DS at school two weeks and Ed Psychologist called in ...(27 Posts)
DS has been struggling to settle into school over the past two weeks. He always finds change difficult and has found the transition to the structure of school the hardest thing yet.
He's been at nursery and really enjoyed that though he has been very challenging at times. He is bright and has no difficulties with language or creative play. However he doesn't find it easy to work in groups, displikes loud noise and is refusing to join in at school.
The teacher is saying that he is a danger to his own safety and that of other children because he won't follow instructions.
The school called us in today to meet with the educational psychologist. They plan to apply for a personal classroom assistant to support DS. He isn't allowed to stay beyond midday until this is in place. The educational psych is now going to assess him and did mention concerns about autism.
Although we hope that extra support will be spoitive for DS, DH and I are pretty worried and upset. We thought we had a bright but challenging child and now it seems as though he's getting labelled as trouble/disordered very early on.
Does anyone have experience they can share on this?
It sounds as if the extra support is necessary and it can only be good for your son. If there's anything wrong he's not being 'labelled' he's just being picked up and its being acted upon. That can only be good. There is not a problem in the UK with over-diagnosis.
Regarding the diagnosis - this cannot be done by an ed psych. Not for something as complex as autism. Preferably a multi-disciplianry team would diagnose, next best a paediatrician, next best a clinical psych. Not and ed psych though. I would ask them what they assessment procedure is. If they say the ed psych is going to do the diagnosis then I would not be very happy. For school age children the usual procedure would be to go through CAMHS (not sure whether that exists in Scotland where I presume you are).
Oh and I do know children who have been picked up, the paed or clinical psych has decided to watch and wait and no diagnosis has been given although the child has received help at school
Thanks, that's really encouraging. I suppose it's all just come as a bit of a shock to us that it's happening so fast. I agree that additional help can only be a good thing and that it's encouraging that they are acting quickly.
DH is feeling very negative about it - probably because he feels it is some reflection on him. He was quite grumpy in the meeting and I mentioned to him afterwards that we need to try and feel as though we are on the 'same side' as the school. We ourselves are in the process of trying to get back together after a period apart and he is now worried about how we are going to cope with this together. I'm not sure how to support him to be more optimistic - but I guess that's a post for another thread!
I'd agree with Jim Jam. My DS2 couldn't handle starting school and the ED-psych was called in. He has an unnofficial DX of Aspergers (ie. the ed-p and the SALT have done a few tests and say he probably is but we haven't had him tested by the specialists yet). We think he is at the mild end of the spectrum so we are waitng and seeing how things work out BUT he does get some help at school and the teachers have been more tolerant since they understand why he finds some things hard. He has slowly improved at school and is now less bother than the ordinary "naughty" boys although his concentration still needs improvement. Stay calm and be patient, the first year is usually the worst and it will probably get a lot easier.
I wonder whether they just happen to have an ed psych visiting the school that day? Usually it takes a long long time to get assessed by them (they are expensive and in short supply). Usual cascade would be SENCO and then referrals on to therapists, paed etc and then specialists (such as CAHMS services if required). My ds was also seen by a social communications expert, but I think mainly because she visited the school regularly as they had a special unit for children with behavioural problems.
In my experience schools mention autism too much, too early and too loosely. There are many things that one wouldn't consider being too debilitating that are sometimes considered to be on the autistic spectrum (such as dyslexia and dyspraxia). However I also think that they bring up these possibilities to get you to start thinking that there could be something unusual about your child. What sort of problems did the nursery have with him?
My son is probably somewhere on the spectrum. He has some interesting approaches to life, which include problems with social skills at times. He is also very stubborn and gets excessively upset by things at times. However despite a number of assessments he has never been other than borderline, and has mostly grown out of the more obvious problems (such as throwing complete wobblies).
I think you have to take things one step at a time. Getting extra support is fantastic, but don't assume that he will need it forever (although of course it is possible that he will). Accept that your child is different, he will probably need support in some areas but you will probably get lots of things to celebrate as well.
My sons very experienced teacher concluded that he would be much happier at university than school (and probably so would she - he is clearly fairly exhausting to teach!). We think looking at our family history that he will join a line of slightly odd academics - they all seem to have been happy, but eccentric.
I hope that things work out for you. It is very challenging when other people look at your child and decide they "aren't quite right". Especially when on some level you know they are right.
I guess it's been picked up so comprehensively and so quickly, because not being able to follow instructions has a huge impact on the teacher's ability to deal with him, and the class, etc etc. In a way it is 'good' that his difficulties are presenting that way, as they are hard to ignore!
And agree, having one to one help to settle in might be brilliant for your ds. Loads of kids would benefit from that/love it! It's not about labelling necessarily but about putting in place what the child NEEDS and it's great they are doing it really. I know it's a bit of a blow when you're told they need the Ed Psych but it is all about helping your DS to cope, which just can't be a bad thing.
He may not have anything labell-able anyway. Some kids are very much individuals and struggle hard to fit into the 'herd' mentality that school needs....some take longer than others to be ready.
And remember Reception is about getting ready for school.....no-one should be judging him yet. He's using reception for what it IS, learning to accept school, and if he gets help with that, great.
I'd try and tell your DH that throughout the school there will be many other kids the Ed. Psych is seeing, and many other kids with extra needs etc. Nothing changes the fact you have a 'bright but challenging' boy; whether they give him a label or not!
How old is he? Might he just not be ready to live according to the conventions of school life? If so, are there any alternatives, like, back into nursery until after he's 5, or have him at home with you?
What does he say? Is he enjoying school or not impressed so far?
He might be absolutely ready in a year's time where he isn't now.
That's not to diss the school calling in the Ed Psych at all, and maybe sticking within the mainstream with extra help is just exactly the right thing for him and for you, but just wanted to throw out the other idea in case it's helpful: that there might be nothing particularly "different" about your child except just not being ready for school at the moment when, because of when he was born, the State thinks that, on average, he should be pretty much ready for school.
I'd second that. Things that at nursery appear to be not a problem (like not doing what you are told, or having huge tantrums) cause many more issues at school, where the staffing ratio is very different. I think this can be a real problem because the transition is hard for the child as the rules change (especially for children who find rules important, but difficult to pick up quickly), and also come as a shock to parents when it appears that suddenly your child has a problem. One of the more experienced teachers at ds's school said she thought he was mostly immature, and I think the last few years have probably bourn that out.
DS was 5 in May (we are in the Scottish system so kids start later). I remember thinking last year that if we were living in England he would have had to start when he was 4, and there was just no way he was ready then. He has come on a lot over the past year.
I just feel as though there isn't much tolerance of children who struggle to make this huge adjustment. I've had complaints from Day 1 and the referral to Ed Psych underway by Day 5. I understand that the school has a system but I've been surprised at how rigid it seems to be from Day 1. In some ways I think another year at nursery and more free play could be just what he needs, but then he may still struggle to settle at 6, and we would be back to getting additional support for him then.
Meant to say before - the Ed Psych seems to be the first port of call for assessment. She would then request a referral to the Community Autism team - or said we could ask for a referral through the GP which seemed to offer a broader type of assessment ...
I know what you mean nooka - eccentric is definitely a word I'd use to descrive DS, and we are both creative/eccentric and stubborn types who didn't always fit in at school. I felt so protective I just wanted to bundle up DS and run away from the system to have fun learning at home. But alas, we have to work ...
I think it's great that the school have intervened so early and that your DS should get some help. Try not to worry about labels - it is more important that his individual needs are met. My DS struggled alone through the whole of Reception.
Personally, I found the Developmental Paediatrician far more helpful/insightful than the Ed Psych who visited school. It might be worth seeing one? That's just our experience though. Good luck.
know how you feel dazed, ed psych is due to asses my son this term.
I always cling on to the bits in the report that say how delightful ds is and accept that he is also a bit of a pain in the bum . I do think it is important to accept the difficulties and get as much help as possible, even if you feel it is more for the teachers than necessarily for your child.
I have seen enough of the other side of the problem to know how disastrous it is when problems are not diagnosed and no help is accessed. My friends fought for years to have their daughter statemented (Aspergers) and she had endless problems at school because she wasn't getting the help she needed to stop being disruptive. She is a lovely child who has since done really well, what she needed was an understanding of her problems. The teacher needed to know that she was not being naughty- because in an NT child her behaviour would have been naughty and would certainly have needed disciplining in a different way.
If your dh worries about your child being labelled 'on the autistic spectrum' would he like it better if he were simply labelled 'naughty' or 'badly brought up'?
A diagnosis/statement is a recognition of the fact that a child needs extra help and cannot always live up to the expectations put on other children. The alternative is not giving help and expecting the child to perform like the others.
As for a statement being convenient for the teacher- well, perhaps that is not such a minor consideration. If the teacher can't cope, there'll be nobody to deal with the children.
My nephew has spent a year in a class with three children with ADHD/autistic spectrum problems- none of which have received any help. (We suspect the parents fight against diagnosis). The result is that every single one of those 30 children has had their year disrupted, the teacher's health broke down halfway and he is off longterm sick; they have had supply teachers since. I don't suppose the three SN children have had a very good year either.
Hello Dazed, blimey your school was quick off the mark. I don't know that much about the Autistic Spectrum but I do live in Scotland.
A few of my friends DCs were accessed as not being ready for school at 5 and were given a full-time place at nursery for another year (fully funded). Once they started school at 6 they were fine, they were just too "immature" at 5. This might be the case for your DC. I also think it is quite harmful when teachers bandy about labels so easily, they are not fully trained in this area and should think of the upset they cause (very often unnecessarily) before speaking.
Work together with the school on this one dazedandconfused, but at the same time, do your own research on the issues and fully communicate your knowledge of your child and get them to explain things fully to you. My ds was judged fit for school by his nursery, but found it hard to adjust to school: not immediately responding to verbal instruction, needing to be told repeatedly and individually at times to do something, 'has he got a hearing problem?', not socialising well with other children (wanting to be friends with other children, but somehow winding up playing on his own). At the first parent/teacher meeting in P1 we were referred to additional support for learning ie getting a classroom assistant. I was upset and surprised by this because his school work and behaviour is ok, he is happy at school, so what's the problem?, but the consensus in the end was that it was a good thing to get help early. No autism issues for us, but I think it's all about catching any social/behavioural problems early on so that the child doesn't get isolated, which later on could impact on school work. And, of course, the teacher does have a classroom full of other children to manage. Sometimes a child's behaviour doesn't tick all the 'normal' boxes, so the school will intervene early on - which is a good thing - they will then more closely observe your child in order to eliminate or proceed with any further need for help. All the best.
I agree with you cory - I didn't mean it flippantly (well a bit) my ds was in a class with several other borderline children, and it did take very careful handling by the teacher, and I suspect that other children lost out to some extent (dd gets very upset about being placed by "naughty" children because she is so good, and a calming influence for example). It is a pity that extra help cannot be given on the basis of cumulative difficulties in a group as well as on individual assessments.
That's a good point nooka. It does happen in special schools - where they have lots of TA's to play with so to speak. When ds1's class consisted of 6 severely autistic boys they had a very high staff ratio (1:2 at least every time I went in - sometimes higher). Now his class is a mixed severe autism and severe learning difficulties they have a lower staff ratio (1:3 ish most of the time).
Group dynamics are important in a classroom.
The education authority I used to work with was considering allocating support workers to schools, for them o then decide how to use them, with the idea to reduce the use of statementing and be more responsive. I'm not sure if they managed to implement it though.
I have a friend whose son ahs always been 'eccentric' and it took an age for a diagnosis. In the meantime he received no extra help and did very poorly at school.
Thing's are still not perfect but now he is diagnosed everyone can cut him some much needed slack and he is getting some help in school.
From her perspective it also stops all those wagging tongues 'If he were mine I'd be much firmer.' 'He wouldn't get away with those manners in my house' etc.
I don't disagree with any of the previous posts btw, but I've been reading Steve Biddulph's Raising Boys and he maintains that often boys shouldn't start school until 6 or 7yrs, as happens in parts of Europe. They go through a testosterone surge between the ages of 4-5; they often don't have the precise co-ordination that girls do which makes writing at that age a real a chore; and boys are beset by urges to run and let off steam - not sit on a carpet, be still and listen.
Heated apparently the "testosterone surge" is a complete myth. Something I learnt here on Mumsnet just the other day...
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