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should I speak to class teacher or senco?

(33 Posts)
MerryMarigold Sun 23-Mar-14 08:17:19

My ds is in y3 and has a few issues. The worst is his anxiety that then leads to a very suppressed appetite. he had a v bad Jan and Feb and class teacher was great st during out a way he could eat small amounts several times a day. He really improved and put on some weight. He even started eating better in the evening, all good. It has started again though. I'm not sure why, just that I'm fairly sure it is an emotional problem (he's done this since about 3, and was severe in reception and y1 as it also included sleep issues). He's really sensitive and perceptive, but struggles academically and socially. I think there's done playground stuff going on, and also his teacher is very down to earth and doesn't cope well with his tears about silly things (obviously there is a reason he's crying easily, but she just gets annoyed). She's also v strict so ds lives in fear and dread of doing something wrong, which I think stresses him out. I know this is not going to change, because it's her style of teaching, but I just wonder if I should bring up his issues with her or the senco, considering the way she is. Or will she feel undermined?

MerryMarigold Sun 23-Mar-14 08:20:54

Oh dear, on , sorry for mistakes. His class teacher was great at figuring out a way he could eat small meals. She is really practical but hugely lacking in empathy, just the way she is. I fear shell think I'm of my rocker if I talk about emotional issues!

mrz Sun 23-Mar-14 09:56:43

Have you spoken to your GP?

MerryMarigold Sun 23-Mar-14 16:12:23

No. I don't really want to go down that route as it is so clearly school related. Therein lies CAHMS and we have been and done that once already (it stopped because he was fine in Y2 with a good teacher and a good friendship group). He is great in the holidays - always has been (sleeping, eating and behaviour).

Recently, half term really broke the very bad cycle from Jan onwards - until this week. And even this weekend at grandparents he has eaten so well (seconds!). The eating issues have always been during term time. However, weekends are not long enough to recover when it becomes entrenched.

mrz Sun 23-Mar-14 16:40:39

I've got to be honest as SENCO I would suggest GP and possibly CAMHS

MerryMarigold Sun 23-Mar-14 17:58:28

Thanks mrz. I think I will speak to teacher about the practical stuff such as keeping an eye on friendships and that he is a bit fragile at the moment. Hopefully she will infer that means having more patience with him. The gp doesn't interest me as they will treat the symptoms of anxiety and not the root of it, which is my ds's relationship with school.

bloated1977 Sun 23-Mar-14 19:56:11

Your original post says it started when he was 3 so I imagine it isn't all school related. Its been going on for 5 years which is a long time. As Mrz says the school would suggest a GP appointment as the way forward.

mrz Sun 23-Mar-14 19:59:17

You need to get to the root of his anxiety with school which clearly isn't happening. School can be supportive but they aren't the experts in such situations and will want to seek external input to help your son.

MerryMarigold Sun 23-Mar-14 21:11:47

bloated, the episode when he was 3 was when I had twins! (So not surprising the root cause there, poor mite). Then he was fine until Reception (he was fine in nursery). It has been on and off, but YR and Y1 were particularly difficult (this was the time he was referred to CAMHS, but it took so long he was almost out of Y1 and into Y2 and was then fine whole of Y2....) He's always been 'fussy' but it's a distinct line between 'fussy' (dd is also, but not ds2) and 'no appetite'.

I know it may sound a bit 'know it all' and believe me, it has taken me years to get there, but I know the root of his anxiety with school:
- Social issues. He finds friendships hard, he can be the 'picked on' child as he has things such as a sensory cushion (kids will target anything really). He is in a really nice class as kids go, but he is very sensitive to anything negative about him.
- Academic issues. He has some 'developmental delay'. Believe me, I have tried to get it more specific, but seemingly impossible. Anyway, he is doing ok, but he knows he is close to bottom in the class and it upsets him a bit. More so, I think because his teacher is not very patient and can get upset that after cracking full stops and working hard on them he has now regressed and can't do it again, or that he has forgotten his 3x table when he knew it so well.
- Teacher issues. He is very down on himself and he senses frustration. He also responds extremely well to praise and encouragement. He is not getting much encouragement at the moment and his teacher is quite frustrated I think (she never has a good word to say, and it's not about bad behaviour but just that he forgot to bring his packed lunch box out of class AGAIN, or that he forgot his times table AGAIN, or that he didn't understand the work he needed to do etc. etc.).

Does that make sense? I can see that school will send me to the GP. It is really things like this that make me understand why people choose to home school! And I don't have anything against the school system. I have 2 kids in it, but it does seem to fail some children, and maybe ds1 is one of them. We will keep trying to deal with his anxiety at home and thank God for holidays!

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Mon 24-Mar-14 10:51:49

So he's already had an appointed with CAMHS but it came at a time when his symptoms were less severe? Did they say what to do if he get worse again? I think in your shoes I'd go back to GP and say his symptoms have worsened again and ask for a referral.

It doesn't sound like this is wholly school related, as the first time it flared up was before your DS was at school, although school does seem to exacerbate his symptoms.

In terms of approaching school I'd ask for a meeting with both teacher and SENCO. Be absolutely frank with them and say what you think could help your DS cope better at school. Perhaps highlight what was different in Y2. I would also make clear that you are trying to get some medical help for your DS also which may make them take matters more seriously.

MerryMarigold Mon 24-Mar-14 11:14:25

Thanks ghoul, that's really really helpful. I keep thinking it's gone or getting better, and then it comes back. I think from the experience before when it took a lot of effort to get as far as CAMHS and then to find it was irrelevant as he was ok, has put me off doing it again...no, they didn't say what to do if it happened again.

I will start with trip to GP without him. Then teacher/ SENCO together (also without him).

When I say school related, I don't mean school is the very root cause. I think he is probably naturally anxious, sensitive and picky with food (possible sensory issues). Life events, such as when I had twins, triggered it, and other things such as difficulties with school do the same. I dread to think what will happen if my Dad dies (he is very close to my Dad). I worry a bit that the longer he goes on in the anxiety 'mode', the more likely the anxiety/ eating will become a more serious problem later in life. But equally, I don't want to be given 'coping' strategies by the GP such as talking therapy, dietician, even medication - when I would prefer (obviously) get rid of the anxiety triggers.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Mon 24-Mar-14 13:51:03

I think you are sensible to treat this as two separate things. Firstly getting the medical help that your son needs. He obviously can't carry on as he is. But as you realise it can take a long time to access the right help and advice. Secondly, but equally importantly, you need to get the school on board helping him such that his time at school is not causing him undue anxiety.

Let us know how you get on with the GP and the school.

Fairenuff Mon 24-Mar-14 20:14:18

His anxiety might be caused by the school environment (or the birth of twin siblings) but why he feels anxious is a medical issue which really needs to be addressed through the GP.

I don't want to be given 'coping' strategies by the GP such as talking therapy, dietician, even medication - when I would prefer (obviously) get rid of the anxiety triggers.

In life it is not always possible to 'get rid of' triggers so learning how to use coping strategies is much more helpful.

MerryMarigold Mon 24-Mar-14 20:31:17

In life it is not always possible to 'get rid of' triggers so learning how to use coping strategies is much more helpful.

True but:
a) He is 8. The coping strategies will change when he is an adult or even a teenager eg. medication, talking therapy etc.
b) I am his Mum. Of course in the meantime, it is my job to protect him from the most obvious triggers which are under my control.

Today he said he does not want to go to school tomorrow. I know there were issues in the playground today again as I asked and he told me he wasn't allowed in the game. However, when I said, is it because of that? He said it is because the teacher keeps shouting at him sad. I feel bad, because she is very helpful and very communicative. She is also Head of Year. I don't know what to do really on that side of things.

mummytime Mon 24-Mar-14 20:45:39

Okay my DD has anxiety issues, as a result of going to CAMHS she got a diagnosis. Since having the diagnosis things have got amazingly better (not perfect but far far better).
Why? I am no longer anxious that she learns to be "normal".
Her teacher's give her slightly more leeway, and use alternative strategies. They know that she is not being naughty, or cheeky if she doesn't understand something "that someone as bright as her" should have no problem grasping.

She doesn't take medicine. She hasn't been offered CBT (could be a future possibility if she needs it). We have researched some strategies, and use them, based on her diagnosis.

CAMHS is very different in different areas, but if it is a good area they could be very helpful.

BTW it is impossible to eliminate the triggers for my DD, they are part of the fabric of life. So she with our help has to learn to adapt.

MerryMarigold Mon 24-Mar-14 20:46:37

Thanks mummy. That's really helpful. How old is your dd?

mummytime Mon 24-Mar-14 21:27:31

She is 10 - but we reached crisis point before we got to CAHMS.
I wouldn't have believed how much difference a year has made.

One trigger for her is: loud noises. They can't be eliminated but we can help her to cope.

MerryMarigold Mon 24-Mar-14 21:45:40

How did her anxiety manifest? Not sleeping/ eating/ crying a lot?

linney Mon 24-Mar-14 21:52:55

"b) I am his Mum. Of course in the meantime, it is my job to protect him from the most obvious triggers which are under my control."

Are you sure? Might it be your job to help him build resilience to the triggers? Particularly if they are triggers that he can't really avoid- especially when you aren't actually there?

mummytime Tue 25-Mar-14 07:40:56

Her anxiety manifested itself as: violence and melt downs, mainly. The violence was in some ways a good thing as she couldn't be ignored.

She does struggle with eating at times, she now has packed lunches at school but struggles with changes in routine or stress about lunchtimes. A major issue she had was that her school has 4 sittings of lunch and these vary according to the day of the week. If she forgot the day and missed her "bell" then she wouldn't eat lunch. That is taken away by having a packed lunch - but when they changed the lunch arrangements she became stressed and refused to eat for a while. (Dinner Ladies are my biggest worry with her, she is pretty afraid of them, and they don't know/get her like teachers do.)

MrsKent Tue 25-Mar-14 08:05:50

I can see you have your daughter's best interest at heart bug you are very wrong in your approach.
Anxiety is dealt with through coping strategies and in cases where solving it is an obtainable goal that is achieved through desensitising which means gradual exposure to the trigger. Avoiding the triggers is another layer to the anxiety I. E. makes the problem bigger; and you are trying to avoid triggers.
You would like your daughter not to be anxious and / or her triggers not to be around her and need to realise that is not the reality. She suffers from anxiety but can overcome it, with the help of professionals.

mummytime Tue 25-Mar-14 09:17:06

MrsKEnt - was that addressed to me? If so you know very little about my DD. To be honest when she goes to Secondary school next year I am hoping she will use the Canteens - but they are run in a far more professional manner and "Sophie's Mum" will not be listening to tale telling by "Sophie" about my DDs behaviour.

The OP has a son!

MrsKent Tue 25-Mar-14 11:38:33

It was addressed to the OP

MerryMarigold Tue 25-Mar-14 12:52:43

Let's talk practicals her then rather than 'avoiding triggers' and 'coping mechanisms'. I have an anxious child:
- His teacher shouts at him and is very negative about him openly
- His friends are (at the moment) excluding him from games which is a form of bullying

He has become anxious and his appetite is suffering.

Are you saying I should let both of these continue or that I should attempt to sort them out thereby 'removing' the trigger? That's what I meant by removing it. Working with school to make his environment a lot less 'triggering'.

I am sure a GP can refer me to a dietician who will tell me how to get maximum calories, nutrients etc. in a small meal. I am sure a GP can refer to CAMHS to help him talk through the bullying and the shouting, but this unlikely to happen before he moves into Y4 and who knows what will be going on then? (No doubt it will coincide with a window where all is fine again).

I am going to the doctor about this. But in the meantime, there is a huge need to remove/ reduce the most obvious triggers.

MyFirstName Tue 25-Mar-14 13:15:13

As he goes through life , it is an unfortunate fact that he will come across:

- teachers who shout (at him and others) and who are openly negative about pieces of work/pupils/the class as a whole
- times when friends exclude him from games.

If you remove the triggers for Spring/Summer 2014 what will you do when these same trigger some up in Summer 2015? Autumn 2016? Spring 2017? You cannot protect him from the triggers. You have to teach him how to cope with the triggers.

I speak as someone currently going through counselling for anxiety. Learning what causes my reaction to certain situations (based in childhood events) and thus what "triggered" my anxiety has helped me deal with it sooo much better. Now, the same trigger happens, I get a faint rush of anxiety and can now think "Ooo there is that feeling. I do not need to feel that because x,y,z is no longer an issue". And the anxiety does not grab hold IYSWIM. And as each week goes past the anxiety feelings are getting less and less. I have learnt how to cope with the triggers. They are still there - but they do not have the same impact. I cannot tell you how wonderfully liberating it is.

Please, please....the triggers are not the issue. Learning to cope with them are.

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