to think school is lying to me?(147 Posts)
My 13 year old DS was diagnosed with autism in August this year and is currently having issues with school refusal. One of the biggest reasons for this is that he is constantly in trouble for low level disruptive behaviour and I have been working hard with various organisations to get help with this. I need to add that I genuinely believe DS is unaware when he is being disruptive as his social skills are very poor and he tends to make very awkward jokes with teachers to mask his uncomfortability in social situations. He told me that making small talk with people who he doesnt like and who he knows don't like him is the worst part of school for him and plays a big role in his non attendance.
The school started a nurture room programme for my DS to attend which is supposed to be a relaxed, homely environment where he learns better social skills. At one of these sessions he said he made an ill judged joke to the specialist ASD teacher, something along the lines of:
Teacher: why are you hungry?
DS: because you didn't come to my house and make me breakfast this morning.
The teacher then made a report to his head of year claiming DS was being threatening and rude and upset the other children in the room. DS was placed in isolation the entire day because he wouldnt admit that he had been threatening. He said they wouldn't give him specific examples of his alleged threats and he remains adamant he only made the joke as above and refused to do his work because he felt the punishment was unfair. He was then told he would be placed in isolation the following day for not completing his work and he has refused to go to school since.
Head of year emailed tonight (2 weeks after i first emailed her explaining DS's version and i would like to clarify what happened). She again said son was threatening and that the teacher has been working with ASD kids for 20 years and she had said DS's behaviour was not consistent with ASD and was pure naughtiness. No specific examples of what he said or did was given.
I spoke to DS again tonight and his story is exactly the same, he told a joke and he cant understand why school is saying this. He is adamant and i believe him.
I know I sound like I'm being precious about DS but I know my son and he has never been violent or threatening. He is extremely gentle and kind and it would take him being physically threated for him to become aggressive. I also k nw DS thinks in a very black and white way and does not lie. He has been very open with me about all other times he has been in trouble with school and fully accepted his punishments as he knew he has broken a rule (e.g. saying a swear word etc., forgetting his tie etc.). Before his diagnosis, he was labelled as a naughty child and my parenting was always questioned and I was told he had no boundaries at home and that's why he misbehaved at school. I always complied and worked with school to enforce punishments at home for misbehaviour and supported schools stance on situations like this but now I know it was his ASD that caused him to misbehave and he has always been so misunderstood. I feel so much guilt for always taking schools side when I can see now how tragically my DS was failed by the system and many mistakes were made (this post would go on forever if I explained).
Sorry for rambling on, I just really don't believe the schools version of events and I don't know how to respond. Would a teacher really make up all of this? (p.s I'm not teacher bashing, my mum was a teacher and I have the upmost respect for what they do but there are bad eggs in every profession).
What should I do?
Are you really sure that your son isn’t being rude or disruptive?
The trouble is that ASD children really believe and mean what they’re saying and often come across as rude when they don’t mean to.
Your school will know this .
Having a label is not an excuse but boundaries need to be adhered to, even more so for ASD pupils.
You really need to work with your child’s Senco to make sure that you and the school have the same boundaries and the same behavioural expectations.
The only way you will know what the teacher found threatening is for them to tell you or write it down.
Feeling threatened is a very personal thing. Did she feel her personal space was invaded or he leant towards her. What was his body language and facial expression, tone of voice, etc?. Where were his eyes? What did he do with his hands? Did he do any actions? Was her exit blocked? Was he staring at her boobs? Was he making any additional sounds? smirking? holding anything?
He may have said exactly as he said but there must be more to make her feel threatened? He needs to know what is not acceptable to learn to not do it again. Someone needs to provide more detail in my view or he may do it again without realising it is not acceptable.
There have been times he has been rude and disruptive and he freely admitted what he had done and accepted his punishments at both school and at home.
What bothers me about this incident is that his version is so different to the teachers version. I'm still unclear about exactly what happened because the email was vague. Even he said he would admit it if he had done it as he always admits incidents at school which is true. He has already been punished for this so he doesn't have any motivation to lie.
I'd ask them exactly what threats he made. School should have a record of what exactly happened not just vague accusations. The joke may have come across as rude but I can't see how it was threatening. Similarly though they should have been able to tell him at the time what it was he said that came across as threatening, and if they had the situation might not have escalated in the first place.
When one party can give a word for word replay of what happened and the other is as vague as "threatening" I would be inclined to believe the detailed report too so I don't think you're teacher bashing or anything to question the situation. It may be something he said or the way he reacted to being told off for the joke came across badly, but they need to be able to explain to him and to you what that was. They can't expect a kid with ASD to just know.
Thankyou thirdfiddle, I will ask to see a copy of the report. This is what bothers me, even if he had done something that was perceived as threatening, surely that should have been used as a teaching tool to explain to DS exactly what he has done. He is very confused, he cannot understand how what he did has been perceived like this and considering it was a 'specialist' ASD teacher and the setting it happened in, surely this would be the one time they tried to make sense of his behaviour rather than jumping to assumptions about his motives and explaining things properly so he can actually learn the social skills they were supposed to be teaching him.
My youngest son is Autistic. He will often use the wrong tone when saying something. It will come across as very rude or angry. When told this he will be adamant that he was not being rude or angry. It's quite possible your son used a threatening tone/body language and to him he did not. So he will of course say he didn't when its quite possible he did. It's not lying, it's just not understanding how the tone/actions they are using are interpreted by others.
Having had experience of just how much so called "specialist" teaching staff can fuck up dealing with pupils on the spectrum, I would question whether this school is the right place for your son.
Is there any alternative provision you could try?
I'm sorry you are dealing with this, but ime it's not uncommon
If you do want a long story, and what we did in the end, you can pm me if you want.
Did they say exactly what he did or was it just "he was threatening"?
If they have not outlined his exact behaviour, that's shit.
Is it possible his physicality was coming across threatening but due to his ASD he did not realise this?
His comment is silly...not threatening...but could it have gone along with a physical expression the teacher was nervous of?
Isolation is child abuse. You need to raise bloody hell.
I would believe the teacher tbh . It’s unlikely they would lie in this situation . If you continue to let your son stay at home he will become a school refuser . Perhaps the teacher cannot remember exactly what he said but knows that they felt threatened by him . Please don’t use his diagnosis as an excuse for him to treat people badly and get away with it .
Isolation is not child abuse . What nonsense!
And regardless of how you want your child to be treated , the world will not adapt to him . He will have to learn to live in it. I’d concentrate on teaching him some resilience.
She again said son was threatening and that the teacher has been working with ASD kids for 20 years and she had said DS's behaviour was not consistent with ASD and was pure naughtiness
Start looking for a new school. Putting him in isolation is totally unreasonable. It sounds like this was backchat, because of poor social skills, not threatening behaviour. My ASD DS does it all the time. It's infuriating! That "joke" sounds exactly like something he'd say an think was funny.
We had a teacher like that last year, who was keen to tell me about her expertise with ASD DC. She treated my DS as a naughty child for ASD behaviours and DS had an awful year. He was picked on by her, basically. But she wouldn't accept his behaviour was to do with ASD as she was so convinced she was an expert.
We didn't realise how bad it was till last in the year. We were going to move schools, but there was a change in SENCO and he's had much better teachers this year. The more that comes out about his teacher last year, now, the angrier I am about it. He was repeatedly punished for having ASD. His teachers this year understand and work with him and the difference is huge.
I would ask for the Senior to be involved and possibly parent partnership ( not sure if this is still going) and ask for a written statement about what happened or (a copy of the one she should have had to write.) is it a proper Nurture Group or just a group they are calling that. A proper NG should have a Nurture Practitioner in charge and a Boxhall Profile should have been completed. A Nurture Practitioner should have had proper training and completed an assignment for University. If it is this it should be very effective.
Teaching staff don’t usually make stuff up.
Perhaps his words may not have been threatening but his body language and the way he said it may have been perceived that way. Your son isn't lying - in his black and white world he is telling you exactly what he said. In view of your DS's autism some leeway should have been given - I think I would be asking for a copy of the report and taking it from there.
I disagree with what purpletigers has said because my son had an experience like arethereany describes. Plenty of teachers claim to be experienced with ASD but then don’t demonstrate that they know what they’re doing. A new school was the solution for my son. It’s made a huge and very positive difference.
Teaching staff don’t usually make stuff up
In my experience many of teachers have little understanding of autism, including some of those who think they're experts.
Also, a good teacher can make the world of difference.
Isolation is child abuse. You need to raise bloody hell
What else have you done op?
Honestly, it seems to me you’re being very passive about this. TWO WEEKS off school? Have you just been waiting for the head to reply and your ds not going in the meantime?
Bollocks to the email, get yourself to school tomorrow and stand in reception until the head will see you. Insist and demand to see someone and then ask specifically what was said and what was reported as being threatening. Keep asking the same question until it’s answered.
Two weeks of you sitting by and allowing this ‘school refusal’ is poor form, asd or not.
"And regardless of how you want your child to be treated , the world will not adapt to him"
Maybe it should. Attitudes like this are the reason why kids like ours have such a hard time.
Can you ask to speak to the ASD teacher?
This situation can’t be resolved while your DS doesn’t understand what he is being punished for. This needs to be explained clearly especially as he has a social communication disorder and needs to learn what he did wrong so that he can amend his future behaviour.
I would suggest asking for a meeting to clarify things. Maybe the teacher misheard or as PP said it wasn’t so much what he said but the way that he said it.
I know what you mean about your DS not being able to lie, but he may have got the wrong end of the stick.
I would have found that comment hilarious and if the pupil making it had been diagnosed with ASC would have been impressed at him making a joke (caveat - you meet a child with autism, you have only met one child with autism. But often jokes are a difficult area. That's not a bad line/comeback).
The teacher would have/should have written up the incident, usually on triplicate in his pastoral file/copy for tutor/copy for Sendco. In fact, while you are about it you might as well do a Freedom of Info request and ask for a copy of his pastoral file - the head of year for his group should have it.
There is no excuse for rudeness but a misjudged joke - something seems awry here. Someone with 20 years' experience wouldn't usually respond badly to something like that unless it was done with a leer/sexual innuendo in front of his peers.
Low-level disruption sucks tbh but if he has an EHCP with his diagnosis this should have named his difficulties and the level of support needed. I have taught many children on the spectrum: some disrupted, many didn't - the diagnosis isn't one size fits all obviously especially if there are comorbidities.
As to what you should do/how to move forward, you need to set up a face-to-face meeting with the head of year, sendco , attendance officer and teacher in question - go with someone else so you don't feel it's four against one and take a notepad, make notes, ask for clarity, advocate for him if you are set against the isolation punishment and cannot agree with it and find out what the consequences will be, finally ask what they intend to do to reduce his anxiety as school refusal is on the cards otherwise (believe it or not, if he is on roll, they won't want him out of school, bad for stats).
Alternatively, explain to your son that his joke might have been misconstrued and perhaps he could consider writing a letter to the teacher that he had no intention of making her feel uncomfortable. Not because he did it on purpose but if she has taken it as harassment it is sometimes better to be kind than to be right - in other words even if we upset someone by accident it is still the right thing to be the better person and make amends?
If he is very black and white in his thinking and has lack of social awareness he might honestly not be aware enough of the problem or for issues with tone or body language to come across in his account. That does not mean that he did not appear rude or threatening. I think he probably did to that specific teacher if she handled it this way.
That said, she may have made assumptions about your son and his level of understanding based on other behaviours or strengths, especially if there is a preexisting belief that your son is intentionally naughty or a bit cheeky. This might have contributed to her approach, even if subconsciously.
Personally, I have worked with ASD young people on developing their social skills in a voluntary capacity. My reaction would depend on my knowledge of the individual child and how genuinely threatened I felt by them. If I thought it was accidental rudeness I would respond differently to perceived deliberate rudeness. It would also depend on how easy the child was to talk to about their social skills and if I could reason with or explain to them at the time. Some young people with ASD get very upset if you try to explain why something they have said or done was wrong/could be improved if they perceive it to be otherwise, as they can be very black and white. This can manifest as distress, denial or raised voices. A child that is reasonable on one day might not be on another for many reasons, including hunger or tiredness. So, it might also be his reaction to attempted correction that was considered problematic and it seems he refused to engage with attempts at correction. The school responded by doubling down in an attempt to assert authority, making it about the lack of compliance with punishment more than what he originally said. Potentially a difficult distinction for him to make, leaving him feeling deeply aggrieved. I can also quite easily imagine that he was very difficult to deal with and he might have been honestly too much for them.
It might be this school just doesn't have the tools or resources to deal with your child or his needs. If they cannot support him properly then they are going to potentially use inappropriate methods as those might be all they have available.
I think you really need are more details so you can properly understand the accusations, but it does not seem as if they have ever really understood or supported your child, or known how.
If all you have is a hammer...
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