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DS with ASD starting school - any advice please

(9 Posts)
lumpymum Thu 07-Jul-11 22:46:59

My DS is starting reception class in September. He is 4 with a DX of HF Autism.

We went for his induction morning earlier this week, and it was a disaster. He spent the whole time clinging to my back, under my coat, not interacting or communicating with anyone.

The SENCo has said that they will bring in some toys such as Dr Who figures - his obsession at the moment - to try to get him to relax a bit. She's also going to send me some photos of the classroom etc.

The school is supposed to be very good with ASD.

My DS has spent nearly a whole school year at part-time nursery with no problems at all, and the year before that at playgroup, so I don't know why the school visit worried him so much.

Does anyone have any advice on how to help him settle at school? I work part-time, but I am seriously thinking that I might have to stop working to be with him until he adapts to school.

dietstartstmoz Thu 07-Jul-11 23:07:02

Hi lumpymum, sorry to hear your DS has had a bad settling in session. I also work PT and DS2 is HF ASD, and starting school in sept. He will be 4 next month. We have had lots of support and he has had 1 successful settling in this week, 2 more to go.
We went into the class on our own a couple of weeks ago after school so DS could see the class and have a good nose round on his own, and met the teacher and some staff.
His new teacher went to see him in private nursery (to observe him) but it was also good for him to meet her again and he was very excited about seeing her.
He has had a social stories book made for him with photos of the class, teacher etc and a story about what will happen at the settling in session and some of the activities he could expect to do, and he LOVES this book and has read it every day, night and morning for the past couple of days and this helped him know what to expect. His first session was on Tues and he coped very well. His nursery keyworker went with him to help with the move from nursery to school and he was so pleased to see her he just ran straight in. She was able to prompt him when he needed some help.

For the next 2 sessions she won't be there so hope he copes as well. It's so hard isn;t it. I have told my son about going to school but it is hard to know how much he understands. I think my son needs lots of preparation for any changes before they take place or he has a new experience, your DS sounds similar, he will be Ok with playgroup as he knows what to expect. School is a whole new thing for him and he has no idea what will be expected of him, new kids, staff etc. Sounds like he needs more support and preparation for the settling in sessions.
Can you ask for him to go in on his own and meet the teacher and get to see the class on his own a few times before any future sessions?

Agnesdipesto Thu 07-Jul-11 23:09:45

Could you take him in again over the next two weeks for some more visits?
Perhaps one of the nursery staff could take him in?
Will he have 1:1?
Can the 1:1 visit at home? Most schools have 2 training days at start of Sept so you could use those to settle him in without the other children even just taking him in for half hour

herdiegirl Thu 07-Jul-11 23:35:34

Hi, my DS is now in yr2. I remember too, that my DS struggled with his induction.
At the Senco's advice my DS had a very gradual start to school. Just a couple of afternoons a week initially. They suggested afternoons as opposed to morning as there was no unstructured break. This was gradually built up until he did every afternoon, then a morning or too added. This went on for about a whole term. He then progressed to doing both sessions but being brought home for lunch. This was difficult for me as I also had a baby and this was hard with naps. I did wonder how he would get used to school if he wasn't there much, but I have to say now that I think the strategy worked. I was assured that he would not miss out academically as they weren't doing too much work (mostly play to settle in at first) and he would bring some of the phonics practise home etc.
DS was in school full time inc lunchtimes by about easter and amazingly wasn't behind his peers with the work.

Like your child, my Ds coped with being in pre-school and I struggled to make sense of their strategy and wondered if it just made life easier for them.

However , in hindsight DS is usually happy to go to school now and is on the whole doing well. It now all seems like a long time ago.

Good luck!

cansu Fri 08-Jul-11 20:34:09

I sometimes think the visits are bound to be a nightmare. With both my ASD dc, the visits have been pretty horrendous and the actual school terms a lot easier. I wouldn't panic too soon. He may well cope much better after the initial settling in week.

SpiderObsession Sat 09-Jul-11 15:29:26

Is your school having the settling in period where he'll go for a the morning the first week, then morning and lunch, then full day (or something similar)? That should help.

Get to know your sons teacher and ask what you can do to support her. If she needs you in the school she'll ask but I suspect she may want to help him settle without you there initially. There may be other things you can do at home that may help but that'll only come to light once he goes there.

My best advice is try not to worry (ha!).

lumpymum Sat 09-Jul-11 19:42:22

Hi everyone, sorry to disappear - crying baby then fell asleep with him!

I think the idea of going back a few times after school when the class is empty is a great one, I'm definately going to ring the school on Monday to suggest it, the Reception children start a few days after the others too, so maybe I could take him for a look then aswell.

When we went for the morning there were 30 or so other parents in the small classroom, plus the other children who were excited and noisy.

They don't have a staggered start or easing-in to school, they start at 9 o'clock on the first day till 3, although the Head said they would think about part-time for some children if the whole day was too much for them.

I think I'll do the social story book too, the SENCO is sending me some photos of the classroom soon.

I've booked the week off work, so at least I won't have to worry about that.

Thanks for all your replies, its good knowing that there are stratagies that work, my DS got his DX a couple of weeks ago, so we haven't had any advice from CAMHS or anything like that yet.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 09-Jul-11 20:22:22

Lots of visits are needed; can school take photos of the staff so that you
can show your son who is who. Can they show him all around the school; where the toilets are etc. Can they create a safe space for him within the classroom?. What happens at lunch, what is he expected to do at lunchtime re meals etc?.

Have you met the SENCO yet; you need to get this person too on board.

Has anyone to date mentioned the word "statement" to you?.
If school are good with ASD then this is a plus but I would still apply for a Statement on his behalf sooner rather than later.

It will be too late for this to commence in September (these take six months plus to set up once the LEA agree to assess) but you need to think longer term too. Y1 for instance is when the pressure is upped; it is far less informal at that stage.

Suzza Sat 09-Jul-11 22:55:24

Hi Lumpymum,
I am currently going through my sons first year in school he is recently 5 and has HF autism. It has been a total nightmare, we didn't get the DX until March this year so was too late to know before he started. When he started last Sept he went into total meltdown, running out of school unlocking doors, biting kicking, he was so distressed..and so was I! I hope to god it isn't like that for you, I am sure it won't be. (my son has possible ODD and ADHD so he is a mixed bag!) The only advise I can give you is start part time that will ease him in, from there he may be perfectly fine and you may be lucky, if not you will give him time to get used to all the huge changes that are occuring in his life. Also make sure you speak to the SenCo ASAP to let her know of the situation and get a relationship started, they will be the main person to speak to for help.

All the best.

Suzza

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