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Leaving an 11yr old home alone - opinions please

(41 Posts)
unfitmother Sat 09-Aug-08 16:54:30

Ds starts high school in Sept. He is often reluctant to leave the house if I have to nip to the shops etc. and can get very upset about it. Ds has Aspergers and is difficult to reason with!
I have been known to let him stay at home on his own for 20-30mins whilst I nip out, I have also let him walk back from the park, giving him my key.he enjoys the independance.
I was planning to get him his own key in Sept and let him let himself into the house after school, whilst at primary school I collected him from After-school club. I work 30 miles from home and finnish work at the same time he finishes school so was anticipating being not far behind him. In addition this wouldn't be everyday as Dh works from home a couple of days a week.
I was happy with this arrangement but, because of his disability, Ds qualifies for a taxi to school. I received a letter confirming this but it states that there must be a parent/guardian present when child returns.
I feel awful now, I didn't mean to live up to my name!
Am I doing the wrong thing?

charliecat Sat 09-Aug-08 16:57:29

What does DS want to do? Can you trial run for the next few weeks see how hes gets on?
You dont HAVE to do the taxi thing do you? Or is there an elderly neighbour who would sign him in?

unfitmother Sat 09-Aug-08 17:01:34

Ds would love to, he gets the bus back from town after swimming with his mates.
The taxi takes him into the Autism support Base, we want to avoid the school bus as he is very susceptible to teasing he can't cope with it and gets in fights/trouble. It also renowned for being late in the morning as DS can't cope with being late due to his AS.

WideWebWitch Sat 09-Aug-08 17:03:22

I think if

a) he's reluctant
b) he is Aspergic (not sure what form this takes, whether it would mean he could cope or not in an unusual situation)
c) the taxi need a parent t obe there

then you shouldn't do it. My ds is nearly 11 and NT and I won't be letting him be home alone for some time yet - he does things like getting out of a car and forgetting to shut the door behind him so I don't think he's up to it tbh. I do leave him for the odd 20 mins but wouldn't feel I could do it consistently yet tbh.

MaryBS Sat 09-Aug-08 17:15:45

I think to start with, it would help if you are there. He is already having to cope with a new school, and the pressures that brings, and this might be too much for him? Perhaps after he's settled in at school, he can cope with another change in routine (depends on how he is though, I guess).

If you really can't, is there anyone else who can help and be at home for him? Someone he trusts? Or perhaps he can stay on at school for 30 mins and come home slightly later?

(I have Asperger's)

unfitmother Sat 09-Aug-08 17:34:20

We're both around when he frst starts, that's not the issue. It's whether it's acceptable long term.

cupcake78 Sat 09-Aug-08 17:36:23

I can see your reasoning and it does seem like a good option. However, I have to tell I do know of families where children of similar ages have been left alone in there homes for only short periods of time on a regular basis and should Social Services find out you will get a visit and a warning and be firmly suggested (told!) not to do it till he is at least 13yrs old.

unfitmother Sat 09-Aug-08 17:52:00

Social services? hmm
I should only be 10 minutes behind him!
I'm so confused, I don't know what to do for the best. Need a big chat with DH, he's not here this weekend.

elmoandella Sat 09-Aug-08 18:07:52

i think dc is too young to be left on their own for any length of time.

as cupcake pointed out. is 13 years not the minimum age for leaving a child unsupervised for any length of time. no matter how small.

and this shan't be a one off. this will be a regular thing.

i would also be concerned about giving a child of 11 years a key. it's expensive to change locks if it gets lost.

ChasingSquirrels Sat 09-Aug-08 18:11:24

sounds fine to me (without taking the Aspergers into accout - I don't know much about what impact that might have, but you do and were happy with it), but I am obviously in the minority.

Seuss Sat 09-Aug-08 19:02:29

Would he be able to handle the uncertainty if for some reason you didn't arrive 10 minutes behind him? Or if he lost his key? (Sorry - I'm a bit of a worst case scenario persongrin). Is there a neighbour that could keep an eye out for him getting in the house ok?

JudgeNutmeg Sat 09-Aug-08 19:11:13

My 11yo ds lives for the times that I leave him at home whilst I drop ds2 at a playdate or collect him again. He now walks to friends houses and goes swimming by himself. He has his own key now and just loves the responsibility. Starting senior school last September was a natural time to introduce some more responsibility. He will be twelve tomorrow. <3

However, I am certain that he will not answer the door unless he can see that it is a fireman, will not try and cook anything and cannot access Internet porn. I think you have to do your own risk assessment and go from there.

unfitmother Sat 09-Aug-08 19:11:36

Yes, there are a couple of neighbours and his best friend lives in the next street. It was his mum who suggested it. I was planning to leave a key with neighbours in case of the lost key scenario.
I hate this dilema. I plan to check he's ok then go and collect DD from her primary school after-school club.

whatdayisit Sat 09-Aug-08 19:15:35

I know times are different, but I had a key from age 9 and Mum got home from work c. 4:30 and I had a sister 2 years younger with me.

We didn't have AS and I have no experience there, but we truly never did anything terrible or had any difficulties. This arrangement went on until I left school.

Saying that, I didn't like coming home to an empty house, but we were never in any danger.

elmoandella Sat 09-Aug-08 19:18:43

is there not an after school club he can go to for that extra half hour?

Saggarmakersbottomknocker Sat 09-Aug-08 19:21:46

unfitmother - I think what you suggest is perfectly acceptable...as long as you can sort the adult to sign him home scenario.

Goober Sat 09-Aug-08 19:23:19

My DS1 has Aspergers, he is 14. I wouldn't/don't do it. Also my DD is 12, she doesn't do it either.
Isn't it ilegal before the child is 13?

ChasingSquirrels Sat 09-Aug-08 19:26:19

I used to LOVE coming home to an empty house, my mum was a teacher and dad did shifts - so sometimes he would be there, but not most of the time. Mum would be home about 30-60 minutes later.

JudgeNutmeg Sat 09-Aug-08 19:28:19

I've just search the net and it seems that there is no legal age limit as long as he isn't looking after another child. The NSPCC and other agencies suggest 13years of age as a guide. I think you have to do your own risk assessment, if you both feel comfortable and can be flexible if he has a wobble then I think it's not unreasonable.

I have no idea about how AS effects your ds's maturity, my nearly 12yo is very responsible for 1/2 an hour imo.

whatdayisit Sat 09-Aug-08 19:29:39

Actually, I think to begin with I wasn't trusted to take the key with me either. There was some sort of complicated hiding arrangement that involved margarine tubs in the shed. hmm Later I had it on a string round my neck.

unfitmother Sun 10-Aug-08 19:32:00

Thanks for the opinions.smile
I was quite happy with this plan originally, DS will love some quiet time playing his Wii etc. before DD comes home!
This clause in the taxi contract has thrown me slightly, it's perfectly sensible of them to cover themselves in this frankly, hyterical climate when people think it is illegal to leave a child alone in a safe environment. hmm Social sevices would investigate a child being left in a dangerous situation, but an 11.5 yr old in his own home? I think not.
DH and I will have to come up with a new plan.

SlackSally Sun 10-Aug-08 19:51:56

When I was in year six (10/11) I used to pick up my little sister (4/5) and bring her home and look after her until 5 ish when our other sister (12/13) would get home from high school. I never felt this was beyond my capabilities and looking back, think it taught me a lot about responsibility and reliability.

However, I can only assume that aspergers would complicate the issue so I think only you, as his mother, can truly judge.

christywhisty Sun 10-Aug-08 19:58:17

There is no law about leaving a child alone of any age. It all depends on the maturity of the child. I have no problems leaving my 12 year old at home all day by himself, he is very sensible for his age, would also leave my dd 10 for half an hour to hour.

babyjamas Sun 10-Aug-08 20:01:13

Ds is 11.5 - left him today for a couple of hours whilst i took dds shopping. he was quite happy to watch Olympics and play Wii. i would be horrified if people thought i was an irresponsible parent. he is a v sensible boy, had my mobile number, i checked in on him once, he knows not to open the door or answer the phone unless he knows the number (caller display). a far more sensible option than dragging him round the shops and a huge argument ensuing. and for what it's worth i would have no probs leaving him for 10 mins after school each night if necessary - ad i think that's most likely the opinion of most of his friends parents as well.

pointydog Sun 10-Aug-08 20:08:33

The problem is with the taxi service rules. You'll need to phone and discuss it with them, no? See if there's any leeway. You don't want to risk losing the taxi service.

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