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Is this bullying? Might it become bullying?

(13 Posts)
niminypiminy Thu 13-Dec-12 22:40:32

Not sure if this quite the right place to post this, but here goes... Also it's long...

DS1 has Asperger Syndrome. He has quite a lot of support at school, especially during lesson times, but his Statement specifically states that he needs support in the playground. I've spoken to school about this many times, and each time been assured that DS1 is getting the support he needs. He is a sociable boy who hates to be alone (in terms of groups within the autism spectrum he might be classified as 'socially active but odd'), and he longs for nothing more than to fit in and have friends. Despite this the path of friendship has been very difficult for him and he hasn't managed to form any but transitory friendships. (I know this is not totally unusual for boys, although by 9 most have formed themselves into friendship groups - DS1 hasn't got a group.)

He has worked out that football and other ball games are a short cut to male friendship, so he tries hard to join in games. He continually makes attempts to get boys to be friends with him. Sometimes they will let him for a bit, but it never lasts.

That's the background to the latest. This evening he was telling me about a group of boys he has been trying to get in with, who are the class's alpha males. 'They take the mickey out of me and make fun of things I do so sometimes I want to cry and they call me gay but they are still my friends aren't they?'. I did my best to explain that someone who calls you gay and makes you want to cry is never your friend. Clearly though the problem is a lot wider - he then talked about another 'friend' who tells him to 'get lost'.

I know this isn't ok, and to me it feels like the start of bullying. But am I over-reacting because of his AS and because I'm over-protective? Another problem is that the ringleader of this little gang is the son of the main pillar of the PTA and now TA at the school.

What to think? What to do? Part of me wants to keep him at home where these bad things can't happen to him, but I know that's not a solution.

3b1g Thu 13-Dec-12 22:46:21

I have no advice but lots of sympathy (Y6 boy with AS who has only ever had one proper friend and that boy left after a year).

LookingForNewName Thu 13-Dec-12 23:00:36

Sympathies my dd NT 6 year old has very same problem. My advice is to talk to school as its not O.K for the boys to be treating him like this.

I would talk directly to the head and keep on reporting to them every time he reports something that you are not happy with. It took the school quite a while to acknowledge my concerns, until one day last week I had a call and they openly recognised my dd was bullied after she blew up at one of the girls who have been picking on her.

Strangely enough they where quite clear that despite dd saying some very unkind things they recognised it was a build up to what she has been experiencing as a result at how upset he had become.

so they got all the children together and talked this through. The up shot was the message given was for the children to include dd. I'm not sure this is the appropriate action either to be honest so I asked them to look at other strategies where dd was able to enjoy her play times without feeling the need to be accepted by friendship groups she is on the periphery of.

They didnt quite know what this means. So I asked what strategies they have for other children in my dds situation and the head said none, so I asked if they would consider a more inclusive policy in the play ground where children who have no one to play with can tap into others who have no one play with. Sadly they where baffled at the thought.

So until it happens again after Christmas they think its all ok and everyone is friends however its not ok as this has been happening on and off over two school years.

Sorry for long post just wanted to share my dds experiences. I think all you can do is ensure he has the support he needs. Maybe they don't see what this support looks like, could you request a meeting where you ds and those who are supposed to be supporting can come up with some plans about what support he requires in the playground. Sounds like they are just sitting back and missing what is happening.

niminypiminy Thu 13-Dec-12 23:08:58

Looking you are so right about the school. I think their criterion for success is DS1 is playing with over children and doesn't seem to be hitting them', so he is not being monitored at all.

TBH I don't know what I think would work. Children have so many ways of being cruel - just being told to sort it out by a teacher and that 'they have to include DS1' will just spur them to be more inventive about finding ways to be nasty to him.

Dededum Thu 13-Dec-12 23:11:40

My DS1 was your son, in year 2 he finally made a friend, then they moved schools and in year 3 friend started to bully him. I found out, school dealt with it, but he was left with no friends. Then in year 5 and 6 he made a couple of friends and things have gradually got better. It was awful I was amazed when he made friends and couldn't quite believe it. I used to go in and watch my son at play times to see what was really happening, who he was playing with. That allowed me to talk to the school, lots of communication, positive feedback.
Other autistic kids at my son's school sat in library and read in breaks/ lunch.

My son is odd/quirky/autistic spectrum/annoying but friendly, funny and can be dynamic.

Are there any other kids who 'might' be his friend, invite them over after school. Arrange something exciting, swimming, bowling, soft play etc.. And invite other kid.

Good luck and trust your son.

LookingForNewName Thu 13-Dec-12 23:14:24

Does your ds school have lunch time clubs? It may be worth asking about this where your ds can be involved on a very equal level.

Also are there many other children with special needs at your ds school? It may actually be an issue if not as he may have less peers he is able to connect with.

Dededum Thu 13-Dec-12 23:19:53

My sons teacher in year 5 actually started a lunchtime make a board games club just for him to mix with other like minded kids. He went along created his solo game on his own then left. Didn't quite work.
But thy did have board games club that he went too and enjoyed.

niminypiminy Thu 13-Dec-12 23:30:10

Dededum, I've done endless inviting over. Guess, what, DS1 doesn't get invited back to the other boy's house - oh, we'll, sometimes he does, once. But that's it. But I can't arrange friends for him, that's what's so difficult.

The school has a number of children with special needs of various kinds. But unfortunately just having SN doesn't mean they're going to make friends with with each other. He has friends who don't go to his school - they're mostly spectrummy - if not actually diagnosed with AS. Lessons are ok. But it's the wilderness of the playground that's so difficult.

LookingForNewName Thu 13-Dec-12 23:44:59

No I understand they will not necessarily mean they will be friends, I didn't mean that to come across quite like that. I was thinking more in terms of there possibly being more scope of facilitated interaction.

TapselteerieO Thu 13-Dec-12 23:45:16

Firstly I would request a meeting with the teacher, one to one, without your ds, possibly outlining your concerns, keep it simple, direct, emotionless. Don't try to think what the solution is, lay it on the table let the teacher deal with it (this is why I would put it clearly in writing what you want to find solutions for), once you have done this make sure you have regular agreed appointments about this to ensure progress is being made. Put everything you can in writing before a meeting as a record.

It is possible the school are waiting to hear that there is a problem - they cannot deal with an issue until someone brings it up. My dd (nt) suffered low level bullying for years, it destroyed her confidence, it was swept under the carpet, overlooked (by myself too, I am ashamed to say) then we had enough, we wrote a letter to her teacher and cc'd the headteacher - next day we had a meeting and the shit hit the fan. They knew the bully was a problem, but no-one ever communicated what was going on, so it kept happening.

The bullying never stopped, the bully pretended to make up, was contrite in front of the adults, went for counselling, then at the end of it turned round to dd and said she had been lying to the adults to get out of it.

Even when we got past that my dd was dogged by being seen as weak/cry baby and an easy target for other children. Having a rubbish teacher didn't help.

You are your child's advocate, never think you are being overprotective, you need to look out for him, he is more vulnerable and needs that extra support. There is a fair chance the school will support you irrespective of who the other parents are, but you have to give them that opportunity.

If that doesn't work, then I would move school - something I have always been against - but a clean slate can be amazing for your child's confidence and progress, another school could very well have lots of potential friends for your child, it would be the absolute last resort for me, but I would do it before the end of primary school. As long as you do your homework, you don't know what the kids will be like but being involved with a school helps you learn what to look for. Don't hesitate or wait for next term, take action now.

Good luck, it is heartbreakingly hard to see any child dealing with this but more so when they have an sn.

niminypiminy Fri 14-Dec-12 11:08:46

I talked to the class teacher this morning, briefly and trying (thanks for your excellent advice Tapselteerio) to be as neutral as possible. She clearly took it very seriously and said that she would take the children concerned out of class and talk to them this morning.

We'll see what transpires, but it's great that the school have acted so quickly. It may not solve the larger problem (btw Dededum I really like the idea of a games club at lunchtime), but it's something.

auntevil Fri 14-Dec-12 17:24:01

niminy - could almost write the same about DS (SN). He would love to be in with a group of boys in his year (5). They accept him to play football, but is never invited to their parties/houses etc, although they have all been together throughout school.
I found out during half term that they had been calling him 'gay boy' since year 2. This is in addition to some racist comments too - which were apparently 'dealt with'.
We had a frank discussion re why he wanted to be like them. There's really no reason other than that they are popular - and that's what he wants to be. He does have a couple of friends who are not 'cool', and we have been encouraging these with sleepovers and trips out.
With the football, we have made sure that he keeps up training sessions so that his skills are reasonable so that he can fit into a peer group team and play an acceptable role.
His teacher is very good. She has had a discussion with him on how the popular boys at school are often not so exciting when they leave school - and gave some very entertaining examples of 'cool' adults that were not 'cool' at school.

Dededum Fri 14-Dec-12 18:51:50

Good, you do have to keep on top of the situation. I just write lots of emails interspersing them with lots of "thanks for your continuing support", "I really appreciate your thoughts" etc...

I also talk to DS1 about what behaviour is kind, don't say such and such is horrible but that wasn't very kind of him. They do get eventually get that they do not need to put themselves in that situation and make better choices.

Finally my son has just started yr 7 and touch wood it really suits him. Rules, interesting subjects, no nonsense to bullying. Not sure what stage you are at re secondary but I did this:
- extra trip round school with him and TA after accepted out of hours
- took pictures of the school and made him a photo record of his new school so he felt prepared
- very clear about his needs, I was stunned that the school were interested in supporting us from the off AND he doesn't even have statement.
- continued communication

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