My 9 year old son is getting excluded at school

(22 Posts)
merce Wed 23-Apr-14 13:59:22

Our 9 year old son is having quite a hard time at school. He has mild dyspraxia, which might have something to do with it, but for whatever reason he struggles to 'read' social situations and doesn't fit in with most of the other children as a result. He is clever, but quite geeky. He wants to be liked, but seems to find himself excluded and teased. He goes to a lovely school and I'm reluctant to call it bullying as I think he rather brings it on himself. Not by being unpleasant, but by hitting the wrong 'note' when he tries to make jokes/join in etc. For most of us, reading the signals and working out what is appropriate within a group setting is instinctive, but he seems to struggle with it. When he gets laughed at, he gets angry and hurt and over-reacts (from what I can gather - hard when one isn't there). My husband and I have tried to suggest he try to be more relaxed and easy-going about things - easier said than done I know. The trouble is he's a worrier and so doesn't feel easy-going. He claims the other boys make fun of him when he speaks and sometimes even stuff dirty clothes from the lost property box in his mouth. I will speak to the pastoral care person at school, but don't want to go in too hard accusing other children as my sense is that our son needs to work out a way to handle social situations better. It has happened in other situations too, so common denominator is definitely him. He is far more sensitive than it can appear and has clearly been bottling this up for some time. Anyone been through anything similar or can offer advice? TIA.

Andcake Wed 23-Apr-14 14:05:50

poor you and ds - I am sure someone will come along soon with some experience but I have done work with a nice little charity called Kidscape who I know have a parents helpline www.kidscape.org.uk/
they have lots of resources

whatadrama Wed 23-Apr-14 14:09:32

Your Ds is being bullied physically and mentally, no wonder he is struggling.

Shoving anything in his mouth should mean an immediate exclusion or sanctions for the Dc doing it, its assault.

Everything you have said describing your Ds sounds very common for Dc with Dyspraxia, what support is he getting from the school, does he have an IEP in place or any small group work to help with social/language skills?

You cant change his personality but you can fight to make sure the school are implementing as many things necessary to ensure your Ds is safe, happy and learning well at school.

Is he attending a private or State school?

I feel sad for your Ds, it sounds as though he is incredibly frustrated. I dread this happening with my Ds when he is older as he has similar issues sad

YesAnastasia Wed 23-Apr-14 14:13:44

It DOES sound like bullying though. It's heartbreaking. My DS1 has Aspergers and has the same difficulties with reading signs & 'annoying' the other children with his behaviour. He doesn't deserve to be treated this way though, there should be more emphasis on acceptance & tolerance in schools. If this was my child, I would go into school and have the children told it is wrong.

Also, I got in trouble for 'bullying' when I was in high school & up until that point I didn't even realise that was what we'd been doing or that someone was upset about it. After that I apologised & was utterly ashamed of myself. Never did it again....

ShotgunNotDoingThePans Wed 23-Apr-14 14:18:08

I agree, children should be taught tolerance and that it's not okay to laugh at or exclude someone just because they act sifferently from you.
Stuffing things into his mouth is appalling behaviour, definitely bullying of a nasty kind. Humiliating and horrible for him, and actually damaging in theong run to any child who has this sort of behaviour tolerated.

What would have to happen for you to stick up for him?

DoItTooJulia Wed 23-Apr-14 14:24:26

I'm too busy to post properly right now, but I will be back, ds also 9 going through similar.

HavantGuard Wed 23-Apr-14 14:29:41

That is bullying. Full stop. You're blaming him for bringing it on himself. What chance does he have when his parents won't even stick up for him?

Talk to the school. The bullying needs to stop now and they need to put in place plans to help your DS make friends and to learn how to deal with his emotions.

Swannery Wed 23-Apr-14 14:43:52

I see where you're coming from. The bullies need to be spoken to, but it's also about your DS. Really wanting to be liked does tend to lead to bullying - it must send out desperation vibes. I think it would help a lot if you could help him to make just ONE friend, even if that is outside school. So that he feels more normal and less desperate to please everyone.

merce Wed 23-Apr-14 15:18:13

I am hugely grateful for all advice and support, but I think it's a bit much to say I'm not 'even' sticking up for him. I love my son with all my heart and am doing my utmost to sort the situation. But equally I know (because I have seen it in the playground) that he can really annoy other children. I totally agree that bullying is unacceptable - and I have made an appt with the head of pastoral to talk about it. But equally I know that, while I can get the other boys read the riot act so they stop shoving things in his mouth or similar, I can't force them to like him or be friends with him. And that is what he desperately needs. So, while I will be addressing the bullying, at the same time I need to help him handle social situations better so he has some real friends. That is really what I am keen for any insight or steers on. Many thanks Andcake for that link, will take a look now. And agree about the desperation thing, Swannery; luckily he HAS made a friend recently, another slight loner, and that is making things feel slightly better. His dyspraxia diagnosis was very recent (because it is so mild it didn't really manifest itself until now) and I've been reading up like mad on it. Lots of info about how to support children in terms of their learning/getting organised, but far less about what to do in practical terms to help them socially.

merce Wed 23-Apr-14 15:28:37

Oh - and whatadrama - he is at a private school now. He was at a state school before and had similar issues although I didn't realise how bad they were until relatively recently. He only really told me about the bullying over the holidays so I haven't been able to speak to the school about it yet. Back tomorrow and have already emailed to fix up an appt with class teacher, Head of Pastoral and Head of SEN. Wonder how old your DS is? Has he had formal diagnosis?

Nocomet Wed 23-Apr-14 15:35:19

Might have a dyslexic DD who was always had a lot of the same sort of problems and yes many of them stem from her not reading social cues right and being easy to make fuss.

But being a bit different, does not give people a licence to bully you

Get yourself down to school tomorrow and talk to his teacher. He needs to see that your on his side and that he shouldn't tolerate bullying, whatever his quirks.

Finding him hobbies he's good at and, hopefully, like minded friends is great for his self-confidence, but feeling safe and worthy of the same respect as his class mates must come first.

Social skills can be learnt to a certain extent, at 16, having done GCSE drama and music with lots of group work and having a hobby that where she interacts with adults far more than teens, DD1 is far better at getting on with people than she was, but she was in Y9/10 before her peers laid off being unpleasant and she only likes school and succeeds because the worst bullies were disciplined and she felt safe and listened to. Not blamed for being different.

heather1 Wed 23-Apr-14 15:35:33

mece you could be describing my ds. He is 9yo. We are on the path to find out what is going on with him. So far we have a description of 'language disorder'. It does sound like he is being bullied. It sounds like you are trying to help him. Speak to the pastoral care team, they should want to help you. My Ds has benefitted from some 'councelling' where he talks about social situations and decodes them. But it's an ongoing process. I'd also recommend the special needs boards on Mumsnet. They are a good source of information. It's great that he has made a friend. One good one often makes a world of difference. Outside school well supervised clubs are also a great thing to be involved in. There is social interaction but directed and supervised by responsible adults. We also talk about how Ds day went, what was good, what was bad. Why did x, y or z happen etc.

merce Wed 23-Apr-14 15:47:36

I think he does feel safe and listened to by me/my husband. I have ALWAYS stressed that he can tell me anything, anytime and that I will always be there for him no matter what. I also stress that often the most interesting people are often the ones who seem a bit 'different' at school - and that those were precisely the sort of people I was always drawn to etc. So I really am bending over backwards to try to bolster his self-esteem. I just want to help decode social situations for him, as you say, Heather1. I want to give him some tools to make his life easier, basically. Children can be so cruel. I always assumed girls were worse, but I fear at some level both sexes are equally hard-wired to sniff out differences and/or perceived weakness and pounce.

whatadrama Wed 23-Apr-14 16:02:36

merce Ds is nearly 6 but has already been diagnosed with hemi and a language disorder. He's just had the ABC test to rule out dyspraxia which they shouldnt really have done because of the CP diagnosis but he has massive coordination issues that dont fit in with Hemi!

He didnt score under the 5th percentile on the ABC so didnt get the dyspraxia diagnosis but they are still sending the physio/ot team into school weekly to work with the teachers and Ds to help him.

In a long winded way i'm trying to say even if your Ds is classed as mild dyspraxic then the threshold is so ridiculously low to get any diagnosis that it probably does mean he has huge issues so dont let the school fob you off if they try to.

The language disorder Ds has means he also sticks out and gets things very wrong socially because he doesnt understand social cues. This has recently meant other Dc labelling and calling him weird which sadly leads to playground/classroom exclusionsad

At the moment he is having 12 separate interventions a week at school to help, including small group work which others have mentioned on here. Its vital to help him try and fit in especially because there are so many parents like yourselves and me whose children struggle to be accepted. I dont want it to have devastating effects on him as he gets older and more aware.

He's pretty oblivious to nastiness at the moment thankfully.

I agree with heather, head over to the Special needs board, its a wealth of info and guidance. We'd have sunk without that board by now and Ds wouldnt have any of the support he gets if i hadnt found out from them what he should be getting.

Sorry its long smile

merce Wed 23-Apr-14 17:00:13

Thanks, whatadrama. Sounds really tough. I agree, it's heartbreaking stuff. So glad your DS still is oblivious to it and really hope the work he is doing will help before he gets old enough to become more aware.

Totally agree that it's a crying shame more isn't done to teach children to accept/embrace 'difference'. I know they have quite a few sessions on bullying and why it is wrong, but perhaps that is treating the symptom rather than the cause.

Extremely good tip on the SEN board; will get on to it now.

I knew MN would have some excellent pointers and support - thanks all. Just wish I could wrap him up in cotton wool forever….

Nocomet Wed 23-Apr-14 19:28:25

Sadly you can't wrap them up in cotton wool and sadly you can't teach social skills, overnight. I'm 46, I'm still hopeless at the sort of things DD2 was born able to do.

Also making friends and fitting in at school isn't just in your DS hands, a lot of it depends on his peer group growing up too.

Yes, DD1 has learnt not to fuss, not to react and to be sure she knows what she should be doing when, but also many of her peers have come to realise, odd she will always be, but she is clever and hard working. Having her in your group or getting her to help you is sometimes useful.

9 year olds are still very unsure of their own places in the world, letting others find their role is a long way off.

mumeeee Thu 24-Apr-14 17:17:03

DD3 is 22 and Dyspraxic she is still a worrier and doesn't always get social situations. However she is now at uni and has made lots of friends. When she was 11 she didn't have any friends at school and was bullied although mostly mild but still not nice. She joined a Drama club outside school which was very good for her. She gained confidence and made friends, They all had the same interests as her and she didn't have to compete academicly. Perhaps your DS would like to do something like that.

merce Fri 25-Apr-14 09:24:25

Many thanks for that, mumeee. Encouraging to hear that your DD3 is happy and well adjusted in terms of friends now. I suspect things will sort themselves out as DS and his peer group get more mature, but that is still such a long way off……

Very interesting about the drama group; I think finding something outside school is an excellent idea. He is really into planes/engineering type stuff so am going to trawl the net for ideas.

Had a v. good meeting with school today. His class teacher and Head of Pastoral were great. What DS was really insistent on was that they didn't pull him aside for chats - as then the bullies would see that he had said something. They took that on board which was excellent. In due course, I think some sort of mediation where they all sit down and talk about what has happened and how they have felt would be great, but suspect it is too soon. I don't want to force anything like that on DS. All about him feeling he has some control and power - so want it to be his choice.

Welled up horrendously during meeting which was slightly embarrassing, but I guess they've seen it before. His class teacher said his daughter had experienced something similar at her school so he really understood on a personal level.

Fingers crossed today will be a better day - they are all primed to keep a v. close eye on things during playtime.

whatadrama Fri 25-Apr-14 10:30:35

Thats great news merce, i'm glad to see your Ds will be getting some support and understanding at school now smile

I would say start with the SN boards too, OP. Not personal experience, but one step removed: a friend of DS's had the same issues (although brought to a head at a younger age). His OT and then his parents worked with him to teach him overtly what most DC learn instinctively - i.e. how to read / react to social situations. It has certainly helped him, and from what I see (he and DS are no longer best buddies, although they haven't fallen out) he is now much more secure in his own friendship group, having found people who share his interests rather than trying to fit in where he doesn't. For example, rather than struggling to "keep up" with a very rugby-orientated group, he has turned out to be rather good at cross-country running, and is happy with that and respected for it.

Yes, the school need to deal with the bullying, but I suspect you could find very knowledgable people on the SN boards who could help you help DS deal with the friendship issues.

OutwiththeOutCrowd Fri 25-Apr-14 14:44:12

Merce, your 'clever but quite geeky' DS reminds me of my own DS, now 11 and just started grammar school.

When my DS was at primary school, he was excluded by his classmates. I used to watch him in the playground after I brought him in, flitting around like an invisible child amongst the others. Even when the bell went, it was clear nobody wanted to stand too close to him when they lined up. He was sneered at or ignored, told to 'go away' or 'get lost' by all.

DS is now in Y7 with a completely different set of classmates ... and is fully accepted without having worked at his social skills or having tried to fit in.

I know that you feel your DS is the one who needs to improve his 'social intelligence' because he has experienced problems in two primary schools now, but I think that primary schools can often foster conformist micro-societies which reject the different - and more interesting! - children. Particularly when classes are small, as tends to be the case in private schools, children who deviate from 'the norm' can find themselves marginalised.

At secondary schools, horizons expand and the chances of meeting like-minded children increase.

As your DS is only 9, leaving primary school must seem a long way away, but I wanted to give you hope for the future.

You mention that your DS hits 'the wrong 'note' when he tries to make jokes/join in' and all this tells me is that he has a different - but no less valid - sense of humour/way of being. For example, bullies have a sense of humour which is based on competitive putdowns. Your DS may not be as quick verbally but may have his own unique off-the-wall sense of humour which does not rely on the discomfiture of others.

As for those children stuffing clothes in your poor DS's mouth - they might be popular and powerful within the class, but they are not socially adept. I'd give your DS a higher sociability rating than them, simply on account of his wish to be friendly.

Your DS should maintain his integrity, be his own wonderful off-beat self and not try too hard to fit in. His time will come!

Sorry, this has been long but these are some of the things I wish someone had said to me when my DS was suffering from exclusion at primary school!

merce Fri 25-Apr-14 17:34:59

Thank you Outwith. That is very encouraging and it is really helpful to hear those tips/observations from someone slightly further down the line.

I totally agree with you about differences often making individuals more interesting and I have made that point to him loads. Also have told him that I had problems at school at times and we have discussed how that made me feel, how I realised that children who bully are generally lacking in confidence which is why they try to put others down etc.

Poor mite couldn't sleep last night and barely had breakfast this morning as he was so nervous about us speaking to the teachers, but it went really well and I was impressed with the way they said they were going to handle it. He seems far better now - like a weight lifted off his shoulders just knowing that people are looking out for him.

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