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DS (11) sits on his own at school

(21 Posts)
cakedup Mon 03-Oct-16 21:13:21

DS just started secondary school and is finding it hard. He has SEN and is finding the pace extremely difficult.

On top of that, I found out today that he sits by himself during lessons which makes me really, really sad. He does have a friend he sits next to in his English class at least.

When I think back to my school days, there was always a loner in the classroom...and to think that is now my DS.

I think maybe it's because he is not very 'laddish' - not into football which seems to be an immediate male bonding activity. Doesn't do the whole male bravado tough guy thing. He is such a thoughtful, sweet, polite, well behaved, chatty and fun boy. But he has always felt he is different to others. It seems all the popular boys are the ones that misbehave? He hates getting into trouble so does not join in with class jokes and has enough trouble keeping up with the class.

Anyone else have/had the same experience? Did things get better?

Or were you/your DH the loner at school who grew up to be popular and loved by all? grin

potentialqualms Mon 03-Oct-16 21:27:57

I had a couple of classes where I sat alone, mainly because my main friends weren't doing those subjects but it bothered me enough that I was worried about it happening to DS1 (like everything else I relaxed a bit for Ds2!).

I wasn't one of the incrowd at school, there were a few of us who were a bit different who stuck together. Looking back not sure how much we were friends and how much we were just company for each other, but we got through. The A list kids mostly ended up pregnant and/or doing shop work though, where us different kinds went on to interesting fulfilling careers. Or at least that's how I like to remember it grin

For DS1, I found that in most classes they don't pick their own seats anymore. The teachers have a seating plan so they can manage behaviour and learn names. Sometimes they implement a seating plan when there are known issues, Would be worth contacting the school, I think. At Ds1's school they also have some sort of nurture room (it has a better name than that) where the different kids can go an feel safe and welcome at lunchtimes.

cakedup Mon 03-Oct-16 21:46:41

potentialqualms DS is my one and only so it's kind of reassuring to think that maybe it wouldn't be so worrying if he was my 2nd child!

DS is way behind his peers due to his SEN (he is severely dyslexic) so I wonder if people think he is the 'dumb' kid. Not sure how likely he is to have an interesting and fulfilling career either.

From what I understand, some teachers set the seating plan from day 1 according to how everyone was seated, and then separated the disruptive ones as time went on. He says he goes into class and sits down and no-one sits down next to him. sad

He says half of him is sad about this, the other half is glad because there is no-one there bothering him " poking and prodding" him and distracting him when he already finds it hard to concentrate.

He had a sharpener that was in the shape of a little monster. He lost it today and is desperate to find it - he says that when he is feeling lonely in class he gets the sharpener out and thinks of it as his partner!

potentialqualms Mon 03-Oct-16 21:49:52

IME pastoral care is mile better now than it was when we were at school. Do speak to the school, they will help.

Mozismyhero Mon 03-Oct-16 22:04:09

I would definitely speak to the school. We have various groups to promote friendship formations if it seems students are struggling, particularly for our SEN students. Also, the teachers really should be putting their classes in a seating plan IMO and you could ask for him to be seated next to a 'nice' student. We get requests like this.

There will also be plenty of kids who are not sporty. Find out what else is on offer. We have Lego club for instance and many schools offer things like it.

Out2pasture Mon 03-Oct-16 22:12:57

does he mind? my daughter use to ask to sit alone, and was known to pack her bags and do her work in the library. She didn't like interruptions.

cakedup Mon 03-Oct-16 22:14:29

I will email the school now although I'm not sure whether to email the pastoral support officer or his form tutor?

I wish DS' school had Lego club Mozismyhero , DS would love that! I think the clubs are starting this week and DS has taken an interest in guitar club so hopefully he'll form some friendships there.

cakedup Mon 03-Oct-16 22:16:42

Out2pasture that's a good question. I asked him if he felt sad about sitting alone or if he preferred it, he said it was 50/50. Half of him felt sad that no-one wanted to sit next to him, the other half was glad he didn't have a distraction or have someone 'bothering' him.

deepdarkwood Mon 03-Oct-16 22:27:22

Bless his cotton socks - he sounds adorable! I would agree that school aren't managing this well - I would send an email to both the senco and class teacher (ds' class teacher doesn't teach him but we keep her in the loop. At Ds' school everyone is given a seat to ensure the class mixes - often they seem to sit girl/boy but by no means all the time. I think the school should be able to help Ds start making some connections.

Fwiw, ds has (mild) dyslexia and we are in the process of getting a adhd/potential autism dx (high functioning). He has a lovely 'gang' in and out of school (he's just starting year 8). They tend to be relative serious, studious kids (no football lads!) and there are a mix of dx in the gang (anxiety, autism, dyslexia, adhd) - I'd say about half of them have a dx. They go to STEM, coding, chess, art or drama clubs. Ds does a boys choir and scouts too so makes more connections that way as well. Could your Ds join a few clubs to meet some like-minds?

cakedup Mon 03-Oct-16 22:46:50

deepdarkwood thank-you...he is adorable and it breaks my heart to think of him alone! I have just now emailed the pastoral support officer asking about the seating arrangements but maybe should have emailed his form tutor too. I sent a separate email to the SENCO about his anxieties re school in general and that intervention is needed asap (as DS has lost his appetite and not eating before or during school).

Interesting what you say about your DS...as I've just read a book about dyslexia which implied that the way a dyslexic person thinks is almost opposite to how a person with autism thinks. Anyway, it sounds as if he has a great social life! DS has expressed interest in guitar club at school so I'm hoping he will get into that.

deepdarkwood Tue 04-Oct-16 10:58:27

That's interesting, cakedup - I think ds is more ADHD (inattentive) but school seem to think more autism so we'll see. What has been lovely with his gang is that they are SO accepting (mostly...!) of difference & that different kids having different needs/abilities/strengths. There are bust-ups and tensions, but largely they are so caring of each other. They were kids ds knew vaguely only at primary, so it's been the experience of mixing at secondary that has allowed them to gel as a group. He found the first few weeks of secondary tough - so much to learn and remember - but has come to enjoy it so much. I hope your ds can have a similar experience, and that the school are helpful. Do keep up updated!

(DS is bound to come home with a story of a massive mates fallout tonight now!)

MyEternalSunshine Tue 04-Oct-16 16:30:30

OP didn't want to just read and run, firstly this post has made me so terribly sad sad my heart is aching for you both. I'm so sorry you are both going through this but hopefully by offering my experience it may put your mind at rest. When I was at school I was part of the popular crowd by default but didn't consider myself individually popular just normal- I always spoke to everybody and never singled people out or saw someone alone I'd sit with them and talk etc. I think a massive part of why I was like this was because my brother (5years younger) was very much what you are describing your son to be like. To top it off he was also bullied pretty bad, he was a super intelligent kid and liked to do well, wasn't sporty in the slightest and was very much the stereotyped 'geek' glasses and all. Growing up I used to find I'd rib him about this but had the 'no one else dare hurt my brother' attitude and think one time I threw a ball at his bully at a child's party grin not sorry at all!

However my brother now is very popular at university(different level of people I'm assuming), doing very well for himself and set to become a very successful man in the real world. So there you have it, school isn't everything- some love it and some hate it, it's not a system that fits all unfortunately. I also think you'll find plenty of 'popular' or 'cool' kids turn out to be total tw*ts later on in life wink so never fear! Trust in your boy and as long as he has a wonderful mother who cares like you do he has everything he needs xxx

MyEternalSunshine Tue 04-Oct-16 16:36:40

I'd like to add we were also of the opinion my brother is on the spectrum but no one has ever discussed this at length or had him in to see a dr etc and as this was the 90's/00's believe it largely went under the radar they're much better with kids with extra needs these days xx

ChinchillaFur Tue 04-Oct-16 16:50:45

Just to reiterate what others have said re:letting the school know. I'm a Yr7 tutor and I would definitely want to know so we could put a few things in place to try to help him. Are they in any kind of ability groups? Seems maybe not if he's struggling so badly. He sounds lovely OP smile

cakedup Wed 05-Oct-16 14:35:37

I haven't heard back from the pastoral support officer yet. However, I had also emailed the SENCO and deputy head about DS' anxieties re school in general...he has lost his appetite and can not stomach breakfast and lunch. He is being referred to the school psychotherapist and also has been put on the waiting list for Equine-Assisted Therapy! It's a thing! As that will be a group activity, hopefully he'll form some friendships with others who might also feel like he does.

deepdarkwood DS is finding secondary school so difficult like your DS did. It's encouraging to know he has found his place there now. DS is just so over-whelmed by the pace, expectations and responsibilities. He is quite a young 11 year old really.

Thank-you MyEternalSunshine flowers your warm support has made me quite tearful! Yes I'm hoping DS' quirkiness will be more appreciated as he gets older. Perhaps for people like DS and your brother, their experiences at school have given them qualities later on in life. You're right - life is not all about school. And I've been thinking...I'm kind of glad DS does not desperately try to fit in and try to be something he is not.

ChinchillaFur he's been put in the lower maths group, but is finding it really easy so I'm not sure whether they'll be moving him up. Meanwhile, he is really enjoying being the best in his maths class - an experience he has never had before! In English he sits next to a friend but apparently they will soon be splitting them up according to ability - and I don't think they'll be in the same group which is a shame. Perhaps I should email the class tutor about the seating as well then? So many different teachers with different roles, I get confused about who to contact!

deepdarkwood Thu 06-Oct-16 18:23:45

Wow - that sounds like a great start - how fab is that? It's also a good 'cool' thing to be doing (rather than a support group in lunch hour, for example!) which has got to be positive.

And yes, from ds' experience, I'd say hang on in there. The early days are just SO tough, and even more so if things don't come easily. Managing getting round the school; coping with loads of new teachers (each with specific likes/dislikes); the presence of BIG kids; managing lots more homework, set at different times, with unclear expectations; coping with the new lunchtime set up - all of this is stressful and exhausting. DS and I usually have a pretty good relationship and we had lots of fallings out in the first couple of terms - he was shattered; I was trying to manage homework for him and he was trying to avoid doing it whilst simultaneously wanting to do it really well...gahhh!
Tbf, he would still say he's not the most popular kid, or the coolest kid. I suspect he isn't. He still find social stuff hard and worries he's doing it wrong. But my goodness things are better! He is getting increasingly confident in his sense of self - that he is the kind of kid who likes choir, enjoys watching Bake Off with his mum, and enjoys reading - and that's fine! When I was worrying about his outfit for school disco tomorrow, he told me witheringly 'No-one at my school would judge you by your clothes. And if they do, they're not worth nothing about" He's more sorted than me sometimes!

ChinchillaFur Fri 07-Oct-16 14:41:32

I'm really pleased you've had a good response from the school cakedup. Keep in touch with them if things get better/worse. Personally I find email brilliant for contacting parents as I have so little free time it seems quicker than phoning parents who aren't in, then them calling back when I'm teaching etc. Hope things are on the up for your ds, and I agree that some kids just aren't ready for the demands of secondary and could do with another year at primary. I can think of at least 3 this year in our year group of 112.

cakedup Fri 07-Oct-16 21:23:26

deepdarkwood not only is secondary school overwhelming for DS , it is for me as well! I feel he he has gone from a relatively nurturing, personal and caring environment that is primary school, to an impersonal boot camp of a secondary school! He is getting increasingly confident in his sense of self the deputy was telling they really encourage everyone to be individuals and try to accommodate everyone in this way. I hope so, because DS should be proud of who he is. It's funny, because I've just completed my degree and at uni it seemed that everyone strived to be a bit 'different'! They have lots of gay pride posters around the school, (I'm not sure if every school does?) so I saw that as a good sign also.

ChinchillaFur there almost seems to be something inbetween year 6 and year 7 iykwim. It's just such a giant step from one to the other! The pastoral support officer has not replied to my email...i'm guessing she gets inundated. But I emailed his form tutor about something else and she replied at 11:30pm!! Felt bad for her that she wasn't relaxing/sleeping/not being a teacher.

cakedup Fri 07-Oct-16 21:24:01

Meant to say "there almost needs to be something inbetween"

hevs51 Sun 09-Oct-16 12:31:22

I have the same problem 12 year ds not eating before or during school. He moved up to senior school in September went in for two days then so stressed with anxiety he hasn't been back. Camhs are now involved. I'm so worried as missing so much school. Also he spends most of the day in his room playing his xbox (before anyone says it) I've pulled out all the stops to get him to go out but he's so demotivated at the moment .... he should be out enjoying life just being a normal tween. Think I could cope with that!!

cakedup Wed 12-Oct-16 18:32:21

hevs51 - sorry to hear this, it's so worrying isn't it? I hope CAMHS are helpful in getting him back on track and also a support for you. My DS likes playing computer games too, he tells me it's because he can just lose himself in another world and not have to worry about his problems. The one good thing is that he does play with a friend via Skype, so at least I feel he is interacting with some sort of reality!

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