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Livid with school! ... Adopted child with needs being singled out and moved around in class

(44 Posts)
DoveStar42 Wed 08-Mar-17 16:21:24

My adopted ds is in year 3, has ADHD with ASD traits, and a number of other issues. Although he is medicated, he still has attachment and processing issues and finds peer to peer relationships very difficult.
I have just had a parents evening at school and found out that the teacher has moved him around the class 5 times in the last month, because she said he annoys the other children. She asked me to speak to him about social boundaries as she doesn't want to set up a desk and sit him on his own.
I am pretty sure schools should have a basic understanding of children with ADHD, ASD and adoption, and the difficulties these children face both in classroom environments and their peer to peer relationships. No wonder he is having trouble at school, transitions and change are really tough for him and she is singling him out, embarrassing him and moving him around with no stability.
Does anyone else know what I can do about this, or have any idea how I can challenge this teacher and come up with a better way for her to help my DS?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

donquixotedelamancha Wed 08-Mar-17 17:58:26

I'm going to give quite a blunt response to your post. I hope you understand that I am doing so to be helpful, and I think you need to understand another point of view:

From what is in your post, the teacher has done nothing wrong (I'm not saying they've done everything right). To be 'livid' is an unreasonable response. If you go in with the attitude of 'challenging' the teacher you will, quite rightly, not be listened to.

1. She is moving your son because she has a duty to protect other students from being 'annoyed' by him. She is trying to find a social combination that works better for him. This might not be the right strategy, but it often works and it's usually the first thing to try.

2. No, of course she doesn't know about adoption or attachment- most people don't. Also, being adopted isn't a special need, please don't lump adopted kids together. She will know about your son's specific needs based on his personal plan, a chat with his previous teacher and what you've told her. She will make professional judgements based on this and has to balance a lot more than what you want to happen.

3. Its very possible the school isn't doing all it can to address his needs. The way to fix this is: speak to the teacher one to one; give them as much background as poss; make some specific suggestions; then do exactly what they ask to support the school.

4. One strategy definitely works well with children who have the needs you describe: consistency, discipline, structure and lots of praise.

By all means ask her to pick a spot a keep him there, its a good idea. Ask her to make sure the work is as closed and simple as possible until his behaviour improves. Check she's giving very clear instructions. Get her to keep him very busy, perhaps building in little breaks (e.g. give him a special job). Find out the sanctions and reward system and back it to the hilt with him. Heap praise when he does well.

If the issues are severe and ongoing you will need her help to access one to one support and you will want to discuss alternatives to being in the classroom all the time.

5. She has not singled him out: his conduct has. She hasn't deliberately embarrassed him (again, unless you've missed out some key info). The teacher's and your job is to work together to modify his behaviour; to help him achieve as well as possible, and develop his soft skills. What the teacher can't do is completely fix (or even completely accommodate) the underlying issues. You have to be realistic about what can be achieved.

6. You may want to suggest further training for the teacher/school. I'd hold off for a few weeks, you will come off as patronising if not careful.

7. You will doubtless get lots of opinions soon, about homeschooling, moving schools and making complaints. Some people's stock reply on MN is you should make as big a drama as possible. Sometimes these are the only way, but please give the easy route a good go first.

Its great that you want to fight like a lion for your son, that's most of our job as adoptive parents. I hope it goes well when you speak to her.

smilingsarahb Wed 08-Mar-17 18:14:34

It may or may not make you feel better, but a lot of classes change children around a lot anyway so it might not be that noticeable to him or the other children. From what you have said I think you could nicely request a meeting with the class teacher and the SENCO/ Inclusion manager to discuss the way forward together. Just say you are naturally concerned he is struggling with so much on his plate and you wanted to create an action plan. Sometimes schools can get in specialists to observe your child in class and suggest strategies that would work for your child.

luckylucky24 Wed 08-Mar-17 18:41:57

I don't think the teacher has done anything wrong here. She cannot allow him to constantly disturb other children even if he does have ADHD. Ask for a meeting to discuss strategies but don't go in like a bull in a china shop.

Blossomdeary Wed 08-Mar-17 18:53:22

donquixotedelamancha is talking a lot of sense - please listen to her.

The teacher has a class full of pupils to consider and sharing your DS around different tables may in fact be the best strategy for absorbing his behaviour problems into the classroom.

If you want the teacher to respond reasonably to your concerns you have to approach her reasonably and objectively. You love your son and you want to fight his corner, but you need to choose your "weapons" - getting the teacher onside with you is your best weapon - going in with all guns blazing (when it is clearly not appropriate) is an own goal and will get you nowhere.

Finding ways to help a child with these sorts of problems is a huge challenge - I am sure you find him a challenge at home, and you do not have a room full of other of children to consider. You need to work as a team with the teacher and rational and respectful conversation is the way forward.

hehehehehehe Wed 08-Mar-17 18:54:14

Hi. Adopter, 3 kids in primary. Enthusiastic amateur with therapeutic help (the kids, not me. --Actually me too.--)

Social boundaries will need to be taught. Don't know exactly how this is done, ours are being helped by elsa (emotional learning support asst. I think?) in school. This can involve small groups with other children who struggle with some aspect of communication.
I could try to tell my eldest as much as I liked about social boundaries but without being there with him all day there's not a lot i can do, his default is no boundaries and you can't override that with a conversation. School get involved in misunderstandings with peers so that they can be brought to a conclusion, this has been by the teaching assistant/ nearest adult.

The school imo need to manage his social difficulties in class (and out of class). It is possible, this happens for ours. See if there's anything in the inclusion policy on the school website that might back this up.

Adoption uk are running a campaign to make every school attachment aware so might be worth checking website to see if they have any resources to highlight to school. You are right, moving him five times in a month, whether or not the rest of the class are moving as well, is massively disrupting for him. Surely it would be for a lot of children anyway. School need to be much more aware of basics like this to be able to get him learning. He needs to feel safe to learn, it undermines this.

I would just advise whatever you ask for, don't give them tonnes of print outs;
I find it very very easy to get sidetracked and overwhelmed by the number of things I want to address with school. I have to make myself pick the main thing I want to achieve and if I did it again I'd provide summaries...

Our post adoption social worker also attends meetings we have with the school which helps to back up any points we make. You can get in touch with post adoption support for someone to help you with this.

Sorry I've rambled, I know all schools are very different and luckily ours are very receptive with a great senco who is happy to learn and an elsa. If you haven't already check Sen part of schools website, it should mention attachment disorder as one of the categories of Sen, might also mention other resources they have for autism which can be very relevant and take some of the work out for you.

Good luck, feel free to shout me.

donquixotedelamancha Wed 08-Mar-17 19:29:17

"donquixotedelamancha is talking a lot of sense - please listen to her"

Oi. Dads can be Mums too :-) Also: thanks.

DoveStar42 Thu 09-Mar-17 10:19:47

Thanks everyone for your responses, just a few points Donquixotedelamancha I believe the teacher has done quite a few things wrong. My son came to the school with complex needs and I was informed that the school could support him.
Your point 1 - I agree she has a duty of care to protect the other students in her class from being annoyed, but she should have a system in place to handle children with special needs without moving them around the class to annoy other students. (this only alienates him with his peers). She also has a duty of care for my son. There is a SEND policy in all mainstream schools to show the level of support these children should have and ADHD is a diagnosis that they specifically say that they are able to manage and support.
2. All teachers with adopted children in the class should be trained in adoption issues like attachment and all schools are given extra funding for that exact purpose from the government it’s called pupil premium plus which is given to the school annually for each adopted child. Although it is not specifically ring-fenced per pupil it is however, only to be used for adoption issues and/or training of staff around adoption.
3/4. I agree it is seemingly very unlikely they are addressing his needs, as moving him around a class and creating that added level of stress and uncertainty when one of his primary needs are consistency and praise. We have already discussed how to handle keeping him busy with clear instructions and this is not always implemented. I have, asked for him to have a social skills intervention which should help.
5. Yes she did single him out, others were not asked to move, I checked, I also asked him why he thought he was being moved and he said “no one wants to sit next to me, no one likes me, I’m bad”. How you feel if your child came home with that heart breaking statement. I realise she may not understand there would be a difference but there is and it is clearly an adoption trigger. A lot of children come to be adopted through loss and trauma and have been moved through the system many times they need time, love and consistency to deal with their very difficult early lives.
6. I have asked if she has training and will be speaking to the school SENCO very shortly.
7. I was looking for out of the box solutions here as I am worried that my son is not accessing education in class, he has difficulties and issues but he is bright, kind, articulate and funny. He comes home deflated a lot of the time and I want the best for him, he deserves the best care at home and school.
Finally like I said in point number 7 I am looking for help and out of the box solutions to a situation that I have little input into. I will be arranging a meeting with the teacher and SENCO to discuss and would be very grateful for any ideas on how they could support him better.
Thanks for listening.

PoppyStellar Thu 09-Mar-17 14:06:09

In my experience the success of any support strategy is largely dependent on how engaged, clued up and supportive the school is in general towards children with additional needs. Sadly this varies wildly from school to school. Going for a 'how can we work together to address this' approach (even when you feel like metaphorically kicking their butt) has been the best way I've found for actually getting things moving.

Some practical suggestions:

Lego therapy - I think this programme was created initially for children with autism but can also be helpful for other children struggling with regulating feelings and behaviour

Key staff undertaking mental health resilience workshops and then disseminating the strategies learnt to the whole staff body.

Engaging external family support charities who can provide counselling type activities for use in nurture groups, or behaviour support packages.

Training on adoption and attachment related issues for all staff as part of a day's INSET. Adoption UK run these but I'm sure other organisations do too.

I've taken this leaflet londonfosteringachievement.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Attachment-Type-Dan-Hughes.pdf into school (and posted it online too many times to mention!) but I've found it has helped class teachers grasp why their standard store of 'tricks' for managing behaviour might not be working with your child.

The reality is that teachers get almost no training on the various aspects of child development let alone the needs of children with additional or complex needs when they do their initial teacher training. They may therefore be a bit clueless as to how they can helpfully address your child's needs. However any good teacher will want to support your child and hopefully if you go in with some practical suggestions for things they could do they will be willing to listen and work with you.

donquixotedelamancha Thu 09-Mar-17 14:13:17

@DoveStar42. It is a shame our genders are not reversed, because this is a perfect opportunity to use the word 'mansplaining' and I love silly words.

1. You asked for advice. You got a long time teacher with lots of SEN experience (who also happens to be adopted, and have adopted kids, and volunteer with an adoption agency, and provide pre-adoption training) to give a detailed response. Instead of listening, you explain why he must be wrong because you assumed he'd never heard of pupil premium and didn't know that "A lot of children come to be adopted through loss and trauma and have been moved through the system many times".

2. You come off as ridiculously arrogant and closed minded. If you speak this way to the school they will not listen, even if you have useful things to say.

3. You say the teacher has done lots wrong, but the only example you give is moving places, and that isn't necessarily a bad strategy. The things you imagine about PP are completely mistaken.

4. Your son may need an 'out of the box' solution, but most kids with SEN don't. They need the strategies I outlined to you earlier and a lot of hard work.

It's possible there is a problem with your school but, if so, you haven't communicated it well. By focusing on blame, you make it seem more likely the problem is elsewhere.

5. Please stop referring to adoption as if it is a special need, its offensive. There is no such thing as an adoption trigger- I think you mean that you worry it triggers your son's attachment difficulties. Most adopted kids these days do have additional needs for the reasons you describe, but please don't make generalisations about a whole group of people.

6. Well done for using numbered lists correctly in your reply. I love it when someone can actually use paragraphs properly- an all too rare skill on mumsnet :-)

Finally, I think I could have helped with the specifics of your situation, but I have no wish to waste your time with unwelcome advice. I think you will eventually end up home schooling your son, there are plenty of resources out there on t'interweb.

Blossomdeary Thu 09-Mar-17 14:49:53

The only way forward is understanding and cooperation with the school. You need to talk with them as if they are people who are doing their best in a difficult situation and you may have some insights to offer to help them deal with your child, who is unique.

If you talk with them as if they are the enemy, then it is your son who will suffer.

I am the SEND governor for a primary school and know how hard teachers and TAs work to tailor their actions to the individual child. But no-one can work miracles - if your son is disruptive in class, then they have to find ways of managing this for the good of all, not just for him.

It is part of learning at school to acquire the skills to mix with others and your son is going to need this when he grows up. You are talking as if the teacher should focus on him in a disproportionate way and that is not a good life lesson for the child.

If you feel that his needs are not being met, then you need to have a conversation with the school that involves both talking and listening. Sometimes in this situation a child can have an allocated TA, but this involves initiating the relevant assessments via communication with the school.

I know that you are hurting on behalf of your child, and that is laudable, but constructive communication and not confrontation is the way to go.

conserveisposhforjam Thu 09-Mar-17 15:12:50

Fwiw op I don't think you sound at all arrogant. I think you sound like a person who is dealing with a difficult situation and is upset on behalf of your child.

I'm not quite sure why you are getting quite such a robust response here. It's not AIBU confused

umizoomi Thu 09-Mar-17 15:40:49

My DS has a child who is adopted and has additional needs in his class (Y4). I don't know the exact diagnosis of said child but they have huge behavioural issues and is moved around both within the classroom and out of it. The child in question swears a lot and is angry and aggressive.

It's disruptive. Yes you are concerned for your DC but the teacher and every other parent is concerned for theirs.

Why should the child they sit next to and 'annoy' all day suffer?

The teacher at my DS's school moves the kids anyway in order to stop cliques and encourage them all to work together so I don't think your child will be singled out.

You need to ensure an appropriate plan is in place but kicking off at school and essentially implying that the needs of your child trump the needs of the other 29 won't get you very far IMO

donquixotedelamancha Thu 09-Mar-17 15:53:17

@ conserve. In fairness to everyone else its only me who's being robust. Everyone else may be telling the OP to course correct, but they have been very mild and sympathetic in putting their point across.

Please don't mistake a strident tone for lack of empathy. I understand exactly how the OP feels, I've been in that situation feeling the same way. I'm no stranger to pushing so hard I get in my own way. I chose to make my point forcefully because I doubt anything less would have made me see my mistakes at the time.

P.S. I this was AIBU 50% of posts would be calling OP names, most of the rest would be about all schools being evil, 10% would advise leaving her husband and one person would keep blaming religion.

DoveStar42 Thu 09-Mar-17 17:39:43

Thank you everyone especially PoppyStella for your constructive support and conserveisposhforjam for your personal support. I think donquixotedelamancha has lost the argument for anyone who knows anything about adoption today if he is suggesting that "There is no such thing as an adoption trigger" please see adoption.com/how-to-cope-with-triggers, or" The things you imagine about PP are completely mistaken". I too am a SEN and safeguarding governor have read the government legislation, please see the link below through adoption UK
www.adoptionuk.org/sites/default/files/documents/PupilPremiumQandA_09-15.pdf. so please do not comment again about things you clearly know nothing about.

I am sorry if I haven't communicated well and I do understand the perspective of school and other children in the class. I was asking here for help supporting my son who is struggling. The other children do not need this help so I have not addressed their needs. If I sound arrogant I apologise again. I was only asking for help.

Prettybaffled Thu 09-Mar-17 19:40:11

Dove, I don't think you soon be arrogant at all. I don't have adopted dc but have bc with sn.

I think most parents of dc with sn are extremely aware of their child's effect on classroom teaching and management and potential impact on other dc.

However, often very small adjustments can be made which cause little extra work for schools and help vulnerable children.

I think this sounds very poor practice. Why would you move the child who is most likely to feel rejected and have low self esteem and to be potentially perceived as difficult by other dc?

Why couldn't you look for a way to allow at least some opportunity for that vulnerable child to play to their strengths so other children in the class perceive them in a positive language light. Eg can the child do a school task that they would enjoy, be the leader on a certain activity, help others with something they are good at - just trying to think of ways to raise self esteem in class.

flowers

Prettybaffled Thu 09-Mar-17 19:44:03

Other ideas - given social skills difficulties can you get salt involvement either la or private if you can afford? They can recommend social skills activities which can help. There are good workbooks schools can buy of small group social activities (e.g. On Amazon) which would help a child integrate with peers. I think someone already mentioned Lego club which is good.

I've seen circle of friends recommended but don't know about it myself - might be worth googling.

Can the upper tears buddy up with his class so he can have a y6 buddy? If school are open to that it might help.

Prettybaffled Thu 09-Mar-17 19:53:18

Sorry to post so much - just another thought - I think what needs to happen is that she moves from focussing on the 'work' and 'challenge' he creates for her to seeing him as a child with needs who home and school can both help by working in partnership.

I would start by asking for a meeting with her and senco. Say it was very helpful to have her input at parents evening on the current challenges and it would be great to have the meeting so you can reinforce everything school are doing to help him.

Then I would at the meeting do lots of asking their advice on exactly what boundaries issues are

Say you will target those at home.

Then explain about attachment in a way that is careful to keep them inside. Explain a little maybe of difficulties he faces eg multiple moves or whatever you think appropriate. Then say you wonder if given this they would agree quite important for what happens to address his issues in school to be mindful of attachment. Hopefully they agree, then you can ask eg do you think it would it be better if other children are moved around him?

Then suggest any additional bits you think will help him like Lego club, small group work.

Ask if he should have an iep or similar doc and ask what targts they think he should have. Then ask for a return meeting date.

DoveStar42 Thu 09-Mar-17 20:34:25

Thank you so much Prettybaffled, there are some great ideas I will look into. Just to let you know I have not spoken to the school or teacher yet, as I wanted some constructive ideas to help them. Again thanks I will look into your suggestions smile

tldr Thu 09-Mar-17 22:24:32

Do you know what the behaviours are that are annoying other kids? Might they be something you could tackle to remove the need to move him?

Italiangreyhound Fri 10-Mar-17 02:29:37

Lots of great advice here.

Dove I am so sorry it is so hard.

All I can suggest is this...

Speak to your adoption authority and request post adoption support, if possible especially around attachment, we did this with our son who came to us aged 3 (he is now 6, Year 2).

We also have had Theraplay, this is fabulous.

All of this may address some attachment issues and build confidence.

This work outside the class may help in the class and will hopefully address some of the concerns, it can also be very supportive to you and your son and fun.

Speak ing of you, please get as much support for you (friends or professional as you can, put on your own oxygen mask type thing!)

I totally agree with tldr about finding out specifically what the issues are and then addressing them at home to whatever extent you can.

You are naturally very upset but I must say you are coming across as quite 'aggressive', both in your opening post (towards the teacher) and in your responses to some potentially good advice here.

My advice please feel free to ignore is to please speak to friends, family, and continue to talk to us and get a bit calmer before you approach the teacher.

As a dyslexic formerly shy person I am a school hater and the mum if a dyslexic pupil (our dd not our son) and have no natural love of schools or teachers!

But they do do an increasingly difficult job and they have charge of our most loved so they need to be encouraged to go all out for our beloved kids.

Your best bet IMHO is to go in, ask for a meeting with Teacher and Senco (together if poss) and listen, first, to what they say, make notes.

What does he do, how does he act, how do they think he feels, what does he appear to enjoy, are there some children he does interact more easily with etc?

Express your concerns.

Offer ideas.

Make a plan together or at least together outline some thoughts.

As you would with kids, praise the good. At the moment you can not see any good, but there may be some. So let the teacher and Senco talk first.

Your goal, as you know, is to get the best outcomes for your son, be as gentle as you can while also keeping your feisty inner tiger mama.

Good luck.

conserveisposhforjam Fri 10-Mar-17 07:39:42

Still can't see where op is aggressive in her op.

She's used the word 'livid' in her title and an exclamation mark. Is it the exclamation mark that's caused the hoohaa?

B1rdonawire Fri 10-Mar-17 09:11:35

Just to add a quotation I've found very powerful this week "It's not you against this child. It's you and this child against this child's history." A compelling way to adjust teacher's perspective, if that's needed?

I don't think it sounds like you're asking for massive changes, but a change of mindset is sometimes the hardest change of all.

As PPs have said, I would try hard to find a way to work in tandem with the teacher if you can, and to find someone in the school who can offer your child nurture-based solutions (and who understands that sending an adopted child into shame is pretty likely to escalate all behaviour!). I think other posters on this board have had success with things like teacher spotting when child's restlessness was about to blow, and sending them to the office with a message, or asking them to go and check there were no balls in the playground or something, just giving them a five-minute pressure release...

Italiangreyhound Fri 10-Mar-17 09:18:01

conserveisposhforjam maybe it is just the title that conveys it to me.

Apologies OP maybe I am reading too much into it. The title convays a feeling to me right at the start.

Your response to the first OP was not very pleasant. I know you are probably very upset and stressed but if your response to people trying to help is quite so 'direct' then I think you may find the teacher less open.

Maybe it is the feeling I got that you feel the teacher is singling him out unfairly and embarrassing him. I am sure this is not the teacher's intent.

Children can be very vocal and it may be he was moved because someone he sat next to was unkind.

I just think how you go in there may well affect the outcome and if it is how you are expressing yourself here, much as I do understand why (having one adopted child and one very dyslexic child with autistic traits, who hated school) then I think you will possibly will not get best outcomes.

If you wish to reject the word aggressive of course please do. But livid is quite an aggressive word.

Italiangreyhound Fri 10-Mar-17 09:24:59

OP may I suggest one positive idea, whether the PP money or any funding could be used for a club, class or activity for a variety of students to improve cooperation, social skills, communication etc?

This could be in class time but more likely in lunch time or after school, it could be run by volunteers but a play therapist or teacher of some kind would be best plus helpers, who could even Year 6 prefect types plus additional adult/s.

It could include your son with other kids from his class but also other classrs/ other years. Thereby giving him additional contacts at school.

It could be sports, Forest school or outdoors or just games/board games etc.

Just an idea. flowers

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