectrum!" she said."We're well used to dealing with their behaviours and have several resources for use with them. We have a dvd set called 'Mind Matters', produced by the autism research team at Oxford University, that teaches the boys how to recognise non-verbal and verbal cues and we find it very helpful."

She then reverted to the chorus again- I was really feeling her defensiveness at this point, and a sense that she thinks my son is in control of his behaviour.

Anyway, meeting was brought to an end with ASL wifey promising to type up the resolution agreement, and SWM left sharpish. (To be fair- this was during her holidays and she had a friend waiting for her in her car...)

 

I really need some opinions- I apologise for the length of this post, but a huge part of me is angered by the Social Work Managers' attitude. I totally agree that my son has to realise that his actions have consequences. He has to take the repercussions on the chin.

BUT: There is an obvious problem with the science class. My son is not behaving or coping as well in this class as he is in others. EP actually made a point I hadn't considered- that the more 'hands-on' approach in science and art is confusing for my son, that he might read this less rigid approach/atmosphere as equalling a relaxation in rules- the changes are confusing him. Doesn't excuse his behaviour, but I'd have thought the school representative should have come to the meeting wanting to

a ) Resolve the why of the incident

b ) Be open to suggestions/ideas that might prevent this happening again.

c ) Be open to help from outside agencies.

The EP seemed as shocked as I was that the SWM kept harping on the same line- she could not seem to accept that telling him 'Don't do it!' isn't going to work without putting supportive strategies in place to help him learn this/deal with possible flare up situations.......

I want to contact the school next week and speak with someone other than the SWM. I want to get relay my dissatisfaction with her attitude and ensure that the strategies discussed at the meeting actually get put into place.

Am I wrong to feel aggrieved by what happened? I just expected the SWM not to be so defensive, to welcome the chance to put heads together and come up with possible preventative/supportive actions. Meetings regarding exclusion should be about resolution, IMO- am I overreacting???

Sorry again about the length of this. Opinions gratefully received!!

Edited by pookie170

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av16   

Well done for writing your point so clearly. I fully understand - we've been in the same position with our DS who is 12. It wasn't a sw but members of SLT. It gets so frustrating when they say things like ' we told him it's unacceptable' etc. and 'we kept telling him blah blah'.

 

As we know a different approach is needed. I'm glad you had the EP on your side, we've often been on our own. It was the annual review last week and there were 2 members of SLT there (one I had never heard of before) plus LA people, SLT I'd never met before; it could have been very intimidating. I think that the school have taken on board some of my comments, they seemed to understand more than they ever had before.

 

I would say to you yes you are right to feel upset but if you keep putting over your point calmly and demonstrate that you support the school hopefully things will improve.

 

Good Luck

 

 

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MadHen   

Crikey - you are very restrained not to have vented your frustrations there and then, I would have. My dd regularly had 'outbursts' at school, within her first week of starting a new primary school when she was 7 she totally trashed the headteachers office and kicked the headteacher several times - outcome of this was that they didn't think she could manage full day without her 1:1 (who wasn't starting for a couple of weeks) and would we mind if she only did half days the following week. This was from a school that had no experience of autistic children, so I am shocked that your school is reacting in this way.

I think you should sit down with your son and talk to him about what he thinks would help him in these particular lessons and then put this in writing to the school - they have to take his thoughts into account. If the Ed Psyc has made some useful suggestions which the school are ignoring, I would also be inclined to compain to the LA about the way the school are handling the situation and query where the exclusion is actually lawful - it doesn't sound as if it was a 'violent assault' and it can be directly linked to his disability so the school is on very dodgy ground.

I hope you manage to get this sorted out.

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Sally44   

A school that is supposed to be experienced in ASDs should have more ideas about this.

My own son's school has previously set IEP targets for my son to 'recognise' when he might need his ear defenders, or when he might becoming overwhelmed. However they have not put anything into place to help him identify when that might be. So I think that was a rather ridiculous target.

So, if your son can identify triggers or make suggestions that is great. But it should not be expected that he can do that. He might not have any idea as to what is making him react in this way. A specialist school should be looking at what is happening in the different classes, the different structure, the support levels, the expectations on students, the amount of auditory processing, or other sensory processing, the amount of social interaction etc.

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I am not sure what type of school this is or why the SWM was the only rep from the school.

 

Had they not already told you that he had been restrained/held? I would have concerns if they were not telling you when this happens.

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Hey guys, thanks for your thoughts.

I think, Kazzen, had it not been the holidays, the meeting would have been held at the school with more staff present...but I think I'd like another meeting to try and figure out strategies to put into place in the science class and so on. SWM actually said that DS1 could not have 1 to 1 situation- I'm not asking for it, either, but I want to know if extra support could be made available to help my son cope in the 2 problem classes.

It's a trust funded, mainly residential, all-boys' school that caters to kids with ESBD type problems. Many of the pupils ARE on the spectrum and the care commission and HMI reports are fab. Moreover, when we were looking at this school as a placement, the lads we spoke to were happy and contented with their provision- and in general, I am happy with DS1's progress at the school and other aspects (feedback, support etc...)

Now, I'm cursing my pregnant brain because I'm struggling to recall if it's 2 or 3 times the school informed me the holding technique had been used. But a thought occurred- shouldn't this be documented, with me having to sign something? Again, I think I'd like to discuss this further.

Sally, Madhen, Av- the SWM is the only person who has demonstrated this weird response.....normally, I'd fully expect the school to be more interested in finding new techniques for coping/helping DS1 to cope with problems........I'm certainly going to insist that this be addressed and acted on.

Have I a right, do you know, to ask that SWM not be involved in DS1's school life/IEP/further meetings etc? I'm so cross about her behaviour, I don't need or want anyone on our 'team' who'll bring such negativity with her....I'm also now wondering whether this woman likes my son at all!

Thanks though- even just the act of venting has helped me to clarify a few things in my mind. (Not an easy task these days!!! :rolleyes: )

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pearl   

Hey pookie >:D<<'>

No advice as its outside my experience - just to say that in the time I've known you online, I've never known you over-react or make a fuss about anything, so you do right to express your concerns. Hope you work something out.

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Karen A   
Hey guys, thanks for your thoughts.

I think, Kazzen, had it not been the holidays, the meeting would have been held at the school with more staff present...but I think I'd like another meeting to try and figure out strategies to put into place in the science class and so on. SWM actually said that DS1 could not have 1 to 1 situation- I'm not asking for it, either, but I want to know if extra support could be made available to help my son cope in the 2 problem classes.

It's a trust funded, mainly residential, all-boys' school that caters to kids with ESBD type problems. Many of the pupils ARE on the spectrum and the care commission and HMI reports are fab. Moreover, when we were looking at this school as a placement, the lads we spoke to were happy and contented with their provision- and in general, I am happy with DS1's progress at the school and other aspects (feedback, support etc...)

Now, I'm cursing my pregnant brain because I'm struggling to recall if it's 2 or 3 times the school informed me the holding technique had been used. But a thought occurred- shouldn't this be documented, with me having to sign something? Again, I think I'd like to discuss this further.

Sally, Madhen, Av- the SWM is the only person who has demonstrated this weird response.....normally, I'd fully expect the school to be more interested in finding new techniques for coping/helping DS1 to cope with problems........I'm certainly going to insist that this be addressed and acted on.

Have I a right, do you know, to ask that SWM not be involved in DS1's school life/IEP/further meetings etc? I'm so cross about her behaviour, I don't need or want anyone on our 'team' who'll bring such negativity with her....I'm also now wondering whether this woman likes my son at all!

Thanks though- even just the act of venting has helped me to clarify a few things in my mind. (Not an easy task these days!!! :rolleyes: )

 

Hi pookie.

There are very detailed guidelines on the use of restraint I will find them for you as they may be useful. >:D<<'>

http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/_doc/6059/PI%20Guidance.pdf

Karen.

Edited by Karen A

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Kathryn   

Hi Pookie,

 

I think your "pregnant brain" is doing very well, that's a very level headed analysis of the situation and I hope you manage to resolve the problems. At least it's not you against everyone else. Perhaps someone else on the team (the EP or someone else who gets it?) can work on the SWM and get her to understand what's going on.

 

K x

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Hi Pookie! Well done for writing everything so concisely, when it is so close to your heart. I would agree you would be best to get into contact with the school and arrange to speak to somebody else. Write all the things down that you said at the end of the post, idont doubt that you speak to DS1,but there is really no use in the school ranting on about "dvd from oxford", yes they all like to feel like they have ticked the right boxes, dont despair and spell it out, that we need strategies in place to help. I can identify with you on how you feel about the horrible meetings where people are going on about your DS, I remember a meeting quite vividly on may 14 2008 and we were told the following, A) I cannot work your son at all B) I have never in my 30 years in this career seen a child like this c) your child hit the teacher ( he was 5 then and without diagnosis), but still he was only a child and another time i was told my child compromises, the happiness and safety of other children, he was not allowed to go for breaks this went on for 10 weeks. YEs I am very resentfull about all this and i still feel hurt, and i think the feeling you discribed are what i felt at the time and still feel from time to time.

 

I find it really disgusting that some professional will sit and rub in the salt about your child over and over, as if they are not speaking about your own flesh and blood. Yes the teacher may have not recognised that DS was trying to get his attention, and they often twist things and will just say the child was fibbing.

 

Sorry that things are not great with Ds and i do think he is in the right school you just have to try and pursue it further, get NAs for help email people on the the disability team. i think her name is June hamilton. If you live in central scotland there is a carers centre which hold meeting and they meeet differnt people from education, Tuesday 2nd of march is julia swan.

 

Kind regards and dont give up xxx

:thumbs:

 

 

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Cheers for all the replies, dudes!!

Well, I phoned the school and ended up speaking to the SWM who filled me in on events prior to the meeting I had been unaware of. Turns out that the Ed Psych had sat for 10 minutes spouting about why she shouldn't be there, this wasn't part of her job, she wouldn't be giving any input and she had other things she should be doing. So the SWM explained that she went into the meeting feeling very frustrated (and, reading between the lines, terribly cheesed off!). She apologised that this had come through in her demeanour and reassured me that her aim was to help my son manage the problem areas better. The suggestions put forward are in the process of being implemented and there has already been some improvement, so things are looking up.

Another plus side is that DS1 got to experience the school complaints procedure from the other side last week- he was kicked by a classmate as he passed by (said classmate was not having a good day!!) and once the initial hubbub died down, was asked whether he'd like to put in a complaint, to which he said yes. There followed an 'investigation' of sorts into what/why the incident had happened and a meeting involving both boys, the staff member present at the incident and a the SW who organises the peer group too.

DS1 seemed to 'get ' that the system can work for him as well as against him so hopefully he might make a better decision next time he feels aggrieved- fingers crossed!

Esther X

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Kathryn   

Well that's better news Esther! :thumbs: How refreshingly honest of the SWM. Hope things continue to improve.

 

K x

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