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Y6 CAMHS referral

(13 Posts)
Contraryish Wed 20-May-15 12:44:44

I'll try to keep this succinct.

My son is in year six. He's bright but struggles socially. He moved to a new school at the beginning of year 4 and has had issues with bullying and fitting in, which the school have addressed. He is a happy, normal child at home. Bickers with his sister (9) but is generally calm and has never shown any reluctance to go to school.

A couple of months ago, I had a call from the head saying she wanted to refer him to CAMHS because he had been getting very upset in school and saying things like he wished he was dead or he felt like banging his head against a wall. Obviously she was concerned and said the threat of self-harm was, for want of a better word, a red flag, and she felt bound to refer him.

I've spoken to my son, who said he had got upset, but was feeling much better now. I've told him to come to me if he has any issues and he says everything is fine (and his demeanour at home suggests this is the case). I've checked back with him on a regular basis and he is generally happy and fine.

This morning, I went to a meeting with the SENCO and head teacher. They basically said they were still concerned that he was, in their words, 'isolated' and 'sad' and emphasised that a referral would take so long that it was worth setting the wheels in motion now rather than starting the whole process again if he has problems when he starts secondary school in September.

I'm torn, whilst I have no doubt that the head has my son's best interests at heart and is genuinely concerned for his welfare ("I don't have favourites, but ..."), I'm really struggling to reconcile what she is telling me about my son at school with what I see of him at home.

I guess the question is whether anyone has been through the process and whether the outcomes were positive, or whether a potential referral would cause him more stress than is actually necessary?

Thanks for getting this far, if you have!

Millymollymama Wed 20-May-15 14:38:35

Is he saying to you what he thinks you want to hear? 11 year old chidren are quite capable of this. I have not been through this at all, but I do wonder if it would be worthwhile having an initial meeting when you are offered it. There is plenty of advice on the web site about what might be discussed and if says he is happy at school and the Head is wrong, then so be it. I think it could be possible he is different at school to the boy he seems to be at home. However, moving to secondary school can be a challenge so given his history, I would probably agree to a meeting.

Contraryish Wed 20-May-15 14:53:10

Thanks Milly, if I think about it, I think it's less him telling me what he thinks I want to hear, than him feeling generally more happy while at home and not wanting to dwell on the negatives. He gets the bus home, which takes half an hour, and by that time he has chilled out a little and gained a little distance from the events of the day.

But as you say, it's difficult to imagine it can do a great deal of harm!

Millymollymama Wed 20-May-15 17:48:58

I think the people you meet will have his best interests at heart and if it makes transition to secondary easier, then I think the worry of the meeting is less than the issues that could arise at the new school, if that makes sense? I do wish you luck and it is not an easy decision but I am sure you will have very experienced people who will be on your side and listen fully to your views.

Contraryish Thu 21-May-15 06:52:15

Thanks again. The thing is, the referral will take so long that any next steps are likely to be months if not years down the line, so it would be of no assistance to the transition to secondary. But, as you say, it is difficult to see it doing any harm and they have emphasised the fact that I can stop the process at any time.

I'm still struggling to get my head around the contrast between how they describe him at school and how I see him at home.

Millymollymama Thu 21-May-15 13:19:53

This could be the point of the discussion of course. I wish you well.

easterlywinds Thu 21-May-15 20:24:33

Contrary, I am going through the same thing with ds. He has been bullied for the past 2 years. This has been observed by myself and by the head. After a particular bad bout of bullying and a falling out with ds's group of friends, I asked that he be encouraged to play with other children. A TA has spent 2 weeks observing him and basically says that ds has no social skills and doesn't recognise social cues (ie still wants to play with his friends when they obviously don't want to play with him) and doesn't know how to join a new group of friends so wants to refer to CAMHS. However in other activities that we go to, ds is very sociable, follows cues and basically behaves the opposite to the behaviour described at school. I don't know what to believe now but I'm starting to collect a diary of examples of his behaviour. I figure CAMHS are the best people to deal with this.

momtothree Thu 21-May-15 20:35:38

I think with bullying children are out numbered so the social clues are lost (ie one says he can play others giving message he cant) CAHMS are there to help and they have ways of drawing out problems and a proper assesement wont hurt and may be reassuring. You have nothing to lose.

OneInEight Fri 22-May-15 06:18:20

In our experience CAMHS are reluctant to accept referrals until the child has such severe issues that they are unable to provide help and can promptly discharge because the child won't engage spends all the appointment trying to escape from the room. They will also not accept referrals direct from school - route here has to be via school nurse or G.P. It is unlikely that from the information you give that a referral would be accepted as the service is so over-stretched that they turn almost everyone away. In truth our experience is that they did more harm than good and I would make sure before engaging with the service that there is at least the potential of practical interventions. Otherwise it is a complete and utter waste of everybody's time at best and damaging at worst.

OneInEight Fri 22-May-15 06:50:28

Actually my last post was not very constructive. The interventions that have helped us have mostly come via school or SALT - probably not want your HT wants to hear as it will cost time and effort on their part. Right in the early days school did call in an Educational Psychologist who picked up that as well as social communication issues ds2 was very, very stressed at school even when behaviour was not as disruptive as it later became and did suggest some useful interventions if school had actually followed them. SALT can pick up if there are any social communication difficulties and can provide social skills groups that might be helpful. At school social skills groups, support during group work, being allocated a partner in PE etc rather than always being the one left unchosen at the end can all help and are all feasible as long as the attitude is right.

Contraryish Fri 22-May-15 07:52:28

Thanks for the extra input. They did say the process could take a while and that the referral might not be accepted. I think the head genuinely likes him and feels guilty that the bullying wasn't picked up soon enough, so is prepared to go the extra mile if that is what it takes.

They have given me a week to think things through while they work on some paperwork. (My husband is away at the moment, so I need to talk it through with him too when he gets home.) She's going to put a note in his file when he goes into secondary, and make sure he is not put in the same classes as the bully. He's also having weekly sessions with someone at school to talk things through, which he seems to appreciate. As you say, I think the work in-school may have more of an impact than any potential referral which may or may not happen at some time in the future.

freddiethegreat Thu 28-May-15 10:07:07

I too would be surprised if what you describe gets you much from CAMHS. But it's still worth a referral if only so that if things deteriorate you have less time to wait. The first time my son was referred CAMHS spoke to me first & described how they would proceed & I said no at that point. I have just started a second referral for him and imagine he/ I will proceed further. But we are in some crisis. My point is CAMHS will not stop you opting out at any point(!), so you might as well proceed until you're turned down or you're certain you don't want it.

Goldmandra Thu 28-May-15 10:18:04

My DD appeared to be doing fine until starting high school. She experienced bullying and was pretty socially isolated but seemed OK and enjoyed reading books and helping office staff at break times.

Starting high school was a nightmare. her coping strategies no longer worked in the bigger, busier, less forgiving environment and she ended up missing a year of school. The CAMHS referral wasn't made until the first half term so she wasn't even seen by them until Christmas which meant a whole term wasted.

I would go along with this in case your DS turns out to need help after the transition.

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