Talking to children about SEN(14 Posts)
My ds has a lovely friend who I'll call Tim. Ds is 7 and Tim is 8. Both ds and Tim are really boisterous and have a lot of fun playing together. Tim's mum has mentioned he has developmental delay, he started school barely verbal.
This year, my ds and Tim exchanged Christmas cards and ds said to me "it is amazing Tim wrote my name and his own as well as the word Christmas all by himself even though he doesn't have a good brain, he must have worked hard". Luckily Tim was not there!
I said to him that Tim has a perfectly good brain and all children learn at different speeds. I reminded ds that he was really late walking and now walks just as well as Tim does. He responded Tim was "on the table for children who have a lot more to learn still because of their brains". I know no malice is intended here and he has absolutely no wish to make his friend feel bad.
What else should I tell him?
It's a tricky one
My ds has a child who still uses a pushchair in his class and this has been subject of many a conversation here
I just stick to everyone learns to do things at different speeds, some people need more help with certain things and that it doesn't mean said child is lazy or a baby (these things do seem to be said amongst others in the class)
I phrase it in terms of analogy. Some people are better at football, and there are lots of possible reasons. They might be bigger, faster, older or (most importantly) they enjoy, play and practice more.
It doesnt take long before they start to recognise that bigger isnt always better, and that if enjoyment and practice makes the biggest difference then brains or being 'stupid' makes very little difference.
Oh, we may have a situation like this in future and it worries me. We had a party yesterday with 4 kids (circa 4.6mo) who were all born within 6 weeks of each other and one is going through the process of getting a statement. He is a bit more sensitive to noise/chaotic situations than other kids his age, and doesn't run around in the 'herd' quite as much. Yesterday it did feel like the other 3 were leaving him out/picking on him a bit (without justification, I will add) and it made me sad so I can't imagine what it's like for his parents.
DS1 has talked about his friend's behaviour unprompted quite a lot before this, and we've managed to pull it back from 'I don't like him and don't want him here because he was a bit rough with my toy (he wasn't that bad tbf' to 'He can come over again and we can play a quieter game', which is great. I don't want to label the lad, instead I'd prefer to encourage DS1 to learn how best to interact with his friend - in fact we all do this in one or another, I think.
Your DS sounds sweet paxillin, but where did he get the "on the table for children who have a lot more to learn still because of their brains" phrase from? School, I'd guess? I'd worry about him using that phrasing in front of the children in question.......
I have 5 children with various different needs. It's a tricky one but in some ways it's easier for me because in our house disability is normal and they all accept without question that DS1 struggles with making friends, DS2 struggles with walking, DS3 needs his inhaler to help him breathe etc. Are you close to Tim's mum? Can you ask her what terminology she and Tim feel comfortable using?
Thanks all. I am not really close to Tim's mum, she mentioned his SEN when they were 4 and it was really obvious, his speech was very delayed. Now at 8, his SEN are important for the school, but not the kids, he is as good a tree climber or darth vader as ds and that's what counts for the boys.
I wonder what school tells them, I feel the kids need not know at all about the sen table, any teachers about? What if anything do you tell the other kids?
Children will work out a lot of stuff like that without being told. When I was at school we all knew that the green table was the "clever table" etc. It's difficult because different people prefer different things. My DS2 has Ehlers Danlos syndrome and describes himself as disabled. My DS1 has aspergers syndrome and would be very offended if someone called him disabled, even though he gets DLA.
Tricky one I agree. Phrasing as "not a good brain" is much better than "Tim is not good" or "Tim is dumb"; your son also recognised - probably correctly - that Tim has to work harder to achieve some things. That is all really positive and it sounds like your son is viewing things in an appropriate manner at present. Continuing to be aware of what his friend is good at, and aware that they both have to try hard at some things, would seem to me to be age appropriate at present.
Children are a lot less judgemental than adults, infer differently than adults and work with fewer stereotypes.
The comments repeated to you sounds more like it came from another child, perhaps repeating a conversation from their parent.
If anything your ds sounds very accepting of difference and very lovely in understanding the reasons. Only adults infer negatively from that comment or children taught to do so. If anything intervening may communicate the negative inference you are trying to avoid!
When talking to my dc about ds2's sen needs I always tried to be as straightforward as possible. I talk about brains having neurons which are like roads full of information.
I liken it to being in Sainsburys and wanting to buy some ice-cream. Ds1 might go through the door along by the tills and up the ice cream aisle whereas ds2's brain might take him up through the fruit and veg then down the bakery aisle and round past the alcohol to end up at the top of the ice cream aisle. Both reach their destination and neither is a right or wrong way albeit one takes a bit longer than the other.
The thing is, with developmental disabilities, everyone learns at different speeds can be hugely unhelpful as actually some children don't catch up.
I'd maybe try and replace not a good brain with something about his brain working differently (rather than worse if you see what I mean) but ultimately it does work differently to a NT child's.
But really your DS has it spot on and it's lovely that he appreciated the extra effort that his friend made by acknowledging that it must have been harder for him to write that.
I used computers with DS (he has AS) I said it was like he's a mac in a PC world, they work on different OS and so do things differently and sometimes aren't compatible, but ultimately do the same things, just in a different way...he was a bit older though.
Oh and yes children know exactly who is at what working level in a class, it doesn't matter at all how groups are named, sorted or even if there are no groups, they know.
just remind your ds that whilst hes nearly right and that he does have a difficulty with some things and needs extra help, hes still got as good a brain as anyone and probably does even better in some other things (whether thats true or not I dont know, but id say it anyway)
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