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What would you expect the school to do for a child with ASD in mainstream? Currently no support/strategies!

(14 Posts)
Scrumple Fri 10-Feb-17 09:51:38

Have been fighting with the school for years to implement some sort of help for my high functioning child with ASD. New HT started 4 months ago and assured me at a meeting that big changes would be put in places so my child finally gets the support they need. Have another review coming up, and nothing has been put in place since the last. I don't know whether i have a leg to stand on in terms of making a complaint. The school keep telling me that due to budget cuts and understaffing, there just isn't the time or resources there for my child because the only issues they have are social issues.

So basically, if this was your child, what would you suggest to the school (they have actually asked me to come up with strategies/suggestions for the next meeting as they are currently clueless apparently!)

Basic info:

* Child is 10yo

*Child point blank refuses to move school (none of the local schools are any better, truth be told, and we are moving house anyway after the summer so schools will definitely be getting changed then but for now we're staying put)

*No lunchtime clubs/playtime clubs/buddy system or anything like that due to poor staffing and resources

*Child not allowed to go sit somewhere quiet to chill out if needed during playtime/lunchtime as there is no staff to supervise them

*Child does not have the communication skills or the confidence to go up to someone in a busy playground and initiate or maintain a conversation

*Has one 'friend' who will sometimes play with them, but as soon as someone else comes along the friend goes off and my child doesn not have the confidence or skills to play/converse in a trio or more without adult support

*2 different teachers come into the class for half days each week and do not appear aware of my child's ASD. Lots of shouting from the teachers for not following their rules, and doing things the main teacher does them etc.

*My child is very bright and in top groups so there is no issues with reading/writing/maths which is where the HT tells me the very limited classroom assistants (2 for the whole school) have to prioritise

*Similarly, my child has no behaviour issues. Very good at masking at school then letting loose when home. So the teacher does not feel any support/adjustments need to be made in the classroom.

*The main issues is social skills. Has been at the school for nearly 6 years and still no friends. Whereas everyone else in the class has a group of friends and my child does not feel comfortable approaching them.

Strategies that the new HT implemented/suggested since starting 4 months ago:

*promised to start up a lunchtime group my child could go to but this didn't transpire because of lack of staff

*said that the teacher would suggest a friend for my child to play with in the class before they all went to the playground for playtime and lunch. The other children were not happy about being taken away from their own friends and treating the interaction with my child negatively as a result. As soon as they got outside, they'd go and join their usual group of friends. Occasionally, my child would be invited to join in but doesn't like groups of people as my child feels 'invisible' and 'forgotten' and 'not included'. So the teacher ended up telling me this wasn't working as the other children were being taken away from their own friends and it wasn't their fault my child was to shy to join in their group when asked.

*Asking playground monitors (2 staff and the whole school are in the playground at once - no separate break times for infants and older ones - so playground is constantly mobbed) to keep an eye on my child and direct them to a friend if needs be. On the rare occasions this has happened, (when my child has been brave enough to go up to them and ask for help to find a friend) they just point to anyone else in the yard who is on their own and expect my child to just approach them and ask to play. No understanding of impaired social skills, and social communication skills.

*Painted a circle in the playground called the friendship circle where children are to go if on their own so the playground monitors can notice them. But, due to the business of the playground they are still hard to spot. And my child tells me that other children don't utilise this circle and just loiter around it as if it's not there. So the purpose of it is meaningless.

*keeping my child in at playtime and lunchtimes with another child. This lasted for about ten intermittent days over the past few months. But the teacher said this could not be maintained long term as they were missing out on their own lunch/break time as a result. The teacher had hoped that my child and this other child who was staying in with them would continue their friendship when back in the playground, but this didn't happen. Furthermore, my child doesn't want to stay in and wants to be outside playing games and running about.

Sorry for the lengthy post! Any idea what I can suggest to the school? I've been asked to keep in mind the lack of staff and resources.

Also, we are in Scotland. My child's needs are not considered major enough for any legal document (coordinated support plan) to be put in place.

Also, we have been on the waiting list for 4 months for SLT to come back out (last visited when my child was 5 and recently diagnosed). I called again this morning and told that due to waiting times, it'll likely be easter before they come to visit the school. My child will be leaving this school in June so that's not exactly great.

I'm just really worn down. And worried about the impact this is having on my child's mental health. Crying again this morning as they didnt want to go to school because playtime was so depressing and isolating.

Do i have any right to complain to the local authority if the reason the school can't do anything for my child is because the local authority's budget has been cut so much?

Waitingforgodot Fri 10-Feb-17 09:56:27

Have a look at Mindroom and Enquire websites. Oh and National Autistic Society have an education rights service too if you look on their website.

3littlebadgers Fri 10-Feb-17 10:01:38

You have my sympathies flowers it sounds like you are exhausting all avenues.

My dn was lost in mainstream and once he moved into a school for children with AS has come on amazingly.

Does he ever have a friend over to play? Maybe the teacher could suggest someone. It might help a friendship blossom.

Scrumple Fri 10-Feb-17 10:02:37

Thank you.

Have spoken to Enquire and NAS recently who didn't really give anything productive in terms of precise strategies/support/ways forward. Just told me that the school should be doing more (but not what!) and that my child's needs should not be considered lower priority than those with literacy/maths/behaviour issues. If these other children are getting support with their additional needs, then so should my child, according to them.

I just don't know what to say at this next school meeting. I know that everything i suggest will be answered with stock phrases such as "not enough staff" and "not enough resources".

Scrumple Fri 10-Feb-17 10:09:42

Thanks. The one 'friend' my child occasionally plays with comes over every now and then. Maybe once every month and only lives a few streets away from us. My child usually is at grandparents house after school when I'm working so this is all that can be managed. But this doesn't result in a better friendship at school with this friend.

Other children just don't seem to like my child much. No invites to parties or their house. And whenever we see them at the park, or drop into conversation "oh you should round to ours" we're always fobbed off. On occasions, i've seen the child give their mum a 'look' as if to say 'don't you dare make me go round to their house'. Just an absolutely awful feeling.

My child does a few extra curricular activities outside of school but is the same there. Does not socialise with the other people but loves to join in on the structured tasks. e.g. dance class. Won't chat to another person in class. Will wait in the corner of the room while waiting for the teacher to call everyone together. Same as at water break time.

No ASD specific groups local to us either that my child could join.

I just do not know what more to do except move to a better area with better schools and start fresh. We will definitely be moving after the summer holidays anyway, so it's really just getting through these next 4-5 months when my child is becoming more teary and anxious each day. Not possible to move sooner.

PurpleAlerts Fri 10-Feb-17 11:22:42

My heart just breaks for you and the school sounds terrible.

I am in special needs and have some experience with ASD although it's not my main speciality. We had a little lad join our school at the beginning of year 4. He sounds a bit like your DS, extremely clever but quite socially delayed.

We set up a little social group for him that we ran in assembly time. He was lucky in the respect that he had quite a few "geeky" boys in his class who loved talking about stuff like Top Gear and science. He got to choose who came and initially these boys were keen as they were delighted to get out of assembly. We played games, like "fortunately unfortunately" and talked about how to deal with rules of playground games and disputes over fairness/ unfairness (he was very black and white about this!)

Sometimes they just simply chatted with a little intervention from us when communication broke down or someone was dominating the conversation. We also did social stories and drama activities; this group carried on all the way through into year 6 and was then taken up by the secondary school. It was 15 minutes a week and used to happen just before playtime so quite often the conversations and games would carry on out into the playground.

It worked so well- after he had been with us for a term his mum wrote us a lovely letter saying how at the age of nine for the first time her DS had had a birthday party where all the boys invited had turned up. She could see that he was included and felt part of the group. His friends seemed to get that he was a bit different but the school I worked at had a very inclusive, nurturing environment where the ethos was very much accepting and celebrating individuality. I should add that his case was not unique and we had quite a few other similar success stories.

It's all very well saying that you can't force children to play with one another but PHSE/ circle time activities should address this and be part of a whole school ethos. It really sounds like that is not going to happen for your DS at this school- it needs to be part of a whole school policy and done properly, not just the lip service they seem to have paid at your son's school.

I hope you can find such a school; life can be so different for a child like your DS in the right environment.

Do you have a specialist teacher for ASD in the area? Perhaps it's something you could find out about and ask her to visit and offer some staff training.

Take care and good luck x

Naty1 Fri 10-Feb-17 14:34:05

I think they need to try harder to get a small group going possibly with children from other classes.

I have similar issues with DD, who is only 4. It seems she just doesnt click with a lot of the kids. But the issue seems to be in large groups. She is ok 1-2-1.
The school have said about starting a small group.
I think the whole school in the playground is just too much for some kids.
I guess the issue compounds as children who dont get involved dont gain the social skills the others are learning. (And yes dont get invited to parties and peoples houses so even less practice).

mrz Fri 10-Feb-17 18:00:01

It depends on the child's needs

beautifulgirls Sat 11-Feb-17 10:46:23

Ask the school to get professional advice about the best way to support your child and then based upon this put an IEP in place to support social and emotional wellbeing. This might be an educational psychologist or an outreach teacher from another school that has a specialisation in autism but has a role to support local schools with their children. What is right for one child is not necessarily needed for another.

decobwebbing Sat 11-Feb-17 12:49:46

This sounds really hard for you and your child.

From what you say, it sounds as if your child is happier in more structured situations, and finds the less structured settings (e.g. free play at lunchtime or after school) much harder.

Would there be scope for a volunteer to run a lunchtime club once a week, perhaps playing active outdoor games, or a board games club? This might be someone looking for work experience working with children or a local sixth former, or perhaps the grandparent mentioned?

Could you do some work outside school on developing social skills, and helping them to understand the unspoken rules of interaction? The NAS website has a page with some really good ideas on it:
www.autism.org.uk/about/communication/social-skills/young-children.aspx

Can you role-play ways of asking to join in, and responses for either yes or no?

Could your child take in something to do at playtime (not valuable), especially something which could be played with by more than one person? Sometimes if someone is doing something which looks appealing, and is clearly enjoying it, that will attract other children. (It would be worth discussing this with teachers and supervisors, if there is any chance it would be taken by other children, or they would try to spoil it, though.)

It would not cost anything for the other teachers to use consistent strategies, and I would ask for this to be done.

coffeejunkie123 Sat 11-Feb-17 12:55:07

First off, the school have a duty of care to make reasonable adjustments for children such as your son, with disabilities. This is the law (Equality 2010) and staffing and £ are no defence.

Secondly the school MUST have regard to the SEN Code of Practice, which is choc full of recommendations which are not just about education. Please call IPSEA. They are letting him down badly.

ExplodedCloud Sat 11-Feb-17 13:09:40

I am in almost the exact situation with my dd. Well ahead academically across the board but playtime is a total disaster. When she makes a friend, she swamps them and they pull away. School sound better than yours as they are trying to find some space for her to be a couple of breaks a week. But can't afford to give her help to the degree we could get an EHCP.
SEN with no LD just isn't catered for.

Mary21 Sat 11-Feb-17 13:23:48

Is your child year 5 or year 6. I am just thinking transition arrangements for secondary.
My ds had a social skills group at primary. Non of the other kids were in his class but they got on well and met up at playtime.
A friendship bench might work better than a circle!
My ds,s primary put a buddy scheme in place in year 1 but it didn't work because he would ditch the buddies as they weren't kids he wanted to play with.
Have you been in touch with Sossen?
Sn chat and sn children may be useful on mumsnet lots of asd experience over there

ZombieApocalips Sat 11-Feb-17 14:00:29

My children are NT but I have noticed practices at their schools that would be appropriate for a child with ASD.

Our school has a quiet area of the playground (called the courtyard) where running, screaming etc is banned. It's a quiet/calm area.

There is an organised playground games area. An adult or group of y6 (playground monitors) leads games like "What's the time Mr Wolf?"

Football is on rota (each year gets a slot) and has a teacher acting as referee as it gets super competitive. Lots of boys like my son who aren't interested in footie play because it's where most of the boys hang out on the day that it's their slot and what happens becomes the gossip for that day. This might not be suitable for your son as some kids tackle aggressively and will tantrum about the referees decision but it seems to be how the boys in y6 bond.

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