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Any thoughts? Trying to work out what's best for ASD DS (8) and school(7 Posts)
I'm new to this board (and don't post a huge amount on MN as it is) but would appreciate any thoughts as concerns ds and school.
To give the background, we don't live in the UK, we live in Denmark. DS started school age 6 (normal age for here!) in the local state school. He started experiencing anxiety especially with regards to the winter weather and after several meetings with the school, we were referred via our GP to have him assessed with regards to anxiety. The assessments started in February last year and finally in August, they told us that DS has Aspergers.
Parallel to this, DS was happy in his new class at the school and was very happy with his teacher. He was beginning to form some friendships but at slow progress (compared with NT children) but we were happy all round. In April last year, we were called to a meeting with the school and the headmistress told us that due to re-structuring (they have a size issue with too many local children to take in and not enough space. The school is huge with over 100 pupils for each year group and 8 floors of rooms) they needed to re-organise the classes. As DS's class had 'too many boys', they decided to move some boys to another class and DS was one of those. They also hoped this move would be to his advantage and would help him to make some more friends.
They moved DS to the new class a month before they broke up for summer, so he could get to know the teacher. The teacher quit in July and so when school went back in August, they had hastily employed 2 substitutes who alternated in teaching the class. They finally found a new permanent teacher in October and DS is very happy with her and likes her very much.
The problem is with regards to friendships - we're now in April and he hasn't really got any friends. He is by himself during breaktimes and doesn't really interact with anyone in his class. He has a few friends in the school but is withdrawing more and more into himself.
There is a policy in the school with regards to birthday parties (to ensure no-one gets left out). He went to one party in the class in September, hated it and when I picked him up, the mum told me he had spent the whole time on his own. She had asked her son to include DS and her son had replied, "oh he's always on his own, he prefers it that way". After this, DS has refused to go to any parties or social arrangements in the class. (Just to quickly add, he was happy to go to parties in his previous class).
Now, I understand he needs more time alone and am not expecting his social life to be a whirlwind, but he has formed friendships before and I believe it is important for him to have a few friends for his sake as well as helping him to learn the social ropes for the future.
So I'm wondering what people's thoughts are. Do we keep him in the same class and either accept that he won't have any friends there or hope that he eventually will form a friendship? Do I fight to try and get him moved to yet another class (although no guarantee of friends, and yet another stressful change for him with a new teacher to get to know etc)? Do we start looking at other schools, maybe smaller ones (similar risks to the second option plus added issue that DD (nearly 10) is very happy and secure in the school)?
Does anyone have any thoughts or experience?
Sorry - that was a lot longer than it seemed in my head!
I'd keep him where he is for the summer term and start actively courting outside-with-parents picnics/cinema/walks/whatever and work at the friendship thing with view to reassessing in 3 months time.
Does the school run any social skills groups. When DS1 was at primary his two friends were from his social skills group. They weren't in his class. Another thing to look at is " circle of friends" however I know some who are on the autistic spectrum find it overwhelming. When my DS was in year 1/2 they used to have a buddy system for him at playtime but he would frequently ditch the buddy.
Does tghed school have lunchtime clubs where he could meet other kids from other classes that he might have a common interest with.
You can't make people have friends. Does he want friends? It does get harder as they get older and move on from the I'm a boy you're a boy we are six so we are friends phase!
Thanks for the replies.
I am trying with a few friends outside of his class, and actually that isn't too bad. It's not very frequent but when he has a friend over or goes to a friend, it always goes well (he has two friends).
I think there is a small part where I need to check myself and self-reflect on whether this is for my needs or his, now that I think about it
There is a huge emphasis on the social life within the class here - they stay in the same classes and with the same teacher pretty much throughout primary. There is a class meeting amongst the parents and teacher on Thursday discussing class policies for birthdays and class social arrangements etc and I suppose that triggered me thinking about this (all seems a bit pointless as he won't go anyway, but I think I'm just having a bit of defeatist moment right now and will pick myself up again).
I don't know if they have any social skills groups. I'll try to find out. The school structure is classes from 8am to 2pm and then the after school club until 5pm (we try to pick him up as soon after 2pm as we can around work as he gets tired).
He does enjoy friends but at the same time, if I'm honest about it, maybe it's more me wanting this for him than him wanting it. Hmmm...
I think we'll focus on the two friends he has right now.
I don't think you should worry about him "wanting it" really the question is does it help him. My feeling is that friendship in the class will help him and you going forward and so while I can see in some ways "it is for you" it isn't JUST for you IYSWIM.
Do the rest of the class know about his dx? Are there other children with disabilities in the school?
Your son is the same age as mine were when they started to have difficulties. In juniors the gap between their social skills and those of their peers became a gaping chasm. ds2 like you son also had a class change to contend with and never made new friends despite having several the year before. In hindsight I should have been more proactive with school in asking for help. Definitely ask for a social skills group. Your ds will not be the only one in a school of this size in need of one. In class the teacher could help by altering seating arrangements so he has a chance to make friends with like-minded children and/or when there is a group work session allowing him to work in a pair or smaller group again to facilitate social communication preferably with TA support to help repair disagreements.
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