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Different treatment in school of disability: Autism vs physical.

(17 Posts)
OlafsNose Sat 11-Mar-17 10:01:43

Sorry, crap title, I couldn't think how to word it!
I've NC as I don't want this under my usual name, it could be identifying.

In ds's class (yr reception and 1 together), there are two DC with one to ones, one child has autism, the other has a physical disability which causes behavioural difficulties.
Behaviour wise they are very similar and need the same sorts of strategies to keep them focused, both need time out, both keep their TAs on their toes.

Perceptions from teachers and other children, despite the two children behaving in the same way, are very different.

Child A, physically disabled, is regarded as cute, needs help, needs peers to be caring and kind, teachers are helpful, do everything they can to ensure this child is happy, it's a real positive show of how well a school can handle special needs. On the class reward chart, this child is usually on the positive side due to little things done inbetween the usual tricky behaviour. At handover time teachers are positive, any issues are discussed and ironed out quickly.

Child B, autistic, is regarded by peers as naughty and spoilt. Teachers appear to be frustrated with the child, are impatient, but in a faked patience way, there doesn't seem to be any affection for the child. Child is usually on the negative side of the reward chart for similar behaviour that is overlooked in child A. Hand overs are stressful as all misdemeanours are discussed in an accusatory way.

Like I said, behaviour from both children is very similar, with the same level of supervision and support needed. The only difference is that child A's needs are visibly obvious, which gives them a head start in being understood and looked after.

I'm not the mother of either of these children, but I do have an autistic child and this sums up the difficulties we had in school, where teachers assume that the child needs to try harder.

Whilst it's interesting seeing a direct comparison of treatment between autism and physical disability, AIBU to think it's about time people in a role where they will be supporting special needs had a better understanding of autism?

user1489226029 Sat 11-Mar-17 10:15:18

I think people should have more training with regards to autism. I think possibly from what you are describing it's the issue where when a person has a disability that can been seen people can be far more understanding than when it is something that can't be seen. Autism is extremely wide ranging and complex, training is essential for all (workers) I feel anyway.

FannyDeFuzz Sat 11-Mar-17 10:29:55

I work in a school, and yes, I've seen this too. It's definitely a visible /invisible thing, coupled with people who still tend to think that asd is down to poor parenting

My daughter's school had someone in when she was 6 or 7. I think they may have been from the NAS, they did a workshop for the whole class and a talk explaining what autism was. What DD took out of it was "children who have autism can find it hard to learn, because sometimes there's too many other things happening". It did seem to help, there was a "naughty" boy with asd in the class and I know DD and her friends were a lot more patient with him after that, and didn't automatically go "X was really naughty today", it was more "X kicked a chair BUT I THINK IT WAS BECAUSE OF AUTISM MUMMY" blush

Euphemia Sat 11-Mar-17 10:52:12

I'm a teacher and I've had to deal with this from pupils.

Child A, wheelchair user - treated gently by pupils, helped at every turn.

Child B - has dyspraxia - treated like an idiot and bullied by pupils.

It's important to emphasise to pupils that everyone needs extra support in school from time to time, and that some people need ongoing support. We look after each other and no-one gets teased for needing extra support. No put-downs.

enterthedragon Sat 11-Mar-17 12:24:29

You are not unreasonable in thinking that anyone who is teaching or supporting children with Autism and other invisible disabilities should have a better knowledge and understanding of those disabilities.

I have a similar experience.

Child A has CP was treated with respect and dignity and inclusion within the boundaries of the equality act by the school staff.
Treated within kindness and and mostly included by pupils except for sporting activities

Child B with ASD and specific learning disabilities treated with contempt, disdain, illegally excluded, discriminated against, victimised by school staff.
Bullied and excluded by fellow pupils.

The lack of understanding of the law and of the disabilities were astounding and the myths that were trotted out as fact might have been more understandable if this had happened in the 70s and 80s but this was occurring a few years ago and is still happening now.

Discrimination under the guise of inclusion harms more children than only the children with disabilities.

winekeepsmesane Sat 11-Mar-17 12:33:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

winekeepsmesane Sat 11-Mar-17 12:33:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Witchend Sat 11-Mar-17 12:52:40

Dd2 has a very visible physical disability, which effects her ability in practical subjects slightly.

I think they're is a mixture of positives and minuses.
They do get the sympathy vote-I noticed when dd2 was quite small that if there was a competition and she was with her entry she would always get a prize, for example. We went to something with Ceri Burnell (CeeBeebies) where she was talking about flourishing her little arm to get entry to places she shouldn't, and I was laughing because that was so dd2.

But because although it's visible, it is something she generally gets on with, it gets often totally ignored, so when she does need help she often doesn't get it.
For example before she went to juniors I went and talked to SENCO before we applied and she came up with several little things to make life easier.
After about a term and a half I went to ask why none of them had been put in place and found she hadn't been put on the list of SEN pupils so the SENCO had assumed that she hadn't gone to that school, hence nothing had been put in place. When I made enquiries their response was that she was managing fine academically and behaviourally wasn't causing a problem so they wouldn't be doing anything. It was little things like giving her a priority card at lunch so she could carry her tray without being jostled, so not even taking up time/money.

Through her charities we have contact with other amputees and it is still very common that, particularly in sports, no effort is made to include them. One lower limb amputee was told by one secondary school he looked round that no allowance would be made for him taking longer to get between classes, if he was late it would be a detention same as everyone else, and if there were classes he couldn't access (he uses prosthesis most of the time, but if they go wrong will be on crutches/wheelchair) he would be expected to go to the exclusion room.

I would say from those I know about 50% are bullied because of their disability, in many cases severely. It's a nice theory that children don't care (I've seen it expressed on here many times) but over the age of 4 or 5yo they do and often are nasty about it-sometimes through lack of tact, or just persistence, but also deliberately. And often it's in that subtle way that is very hard to deal with-"you can't do this" "You can't hold my hand" etc.

I don't deny that it is easier than a lot of invisible disabilities, but I think you're painting a much rosier picture than the reality.

TheNameIsBarbara Sat 11-Mar-17 13:00:10

We've had the opposite problem tbh. My child has comppex medical problems which can affect them physically but shouldnt in theory impact on their learning (but it ultimately does).

Chold with autism had one to one, extra time in exams and other provisions. I dont deny the child these provisions but when asked for similar provisions to assist my child with physical issues, my child was denied assistance. Repeatedly.

Surely the point is inclusion for all children - regardless of their disability. I have never felt in competition for extra resources - but with budgets stretched it has become a battle for every child who needs extra help.

I also never noticed any sympathy towards my child - who often attends school while not quite feeling their best. There was often irritation that my child had been off ill (actually in hospital). There was one particularly awful teacher who had no sympathy - until a residential trip took place and it massively opened their eyes as to my childs daily routine.

Every teacher should have sympathy for a child who has issues with learning, whilst it does make the teachers job harder, most children want to learn and their disabilities prevent them from doing so easily.

Winniethepooer Sat 11-Mar-17 13:04:33

As a parent of 2 ds diagnosed with ASD & ADHD, This exact reason is why my boys ended up being permanently excluded by Yr1

They now both attend independent ASD specialist schools.

In our experience msinstream was anything but inclusive. It was hideous. The level of ignorance among staff. The lack of training & the attuide of the staff.sad

But remember its all about resources so my 2 ds would have cost our LEA around £32k per annum in mainstream schools. They currently cost the LEA £125k per annum... shock

FreddoFrog Sat 11-Mar-17 13:18:36

YES. A thousand times this. My super bright, wonderful boy with ASD and ADHD is being so woefully supported by his 'inclusive' private school - he is currently at risk of expulsion.

His teacher, the leadership team just think he is naughty, wilful, needs more 'tough love' and stronger boundaries. They are not willing to give him any extra help in class or cut him any slack.

The teacher's excuse is always, 'but if I let him not do it, what would I say to the other students?' Could she not say something about everybody being different, having different strength/weaknesses etc and this is something that DS needs extra help with. They'd be fine if he had a broken arm and couldn't do his writing then. It's so monumentally hard.

user1489226029 Sat 11-Mar-17 13:21:01

It really saddens me it's all talk about inclusion inclusion inclusion which is fantastic but if teachers/TA etc are not properly trained/ìnformed ìts the children that suffer in the end and mainstream fails.

RhodaBorrocks Sat 11-Mar-17 13:39:09

I totally get this. DS has ASD and until he was ready to be open about it he was seen as the naughty child. Thankfully a very good SENCO took over from the woeful one we had before and she very sensitively put together an awareness session for staff and students for autism awareness week. DS agreed to answer questions after the session and his class have been so accepting of him since then.

The head teacher originally didn't see why he needed reasonable adjustments like for example the type 1 diabetic child did, but after he spent some time with DS 1:1 he realised that giving him the support I asked for would be the right way to do things. DS is now exceeding expectations, has friends and is a very well liked child. Very far from the 'naughty' boy he was for the first 4 years of school.

I get similar, I have invisible disabilities and one that is more tangible (a transplant), but even that one is fraught with problems. HR recently had me in over my sickness absence and couldn't get their head around why my transplant might be responsible for that (duh, immunosuppressants!). They called the OH doctor to ask why would the equalities act apply to me if I've had a transplant and should now be 'better' with the strong implication that my absences were an attitude problem. I am told that the OH doctor hit the roof and explained exactly why. Funnily enough I'm not in trouble any more.

Unfortunately many invisible or less visible ongoing conditions are thought of a attitude or behaviour peoblems. Unfortunately many still see health and illness as a dichotomy - you are either well or not, disabled or not and if you say you're disabled but look well people can't handle it and that's when the attitudes towards you change.

whereonthestair Sat 11-Mar-17 18:15:51

I do understand where you are coming from but do be careful of what you wish for. Inclusion for all fine, and laudable, but as the parent of a physically disabled child I know ds can be cute, but as he gets older he notices that cute equals patronised, assumptions are made about what he cannot do, and no thought is given as to how he can be included unless I do it. He is allowed to "get away" with things others don't and expected not to do certain things he is perfectly capable of. every new TA and teacher underestimates him, assumes that if they put him in the classroom in a place he can get to he can work. I have to rearrange every classroom so that the physical limitations don't also introduce visual processing ones and go through in painstaking detail stuff the teachers could read, but don't have time for every year. (Not a criticism just how it is). His concentration goes because of his physical disability, I have to say this most days, he needs to get up and fidget, because of his muscle weakness, again I have to be on top of this as otherwise it doesn't happen.

He eats slowly because of his disability, but needs about 50- 75% more calories, again no adjustments to how much food he gets allowed to eat and when made without chasing. If he is slow he can't eat enough then can't concentrate as well as he should be able to.

Then there is the physical access, everywhere, the slight steps you don't see, children not holding doors, teachers not holding doors, having to carry books etc, fit rails in all toilets, arrange adapted trike parking and then work with teachers as the building layout needs changing, then it snows, and ice, and we need to address the grit so wheels don't slip, or it rains and we need changes of clothes or waterproof trousers because umbrellas don't work if you can't be beneath them or hold them when using sticks. Then there is where to store the wheelchair, walker, sticks, chair cushion etc so they can be accessed but not in the way. And the fact he has to wear splints which he is now supposed to manage at PE, but which are really tricky, and ge can't access PE anyway because no-one has thought about what he can do.

I am not trying to downplay the difference if the disability is invisible, but despite DS being a part time wheelchair user I think the wheelchair is only maybe 20% of the difficulty and much of the rest is equally difficult, or difficult in a different way. And people think about what they can see but no more, and that includes all the problems with dropped curbs, buildings, stairs. Floor sitting in assembly etc. Etc. Etc.

Megatherium Sat 11-Mar-17 18:23:03

The teacher's excuse is always, 'but if I let him not do it, what would I say to the other students?'

That one always really annoys me, and it's the excuse that's most often brought up with children with ASD and ADHD. I think you need to turn it round on them - put it to them that if it was a child in a wheelchair, would they seriously say that they have to make him stand and walk because if they let him get away with sitting down all the time, what would they say to the other students? If they can make an exception for that sort of disability, there is no reason whatsoever why they can't make and exception for other types of disability.

QueenOfTheCatBastards Sat 11-Mar-17 18:28:49

My son's previous headteacher was the epitome of this behaviour. Nothing was too much for the child with Down Syndrome, a fab child who was universally adored by the entire school body. when she developed a form of cancer the entire school went into lockdown to make sure she could still attend one day a week, a real community effort.

Invisible disabilities? Forget it. I know of three children within two year groups who were tested abysmally. Two had diagnoses, one was hounded badly enough that his mother removed him from the school.

It's shocking that such a disparity exists, but it does and it is is so damaging.

wizzywig Sat 11-Mar-17 18:30:34

Yes i believe there is a study on this. Where a pwrson has a visable disability then they are mothered. Fir an invisable disability they are sort of shunned and thought of as having 'special treatment'

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