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Not communicating effectively at school

(34 Posts)
PurpleMinionMummy Thu 17-Nov-16 14:15:46

If you have a child who struggles to communicate to anyone at school when they are overwhlemed and they just withdraw (which goes unnoticed!), do you have any advice/tips/ideas of how to work around this? Our OT suggested we find a way for ds to let the teacher know if he needs a time out, he won't verbalise it and is a bit too old for the emotions card type keyrings. Looking for other ideas that aren't too 'young' and are subtle so his classmates don't notice. Thank you smile

PolterGoose Thu 17-Nov-16 14:27:35

You're never too old for using non-verbal means to commuciate needs.

I'm proper old and I've got a couple of emoticon necklaces from Spacerobot Studio smile

Verbena37 Thu 17-Nov-16 14:34:09

My DS 11 has this very same problem. The SENCO said he can use cards to hold up discreetly to the teacher but he refuses.
Is there one adult your DS can chat to quietly If he needs?

zzzzz Thu 17-Nov-16 15:43:56

I go for portable skills wherever possible so I would be looking at the ideal for a young adult.

Could he and the teacher agree a standard phrase "do excuse me"? Chunk phrases used as "counters" instead of pecs are IMO infinitely more useful. "I need a little air", "could I go to the loo/get some air" and less stressful to produce than pictures/your own words.

If he can't verbalise at all, perhaps he could be in charge of filling a jug or something, go get it from its shelf and then wait for the teacher to say he can go?

PurpleMinionMummy Thu 17-Nov-16 16:17:16

Thanks Polter. I'll show those to him. I did show him the flippable (is that a word?!) green and red bracelets but he wasn't keen.

Verbena, no not really. Just the teacher, but he won't speak up. He doesn't even tell us when he's struggling, but obviously we're more aware of the signs.

Zzzzz, worth thinking about. I hadn't thought about a code word/phrase because he doesn't verbalise, but if he's saying something 'everyday' perhaps it will be easier for him. The OT suggested his teacher 'sends him to the office' so perhaps he could ask 'does anything need taking to the office' to prompt.

Thank you!

PolterGoose Thu 17-Nov-16 16:18:35

TBH the biggest problem is often just recognising you need help/need to escape, and being able to articulate it is irrelevant if you can't recognise it! IMHO that's why it can be helpful to have a reminder to check your own 'mood'.

How old is he?

zzzzz Thu 17-Nov-16 17:31:23

For mine it's not the recognising the need to leave as much as leaving without causing upset.

PurpleMinionMummy Thu 17-Nov-16 18:07:29

He's 10.

tartanterror Thu 17-Nov-16 18:50:48

Following!! No answers but this all sounds familiar. It's a nightmare having a child who doesn't ask for help isn't it? It's part of the reason that the SEN support misses them I suppose.....

PurpleMinionMummy Thu 17-Nov-16 19:33:50

Yes. Quiet well behaved kids are not really noticed. Especially if they are also academically able. It's just assumed they're ok.

wevecomeonholidaybymistake Thu 17-Nov-16 21:43:14

We have this exact problem. School keep banging on about how he needs to communicate his needs, not grasping that he rarely understands how he's feeling himself.
In fact he has started to tell them things but it's just dismissed which is very infuriating!

PurpleMinionMummy Thu 17-Nov-16 22:08:25

Oh no. That is not what you need, it just ruins their confidence to actually ever speak up sad

claw12 Fri 18-Nov-16 07:02:49

Ds is the same, he just freezes, can't speak or move. His old school would call it disengaging and thought he needed to communicate. When really all he needs is some time and reassurance.

Ineedmorepatience Fri 18-Nov-16 10:21:09

This was the main reason the Dd3's last placement failed!

All the strategies offered to her by secondary relied on her asking for help!

She managed to write in a dark time that she felt like she had a wall inside her mouth and the words were stuck behind it!

Very very difficult to get a mainstream school to understand the extent of the difficulty sad

youarenotkiddingme Sat 19-Nov-16 08:03:40

All sounds very familiar! I was trying to get the same point across yesterday to tribunal judge.

When you have a child who can't always recognise or recognise early enough their own emotions, doesn't outwardly present as they feel inside and can't ask for help when they need it only accept it after they've blown/or go home highly anxious - what needs to change?

For me I'd say it's learning the skills. So rather than deal with the case in hand spend the time teaching skills that can be transferred later on in life. So ask about ELSA work to work on recognising emotion and how the body feels in response to emotion, there's a great book called "what to do when you worry too much" which can help towards improving the worrying about speaking up and then get the school on board with the idea that children can't conform (eg sit in class for whole lesson without it having a detrimental effect) arent being difficult or lazy but aren't having their needs met and haven't yet for the skills to self regulate/tolerate.

I like the idea of having something - an object - that isn't out of place in school (perhaps a red ruler) that is placed on the desk in front of the student when they need support, time out etc. It's like the red/green card but a ruler doesn't set them aside from their peers which some children with ASD struggle with.

My Ds doesn't give a shit and will use whatever gets him out and wear ear defenders in school and class without a care in the world - but this does leave him open to being recognised as vunerable so I'm watching as well for other suggestions.

youarenotkiddingme Sat 19-Nov-16 08:06:07

Sorry should have said my ds can't use time out or ask for it effectively - his strategy to to throw things usually then he's asked to leave!

claw12 Sat 19-Nov-16 09:31:43

How did tribunal go Youare?

I think the first thing that needs to change is teachers reaction to it. From old school I would get 'he won't be able to do this when he is an adult'!

Ds freezes, when confused, so help him not to be confused! Break things down so he understands instructions. Explain unexpected changes to him etc if he still freezes rather than pressure him to communicate why he is freezing, give him some time to process, a bit of reassurance and he will unfreeze!

PolterGoose Sat 19-Nov-16 10:39:38

'he won't be able to do this when he is an adult'!

That really pisses me off. There is nothing wrong with needing support for a lifetime. There is nothing wrong with dependence and needing help.

OneInEight Sat 19-Nov-16 10:59:21

The one advice I would say is whatever method you try you need to role play with the child so it becomes the norm rather than the unexpected. Otherwise the strategy can cause anxiety by itself. Mind you this is something we have struggled to persuade even specialist schools to perform. It does often work though when we do so at home.

PurpleMinionMummy Sat 19-Nov-16 11:08:25

Thanks youarenotkiddingme. I keep looking at that book on Amazon, perhaps i should take the plunge and buy it. His teacher doesn't recognise when he's struggling atm, I'm not sure ds does either until it too late and he's already withdrawn, what is ELSA work? It sounds like it might be really beneficial.

Fortunately his school have been lovely, his teacher is more than willing to employ techniques to help we just need to find some ds is happy with and will actually use! We only know he's struggling because he gets clingy and stops talking/engaging with us etc. I imagine in class he just stops participating but unless he was spoken too directly and they saw him blanking them/not responding appropriately, i don't think anyone would notice.

youarenotkiddingme Sat 19-Nov-16 11:14:52

there is nothing wrong with dependence or needing help

^^this.

I find that as an nt person there's a lot less expectation on me to manage the things I struggle with than Ds gets as an autistic person. No one has ever told me (who hates crowds!) that I need to learn to deal with them.
I hate them - I avoid them.

The difference, IMO, is the ability to recognise and respond to that. I can recognise how crowds make me feel and deal with and communicate it - and that's where an autistic person, for example, needs support. It's being given the tools to communicate those feelings rather than be forced to manage something their disability makes it difficult to manage iyswim?

Ineedmorepatience Sat 19-Nov-16 11:17:16

'he won't be able to do this when he is an adult'!

And will he need to?

Dd3 is learning skils for the adult world all the time, they are strategies to help her get through difficult stuff. She is not going to stop having some of the difficulties she has but she can improve the way she gets around them to achieve what she wants to achieve!

Ineedmorepatience Sat 19-Nov-16 11:18:33

Crossed with youare smile

PolterGoose Sat 19-Nov-16 11:20:52

Being able to ask for help and advocate for oneself is perhaps the greatest gift we can give our children.

youarenotkiddingme Sat 19-Nov-16 11:25:43

I argued that a lot yesterday polter I hoped I spoke for us as a collection when I said <paraphrased> that it's not a case of saying schools have experience and training in ASD. It's about looking at the individual child and the needs they have and teaching them to communicate and manage those. It's not about managing a child or keeping them calm but giving them the skills they need to advocate for themselves and self regulate for themselves - remembering school is a structured and small community - that they can take with them when they leave and continue to use in adult life.

We hear too often "but they have a time out card" without looking at the realism of teaching them to use it.

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