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HFA/AS - Problems with Starting School/Lunches/Playdates

(22 Posts)
mistybluehills Wed 03-Nov-10 12:54:15

DS1 (4) has just started reception part-time and is at the very beginning of the process for getting a diagnosis - probable HFA/AS (thanks to support & advice from this board smile).

After an initial bad phase, DS1 who eats a healthy but very restrictive diet was happily attending school for six weeks until he started staying for school dinners. Now for the first time ever in his life he is crying and sobbing not to go to school. I had to carry him in from the school gates this morning which was just awful as I am not used to him being like that ever.

The school actively encourages school dinners and says they have a good track record with what they call 'fussy eaters'. Everyone around me seems to have a different opinion about what to do - but I don't know anyone with experience of HFA/AS and school dinners. I am desperate any advice about what to do. My instinct is saying change to sandwiches, but the children on sandwiches have to sit in another room and I am worried about the social aspects of this. Please can you give me any advice?

Playdates and parties are playing on my mind too - I am nervous about having anybody over from school when I don't know the mums/kids very well (we moved house 10 mths ago). DS1 has such particular interests in unusual things that I am worried other kids will thing he is odd if they come to our house so I have avoided it so far.

Will I be able to find a support group or local group of mums before getting a dx? I would really like to meet people with experience locally but don't know where to start.

Blimey - there is so much I am confused about!! Didn't realise until I started writing this, sorry to waffle.

woolytree Wed 03-Nov-10 13:05:04

Id get Early Years Inclusion involved at school and autism outreach when you get a dx. My DD (5 with ASD)had issues with school dinners, had you thought about his sensory issues? For my DD it wasnt fussy eating but seeing the slops bin and the overpowering smells, as people with Autism often have a different sensory experience to NT children. Dont worry about the social side of packed lunches he may prefer a smaller group or a rest from a busy environment that can be hard to process. Were back on packed lunches and happier for it.

Special needs support groups dont require a dx either so get looking.

Your Ds's friends will like him for him so dont worry about playdates either, children are often more understanding than adults. Look on Amazon for stories that explain autism to children.

Hope you feel better.

auntevil Wed 03-Nov-10 14:17:20

Plenty of DCs have packed lunch. That way he can control what he eats and you can see how much he is eating too.

IndigoBell Wed 03-Nov-10 14:30:41

Definately switch to a packed lunch. Most kids with ASD also have sensory processing disorder. So the school lunch probably either smells wrong, or feels wrong, or the dinner hall might be too noisy.

For all of those reasosn a packed lunch in a different room will be good for her. However I'm gobsmacked that kids with packed lunches eat in a diff room from school dinner kids. That is awful, and not normal practice.

But don't worry about missing out on social skills while eating her lunch. She probably needs a bit of down time and a quiter environment.

And definately don't listen to the school telling you they are good with fussy eaters. You said her diet is healthy. That's good enough.

mistybluehills Wed 03-Nov-10 14:44:40

Thanks for reminding me of the good things about packed lunches (apart from making them!). Like the idea of knowing what he has eaten. can't believe how sheepish I am about rocking the boat at school. looks like I am more of a conformist than I realised - I will have to learn to toughen up!

When I picked DS1 up earlier (not f/t yet) the assistant said he was crying all morning and particularly through lunch time today which is unheard of for him even in a difficult situation or illness. DS1 said he didn't like the smell of the food and seeing all the food on the floor - so it's interesting you mentioned sensory issues Wooly. He also hasn't eaten anything today except a piece of cake. If he carries on eating just puddings then that would be far worse than packed lunches, when he would eat wholegrain bread and fruit. Think I will sawp him to packed lunches tomorrow!

mistybluehills Wed 03-Nov-10 14:55:43

Right, thanks for the ideas, will swap to packed lunches tomorrow and let you know how he goes on. Have to arrange a playdate too, so will get on with that and see what happens.

For playdates do I just leave them to play on their own? What is the usual convention for playdates, haven't a clue blush. Do I have to plan some stuff for them to do? I also have twins who are 2.9 so not sure how it will work out.

IndigoBell Wed 03-Nov-10 16:20:18

Leave them to do their own thing. Only thing to work out is if you are expected to feed the other kid or not.

purplepidjin Wed 03-Nov-10 16:31:34

Good luck, Mistybluehills

I worked 1:1 for a while with a lad (8) with behaviour issues, he also struggled with the busy noisy dining room. It was often better to sit with him in the school reception to eat lunch, and invite one or two friends to eat with him. Then he would go out to play calm and with a full tummy. He also had the option of his own table within the main hall with just one or two friends because he often misunderstood the cross-chatter of a big group. The second option should be easily arranged by the school because the dinner ladies can keep a close eye on him. He is also not likely to be the only one in the school with issues like this, either through learning difficulties or just shyness so maybe they could buddy a few kids up on a set table?

telluthetruth Wed 03-Nov-10 21:23:43

this is all very familiar especially the worry about play dates. it could help to have a structured activity to hand in case the free play is overwhelming for your little one. I used to find short was always sweet and long went wrong with playdates. I would suggest being close at hand to support this rich learning experience and even prompt your child with appropriate phrases if needed.

I often think with asd that our kids just need the templates for situations that make what's expected really clear and a lot of praise for trying things out.

my socially phobic boy is now a sociable teen so practice and good experiences really do make all the difference.

so much good luck to you....

telluthetruth Wed 03-Nov-10 21:27:37

ps the benefit of short play dates is also that less time for things to go wrong and the more enjoyable the experience the more likely your child is to want more.

meant to say in the first post that my once socially phobic little boy is now a sociable teen. he loves his friends and so looks forward to play dates.

mistybluehills Thu 04-Nov-10 11:48:02

Thanks for your helpful ideas so far.

He went in this morning with a packed lunch and a smile on his face-what a relief. Am so glad that the school dinners thing hasn't spoilt his enjoyment of school. Thanks for helping me make a quick decision! He didn't even ask me to go with him to the door. So far so good smile

Now I am busy planning ahead for the play date next week. My mum thinks I am mad to even care what happens on a playdate, but I so want it to go well for him. I am trying to ignore the mums in the playground who claim to have tonnes of playdates/parties and swap invitations right in front of people who don't. (If their kids are so infinitely popular why do they feel the need to broadcast it across the playground angry).

Need to plan ahead for the first appointment with the paediatrician too. Wondering what is the best approach? Was wondering if Doc will think I am a bit intense if I turn up with a diary and list of symptoms - or is that the usual way to go?

telluthetruth Thu 04-Nov-10 15:43:17

that sounds really good! I wasn't organized enough for a diary but I think it will help u respond to questions and if the paed is receptive will provide useful information.

no your mum is just not aware of how discouraged kids with asd can get due to the social difficulties they have. you are so doing the right thing.

so glad your little one happy to stay at school...great start!

mistybluehills Thu 04-Nov-10 17:02:08

Really appreciate your support - wasn't getting much anywhere else!! A lot of my family burying their heads in the sand and still hoping it will be "a phase" [hmmm]

mistybluehills Thu 04-Nov-10 17:02:42

Oops hmm

telluthetruth Thu 04-Nov-10 17:35:24

it can take relis a while to get heads round asd so fingers crossed they get there. older generation still have a negative pic of autism and don't get the brilliant contribution asd people have made to our society.

start mentioning bill gates and find examples of asd people with special talents. sometimes asd people are gifted in unexpected ways...I had a pupil whose gift was a beautiful disposition and a way of making others happy. she will go on to do so much of that I am sure....

MaudOHara Fri 05-Nov-10 13:10:55

At that age DS wanted to have friends over but wasn't sure how to play, so after several playdates where I would end up playing with playdate child as DS wouldn't I started to invite two friends over at the same time for short periods of time so DS could be around other children playing.

He learnt what to do from this which meant after a while we just dropped down to one friend.

Oh and agree short and sweet

justabouttosellakidney Fri 05-Nov-10 13:18:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MaudOHara Fri 05-Nov-10 21:52:52

Oh yes break it up with tv, trip to park to tire them out or have a stash of back up activities to pull out should the need arise to fill time.

MaudOHara Fri 05-Nov-10 22:00:34

Oh and also be prepared to have to explain how and why rules change when friends come.

EG - table manners often have to be waived if visitors aren't confident using cutlery etc, first time we had a playdate DS was telling him to eat with his mouth closed, use his cutlery, not get down from the table without asking for permission etc blush am not really an ogre!

Now for him its quite logical that if he has been given these 'rules' then everyone else should too

genieinabottle Sat 06-Nov-10 23:41:46

I know for a fact DS (5 , asd) will not enjoy having school diners especially school diners in the hall.
He has sandwiches and eats his lunch in the classroom with only 6 other children.
Which suits him just fine.

No way he would cope with school diners with the others. And he probably wouldn't eat anything.

He has all the time in the world to try it, might give it a go when he is in year 1 or 2 to see how he copes with it, but defo not this year.
If you feel that your DS isn't ready and isn't enjoying the experience then put him on sandwiches. You know him best, never mind what the school wants.

I'm a tad worried about playdates too, but more so worried about him being invited at another child's home than having a child at our house. I don't feel confident to leave DS with people he doesn't know, and i don't know what i'd do about having to tell them about the autism. Probably would mention speech and language delay (which is pretty obvious with DS) but would feel awkward telling them about the asd. It's just me though... i feel cagey about parents at the school knowing.

purplepidjin Sun 07-Nov-10 01:09:11

Genie, it might be worth downloading and printing some info on ASD, then handing them to parents when your DS is invited. If you're worried about leaving him, perhaps suggest you would appreciate the adult company and would it be alright to stay for a coffee?

MaudOHara Sun 07-Nov-10 11:57:57

Genie with DS I used to say he was a bit clingy so would they mind if I brought him along, got him settled and then left him.

That would then give me the chance to see how he was at the other house, and if I felt it appropriate then I would be able to tell the parent about his autism in a more private way than shouting it across the playground.

FWIW I have had no negative reactions from any parents with regards to his condition.

I also did a social story for him about how to behave / what to expect etc to prepare him for going.

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