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education do we have any options ?

(27 Posts)
thriftychic Tue 10-Sep-13 23:41:34

ds2 is 14 , diagnosed asd . doeant fit the typical bill for ASD really but he absolutely HATES school , not because he has sensory issues or dislikes changing class or anything like that but because he just doesnt want to sit and learn . He wants to be doing stuff he enjoys like fishing or computer games ALL THE TIME and anything that stops that happening makes him big time miserable . He just never gets that life is full of things we like and dislike and we have to just get on .
during the summer holidays he was so much better because dh had loads of time off work and took him fishing and ashamedly i left him to use the computer almost freely other days which meant he was on it loads and loads . The difference in his happiness , the lack of meltdowns and the loving nature towards me which i havent seen in a very long time was great. i felt was almost getting my boy back.
previously life was fraught with bad moods , bad attitudes , a real hatred for me (takes everything out on me ) and awful scary , violent meltdowns .
now school has started again and things are going down the pan . ive had the old , 'what is the point in life if i have to sit in a classroom and do stuff i dont want to do every single day ' the rudeness and the misery are back .
i gave some thought to home schooling but realised that he would then just hate being at home and i would probably never get him to learn anything . we had a few months once when he was changing schools and was massively stressed and it didnt work at all .
is there just no answer to this ? because sometimes its so bad that i feel like just letting him do what he likes for all our sakes . we have been to hell and back with his behaviour and his aggression.
camhs wont give him anymore appointments until he is willing to engage which could be never , they are planning to hold a meeting at school to see if things at school could be made less stressy for him but in all honesty i dont think he'll be happy unless he can just not go at all .
its awful seeing him so miserable and i keep telling him that school is for his own good but ive had 3 awful years of school misery at least and i dont want to face the next 2.

thanks for reading, any suggestions welcome

WetAugust Wed 11-Sep-13 00:02:11

You won't like my suggestion at all.

He sounds as though he is at the 'able' end of the spectrum.

It sounds from you post that he can act properly when things are going his way.

I think you just need to carry on cajoling, reasoning with him and disciplining him when necessary.

You cannot given in as if he were not at school he would quickly revert to being on his PC 24/7. You wouldn't be able to stop him and you wouldn't have the backup of school.

Ask him - what does he plan to do when he's grown up? Discuss how that couldn't happen if all he did was stay on the PC all day.

I once met the father of a teenager with Aspergers. He and his wife were both teachers. Their son stayed in his room permanently playing computer games and refusing to engage with school or family life. They were trying to secure him a residential placement at a specialist college in the hope that he would finally engage, obtain some qualifications and life skills. Sadly their son refused to even visit the college, let alone take part in its assessment process. The parents admitted that, until he could break the cycle of shutting himself away playing games, he had absolutely no future. There was nothing the parents could do. At 16 he was no longer a child. It was incredibly sad because they knew that if they could persuade him to try the FE college he may actually drag himself out of his self-imposed rut sad

What I am saying is it's very easy to give in for an easy life - and that's not meant as a criticism. You have to think beyond the here and now and look to the future. His future is only viable if you can keep some control and keep him going to school.

Don't give in to him.

claw2 Wed 11-Sep-13 07:01:36

Thrifty, your post could be written by me in a few years time, ds is 9.

Ds is very able academically and is high functioning in many respects, but he struggles greatly with anxiety, social and emotional side and mental health. The only time he is happy is when he is shut away in his room playing on his x-box. School reported no problems whatsoever and that he was happy.

At one point, he was refusing to go to school, self harming and wishing he was dead. Despite having very good language, he couldn't really express exactly what it was he hated about school.

He was refusing to get dressed, refusing to leave the house, refusing to engage with CAMHS, refusing to engage with assessments.

I applied for a statement and ds started indie specialist school last week. Do you think your ds wouldn't hate school so much if he had more support?

thriftychic Wed 11-Sep-13 08:42:02

thanks for replying . i think i made it sound like he wants to stay shut away , he doesnt , quite the opposite really . he wants to be out fishing , bike riding doing fun things and school is definately not fun to him ! he ended up on the pc 24 / 7 some days because it was impossible to keep up with the high demand for fun.
i think the only way hes going to learn anything is if it somehow incorporates his interest of the moment i.e fishing , which i dont think is possible at age 14.
i have said all i can with regards to his future , but he lives in the moment. it worries him that hes going to end up with no gcse's but somehow doesnt make him try with his school work. The way he is at the moment he will only manage to hold a job down if he becomes a professional angling coach or something !
ive said myself that he has to learn that lifes not all fun but the trouble is he doesnt learn and hes 14 now.
his behaviour and meltdowns have been tearing out family apart , i have always stuck to my guns which is why he has had so many meltdowns i think . sometimes i just think why , why am i battling with school , homework , bedtimes etc when it never gets any easier and he never gets any happier with the situation. im tired of it all and i hate seeing him so miserable.

thriftychic Wed 11-Sep-13 08:53:34

claw2 , hows your ds doing with the new school ?

AgnesDiPesto Wed 11-Sep-13 09:02:13

I think you can set up a home ed scenario which includes school work, exams, online learning, home tutors etc and try and find a way of turning his fishing obsession into a future job. It will take superhuman effort and discipline from you to keep things on track. But so much school time is spent waiting around, in assembly, breaks, registration, waiting for the class to behave. 1 hour of 1:1 learning represents 2-4 hours of school / group based learning. So you could find a way of making the formal learning shorter than a full day and fill out the time with other activities. Eg if he likes bikes do bike maintenance. I think you have to have an eye on the end goal, make him employable whether

AgnesDiPesto Wed 11-Sep-13 09:04:59

Grrr phone. Lots of schools teach stuff which doesn't end up being functional or make our kids employable. Hanging out with fishermen or bike mechanics etc may be a better option. You still have to provide an education but it doesn't have to be a conventional one.

AgnesDiPesto Wed 11-Sep-13 09:06:47

Some FE colleges run courses from age 14 now

claw2 Wed 11-Sep-13 09:18:17

Thrifty, do you think it is all about fun and getting his own way or do you think he could be struggling in some way? I know that he is high functioning, however he must find some things difficult? especially if you have always stuck to boundaries and followed through and things are not improving.

Take bedtimes for example, this is when ds does most of his worrying, then just cant sleep. Luckily ds can tell me that he is worrying and I have put some things in place for him, but if he couldn't express his worries (he couldn't previously), he would just seem naughty, up and down the stairs, in and out of bed, hanging off the bed etc, etc.

Ds is also very controlling and has very low self esteem, where he feels so out of control with other aspects of his life.

New school is going good, only been a few days, but 100% improvement. We are still having some refusal to do things, but pretty minimal in comparison to how it used to be.

A few months ago ds was refusing to engage with professionals, teachers, refusing assessments etc. Yesterday he came out of school with a sticker for doing good math work and was very proud of it, a few months ago, he would just sit in silence for an hour, refusing to engage and couldn't care less about a sticker! And he has a SALT assessment this morning.

He is starting to be motivated again.

claw2 Wed 11-Sep-13 09:26:08

Sorry that didn't sound right, im not doubting you, as obviously you know your ds best, just trying to get a clearer picture of your ds.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 11-Sep-13 09:45:02

DS1 is incredibly passive. I tried to talk to him about the future (he will be 13 in a couple of months) when he wanted to stay home and have 5 hours tuition until he left school rather than go to Indi ss if we won tribunal. He was outraged that I was not planning to financially support him forever (you hate me so much that I will be starving and living on the streets)hmm

He has artistic talent and when at home he draws constantly. I deliberately chose a school with an 'artist in residence'. This was very useful because the future meant nothing, he did not yet know anyone and he has no interest whatsoever in improved academic achievement. These things did not provide motivation to him to actually attend but a real life artist, in an attic no less, not only gave him motivation in the present but is also building a future.

Now it might be a little harder to find placement with an 'angler in residence' but think about what you can do now to help him find a place where he can value his skills, where others value them and he values himself. Self-esteem is for life.

blueShark Wed 11-Sep-13 10:09:46

DS will certainly be similar at that age if I let him have his way. But I turn his interests into rewards and get him to do few things that please me so that he gets his thing.

Bike ride for example - I get him to do 3 small tasks for me 5 mins each in duration, reading, spelling, maths - then he crosses out the activity as we go along and finish it, visually sees how much he has left so the duration and expectation on him doesnt freak him out and then off we go for bike ride. Even I started to enjoy the bike rides smile

3-4 sessions a day like this and you will get more out of him than school will ever do in a day as Agnes pointed out. DS wasnt learning in school due to a number of factors, with me he blossoms.

But ensure that the startegies you use at home can then be generalised in school. Surely school can find something that he loves/enjoy and turn that into a reward for a small amount of work. Its easier done than it sonds.

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 11-Sep-13 10:53:48

I use a token reward system with DS2 but he is 7. When DS1 was younger I could use reward to motivate desired behaviour but ime (maybe I'm just lax) as DS1 got older this just stopped working.

I found I could not manufacture motivation because he is high enough functioning to sabotage my attempts - refusal to participate or outright defiance or a noisy and frequently violent meltdown.

claw2 Wed 11-Sep-13 11:07:18

I use token reward system too, although it isn't working too well at the moment with homework, seems ds would just rather go without than do homework. He is just sitting there, refusing point blank, meowing at me constantly.

I have tried motivation, rewards, ignoring, nothing seems to work.

zzzzz Wed 11-Sep-13 11:15:45

A couple of years ago, despite having a child who was imploding at school I would have thought you were barking mad to even entertain the idea of letting him drop out of school.

A year after I brought my boy home and decided enough was enough and school just wasn't working, I'd say. GO FOR IT.

Leave school. Start his life NOW. FFS don't try and teach him "that lifes not all fun". Life will teach him that. You teach how to persue the life he wants.

Here, every single member of the family is happier. There are no days of relentless anxiety and rigidity. Ds rarely cries. I rarely cry. The other children get some attention. HE is gruelling for me, but ds likes it, but mine is younger (8) and needs 1 to 1. Would interhigh or briteschool work for yours? Could you just do one GCSE every so often rather than follow a school model?

WetAugust Wed 11-Sep-13 11:28:33

I learned from DS's psychiatrist that computer games (and I suppose also fishing and other obsessions) are so attractive and so unbreakable because they provide rewards.
You play a few hours, crack a new level of the computer game - you get a reward - you feel good about yourself - you've achieved something.

I imagine it's the same with fishing - go eventually catch a fish - you get your reward ......

So in your son's case I'd say try to understand how is personal reward system works and utilise it. Blueshark is absolutely on the right track with her approach.

I still think opting out of school at his age would be a very bad decision. Most of you have much younger children on this board. You have not experienced just how difficult it can be to get a teenager to do something and how little clout you have with either him or in law, as he is deemed a young person. You need what little bit of school backup you can get.

Life forces us to do a lot of things we don't want to do, or are boring, or would rather be ignored. Allowing the child to think that some of it is purely optional is very dangerous.

zzzzz Wed 11-Sep-13 11:36:56

I would say years of misery and frustration are dangerous. But as wet says I don't have teenagers. I think a more pertinent point is that I don't imagine ds will live independently as an adult. If we do a good job he may manage in a granny flat and hold down a niche job. He may well attend school again but he won't attend anything that takes more than it gives.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 11-Sep-13 11:41:11

It does seem like your DS wants to start his life now as zzz says...some children are simply more practical and your DS could be building websites and making tonnes of money before he's much older. In your situation I would be encouraging him to perhaps start an angling site...a website devoted to young anglers....he can start small and make it a chat place...somewhere to buy and sell maybe? He sounds capable of that...and he could blog about his fishing perhaps?

KeepOnKeepingOn1 Wed 11-Sep-13 11:53:54

I don't think that all computer games are comparable, say, Minecraft and Call of Duty in terms of whether they primarily provide a sense of achievement and have no or little (positive) impact on real life.

Fishing is a calm, quiet, embodied practical activity. Obsessive practice is how people become proficient. The natural non-verbal world may make more sense to him and things others find hard may come easily to him.

I would not stop learning or chasing academic qualifications but shift focus so that the things he cares about become the priority instead of trying to make him care about things that don't matter to him.

AgnesDiPesto Wed 11-Sep-13 19:33:34

I know HE is not for me as I don't have the discipline to keep ds on track I know things would slide into more and more computer time. But some people do manage it. I would have to cop out and use tutors or some FE practical courses and exams and then use the fishing as the reward. Lots of indi SS are good at the employment side eg the children cook their meals and run cafes etc. temple grandin says you have to take the skills and special interests and turn them into a job and a future. That resonates with me. I will be happy if I can find one thing ds can do well enough to make him employable. But if you can't get or don't want indi SS then I think some parents can follow that model of engaging with the local community or a niche interest group and creating opportunities. I do suspect ds will be the sort of teenager who will refuse to engage so I am hoping I can find a school to help us out. I can't see a mainstream secondary education delivering anything other than a pile of certificates from various schemes but no actual job prospects.

zzzzz Wed 11-Sep-13 19:59:10

I wouldn't see using tutors or FE courses as a cop out. In reality HE simply means that you craft your own curriculum and find your own way of delivering it. A lack of staying power is infinitely easier to overcome than a lack of starting power.

PolterGoose Argentina Wed 11-Sep-13 20:49:43

How about working out a feasible reduced timetable which includes essential and useful subjects with the gaps filled with specific project work/practical work/distance learning tailored to his special interests? I know in reality it would be hard to get agreed, but you could look at flexi-schooling?

I would propose he must do English, Maths and ICT as these are essential skills. He could then do, for example, a science which would be useful if he went into fisheries management, a design/techy subject to help with both his interest in bikes and perhaps designing fishing equipment, and perhaps geography to get to grips with the environment and ecology which are so essential to anyone who fishes. As well as a core of maybe 5 GCSE subjects he could do specific work or guided learning, enhancing his knowledge and skills with a view to a future career, he could help out at one of those places with fishing ponds, he could volunteer at an accessible bike hire place...

thriftychic Wed 11-Sep-13 21:24:26

thankyou all for your input , you have given me lots to think about , really appreciate it . claw , sounds very positive with the new school , hope it goes from strength to strength smile
keepon , your ds sounds quite similar to mine !

couple of questions , indie ss , i am in the manchester area . where are the indie ss ?
and what is interhigh ?

ds2 has been taking part in match fishing recently and come across a couple of pro fishermen who make a living from it so that looks very attractive to him . He previously wanted to drive a hgv or operate a fork lift truck for a living both of which he has tried ( dad is a driver ) and he took to it like a duck to water , dh was amazed how good he was at it .
he has gone to bed saying , actually i'd rather die than go to school again tomorrow . i asked him what was so awful about school and he said everything , and that it was horrible having to sit in lessons he has no interest in . that he just cannot make himself make an effort. that hes just not going to be able to motivate himself and hes not going to get anywhere with it . I liken it to going to a job every day that you absolutely hate for no pay , well thats what i think he feels .confused

zzzzz Wed 11-Sep-13 22:25:53

http://www.interhigh.co.uk/

http://www.briteschool.co.uk/

hungryandbored Thu 12-Sep-13 01:23:01

DS goes to indie ss and there are students there who do a fishing husbandry course at a local college - as mentioned above, many FE colleges take students from age 14. Fishing seems to appeal to those on the spectrum so I'm sure he'd find like-minded people on a course like that. There are only a few places running the course around the country - this one at Myerscough might be close to you? At DS's school they'd do a course like that plus GCSEs in school, but you could do the course with GCSEs done at home if that suits.

Near Manchester there is Inscape School, but ability ranges seems pretty wide. There aren't many indie AS ss up North, they seem to be mostly concentrated in the South. But it's a tough fight to get a place funded, it could take two years or more, and given your son's age it might be better to spend the time focusing on home ed or other local solution that works.

DS has experienced lack of motivation even in indie ss where he's had a huge level of support. The school psych felt that the root of his problems was anxiety about entering the classroom so they prescribed him sertraline (an anti-depressant). It's made a real improvement, so it could be something worth discussing with CAMHS? I wasn't really keen on using meds but he'd pretty much exhausted all other strategies.

I think it's important to remember that young people on the spectrum have an emotional maturity about 2/3rds of their chronological age. For DS, that means that I'm not too concerned about him getting GCSEs by 16/A levels at 18, although he's more than capable. I'm sure he'll get them eventually, but if focusing on his life/emotional/social skills means that he's a few years behind his peers, it gives him time to catch up, and those few years will make little difference in the longer run. So I wouldn't worry about trying to make him fit in the mainstream academic timeline. It sounds like dealing with his mental health is much more important at the moment.

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