ASD in mainstream secondary

(109 Posts)
Verbena37 Mon 19-Sep-16 20:55:21

Hi,
DS yr 7 diagnosed HFASD last winter and has started at secondary two weeks ago.
On a positive note, I think he prefers having lots of new subjects to learn but from a pastoral side of things, I'm just not sure what to expect, and at what level, from staff.

I already met with the SENCo last term so they know his issues and needs yet since he started, and I realise it's only early days, I've been having to email school to point out issues that I would think staff would be more thoughtful about. Stuff like organising his time and not being able to remember noting down homework and not remembering to go to the loo before lessons start etc.

To the staff, I'm pretty sure they think me overprotective but for DS, who has had late night meltdowns for the past two weeks, it's not trivial but things that would enable him to feel less anxious.

Am I hoping for too much? I almost feel apologetic that I have to raise things with them.

noblegiraffe Mon 19-Sep-16 21:03:13

I teach over 200 kids a week, so realistically I'm going to forget stuff about individual kids.

What do you mean by organising his time? Who do you want to tell him to go to the toilet? What do you want done about writing down homework?

The best thing would be to get systems in place so that he can become more independent and do these things for himself.

insan1tyscartching Mon 19-Sep-16 21:17:30

It is really tough the difference between Primary and Secondary dd struggled and she has TA support because of her statement. Can you add to his timetable so that he knows the at first break he needs to use the toilet and then at lunchtime he goes to canteen then toilet and then club/library/playground?

Verbena37 Mon 19-Sep-16 21:57:23

noblegiraffe obviously we want him to become independent and he is quite independent. What I really want is for his teachers (all of his subject teachers) to remember and understand his issues and why he might be different and need a different kind of support than the other children in the class (and yes, I realise there will be others who also have SEN).
From the way you posted though, I do think that mainstream secondary staff do (sadly understandably) perhaps aren't as supportive to students with SEN as they might be with more specialist training.

For many children with HF ASD, simply helping him to be more independent isn't the easiest of things and never will be. For example, he wants to sit with his friends but he can't be anywhere near the smell of juice so he sits and becomes more and more anxious or becsaue he might not have needed the loo at break time, when asking to use it at the start of a lesson and being declined, he then holds it for the next two hours.....in pain and having little leaks and feeling humiliated.

For many HF ASD children, just the noise of the playgorund and canteen is too much. They've said he can use the special room but his friends shout out "are you going to the special room" if anybody goes there.

Insan 1 thank you. Yes, adding to his timetable might help actually. I might redo it as it's all scrunched up in the base of his bag.

AstronautMikeDexter Mon 19-Sep-16 22:20:14

Hi Verbena

My last role before mat leave was as a TA in the SEN dept in a large mainstream secondary school.

I have a few questions: Does your DS have any funding? Have the school assigned him a key worker? Has the SENCo created a care plan for him? What has your contact with the school been like?

In my old school even the higher functioning students were known to staff and had a key worker who was able to work with the other teachers (not necessarily accompanying them to lessons, but a 'named person' iyswim).

We would be the first line of communication for parents, tutors, teachers etc. Some teachers were better than others when it came to recognising the needs of SEND students...I think that's just how things go unfortunately.

When you say 'organising his time' what does that look like to you? What type of help does he need?

My advice would be to keep on at the school and continue to ask questions about his progress, what's being provided for him...can you meet with the year head, tutor as well? Could you create 'Pen portraits' with them that could be emailed/given to his teachers? The parents who were persistent and present (without being a pita) had the kids that were helped most.

Unfortunate that you should have to push so hard but with everything and everyone being so stretched, this was what worked in my school. It's easy for kids to lost if they're quiet and no one is advocating for them.

AstronautMikeDexter Mon 19-Sep-16 22:22:28

Also - the 'special room' is not a great term! Does the school have a name for this? If they don't, surely that's a task for the SEN dept to rebrand.

troutsprout Mon 19-Sep-16 22:27:24

Does he have a planner? You could write in his lessons for the day and also write a loo prompt in it?.
Do the school use any other systems to check homework together like 'show my homework'?
Schools quite often have a homework timetable.. you could ask for that
It's still early days.. with a lot to take on board. I hope he gets into swing of it soon. smile

Dollykazaver Mon 19-Sep-16 22:30:22

That sounds terribly hard going for him OP. Do you have any other options? Different schools? Home Ed?

cheekymonk Mon 19-Sep-16 22:31:05

Am having similar issues myself verbena, my DS has also just started yr 7. I too had meeting with senco last term but was not sure what to expect/do even this term. DS was very positive in first week and blew me away with how well he seemed to cope. His tutor rang home (made contact with all parents I think ) saying he had left school bag in hall on first day but that his organisational skills had improved since then. I emailed senco last week as DS complained of being hot/uncomfortable and struggling to rush between lessons. Apparently though no extra time can be given as they 'only give extra dispensation with physical disabilities' hmmToday DS got2 penalty points for being late for a lesson and taking in wrong book. He said he had to try really hard not to cry at school. It's frustrating to say the least...

Dollykazaver Mon 19-Sep-16 22:56:41

"only give extra dispensation with physical disabilities"

Holy fuckballs!!! Please please email them NOW and tell them they need to give even a cursory glance to the Equality Act and the SEN COP. Christ that's shocked me!

Verbena37 Mon 19-Sep-16 23:07:56

Thanks all.
I'm not sure what the special room is called. They might have told e but I can't remember. It his a numbered room and theyctend to call it that I think.

DS is not funded I don't think but he has been assigned a key worker......but because of how he is, he doesn't want her going to him or asking him things. We have therefore decided that her input will only be if it's needed via me. So if DS has an issue, he will tell me, as he normally does, then I'll tell her if need be.

I guess what I'm wanting for him is an understanding if the anxiety he has when trying to conform like other children. He won't speak up for himself normally and when he did, last week, the teacher said he couldn't pop to the loo because it had only just been break. He had missed going to the loo atbreak because he wanted a snack and then didn't realise how much time there was left for break. He can tell the time but doesn't really have much concept of it. His teachers don't get that I don't think. It wasn't him purposely not bothering to use the loo. he eats so selectively that if he didn't have a snack at break, he wouldn't be able to concentrate so in his mind, queuing for a snack the main mission at break. He won't take one from home.

I will try to add loo break symbols in his diary so nobody else knows what they mean.
These things might seem so trivial to non ASD parents but for us, when his anxiety is usually at about 80% most of the time, the little things really make a difference.

noblegiraffe Tue 20-Sep-16 00:05:04

What I really want is for his teachers (all of his subject teachers) to remember and understand his issues

I am supportive of students with SEN, but like I said I teach over 200 students, I think getting on for 30 of them have various diagnosed SEN, then other have got other issues that need monitoring. Realistically I will remember he has ASD. I'll probably forget to check he has noted his homework down at some point. Prompting him to go to the toilet at break (the timetable suggestion is good) is more realistic than expecting every teacher to let him go to the toilet as and when required (even if class teachers know, there will be cover lessons and so on).

Contact with the school to remind teachers of his issues will help, but getting him into routines which will anticipate and head off issues will also be key. Definitely organise his timetable (some students have a visual one) and attach it to his bag so he can't easily lose it, and have copies stashed elsewhere. Plan out his breaks and lunch too. If he doesn't want to go to the quiet room can he go to the library? Or can a teacher have a word with the kids who stop him from going there?

AndNowItsSeven Tue 20-Sep-16 00:13:57

My dd who has Asd has been given a toilet pass so she is allowed to leave class to go to the toilet either when she needs a wee or when feeling anxious and needs a few minutes " time out".
Several kids have these so no other student knows whether she has Asd or a physical reason for needing a toilet pass.

PrincessHairyMclary Tue 20-Sep-16 00:34:27

I'm a TA at Secondary school, I've not had the details for each individual child in year 7 yet and certainly not remembered all the names. We work on a 2 week timetable so I might only see them a couple of times a fortnight. I work with over 400 students in that time an whilst I'll get to know who needs blue paper or who needs help writing their homework I'm not there just yet. Year 7s are settling in and I get asked lots of times (particularly after break and lunch) if they can go to the toilet and the stock response is "no" we can't have students wandering around the corridors, if the student then told me they have ASD or were anxious to go when it was busy I would let them at a suitable point in the lesson.

Many of our older ASD students have toilet passes and this is filtering through to the year 7s as we get to know their needs. Our vulnerable children ASD/anxious/medical needs have access to the library at lunch.

Other strategies we have is a home school book normally only for those with a 1:1.

It doesn't hurt to phone in SENCOs and pastoral teams are pretty good and they'll send an email around reminding teachers.

The bottom line is unfortunately TAs and teachers are massively over stretched with on going staff cuts and redundancies, yes every child is different and have their own needs but in reality in a busy secondary school even with the best will in the world we can't support them as they are in Primary unless they have funding and dedicated hours.

Igglepigglehadasplat Tue 20-Sep-16 00:46:30

My HF ASD is year 8 at mainstream secondary. He has a pass so that he can go to the focus centre when necessary (much better name for these rooms that I have seen higher in the postings). The focus centre is available for anyone who needs it and they have to have a pass to be allowed in. He has never gone to the playground at break. We have various lists written down for him at home and in his bag and we usually update these with him so we can discuss why things are on there. He does have a homework diary and one of the key points on his IEP is to make sure that he writes it down (his IEP hasn't actually been updated at any point though). We. Have also had to get into a routine for homework at home to avoid arguments

troutsprout Tue 20-Sep-16 07:08:10

I think if you phone up the school and explain about him not being able to work out how much time he has left at break / holding in and having leaks / late night meltdowns they will (surely!) give him a pass to go to the toilet.
He has a diagnosis and the school need to make reasonable adjustments
Another tip for remembering one off things ( giving in a letter etc) is for him to wear a band around his wrist on that day ( we had a lot of success with our dd with this one)
Fwiw.. it will improve... he'll get more of a feel for the timings ( how long break feels like) and routine of school. It just takes longer . But yes definitely ask for a bit more awareness of his situation. Good luck!

TheOnlyLivingBoyInNewCross Tue 20-Sep-16 07:19:45

At both the school I work at and the school my DS goes to, all homework is put on to the school intranet by subject teachers - at my school that then generates an email to the students with the details of the homework. At my son's school, he has a planner on his ipad which all the homework is automatically uploaded to. This use of digital learning seems more and more common - is there any way technology can be used to help support your DS with organising his homework?

I'm afraid that as a subject teacher, unless I had notification from the SENCO that X was to be allowed to go to the toilet whenever requested (which has happened in the past) our policy is very much to try to limit toilet visits. So if your DS is not able to remember to go at break, it might be worth asking the SENCO to flag his name up with teachers in this way specifically.

Oblomov16 Tue 20-Sep-16 07:29:24

Please phone and ask senco for a meeting. Maybe even the Head of Year to be at that meeting as well?
His needs should be circulated to all his teachers. Or at least his diagnosis and a request for a tiny bit of awareness, from all his teachers to him.

Verbena37 Tue 20-Sep-16 07:58:32

The thing about the loo thing is that the English teacher emailed me back saying if was desperat, of course she would let him go......but the whole point with D she is, that he would never say he is desperate. He would take her answer and then hold it for whole hour and into the next hour as elk if there wasn't chance for him to go between lessons.

He told me yesterday that he has now started lying in order to go just before the start of some lessons.....so he will say I got lost and went to the wrong classroom. How sad that he feels he needs to do that sad

HollyBrown Tue 20-Sep-16 08:07:05

I'm so sorry, OP. I haven't reached this point yet but your posts have almost made me cry - on the bus! - for your poor DS. I am terrified of this for my DS who's just gone in to year 5. Only reading this have I realised how he'll struggle to cope sad

Verbena37 Tue 20-Sep-16 08:44:56

I just kind of feel like I'm asking more of the school than I should.
My couple of emails to a teacher, who was less than sympathetic, probably sounded harsh to her but I was only trying to outline why telling him he couldn't go to the loo made it 10 times more complicated for the family at night.

The loo pass thing is a strange one. Do you mean they physically have to hand a pass to the teacher to be able to go or does that teacher have a list of exemptions?

The thing is, on a whole school level, I think this toilet ban at any time other break is bonkers!
I'm not a hippy-type earth mother (although there would be nothing wrong if I was) but I don't believe that secondary schools should ban students from using the loo during lessons if their behaviour is reasonable.
I went to the same school 20 years ago and we were told at the start of each term that if we needed the loo in lessons, just to get up quietly and pop out. We didn't have to ask as long a state weren't too long.
This worked perfectly. Nobody abused the system and nobody got stressed. Why schools can't just be a bit more forward thinking and realise that as adults, we can choose when we like to go to the loo.
It's a basic human right to use the loo......in schools, we only teach kids to ask out of politeness. When the answer comes back as no, that's telling children they're not allowed to empty their bladder/bowels in a natural process.

Having a drink at breakfast or break time etc would generally mean that for most people, they would then need th loo an hour or so later. In a massive school with 1200 odd students, DS said the loos are packed at break time with older kids and he panicked and goes to the snack queue instead for fear of not getting a snack.

I said he can take one from home but he says his friends don't do that.
With him, every tiny thing is a logistical nightmare and currently, home schooling is looking appealing! Although I wouldn't go ahead with it because he would be even more lacking in social skills then.

On a plus note, at least we have received support from a sleep charity to help with the bedtime routine. Yay!

Mittensonastring Tue 20-Sep-16 08:56:40

Even though his friends take the piss out of going to the special room which is mean but the sort of banter thing I have just been reading about on another thread what are they actually like with him generally?

" if the student then told me they have ASD or were anxious to go when it was busy I would let them at a suitable point in the lesson"

This just illustrates what a child with ASD is up against in school. All day. Every day. sad

However sen friendly the school's policies claim to be there is an almost complete lack of awareness of ASD and associated issues.

Verbena37 Tue 20-Sep-16 09:07:06

Exactly theflyingfauxpas.
So much for the 'Every Child Matters' programme that was introduced a number of years back.

Because of lack of funding, every child doesn't matter. Exam results matter.

What some teachers don't realise, I believe, is that in my mind as a mother, they aren't just there to teach my children.....they are there to be their carer too and that means showing understanding and compassion. That's where I think private schools shine. House masters an mistresses, along with matrons etc, providing much better day to day pastoral care. That's where I think state schools need to out more, not less, funding. I don't just mean for SEN, I mean for all children generally. I don't mean to wrap them in cotton wool; I just mean to look at their emotional and social wellbeing more than just the academics.

So far (ds is in year 9) the school's approach to sen is to keep chipping and chipping and chipping at that beautiful quirky square peg until it will finally wedge into a round hole.
I had to sit through a parents' evening of 'he need to be more organised' 'he doesn't focus' 'I don't know what to suggest' 'I have 200 other pupils blah de blah' 'he needs to be XYZ' ETC ETC ETC. Not one suggestion how they would help him despite them being aware of his ASD. Basically almost all were saying he needs to be less austistic. Not one had flagged him up with the senco. As far as she's aware they suck it and see. I'm going to be bloody on it this year. angry

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