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about those on the autistic spectrum in mainstream schools?

(610 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

OverbearingHouseSitter Wed 20-Sep-17 23:21:36

Basically I've read so many threads recently about those on the autistic spectrum being completely let down by teachers and senior staff in schools.

I mean punishing those on the autistic spectrum in incidents when it is entirely inappropriate, and the lack of understanding of some teachers that you cannot use the same behaviour strategies on some children who require a different approach due to SEN.

And then there are times when punishment should not be given at all, such as when a child who is on the autistic spectrum behaving in a way that the teacher doesn't like, yet the teacher not seeming to realise that this behaviour is part of their SEN!

My mother was a teacher and I realise how hard being a teacher is. She got signed off sick with stress... it's a bloody hard job. But AIBU to think that some teachers and school staff- NOT all- seem to be consistently failing those on the autistic spectrum and those with other SEN, whatever these may be?

This is not just from this forum either! There have been instances from people I know I've heard about and with friends kids.

For example, a friends child was recently punished as he did not understand something the teacher said, ie, it was some form of light sarcasm the teacher used, friends DS with SEN did not register this, did what the teacher told the pupils sarcastically not to do and was then mortified and confused when the teacher punished him. sad


I also apologise if I have used an language around people with special needs that you do not like/prefer not to use. My friend prefers the term "on the autistic spectrum" opposed to "autistic child" but if I have said anything wrong please tell me!

JigglyTuff Wed 20-Sep-17 23:25:16

DS has HFA and it is an endless dull battle. It grinds you down. They have idea of the impact their poor understanding of autism has on our children's mental health. Or they do and don't care. Not sure what's worse.


Slightlydizzydaily Wed 20-Sep-17 23:27:24


Thanks for the nice post op. You sound like an ally flowers

CorbynsBumFlannel Wed 20-Sep-17 23:28:32

Yanbu but there are also some fab teachers who just get it ime. I can't say I blame the teachers who struggle either. If they don't have the training and support staff they need and have that much of a workload and are under so much pressure that teaching 30 by kids would be difficult enough then sn kids are an extra challenge. The whole system of inclusion in mainstream needs a complete overhaul. It is set up to force exclusion for a lot of children at the moment.

lou1221 Wed 20-Sep-17 23:29:20

From working in a mainstream school, I have to disagree, I think our teacher's and support staff are well trained. We have had some challenging behaviour, but it's been dealt with in a caring way.

GreatFuckability Wed 20-Sep-17 23:31:40

YANBU. My son is in y8 and whilst its siginificantly better since he went to secondary school and has decent support in place, its a constant battle to get him the support he needs and certain teachers in his primary were woefully inept.

CloudPerson Wed 20-Sep-17 23:32:05

Ds2 is currently home educated as he couldn't cope in school. Despite his diagnosis he was routinely unsupported from the age of 6 and has lost all trust in teaching staff.

We are starting the ball rolling for an EHCP, but the thought that even with that he may still be at the mercy of some teachers who choose not to believe in ASD is terrifying.

OverbearingHouseSitter Wed 20-Sep-17 23:32:21


That's okay and thank you. Everyone should be an ally, there's so much misconception around SEN and I've worked with SEN children so it's close to my heart!

OverbearingHouseSitter Wed 20-Sep-17 23:33:44

Also will mention that I know some schools are brilliant, just that the majority don't seem to all be that good.

And sometimes it's down to lack of education, no training, the fact teachers are already stretched enough... so many reasons.

CloudPerson Wed 20-Sep-17 23:38:28

IME some of it is down to staff having a little bit of knowledge which leads them to see themselves as autism experts (obviously not all teachers, but in the last 6 years with ds I have found this applies to more teachers than not), but when it comes to children who don't present as stereotypically autistic, it's an absolute nightmare just to get the child's autism acknowledged, let alone get any support in place.

Everyone knows about autism these days, and apparently everyone's an expert hmm

CorbynsBumFlannel Wed 20-Sep-17 23:39:00

That may be the case in your school Lou but it's far from typical. Local authorities are having to turn down echp assessments for kids who meet the criteria because they just don't have the money. Kids are routinely being left without the support they need to access mainstream with resultant behavioural implications which isolate them from their peer group. Teachers struggle to deal with behaviour and children are routinely having to miss break times and school trips as there aren't staff to support their inclusion. They are routinely illegally excluded or on reduced timetables. Or managed out of schools. Often vulnerable children being passed from pillar to post. For a lot of children with sn their parents are having to go through the legal system to get their children the support they need. It's absolutely scandalous. Inclusion without the funding to make it work = exclusion.

zzzzz Wed 20-Sep-17 23:58:22

I think you're not being unreasonable but you are stating the bleeding obvious. Of course some teachers are failing some children, just as some Drs are failing some patients and some beauticians are failing some women.

In the real world some people are not so great at their jobs.

FWIW some teachers are life changingly kind and very good at their jobs.

Originalfoogirl Thu 21-Sep-17 00:03:47

It is definitely happening but it is not the fault of teachers generally. LAs cutting support staff, cutting specialist places and mainstreaming kids who can't cope with it. Teachers not being trained or having the time to deal with the disruption which can be caused. Parents not teaching their children how to include and respect children with disabilities. It's a bloody tragedy.

Then, the services for young adult education are cut, the services for older adult support have disappeared and people who have been failed right from the start are consigned to the scrap heap.

I don't say this often but in this respect I really hate our society.

GreenTulips Thu 21-Sep-17 00:04:49

It's not the teachers though, it the hard push from above to achieve targets with a limited time frame.

Some teachers teach 200 kids a week and they have a school behaviour plan to use - unfortunately some kids are down right rude and objectionable and the teachers need to be in control.

They can't be all things to all kids and some very academic kids are also being let down

Unfortunately you can't chose you cohort

Slightlydizzydaily Thu 21-Sep-17 00:08:00

zzzx I think it's more systemic than 'some' people with teaching because helping dc with Sen isn't as incentivised and rewarded by the system as it should be

SerfTerf Thu 21-Sep-17 00:11:24


Teens with HFA who want it should be able to access specialist provision with mainstream and vocational curricula. So many able young people are being failed.

CorbynsBumFlannel Thu 21-Sep-17 00:12:45

An overstretched teacher who hasn't the time or energy to focus on pupil wellbeing won't impact an nt child so much though.
My nt child does well with any teacher. Whereas whether my asd child has a fantastic teacher or an ok teacher is make or break for his whole year.
As usual when funding isn't there it hits the most vulnerable the hardest.

noblegiraffe Thu 21-Sep-17 00:19:35

Teachers generally have very little training in each individual SEN so only usually have a broad brush of strategies (doesn't like change, don't use metaphors, struggles with eye contact, doesn't understand sarcasm etc) which often do not all apply to an individual child. I have just started teaching a class containing 4 students with diagnosed ASD. These children are all very different from each other and only one has presented with challenging behaviour. It would be very easy to look at the three and think 'these students have ASD and aren't behaving like this, therefore the behaviour of this one isn't due to the ASD and should be dealt with using sanctions'.
In addition, I've taught quite a few autistic students and I don't know how best to deal with this particular student. Part of the problem seems to be simply being in the classroom and that can't be fixed.

lalalalyra Thu 21-Sep-17 00:22:03

A lot of what happens in the classroom also depends on the view of the HT. I worked in one school with a HT who believed that the majority of children "supposedly with autism" just needed "a firm hand and decent parenting". Even caring teachers struggled in that school because they got zero support and were expected to use the school's behaviour policies rather than supporting the children. Thankfully she's now retired, but I don't imagine she's the only one. The attitude of the SMT has a massive impact on the rest of the school.

Then there's the cuts just making provisions worse in even good schools (by good I mean ones with good teachers and smt)

Sparklygiganticpants Thu 21-Sep-17 00:23:30

It's the budget cuts that affect it too. Our school lost 6 TAs due to them.

I am well aware that my ds TA is being used as a class TA now because he is relatively placid and they know that he won't communicate what happens in school to me!!! He is statemented for 24.25 hours one to one but probably actually only receives half an hour a day when they do his physio!!!

blankpieceofpaper Thu 21-Sep-17 00:40:21

I wish I had the time to read and have more training about the full range of conditions that students in my classroom have.

I have 3 hours of PPA time a week; our inset days do give some time over to SEN training, but you never feel there is enough time to share best practice.

I teach 7 classes of 30+ children. I have their profiles and information about strategies that work for them, what resources etc are to be used for them. I wish I had time to do more properly - you end up playing catch up - half a free period talking with the SENCO, time spent adapting resources, paperwork after a behaviour incident, the phone call home to the parent. A growing percentage of my children have additional needs - in classes that also have often vulnerable PP students and students with EAL. It has an impact, and it feels like constantly playing catch up.

blankpieceofpaper Thu 21-Sep-17 00:43:45

Ah yes, and the lack of Teaching Assistants has an impact.

Our TAs now only work with the students who have the funding, or very specific circumstances. There are many students who do not meet the criteria who would benefit from the additional support. In an hour's lesson with a class of 32 that is not a lot of time to go around! Our TAs were amazing - the bonds they built and the knowledge and specialisms they had. Another thing that is having an impact on what we can do.

vivaVasLagas Thu 21-Sep-17 02:19:20

But AIBU to think that some teachers and school staff seem to be consistently failing those on the autistic spectrum and those with other SEN, whatever these may be?

Of course some teachers and some schools are not good. To call you unreasonable would to be stating that every school and every teacher is perfect.

However, you are not fully informed. You have only heard one side of these situations and these are only the negative situations.

More and more children are being "diagnosed" as having AEN and more and more parents expect other people to supply the world (wonder if there's any cause and effect there). More parents are 'informed as to their entitlements' and tend to forget that schools and teachers are a) not miracle workers b) have more than just the individual child to think about.

I worked in one school with a HT who believed that the majority of children "supposedly with autism" just needed "a firm hand and decent parenting"

This is quite common (although I would swap 'majority' with 'some' or 'many'). Lots of HTs with an excellent SEN department, successful schools and decades upon decades of knowledge and experience have these same ideas and many working in SEN agree. Hmm.

GreatFuckability Thu 21-Sep-17 05:21:33

so what are you saying viva? that these children don't have SEN? that their 'diagnosis' as you put it isn't real? because I can tell you that the hoops you need to jump through to get a diagnosis of anything for a child are many and high. its not like you go to the doctors and they just chuck a HFA diagnosis at you. My son is 12 and still largely undiagnosed despite his many extremely obvious learning difficulties and issues. and hes far from alone.
And whilst yes, i appreciate that teachers have kids other than mine to support, that doesn't change the fact mine also deserves to be supported to reach his potential. he matters.

vivaVasLagas Thu 21-Sep-17 05:39:31

Yes, in my professional experience there is a massive problem with overdiagnosis and overmedication (although that's a separate issue).

I have met many children who I don't believe have significant SEN issues or any at all. Besides which, there's the basic argument that with it being a spectrum, at which point on it does a child get to use it as an excuse or reason for their behaviour and get significant extra money?

Whilst it's impossible to prove a negative, at what stage would you ever stop arguing with professionals if they told you your child didn't have [whatever you believe he does].

Fairly recently, a child broke another's nose. The parents blamed his autism and the school. There was absolutely no getting through to them that various Drs etc had said that he wasn't autistic. It was much easier for us to expel him from the school whereas in the state sector, IME, parents can look to keep their children in entirely unsuitable settings to prove a point about inclusion (often at the expense of the rest of the children and staff in the school).

Every child deserves to meet their potential. If you're requires an unsustainable amount then what should happen? He gets a higher portion of the teacher's time than other children who then don't meet their potential?

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