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Four year old with ASD/PDA - what school support do you have?(8 Posts)
My four year old son is in Reception, after being in the nursery class at our local, very good school.
He has diagnosed ASD (Aspergers) and PDA and ADHD. He appears fine 95% of the time, but when he flips out he really flips out - he is extremely violent and hurts adults, children, throws things. He is close to being excluded for a second time. The school feels some of his behaviour is deliberate because he carefully takes off his glasses before flipping out - I'm inclined to agree. Basically I think he has learned that he gets away with a lot more because of his autism and is now manipulating that to his advantage.
He doesn't differentiate between home and school in terms of behaviour. I have three other children and the older two can be a handful at home (undiagnosed possible ASD/ADHD), but are beautifully behaved in school which I think is the only reason the school is not questioning his home life that much just yet.
He does not have one to one, nor do we have an EHCP yet. He attends a nurture club one afternoon a week which he really enjoys. Things are coming to a head at the moment and I'm meeting with the school in a few days to discuss what to do.
May I ask what sort of things others have in place for their infant age children with PDA?
I really can't see how a 4yo with that profile would have the cognitive skills to be manipulative. Is he formally diagnosed with all that?
But, I think it's quite plausible to feel a need to explode and be able to hold off just long enough to to take off glasses, it doesn't mean he has control, just a teeny moment of forethought, which can be capitalised on and expanded (probably very slowly in my experience!).
If he's regularly exploding in school the first thing to do is gather evidence, you and school keep diaries, timetables, chart his mood and behaviour, look for patterns and triggers, then you can look at what support he needs and when.
I would ask school to collect some evidence of what happens before he explodes! It is highly likely that there will have been a build up! If school/you can identify the triggers/build up you will have more chance of putting strategies into place to prevent the meltdown!
Very few people go from 0 to meltdown in one step so I am also not surprised that he can feel it coming enough to remove his glasses!
He is formally diagnosed with PDA via Daphne Keen. He is showing some signs of perhaps not manipulation, but certainly he's trying something e.g. today he told a teacher the reason he got upset was because somebody broke his model. This wasn't the case (it was that the magnets he'd been playing with an hour ago needed to be tidied away) but in the past it has been his models being broken. I think he's realised he gets a sympathetic response to saying that, so he was trying for that again, albeit not very effectively!
I feel bad for him because he knows what he has done is wrong, and he just wants people to not be cross with him as that is one of the big sources of his anxiety. The school are keen on "consequences" (albeit after the meltdown is long since passed) but I am fairly sure it won't make much difference.
I need to argue the case about his glasses on his behalf by the sounds of it. You're right - I guess there is a world of difference between remembering to take glasses off (I make a big deal out of him not breaking them) and being able to stop a meltdown. I need to convince his teachers of that.
The school is keen to work out his triggers, they work hard at it (as do I) and we have a rough idea and every time we spot one they try and work around it. Things like his models being broken (he is allowed to put them to one side, "safe"), lots of warning over tidy-up time, an individualised approach to transition from lunchtime back to the classroom etc.
Unfortunately a big one is his huge sensitivity to criticism and being told off. How do you teach (in every sense) a child you cannot correct for fear of violent reprisal? I have big problems working around this one myself.
Have you read 'The Explosive Child'? I would say that is the approach you need to use.
Sorry, that was a bit sharp.
It's obviously early days for you and it's a lot to take in, that book though has been so important for me and given me the language to articulate ds's needs so well.
I think it's extremely hard for schools/people in general to understand how a child with seemingly good verbal skills can be so crap at communicating! Has your ds seen SALT or OT? Both could be very helpful, for example, my ds is very sensory defensive and tackling his sensory needs does reduce his violence.
One of the things that we found helpful when I worked in Early Yrs was the Iceberg diagram,
You write all the unwanted behaviours on the bit that sticks out of the sea and then all the triggers on the bit under the sea, it is always the case that there are more triggers than behaviours and it is a great visual way of helping staff to understand that they need to take responsibility for the triggers! He is 4 is not going to be able to do that for a long time, or maybe never!
I have read it - it was over a year ago now though, pre diagnosis, and I took a lot on board from it and it did help at the time. That's not to say I wouldn't benefit from looking at it again though, as I'm sure I've forgotten a lot. Is there any way I can make all his teachers read it too? I doubt it
He hasn't seen SALT or OT. One of his "features" is when he is close to meltdown, he seems to lose his language which makes finding out what he is so upset about particularly hard. The rest of the time he communicates reasonably well - he did have a slight delay but only really in comparison to his very bright and advanced sisters. He probably fell within the lower end of "normal" compared to the general population. I'm sure I asked his paed for a SALT referral but one has never appeared.
I was referred to OT but only to attend a sensory workshop. There was some interesting stuff there, and he is over sensitive in some areas (smell, hearing) and under sensitive in others (touch) but I am not sure how much these things bother him or are triggers. He seems far more bothered by things he feels he "owns" or has a right to, food (or the lack of!), frustrations with computer games, being criticised as mentioned, and generally getting his own way.
I'm going to ask for an Ed Psych to review him, is this a reasonable request?
That's a good idea about the iceberg diagram. Maybe I'll take along something like that to my meeting on Wednesday.
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