Yr 9 DD finding school very loud/overwhelming - how to help?

(18 Posts)
Error418 Thu 21-Jan-16 21:11:22

Just wondering if anyone else has dc with similar issues and what they/school do to help. DD is in a small (mixed, state) secondary, found yr 7 very hard, improved a bit in yr 8, now in yr 9 she's got a group of friends and seems to have found a pretty good niche for herself.
But she still often finds the whole experience of school very loud & overwhelming. It's worse as term goes on, and worse later in the year - it seems like it's cumulative, if that makes sense. When it gets bad, she dreads going to school, and is generally pretty miserable overall.
She saw the Ed Psych in the upper end of primary (for other issues), and one comment the EP made was that she had 'lots of Aspergers traits'. I don't think she does have AS (and certainly not to any level that is likely to get any sort of diagnosis, given the waiting times for dc with major problems) - but I guess it gives a feel for the sorts of things she finds hard.
Not sure what I'm looking for here, but just hoping that someone out there might have some clue of something we might be able to do to help her sad

briss Thu 21-Jan-16 21:15:50

This happens to my dd2. Much worse towards the end of term. Is your dd an emotional person? Dd2 is a sponge, she soaks up all the drama. She reaches critical mass about a fortnight before the end of term.

PolterGoose Thu 21-Jan-16 21:21:03

I've got a 12yo ds who is diagnosed with AS, I'm also recently diagnosed, if you have a hint of concern, and actually it sounds like she's having a really hard time, please pursue assessment, things may get worse so far better to get on those waiting lists now.

You might find the book 'Too Loud Too Bright Too Fast Too Tight' about sensory defensiveness helpful for her dealing with the noise and sense of overwhelm, sensory strategies work really well for me and my ds.

Rudy Simone's 'Aspergirls' is good as is anything by 'the girl with the curly hair' (blogs and books)

Error418 Thu 21-Jan-16 21:32:19

briss - I wouldn't say she was particularly emotional, she doesn't tend to get sucked into the usual teenage girl dramas that badly.

PolterGoose - the book suggestion sounds perfect, that's exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. The problem with assessment is that waiting times in our county are, quite literally, years (I believe the typical wait time is 4 years atm, down from 7) - and that's for children with much more severe problems than dd.

I should say on the whole school are pretty good. She has a weekly session with the school counsellor, and they're supportive in general. There are a lot of SEN pupils in the school, and things like tangles/fiddle toys are very accepted.

We have read quite a lot of things about aspergers in girls, and actually she doesn't tick too many of the boxes. She enjoys acting, for example, which I can't imagine would be typical?

PolterGoose Thu 21-Jan-16 21:34:58

Acting and drama is quite a common talent and interest in many Aspies!

Cookingwine Thu 21-Jan-16 21:38:06

Girls with AS do get under the radar and go undiagnosed more often than boys as they are more sociable naturally than boys. It doesn't mean that they are having an easier time. Of all the books I read on the subject "Women and girls with autism spectrum disorder" from Sarah Hendrickx and books from Tony Attwood were a revelation. I am pursuing a diagnostic for my 10 yo DD even if she is superficially sociable and doing well at school because her anxiety levels are rocketing, particularly at the end of terms. She is allowed ear defenders at school and has a traffic light system that she can put visible on her desk so her teacher can let her go outside the classroom for a breather. After a year waiting NHS has finally contacted us to say that she should be assessed within the next 3 months. But I also decided to go private as the NHS assessment is likely to first assess how anxious and depressed she is initially and I can see that taking for ever. For her own self esteem I think having a diagnostic will help as she will be able to relate to others on the spectrum and not feel that she is inadequate but just working differently if that makes sense.

Error418 Thu 21-Jan-16 21:47:49

I do see exactly what you mean about the 'working differently', Cookingwine, and it's something DH & I've talked about quite a bit.

A bit of a complicating factor is that she's very high ability - 99th percentile plus on all the various VR / NVR tests the EP did. I know that can work both ways - it can mean you're better at 'covering' socially, but then equally that high ability dc get diagnosed as AS when actually it's more about wanting to work at a different level (I'm not sure I'm making sense here, sorry).

(I've ordered the book Too Loud . . ., by the way!)

Error418 Thu 21-Jan-16 21:50:35

DD did used to have a 'get out of jail free' card back at the start of yr 7 that let her leave lessons if needed - the problem is that some teachers (generally the ones that sent her anxiety levels skyrocketing) were really sniffy about it, and also that she absolutely hates the idea of her fellow pupils asking about why she's gone out of class, etc. I think while ear defenders would have been good for her back in primary, she's doing well at 'fitting in' now, and would be reluctant to do anything too obviously different. (She does have a tangle fiddle toy, but they're very common and actually rather envied grin )

Decorhate Fri 22-Jan-16 06:26:43

Unless behaviour is particularly bad in lessons, it may be break and lunchtimes that she finds hardest? If that is the case I would speak to the school again to see what facilities are available. For example, the school I work at has the area where the SENCO is based set up so that pupils can "take refuge" there at lunchtime & chill out or get on with homework. The library is also available for quiet work.

Most good schools are very happy to help their pupils whether they have a diagnosis or not!

briss Fri 22-Jan-16 06:42:02

Dd2 goes to a quiet area that the school has set up. It's also a sign for me to make sure she goes to bed super early with no gadgets. She's extremely sociable and chatty but has dyslexia and processing difficulties so the gp assumes the two are linked somehow. The first signs that she starting to suffer is a complaint that everyone in her class is too noisy in lessons. She gets to the stage where she can't block it out. She loves cooking and this is always a nice calming thing for her to do at home when she gets like this. Hope your dd gets some peace.

Error418 Fri 22-Jan-16 08:15:18

Decorhate - luckily, break/lunchtimes are fine, they have pupil helpers in the library, which gives her the perfect quiet space (they have their own little 'staffroom' where she can eat lunch), and her friends all hang out there too.

I'd say school on the whole are very happy to help, (they have a very high %ge of SEN pupils in general) but it's often a case of going to them with a suggestion, if that makes sense?

"The first signs that she starting to suffer is a complaint that everyone in her class is too noisy in lessons. " That's exactly dd.

briss Fri 22-Jan-16 09:02:09

I suspect that what my dd is suffering from is a type of panic attack. I have given her rescue remedy and talked to her about breathing techniques.

If you've ever had a panic attack you will know that hearing people talking can be tortuous.

allwornout0 Fri 22-Jan-16 12:50:24

Briss, your dd sounds just like my Y7 dd.
She can't stand the noise in the classroom (although her form apparently has the worst behaviour in the year group). She never goes to the playground due to the noise.
Her anxiety has skyrocketed lately which concerns me a lot and she is a very emotional person.
Oh, and has possible dyslexia.

Error418 Sun 24-Jan-16 13:26:51

"I suspect that what my dd is suffering from is a type of panic attack. I have given her rescue remedy and talked to her about breathing techniques."

That sounds very familiar. I remember that one of the things the Ed Psych said to DD's teachers back in primary was basically that the louder she got, the more anxious you could assume she was, and that challenging her behaviour (as opposed to getting her out of a stressful situation) was only going to make a meltdown worse.

I'm still utterly torn on whether to try and follow up some kind of diagnosis - she's so very much better now compared to when she was younger. But then she gets the occasional teacher who is totally unsympathetic to her oddness (currently one who can't stand fiddling of any sort) and I think some kind of label might help.

Northernsoul58 Tue 26-Jan-16 18:25:20

Have you tried The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aaron?
Do the self-tests here: hsperson.com/books/the-highly-sensitive-child/

Chillywhippet Tue 26-Jan-16 18:41:45

Error I have a DD who has self diagnosed ADHD. She is dyslexic and gets headaches/migraines from the whiteboard/lights in class and hqyes the noise.
She has a pass to leave classes but doesn't use it. Her head of year and form tutor are very supportive saying, "because chillygirl finds school stressful..." I don't think we'd get much extra support if she had a formal diagnosis tbh but I suppose it depends on the child and school.

She is currently on a campaign to sit tests in a,quiet room arguing that she is very easily distracted and gets more,anxious. She has been able to show the,difference in her performance to her teachers.

I really wrestle with whether to pursue a diagnosis too.

Chillywhippet Tue 26-Jan-16 18:43:06

Sorry for the rogue commas. On phone.

Error418 Tue 26-Jan-16 19:15:43

It's really tricky, isn't it Chilly. I think that with 95% of teachers, a diagnosis wouldn't help, and I question whether it's worth it for the other 5%.

But then I struggle with whether she'll feel when grown up that we should have investigated more - I know people diagnosed with ASDs as adults who I think do wish they'd known when younger.

But then OTOH I think once you're an adult, you have so much more control over your life, that dd will most likely be able to avoid the type of situations that cause her problems.

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