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Am I overreacting? TA problems

(22 Posts)
inappropriatelyemployed Wed 17-Oct-12 19:18:25

DS is doing really well at his school. He has been there 10 months.

However, his relationship with his TA is poor. He cannot stand her. He had a good relationship to start with but, somewhere down the line, she decided he was naughty and started telling him off for every last little thing, including how he eats, what knife and fork he uses, the tone he asks for things in etc etc

He is 9 and has Asperger's. His problem with school in the past is OVER-compliance - this non-compliance is not good!

I have raised this several times with school, especially last term in the summer when she was clearly losing patience and calling him 'naughty' 'rude' etc all the time. His 6 year old brother witnessed this.

Head decided it was better to concentrate on getting help from the teacher. This promotes independence but it does impede the delivery of provision on his statement if he doesn't want her near him.

All those little things, like checking he has understood are just not being done because of it and I found out this week that he had not recorded any of his house points this term because no one had told him how. He was ok but it makes me really sad that a child with a full-time TA isn't getting this support. sad

At the start of the term, the TA then decided to change all his routines without warning, so she was going to make him line up in the playground, sit on the carpet etc. DS again became non-compliant. She agreed to back off but DS says she says things like 'that will change, you won't be able to do that for much longer' angry

Things have got so bad that teachers will report he does things for them but not for her - yet that somehow his fault?

Today I was confronted by the teacher (new but with some experience of ASD) telling me he had been 'very rude' to the TA. The children had been lining up in the playground but he doesn't do that, he is allowed to go in a side door. The TA told him to stop but he ignored her and went in.

He was told this was rude and made to apologise.

I explained about the difficult relationship with the TA and was told to discuss with the head which I had done.

When I spoke to DS, it was clear that, given past experiences, he thought the TA was trying to unfairly stop him using his usual way in. He hadn't a clue why people were angry or why this was rude but his teacher has made him apologise by saying 'look at Mrs X when you say sorry'.

After school, I spoke to the SENCO and teacher (I didn't know all the facts at the time) but it was suggested we use a book and this is where DS has written all the above.

I am really upset as this school has really tried but I feel there is an attitude, propagated by his TA (who was a teacher and whose views are given too much weight) that he is just 'rude' or 'naughty' and that no attempt is made to get to the bottom of things despite ample training interventions.

DS is happy there but it is grinding me down so I have just emailed the SENCO with a plea for understanding.

provisionseeker Wed 17-Oct-12 19:50:29

I would request a change tbh. Ds had problems with a TA that was more like a friend and it really affected his behaviour. A change was made and things have been more settled since. I do think it's important that the child and TA have a good relationship to maximise the support otherwise what's the point of having it?

cansu Wed 17-Oct-12 20:03:17

i think your best option would be to request a change. In order to make this happen you may have to sugar coat your request by playing down your feelings about the TA. If you make it too personal they may dig their heels in.

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 17-Oct-12 20:06:48

Thanks. I do try and concentrate on the facts, i.e. the relationship has broken down and I make it clear that we are always supportive of the TA at home.

Trouble is, it is a tiny school (90 kids in a primary) and there just aren't spare TA floating around.

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Wed 17-Oct-12 20:24:14

I expect the TA has a temporary contract that lasts as long as your DS is at the school, but that shouldn't stop the school from swapping her role with another TA in the school if their relationship has broken down. Trouble is, schools never like parents telling them how to run their school. Misplaced pride, I suppose. Even in the very inclusive school I work in there are some difficult relationships with some parents who, IMO, are simply more interested in their DC's education than average. Schools see themselves as the experts, having dealt with many DC, but they truly don't know the best way to deal with DC who don't fit their expected range of behaviours and issues. They may get one DC every couple of years who is somewhere on the spectrum but still not realise how very different they can be to each other, and that what works for one, won't work for all.

The DC I supported did come across to the inexperienced as very rude, sometimes. Indeed, he was rude and needed to have his behaviour dealt with, but in a sensitive and understanding way that appreciated that he usually didn't actually mean to be rude, or that he simply didn't understand the unwritten rules (!) that how you act with an adult in authority is different to how you act towards your peers or your family. My charge would want to engage me in conversation about how unpleasant the HT had been in assembly, shouting like that, when she had been cracking down on some unruly playground behaviour. He took it very personally, felt the HT was being horrible to him and wanted me to agree with him, using very uncomplimentary language. Different to your example, but I did understand that while he needed to be taught these boundaries, it could be done sensitively. You need to explain, again (sigh) that your DS doesn't mean to be rude, doesn't understand social conventions, can't transfer knowledge from one situation to another so finds it hard to pick these unwritten rules up, finds it actually painful to look someone in the eye etc etc. sad

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Wed 17-Oct-12 20:26:35

Crossed with you during my rant! Sugar, no likelihood of a change, then. Just have to keep explaining the Aspergers, in a meeting including the TA at some point, smiling through gritted teeth.

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 17-Oct-12 20:34:19

Thanks Ellen. I agree that some behaviour is 'rude' as you describe and what a child needs is this explaining to them and then they need intervention to support effective social skills. We don't have that despite S&LT on DS's statement. We have crap social skills groups and a TA who thinks he needs telling off.

I also think a physical reaction like ignoring someone shouting stop or not wanting to sit on the carpet requires further exploration with the child about the reasons for their response.

I have employed a S&LT to send in strategies and go in and train. The EP has been in. The TA and SENCO went on a course at Ambitious about Autism course.

Yet, the default reaction is 'he's been rude today'. The teacher actually said I can discipline him myself if you want.

No one had even asked him why he had done it. THAT is what makes me mad.

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 17-Oct-12 20:35:25

It's like they know he has AS but as soon as he does something difficult that must be naughtiness and not AS

Inaflap Wed 17-Oct-12 20:47:08

Oh I've got this tee shirt. The worst thing is at the time I assumed it was my son who was at fault but I later learned that this TA said some pretty poor things to him. Fortunately she left. I think you need to go in and say although you don't condone rudeness, he has issues with this lady whose confrontational manner is exacerbating situations. Could she be swapped or could she be told to handle things more sensitively and back off a bit. I think part of the problem is there is still this myth that aspies don't do emotions which is the biggest load of bollocks ever. I wish I had kicked up more of a fuss and listened to my son more. You could give them Asperkids to read.

inappropriatelyemployed Wed 17-Oct-12 22:10:36

Thanks. I am really saddened to see what he has written in his book tonight to show the teacher. Twice he has said that he has been told to 'look at Mrs X when you say sorry' and he has put 'this is like my old school X primary' in capital letters.

coff33pot Wed 17-Oct-12 23:50:43

He is unhappy and he has lost trust in this TA and I am not surprised if she is going to goad him by commenting "you wont be able to do that for much longer"angry All that is doing is excalating an uneccessary panic and bad feeling that some time in the future he is going to have to sit on the carpet or line up. WHY worry the boy that wont work and he will never "comply" with that wish and spend every day waiting for the request to happen. Stupid TA.

I dont see him being rude as in making for the side door. If that is his normal instruction then that is all he is doing.

I dont see it as being rude in ignoring the TA either if she has forced him to do things by changing his routine he is going to avoid her expecting the worst.

Tell them trust is gone need a new TA. Because if he is like my DS he will never forget bless him.

bochead Thu 18-Oct-12 00:28:05

I sometimes feel like all those old Sunday School lessons have come back to bite me when dealing with DS - "all men are created equal" sounds great until you are the parent of the child who has zero understanding of social hierarchy.

My lad also has an elephant memory and once he's decided someone is not to be trusted or that he doesn't like em, then that's, that and nothing can be done about it.

The ambitious about autism courses are truly amazing & on another level compared to the standard NAS ones - if the TA doesn't "get it" after being treated to one of those then she never will tbh. Sending in further experts or more training won't make the slightest bit of difference. You just can't fix this kind of stubborn mindset. Common sense is innate and she lacks it - it really is that simple.

So you have two unbending individuals who are now entrenched in their respective positions. You either need to accept that this is the best it's gonna get in this setting, or do summat radical.

Are there aspects of your childs social skills curriculum that you could cover off yourself at home? (I'm in luv with the 5P approach and language for thinking)

Toughasoldboots Thu 18-Oct-12 00:32:11

She is not liking challenge to her good old control methods is she?
My dd2 had a similar situation, her allegedly sen trained ta used to shout at her constantly and tell her that she was naughty.

I agree that you need a complete change, she is not going to work with ds, just fight him every step of the way.

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 18-Oct-12 00:57:18

I just despair I really do. You get a statement and a TA and then everyone expects him to act like 'normal'.

I was particularly upset today as his deputy head asked to speak to me and said a boy had said DS had used the word 'raping' while they were playing a game. He called this boy a 'reliable source'.

I said I doubted that DS knew that word but he did pick things up and repeat them sometimes and I would speak to him.

I asked DS and he flatly denied it. I find him to be a reliable source too. When I asked DS to write in his book about it, he said 'mr x said I was talking about raving with someone and I didn't - I don't know what that means so why would I say it'

I feel so angry. DS clearly said nothing of the sort but it feels like someone else is just believed - perhaps the kids see him as a 'naughty boy' now and fair game.

bochead Thu 18-Oct-12 01:21:13

Did you gently remind T that ASD is a communication disorder? That means he will occasionally use words out of context or inapproprately iykwim. DS has only made the amazing progress he has since that basic fact has been recognised. Our kids essentially have to learn two curriculums, while the NT just do the one academic daily.

If school aren't utilising the learning opportunities as and when our kids social faux pas crop up in a timely manner then it all becomes a bit futile. All we as parents can do is reinforce lessons taught at school, (social ones as well as hearing em read lol!)

Did the T take the time to check your son's comprehension of the word, and then gently correct him at the time of the alleged offence? If not, why is the man even bothering to whine at you about it? (btw you know he didn't as DS's log of events shows the other kid misheard him). Nit picking moaning has never been an effective motivator for any child NT or otherwise.

I would honestly shrug my shoulders & tell my child not to worry about it. Life's too short for this level of pettiness.

Can you photocopy that book asap? I have a hunch you may need it before too long.

Jerbil Thu 18-Oct-12 07:53:19

A few things I've been told recently. Mind games!

The good bad good sandwich - say something positive make your point then something good again.

Don't say "he doesn't like to do this" instead say something like "because of his Aspergers he cannot do..."

Also ram home the "reasonable adjustments" because if they don't do this they are not conforming to the DDA.

My counselling is where I'm learning all this. I still need to apply it, but your situ sounds like where we could be in 3 years. I have ds1 (6) with Aspergers and ds2 (3) NT we think though some clumsiness under investigation. But I can imagine ds2 sticking up for and telling me things bout ds1 in 3 years.

cornykrueger Thu 18-Oct-12 08:48:58

The other boy was a 'reliable source' was he...is he implying that your ds isn't? angry
In what context was the word used anyway? How ridiculous.
surely the fact that your ds has AS and will struggle to tell convincing lies makes him an extremely reliable source.

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 18-Oct-12 10:27:01

Thanks - just to report back that school were very good about it all today. I talked it all through with the head and class teacher and she even apologised for handling it badly yesterday - a first!

They are going to encourage him to use his book to write things down and they will consider shifting his TA for part of the week. The head said he was worried that this might not make any difference as DS just mightn't like having a TA around but I had to stress that if someone understood the basic features of autism and can apply the 'iceberg' analysis (here) then we would be ok.

At the moment he is left without a voice despite a statement and full-time TA and that can't be right.

I couldn't believe how helpful they were though. The teacher got someone else to take her class in to assembly so she could stay and talk to me. She took me back to class and showed me his books and asked me what I would say in certain situations.

I felt like crying with relief.

bochead Thu 18-Oct-12 10:58:00

We've found the 5P approach very effective in school - it's ABAlite for dummies wink Anyone with 1/2 an ounce of common sense and a bit of compassion can use it effectively.

Having slept on things it seems that the school have the same concerns you do & you are all on the same page. Hopefully this will mean life will get easier from here on in. I have tremendous respect for professionals that can hold up their hands and say sorry, as noone is perfect all the time.

A 1:1 relationship is a bit like a marriage, very very idiosyncratic & personal - your TA will probably be the best thing that ever happened to another child. I always think it's a bit wierd that parents aren't involved at some stage of the recruitment process as I can tell at a 100 paces those individuals that will instantly click with DS and get on with him like a house on fire. (Schools should obviously retain screening rights over skills/experience/fit with school staff team etc)

In my case school keep trying to find DS fastidious sporty metrosexual male role models & he's a dyspraxic farmers boy at heart lol! Thank goodness his main TA this year is a fellow animal lover, as it makes such a difference that she understands some of his interests.

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 18-Oct-12 11:16:57

We were involved and DS was allowed to meet the candidates and at the time he was very anxious and she was kind and caring.

However, the reality has been that, although she is a teacher, she has no experience of SEN and takes his behaviour very personally and she constantly nags at him. There was no way of knowing this in the interview!

There have also been multiple incidents which she has complained he has done something - like snatch a book from her - but when you ask him, he will tell an entirely different story about how she snatched it from him and then went to tell a teacher he had done something wrong.

She also started to try and get him to do stuff he doesn't usually have to do and then when he said 'mum said I wouldn't have to do that', she said 'I don't care what your mum thinks'. How would you ever know this from an interview??

bochead Thu 18-Oct-12 11:31:05

I get the feeling she took the job as an easy ride, only to discover kids like ours are really, really hard work lol! That's not something anyone could tell at an interview.

DS can be like this over "Mum said" - I find I have to make darn sure he KNOWS that I trust other adults totally to deal with him when I'm not around. He's very, very difficult if he feels someone hasn't shown me the appropriate level of respect (due in his eyes iyswim). "Mum runs tings" as far as he's concerned to an extent that concerns me, as I can see a future DIL raising objections to Mums ways!

It has been difficult in the past to have open adult conversations about his behavior as he clings like a limpet to me, making it hard for others to make suggestions iykwim.

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 18-Oct-12 12:02:32

I agree about the easy ride!

DS did stand up for himself when she did the 'I don't care what mum says' bit. He actually said 'my mum sorted this out with the teacher because I asked her to'. Little gem.

It was really sad but good too to see what came out in his book. Pages of quite angry, frustrated comments about things that had happened.

We have this for life don't we? God I can so see myself in Gary Mackinnon's mum's shoes in 30 years time!

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