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to ask how many allowances should be made for SN kids?

(246 Posts)
PiousPrat Thu 09-Jun-11 14:53:46

DS1 is 11 and has a dx of ADHD and is undergoing investigation for Aspbergers. For the most part he adapts to the mainstream way of doing things and we have managed to find coping strategies for him that aren't disruptive for other people and don't draw attention to him unduly. He is however easily distracted, zones out a lot and processes things differently from his peers so despite seeming 'normal' for the most part, he obviously struggles with some things.

There have been a few occasions in the last year that have really riled me at the time, but looking back I wonder if I am being unreasonable in expecting other people (mainly his teachers or parents of his peers, he doesn't really encounter problems with his own age group) to give him a bit of extra time or help rather than getting wound up at him, writing him off as lazy or just excluding him from things.

As an example of the sort of thing I mean, and also the most recent; DS1 goes to scouts. The scouts go canoeing on a local stretch of water every week during the summer. We have a lift share system in place whereby one mum takes 5 of them to the canoeing, stays and brings them home as a) she is a parent helper and b) it is far enough away that it isn't worth leaving and coming home just to go back for them. In exchange for doing this, she then gets out of taking and fetching for the actual scout meetings for the whole year so it actually works out pretty even in terms of times each person takes.

DS1 can be quite slow in getting changed. He gets distracted, he sits and zones out after every piece of clothing unless he is kept on task. As a result of this, the first week they went canoeing the other 4 were waiting for him for nearly 15 minutes. I spoke to DS about it, we came up with ways he could be quicker and I tasked his brother to help in chivvying him along. Next week it took him 10 minutes longer than the others. Not great that they are kept waiting, but an improvement and a sign that he is putting some effort in. I still didn't think it very fair for the others to be kept hanging around, so I spoke to the leaders about sticking their head in the changing room if they got a chance, to remind him of what he needs to be doing and also got him a wetsuit so he only had one thing to take off, then lose and have to find again before finally stuffing it in his bag instead of a whole outfit.

Because he still came out after the others (the leaders didn't have time to pop in and hustle him along) the other mum is now refusing to take him at all. For the sake of those 10-15 minutes, he is missing out on the entire canoeing session which makes up a big part of the group bonding for his scout troup, which is his only social activity.

AIBU to think that it wouldn't kill her to cut him some slack, or perhaps knock on the changing room door herself and keep him on task? Or that the other kids having to wait a bit isn't actually the end of the world and it wouldn't do them any harm to learn a bit of tolerance?

I honestly seem to have lost all perspective on this, as i keep flitting between 'zomg my poor PFB, they are all so mean to him' and 'fair enough, he is inconveniencing other people, he should suck it up and accept it'

I have my big girl pants on, I can take it if the overall response is that I ABU about this specific example, but it also leaves me wondering how much it is reasonable to expect other people to make allowances for those with problems, especially invisible ones (assuming of course that they know about them)

MillyR Thu 09-Jun-11 14:57:17

I may be misunderstanding this. Are you saying that the other boys have to wait 10-15 min longer for your son to get dressed after the canoeing has finished?

I don't see why that is an issue at all. Why can't they just wait for him?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 09-Jun-11 14:57:54

The trouble is that 'other people' is a broad church. You're going to find some are more patient than others - and so is he his whole life. On this occasion, the person wasn't prepared to wait the 15 minutes extra every time whereas another person in exactly the same situation might have been less bothered. I don't think it helps to generalise or judge. If the person on this occasion had known about the extra 15 minutes up front maybe the end result would have been different. Maybe they would have not offered the lift in the first place.

cookcleanerchaufferetc Thu 09-Jun-11 14:58:13

Perhaps the mum doesn't want her kids getting cold after canoeing whilst waiting for your son ...? Is that why? Is your son acting up more than you imply? It does seem a bit strange that she cant wait 10 mins. What does the scout leader say? How does he cope at PE in school for example, are there similar issues there and how are they delat with as it would be problematic if your son kept the whole class waiting? Could they provide any insight on tips to spped him up?

There can only be a handful of sessions left until summer holidays so that is harsh.

Ragwort Thu 09-Jun-11 15:04:34

This is obviously a very difficult situation for you but perhaps the other parent has got comittments to get back to? It can be incredibly frustrating to wait for someone who isn't ready . I know it may only be '10 or 15 minutes' but that is a lot of hanging around. As a Scout leader myself grin I would add the comment that the child protection rules about chivving a child along to get changed makes it more or less impossible. Is it possible for you to go with your son yourself to watch the canoneing and give him a bit of support?

Remember that all the leaders are volunteers and it can be a pretty thankless task. grin.

MadamDeathstare Thu 09-Jun-11 15:05:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PiousPrat Thu 09-Jun-11 15:05:56

Sorry, I may not have been clear. Yes MillyR the others have to wait an extra 10-15 minutes after they have got changed. One of the others is DS2, so is used to having to wait for his brother sometimes. The other 3 are girls, so in a different changing room and the girls seem to have a race to get dressed first (to the extent of not drying properly and getting the car seats wet) whereas the boys changing room seems to be all about arsing about and taking your own sweet time, which of course doesn't help DS1 stay on track wink

CES the person in question is aware of DS1s problems and how they affect him, so was aware upfront that it may be an issue but agreed to take him anyway.

MadamDeathstare Thu 09-Jun-11 15:07:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

itisnearlysummer Thu 09-Jun-11 15:09:11

This is tricky isn't it?

My children don't have SN. My overriding feeling is that your DS should be supported to be able to participate in all activities so that he has equality of access to activities. However, I think all children should have a right to access the activities/opportunities so, I don't think any child (SN or not) should be excluded, but I don't think other children should be disadvantaged because of another child's SN. Does that make sense?

We had an issue a couple of years ago where my son went on a school outward bounds trip with school and one of the boys in class has an 'invisible' SN. We know that he had out of class support for behaviour/anger issues and I think it was ASD or ADHD. Now this child spent the weekend winding the other children up, pushing them, being abusive. Lots of the children complained to the HT who was present but it was dismissed. When some of the children decided to get their own back by shouting at and pushing this child (including my son) they were punished.

Now, I think this child had every right to attend the trip.
I think the school had a responsibility to support him adequately so that his behaviour wasn't an issue for the other children.
I think the other children had every right to expect to be protected from this behaviour by the school.
Because this didn't happen, he pissed the other children off, they retaliated, he became distraught, the other children got punished.

We got called into school to be spoken to by the head. when we mentioned this boys SN his response was that they "had always had issues" with him and that "he didn't understand what was happening and the impact of his behaviour" and that the boys invovled "wouldn't have been in as much trouble if they'd retaliated towards another child because what they did wasn't that bad, it was just that X didn't understand and became distraught".

School didn't understand my DHs opinion that it was not the responsiblity of the other chldren to manage one child's SN.

Just not very nice for all involved. The school clearly hadn't handled it well.

I totally support inclusion. no one's right to be involved overrides anyone elses, imo.

could you offer to go along with them?

Bonsoir Thu 09-Jun-11 15:09:19

I think you should probably be doing the driving for your two children and not sharing with another mother.

itisnearlysummer Thu 09-Jun-11 15:12:11

Does he take longer to get changed at both ends of the activity?

it might be that with limited time for the activity it reduces the time the other children have to do it and it can be tricky occupying 25 excited 12 year olds for 15 minutes when they have nothing to do.

Just trying to see why it might be an issue for them.

LoonyRationalist Thu 09-Jun-11 15:13:57

Yes your son should be supported & allowances should be made. It seems in this case that the arrangements are not working. As your son needs more support than can be provided then I think you need to consider going along yourself.

PiousPrat Thu 09-Jun-11 15:14:08

I am pretty confident that if he was playing up in any other way, i would have heard all about it, as i did when he left his thermos in the car onthe first week <eyeroll>

No other commitments after canoeing as it is in the evening, so it is more a case of it making the others a little bit later home to go to bed.

He copes fine with PE in school, but that is largely because he has had 7 years to get used to changing back into his uniform whereas this is only his second summer of canoeing. The way he is means he needs specific coping strategies for each situation, so to him, changing after PE from dry shorts and a tshirt is different to changing after a swimming lesson from wet trunks to uniform which is different again from changing out of wet clothes or a wetsuit into dry things.

Argh this is what i mean about losing perspective. I don't know if I am explaining his behaviour or just making excuses for him, I seem to have lost the ability to differentiate between them.

itisnearlysummer Thu 09-Jun-11 15:18:12

no it sounds like you are explaining his behaviour, not making excuses.

I do think he needs more support in this that he's getting.

why do you not offer to help too, that way you can give him the strategies he needs to support him in future when you're not there.

tbh, i'm not sure that i'd want to hang around for someone elses child for an extra 15 mins (SN or not!) at the end of an evenings canoeing. so i wouldn't take it too personally.

and you're right, the girls want to be the first changed and the boys mess about.

tabulahrasa Thu 09-Jun-11 15:18:36

I think if you agree to take a child knowing he has a reason why he may take longer to change than the rest, you don't change your mind about taking him because he does indeed take longer to change than the rest...

itisnearlysummer Thu 09-Jun-11 15:19:38

maybe it became more of an issue for the other mum than she initially thought it was going to be.

LDNmummy Thu 09-Jun-11 15:20:29

I would be patient and wait under the circumstances, I think it depends on the person but TBH I think the other mum sounds a bit awful actually.

If it were my child I would hope others would be giving enough to help a little or understand. After all, one good turn deserves another. Or at least it would be nice if the world was like that, but people are selfish sadly.

Ragwort Thu 09-Jun-11 15:21:04

It really is quite difficult to get in and out of a (wet) wet suit so I can understand why it takes your DS a little longer - is it possible for you to go with him to help?

Madam the guidelines state that no leader should be on his/her own with children so two adults would need to be in the changing room at the same time; this is obviously not always possible depending on how many leaders there are/what sex they are/what else needs to be done. (I do not make the rules up - just stating what they are grin).

itisnearlysummer Thu 09-Jun-11 15:22:54

OP, lots of people have suggested that you go along yourself...

brass Thu 09-Jun-11 15:23:56

The thing with a school setting is that there is a paid teacher and likely a TA for your son's individual needs.

Scouts are a voluntary organisation. These people are unpaid volunteers. As a result they are often under resourced. Add to that the responsibility of taking children away anywhere and water/general safety etc makes for a tight/tense situation.

I know from helping out on school trips that problems with one child (regardless of SN) can really throw the logistics of the day out. It's very very difficult to ensure the safety of other children in your care if you are constantly distracted by one particular child.

This mum has entered into a casual arrangement and it isn't working out for her to wait for your son 10-15 minutes (might there be other difficulties that they are not mentioning?). I think it's fair enough for her to say no I can't do it.

Can you opt out of the lifts and take your son yourself? Personally I would much rather that than let someone carry on and something disastrous happens.

PiousPrat Thu 09-Jun-11 15:29:29

MDS as I understand it, there have been some recent changes in the rules for scout leaders about appropriate contact (for want of a better term). Last year we just dropped DS off at the scout hut and the leaders packed their cars with kids and took them to the centre. This year we have been told they can't do that so parents have to take them the whole way, I assume that this is part of the same thing?

Unfortunately taking him myself isn't an option as I don't drive. My mother does the pick up on my behalf on the actual meeting nights, but isn't available to do it on canoeing nights and wouldn't be prepared to stay the whole time if she was. That is fair enough as she has said right from the start that she can't spare the time to sit around beside a lake, so DS knew if we couldn't get another lift, then he couldn't go. I would tag along and go as well with the car load already going, so I could be the one banging the door to chivvy him, but there isn't space in the car for me as well.

Itsnearlysummer DS1 gets out of the water first while the others finish their session, so the group en masse arent losing out on any time, just him. he goes already in his wetsuit, just with his scout shirt and necker on top so that changing at the start isn't an issue. It isn't all the kids that are being kept waiting for him, if that were the case I would tend to agree that perhaps it is unfair of him to keep 25 people waiting on him. It is just the others in his car, so 4 including his brother. Which raises the other question of how many people can be inconvenienced before inclusion is unfeasible.

Sorry, I forgot to thank you all for your replies.

Ragwort Thu 09-Jun-11 15:30:53

Well said brass - as a Scout & Cub Leader I have found it very difficult to cope with a child with additional needs. We had a youngster who had difficulty walking and it meant that everyone was held up - whilst I had every sympathy for the child it did make outings incredibly difficult for everyone. As brass says, nearly every scout/cub group etc is seriously under-resourced and with the best will in the world it isn't always possible to give the sort of help that you would like to give. In my situation it wasn't really helped by the mother of the child getting really arsey with me and 'demanding' that we got another helper hmm - no wonder it is getting harder and harder to recruit leaders into scouting - and other voluntary organisations.

Icelollycraving Thu 09-Jun-11 15:31:22

I think you have to accept that everyone has such busy lives that 15 minutes extra shouldn't matter but obviously does. I suggest you don't blame the other mum who has 3 girls probably wet,hungry & tired & she just wants to get home after staying for the activity,them changing & driving home.
You shouldn't take it personally but I think you have to suck it up & drive them yourself. You could then maybe have a coffee with her whilst they are canoeing.

smallwhitecat Thu 09-Jun-11 15:33:08

Message withdrawn

Ragwort Thu 09-Jun-11 15:34:09

Can your other son not help him to get changed?

The only other suggestion I can think of is to speak directly to one of the Scout Leaders rather than the parent helper and see if they can come up with any other ideas.

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