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difficult situation with 7yo - what do you make of this situation

(158 Posts)
firecracker20 Wed 22-Nov-17 07:30:28

This may be long - sorry - just need some thoughts please.

Ds is 7 (yr2). Had a few difficult years around him (moving twice, changing schools, family death, and I was very ill and absent for a year). He's done really well at school for the first 2 years, very academically able, loves to learn and engages. A bit quirky and socially awkward which we've tended to put down to him being a lot brighter as his conversations are on a higher plane when we listen to him. He prefers to talk to adults about engineering or coding concepts etc because he can learn something new. He does have friends his age and does enjoy playing with them.

He's quite controlling and emotional, finds it very difficult to get things wrong and deeply wounded by criticism. This has erupted this year and he has become violent and defiant at school (only at school, never at home) These episodes started with his new teacher and are worse with supply teachers etc. they are mostly in the classroom, not at break time or clubs. Over the course of the last 9 weeks the frequency and severity is getting worse and school are talking of exclusion. I caught the end of one episode and he looked like a caged animal in total flight mode.

His GP has signed him off school for some time out. CAHMS, ed psych etc have all been referred to as well as an autism diagnosis. I think he may be on the spectrum but the people who know him well (old teacher - none of whom are in the school now and SENCO) don't agree that this would be the main precipitator as he was a model student before and the sudden deterioration in him is massive.

Now he's at home he's suddenly turned back into the child I knew from last year - I didn't really realise the subtle changes in him at home although I've seen the massive changes at school. He's now cuddly, started sucking his thumb again, helpful around the house, funny, interactive, chatty, incredibly polite, wants to play a lot more, he's also started getting into bed with us more and being afraid of the dark/noises etc. his eczema has cleared up and he's just laughing a lot more. He just isn't badly behaved at home either which I can't get my head around. In 5 days I've told him off about 3 times about tiny things.

I'm so confused about what the cause is as lots of people at school/home have an opinion (ASD, ODD, PDA, attachment issues, anxiety, abuse, poor parenting styles and lack of consequences etc the list goes on) but no one knows therefor no one knows how to help him. All strategies so far haven't made a difference. All the professional agencies have super long waiting lists so we are in limbo. Ds is worried about missing school as he's missing his learning.....

Please, any thoughts, experiences or advice? Thank you.

Stillwishihadabs Wed 22-Nov-17 07:40:54

I don't know about other CCGs but being out of school will accelerate the diagnostic process round here. Is he "on the list" for an ASD assessment ?

FizzyWaterAndElderflower Wed 22-Nov-17 07:44:48

Is there a different class he could go in? It could be something in the teacher's style that just escalates things, and now it's become a habit and will be hard to break (both for the teacher, and for your son)

My son clashed with a teacher when he was 6, and became withdrawn and desperately unhappy at school. Changed to a different teacher and he was back to his sunny, engaged self.

firecracker20 Wed 22-Nov-17 08:01:30

The ASD assessment wait is 2 years and won't be sped up I'm told. CAHMS are trying to speed their referral out as he's out of school now. Not sure about other agencies.

There is a parallel class but that teacher has been involved and is of the mindset that it's poor parenting and he's a pandered to child at home and just needs more consequences. I've told them that he's impeccably behaved at home (especially compared to my friends who have the reverse - great at school and total nightmares at home) ds genuinely is lovely, well behaved, polite and a joy to have around at home. They just don't believe me. I think he will suffer more by moving into that teachers class.

I think his current teacher is a major catalyst in this starting but I just don't know what the underlying cause is. It's so hard.

user1499786242 Wed 22-Nov-17 08:10:41

You wrote in your post that you were ill for a year?
Did this effect him badly? Are you still poorly now?
I only ask this because this behaviour sounds exactly like my little brother
My mum was taken ill when he was 4/5
It really really effected him
It's like the anxiety and worry about mum being ill made him such an angry child who would have awful outburst, only at school never at home
And would not take criticism or being even slightly told off..
He also was awkward and preferred conversations about engineering and things like that!

Me and my sister were much older so could understand and we weren't effected behaviour wise

Just something to consider?

FizzyWaterAndElderflower Wed 22-Nov-17 08:27:01

Ugh. I confess after my son's horrible time (it was only 1 term thank goodness) I went overboard - I called around everywhere trying to find someone who could help (the teacher was also suggesting that he was just naughty, immature, and not trying)

In the end I paid for a private assessment at an Occupational Therapist (I'd been doing a lot of reading, matching up the things he has issues with, spoken to lots of people, and discovered this was the right route) - who said he was too young for an official diagnosis, but the indicators were dyspraxia, and we set up a therapy course for him - which helped him a lot because he knew we were caring and trying to help him, and helped at the school, because now we could point out that we weren't just sitting idly by but were doing something, and could give them a list of how they could get involved in fixing it from an official source.

Might you be able to find the money to pay for private assessment somewhere?

freshstudio Wed 22-Nov-17 08:33:51

User14 - yes I was very ill with a life threatening disease for 6 months, in and out of hospital for treatment and very physically and emotionally absent from him. The following 6 months were also unstable for him. The deaths in the family were from the same disease as when I was ill at the same time as I was ill. It was a very traumatic time for all of us and we had to move within it all. He was 4/5 too. I am well now though.

That’s interesting to hear your story. What happened if you don’t mind me asking? Did your brother get help and things improved?

My gut instinct is that it’s a huge level of anxiety and upset bubbling under the surface from his past and that the new difficult class environment has unearthed something he can’t control or understand.

But because people who don’t know him that well keep telling me they think he’s autistic - I’m getting really confused.

freshstudio Wed 22-Nov-17 08:38:38

Fizzy - yes I think we may have to pay privately for something. I just don’t know yet what the right thing is. Thank you, I’m glad things worked out for your son.

FizzyWaterAndElderflower Wed 22-Nov-17 08:41:38


This can be sorted fresh - like you said, it's just figuring out who the right person to help actually is.

My parents took my brother to an educational psychologist when he was young - that might be the place to start perhaps, if you can find someone you think you can trust.

Apileofballyhoo Wed 22-Nov-17 08:42:49

Hmmm the usual line trotted out when children are great at school but demons at home is that they feel safe to let rip at home. But you have the exact opposite.

When you were ill, and bereaved, was there a lot of time when he had to be quiet/good at home? Who was caring for him then?

Has he had any counselling or play therapy, anything like that? Is he deep down afraid that you are going to go away again, to hospital or worse? Is he somehow afraid you won't be there after school?

differentnameforthis Wed 22-Nov-17 08:44:24

It's very telling that this started with a new teacher. We didn't even consider that dd could be autistic until the unreasonableness new demands of a strict teacher made her world implode.

Now we have severe sensory processing disorder and autism, all dx in the last year. We went private for a dx (we are in Australia though, and I understand that some LAs in the UK dismiss a private dx?)

My daughter does not hit out, but her friend (also ASD) does that classic fight in fight or flight when she is distressed. The very first time she hit was at school shortly after starting. She had never hit anyone prior to that!

Look up
Tony Attwood. Who incidentally is a world renowned physiologist and he missed his son's autism

Autism discussion page - Bill Nason

And Larkey Sue Larkey for some interesting insights.

differentnameforthis Wed 22-Nov-17 08:48:57

Apologies, the last link ins't working
Sue Larkey

firecracker20 Wed 22-Nov-17 08:55:02

Sorry - name change fail there - on multiple devices.

Thank you for the links. I will have good look through.

He has just started seeing a child counsellor to look that route. I think there is a lot of anxiety about change and that big change often meant something bad was hoping to happen. Yes, he had to be 'good and calm' when I was ill so not to disturb me - not really but in his mind definitely. He was cared for by lots of different people.

firecracker20 Wed 22-Nov-17 08:56:39

Different - what has happened since the diagnosis? Has things changed to the situation? Is it handled better or more understood?

My worry is that he'll get a diagnosis but the situation will remain the same. They've used traditional ASD strategies with him and acknowledged that they aren't working.

Sensimilla Wed 22-Nov-17 08:59:28

I imagine he has separation anxiety and worries you will get I'll/die whilst he is away from you. He is well behaved at home because he is with you and the anxiety reduced

Do the school know about your illness/deaths? It's appalling if they DO know and haven't considered this is a factor/offered him some counselling

Sensimilla Wed 22-Nov-17 09:00:49

X-post...brilliant she that he is starting to see a counsellor....what is their opinion on his behaviour?

Apileofballyhoo Wed 22-Nov-17 09:02:15

And also - fight or flight, as mentioned above. His body is flooded with anxiety/adrenaline at school (for whatever reason) and he literally can't control it, so it's easy to tip him over the edge.

It could well be a combination of reasons. If you read about stress in adults, you often come across the scale I've linked to, obviously most of the questions are adult-themed but you get the idea. If he does have an underlying condition that will add to his stress.

firecracker20 Wed 22-Nov-17 09:05:02

The school know our history and the few people that really know him believe this is a huge huge factor. They were going to start some therapy before he was taken out of school but with funding issues it's very thin and often not available.

The teachers / SLT who don't know him and are only aware of the situations when they happen firmly believe it's either ASD or poor parenting, wilfully ignoring school rules and finding yr2 too difficult (this bit is rubbish - his teacher from last has said he could be put up a year and be absolutely fine)

I am just torn in a million directions because a million people are involved and they all think something different.

Sensimilla Wed 22-Nov-17 09:07:05

My DD has PTSD. She has screaming raging melt-downs and is very defiant. At home, not at school. Trying to control people and situations is a way for them to cope with feeling small and vulnerable. And why, they 'over react' to criticism/things going not to plan etc

W1a Wed 22-Nov-17 09:07:24

Could it be that he is “behaving impeccably” at home because that is what he feels he needs to do to control everything that has changed, whereas as School he is relaxing and expressing emotions?

How is he at expressing how he feels and being resilient at home?

Sensimilla Wed 22-Nov-17 09:11:03

The opinion of teachers is worth nothing here. Don't listen to them. You need an opinion from a psychologist/paediatrician.

You are going to have a hard job though, if you intend to return to a school who don't recognise what a massive impact the last 2 years would have on a child.

Sensimilla Wed 22-Nov-17 09:13:39

I think, in your position, I would

1) go to the GP and get a paed referrral
2) look for a more supportive school

Apileofballyhoo Wed 22-Nov-17 09:16:13

I'd imagine the usual ASD strategies won't work if that isn't what the main issue is. Very short-sighted of the school as I assume they know about the things he has had to cope with.

Is there a chance of your illness reoccurring or is it safe to explain to him it won't?

My DH was changing jobs a few years ago and he and I were quite stressed about it. I didn't think to explain it to our then 7 year old, and when I eventually did, just by chance, he burst into tears and sobbed for over an hour. He said we were so different (serious sounding voices, closing doors so he couldn't hear us/we could hear each other when he was playing loudly, asking him to wait a bit as we were chatting) that he thought we mightn't be us and we might be aliens or something. We hadn't been cross or impatient with him or anything, but distracted and not as engaged. Point is, you never really know what's going on in a child's head and what unvoiced fears they have.

firecracker20 Wed 22-Nov-17 09:18:27

W1a - at home he just seems relaxed and non combative. He's calm and happy and if I asked him to do something or tell him off he takes it well. You could be right, I honestly don't know. At school they describe him as constantly being on the tipping point and like a bubbling pot of emotions.

I can understand where school are coming from. The episodes are escalating into serious violence towards staff and children. He's not safe there so I can see why they want him out. They don't know how to help him any more than I do. All I know is at home he's like my little boy again.

I think he has more control at home in the sense of he can have quiet or noise if he wants and there's no pressure to conform to others but we are very strict with him, always have been. That's why the poor parenting stings a bit.

Sensimilla Wed 22-Nov-17 09:19:45

* he burst into tears and sobbed for over an hour. He said we were so different (serious sounding voices, closing doors so he couldn't hear us/we could hear each other when he was playing loudly, asking him to wait a bit as we were chatting) that he thought we mightn't be us and we might be aliens or something*

apile this made me shock and sad and grin


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