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

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windylou

Not really sure what title to use?? bullying

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windylou   

Hello my son (8 Asperger's) is currently in mainstream school, in a special needs class. Outside of school myself and my husband have both witnessed him being bullied both emotionally and physically. I have witnessed members of his school (varying ages) gang up on him while having a 'play fight', to him they were playing, from where I was stood 6 other children were egging another child on to hit him. Luckily I turned up at the right time.

 

Just over 2 weeks ago he asked if he could go out and play with 3 members of his class (1 boy, 2 girls) who were 'nice' and were his ?friends. I was a little wary as I know that one of the girls were involved in the first incident. But he went out all the same. When he was having a bath later that evening I noticed a cut on the bridge of his nose where his glasses lie. He said that an older boy had nudged him in his face but couldn't tell us who, we asked him to point this boy out the next time he sees him and to walk away if he comes near him again.

 

The next day he went to play with the same 3 children and when my husband went to shout our son for his tea he was told by all 3 that our son had jumped onto one of the boys chest and stopped him from breathing. We dealt with this accordingly but later found out that, from what jumbled up info we had from our son, everyone had been playing and all lay on top of the boy but he got really angry with just my son and started hitting him. So we spoke to our son about this.

 

On the third day he went out to play with these children my husband, again went to collect him, and witnessed the boy take a toy off my son and throw it into a pond as my son turned to retrieve the toy the boy then proceeded to jump on his back repeatedly punch him while the girls cheered him on. My husband said he was shouting but was not heard. He then witnessed our son trying to run away and the 2 girls trying to push him into thorn bushes.

 

Now fast forward to the last day of term, I was approached by my sons teacher because he had hit another child in the face with a book which several other children had witnessed (but not by the teacher), therefore he had lost his end of term treat, and had spent the remainder of the afternoon making 'a lot of noise'. After managing to calm my son down and listening to him repeatedly tell me he hadn't done it I finally learned that it was one of the girls from the week before, he hadn't hit her in the face, the teacher wouldn't listen and he was crying while other children laughed at him and called him a baby. When I asked what his teacher had said to the other children he said nothing was said and it made him feel really cross and very sad.

 

What do I do? I believe that my son is being bullied in school (he also came home with his glasses bent out of shape 2 days prior to this but couldn't tell us what had happened) but I can not get enough information from my son as proof only what I have seen outside of school. I am worried sick that a lot more may be happening that nobody is seeing. Do i send a letter about the previous incidents outside of school? I have already been in before but I was basically treated like an overprotective mother.

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Antolak   

By all means, go and talk to your child's teacher and explain what you and your husband witnessed. If your child has an EP teacher, go and see her. EP teachers are usually very protective of the children in their care and will want to help. Then, definitely make an appointment to talk to the headteacher.

 

The school will probably say that they cannot address incidents that happen outside, only those that happen within school grounds. So concentrate on those. Ask the headteacher to investigate the incidents in the school (other children will have seen what had happened). Ask them what strategies they can put in place to make your child feel safe in school, especially with respect to the other three "bullying" children.

 

If they try to fob you off, keep phoning the school (or better still, make appointments to see the headteacher regularly). Make a pest of yourself, that usually makes them act (just to get rid of you).

 

If you still feel that too little is being done, threaten to write to the local newspaper. Just the threat of that will make them do something. Schools hate bad publicity.

 

You could also try speaking to the parents of the three "bullies" directly.

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Lyndalou   

Bullying is the right word for what you are describing. It comes in many forms and just because it is not necessarily 'witnessed' does not mean to say it is not happening. If your son has a diagnosis of ASD, your son's teacher should be aware that your son may not be able to understand boundaries but also that he may not recognise he is being bullied or be able to say he is. In the way your son's teacher dealt with this situation, I would say that this could be interpreted as 'colluding' with the bullies.

 

I would ask for a meeting with the Head Teacher as soon as possible to discuss the situation, explaining that there have been incidents outside of school with the same children. The more your son is afforded little protection from the adults in a position to do so, the more these children will feel the power lies on their side and they will begin to think they are untouchable. It needs nipped in the bud now. What can be problematic of course is that bullies can escalate their behaviour if they are 'told on' or think their power has been taken away so it is all the more necessary for responsible adults to be in charge and be aware of bullying in all it's forms.

 

I would not let your son out to 'play' meantime with these children. If you think their parents would be receptive it could be worth speaking to them but it's maybe best not to go down that road. It is pointless thinking that these relationships will in any way help his social skills or increase his confidence as the opposite is more likely so he needs to be taken out of this situation altogether imo. It might be better to look into organised activities meantime. I will shortly be looking into getting one-to-one assistance so that my son can access various activities. This is because, outside of school I can't consider my son playing with other children in 'free play' and his playdates are supervised as I would not feel happy with him playing with many of the 'mainstream' kids round about. I have already seen how 'differently' they treat him, ranging from other kids ignoring him, trying to get him into trouble and giving him dirty looks and once a younger boy pulled his trousers around his ankles and smacked his bum in public. Their parents of course don't seem to see this happening or see it as 'normal' child behaviour and don't seem to see these things as a precursor to bullying or actual bullying. There are a couple of exceptions to this and I am sticking with those children (and parents) meantime. My son is quite a lot younger than yours but I think by the sounds of it, your son has very limited ability to stick up for himself as my son has. I am thinking along the lines of Boys Brigade, Beavers, Gymnastics class etc. Do you think your son could benefit from this to help him learn the skills to cope with what he is experiencing and to learn who are more likely to be friends and to recognise the signs that someone isn't?

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windylou   

Thank you for your replies. We aren't going to let our son out with these children since the last incident. I really don't think the parents would care to be truthful. My son is off school now for the holidays but my husband is going to arrange an appointment with the headteacher and class teacher when he goes back. I have always been a little wary about letting my son go out as I have witnessed many many things which have made me doubt my sons ability to look after himself and especially after the incident mentioned with the 7 children and the 'play fight' I just stopped suggesting that he went out and took his lead, but then I also felt like I was 'holding him back' if that makes any sense.

 

We live in an area where some children (with some exceptions) can be quite rough but I wouldn't say they are any rougher than when I was younger so would say the majority of what I have seen is typical children's behaviour. He does go to beavers once a week and has also been on sleepovers with them several times. Gymnastics is something we have looked into but our funds are limited at the moment, I have also looked at some of our local Asperger's support groups and one of them run a get together once a month so we will take him along to the next one. He hadn't been out for weeks because he never asked so when he did it was nice to hear him mention his friends (but in all honesty if someone was to smile at him in his mind they would be his friends e.g the boy at the til when we went shopping 3 months ago who smiled is still his friend and he will sometimes wonder out loud if he will see his friend again).

 

There have been so many times that I have been called in to school because he has done something to another child but it just doesn't ring true. He isn't a violent child (and I'm not being biased he really isn't) I can't help but think that he is being targeted because every time it has happened the adults at the time never witness it but at the same time I haven't witnessed it so what can I do?. We were on tender hooks when he first started beavers because we didn't know what to expect (due to what was happening at school) and were so relieved when the leader commented on how pleasant and helpful he was, she had actually seen the little boy that we see.

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Lyndalou   

It sounds like you are doing everything the 'right' way, if there is such a thing. I have been concerned myself about my son not being treated 'the same' way as other children if I 'separate' him from his peers. However, by virtue of the fact that he has a speech disorder, has processing difficulties, gets anxious and confused around other children and the rest, he already IS different to his peers and many other 'typical' children see him as such. Therefore, I've decided that the best course of action is to 'cherry pick' if you like the children I want to be in my son's life until such time as he is in a better position to choose wisely himself. Or at least, he will be in situations where responsible adults can oversee how other children interact with him and he interacts with other children.

 

Having been the victim of bullying much of my life, I believe very strongly that many behaviours seen as 'normal' childhood / adult behaviours are sometimes insidious or covert bullying behaviours which are 'under the radar' of what parents/teachers/other people think is bullying and therefore they can be more easily disregarded. Girls especially can be very inventive in the ways they bully in order for it to go unnoticed. I would be more worried about the girl who tries to get your son into trouble than the other boys. She might even be the instigator of more obvious bullying by the boys.

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Sally44   

But you have witnessed these other children doing things to your son out of school. And these are the same children in school. So I would have the meeting, and give them a typed or written document with the incidents, dates, children and what you did see out of school. Because these children could be lying just to get him into trouble.

 

Due to his ASD he will not have good emotional literacy. He will not be able to defend himself physically, or verbally. He may think certain things are acceptable behaviour if they have been done to him. He may copy them. He may have an undersensitive sensory system and may not feel pain as other kids do, which may mean children hurt him more and more to get a response from him.

 

There have been a number of instances in the newspapers about Aspergers teens/adults being hurt or even tortured by other people and the AS person has thought they were their friends and that they were 'playing'. Doing anything to deliberating hurt someone physically, mentally or emotionally is bullying or even worse.

 

Your son should have an emotional literacy programme in place in school. And he should be having social communication and play skills therapy with a SALT or similar 1:1 and in small groups.

 

Something school could do is "circle of friends". In that way the children would be chosen, and the children would all feed back whilst the ASD child was there. It would mean that circle of children took turns to play with him and include him and watch out for him in school.

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windylou   

Hello again, we went for a meeting at the school and expressed our concerns. As expected we were told that they can't control what happens outside of school and also that they found it very strange because these are the children our son chooses to play with?? so we asked that they be extra vigilant with any incidents involving 'named' pupils. We have actively kept him away from the children outside of school which is proving difficult as they seem to seek him out, although he has recently befriended a lovely boy and now tends to go to his house or he comes to ours which is fantastic. Earlier I received a phone call from his teacher about his glasses being broken, in a nut shell my son said that they were pulled from his face by another boy......the other boy said he bent down and the glasses fell off (highly unlikely he only had these a few weeks ago)......and apparently there was another boy who backed up the second boys story. I got the impression that my sons teacher thought my son was lying. When he came home he wasn't feeling well so when we had a quiet moment I asked him what had happened, low and behold he mentioned the young boy from opening post had ripped his glasses off and they had fallen to pieces he has scratches on his nose which to be consistent with what he is saying/demonstrating.

 

What on earth do I do? demand they keep him away from these children?, I have sat down and discussed with him what friend do or don't do, told him to walk away if they come near but he said they follow him. Write a polite letter to the teacher with what had happened?. The thought that he is being bullied at school and he is not being listened to is really upsetting.

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Sally44   

I would take a photo of the scratches and record the incident yourself.

I would see the class teacher after school and talk to her.

I would contact the school and ask for a copy of their procedures for bullying.

I would send a letter into school following your meeting. Include what was discussed, what was agreed. Did he school agree to do anything?

I would also include in the letter that your son is saying these children seek him out. And also point out that his diagnosis means he has difficulties with social interaction but that he will say how things happen verbatim.

Say that your son's glasses have been broken and that your son says ................................ is what happened. Say that he has the scratches on his nose to back up his version of events and that you are concerned that the boy in question denied doing it and also another boy backed up that story.

 

Include in the letter that however children are behaving towards your son out of school, is how they will be behaving inside of school. Include what you/husband have seen.

 

Say that your child is vulnerable due to his diagnosis.

 

See what their bullying procedures are. What did they agree to do about these instances, or did they just deny anything is going on? You can write a letter to the governors of the school about bullying and that their procedures are not being followed [if that is the case].

 

Keep him away from these children out of school. See what response you get from the school before you write to the governors and read their policy to see if they are keeping to it.

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