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Please talk to me, so stressed and down re DS' worsening behaviour in school

(26 Posts)
Jacksterbear Mon 22-Apr-13 10:35:39

Hi. Long story is here. The short story is that DS (6) suffers from dreadful anxiety and, amongst other things, has monumental meltdowns usually triggered by demands and transitions. We are in the process of seeking a referral to developmental paediatrician for assessment (school thinks ASD, I'm not sure but possibly PDA and/or anxiety disorder). School have been very supportive and put lots of helpful measures in place. HOWEVER, DS' behaviour in school has been markedly worse since going back after Easter, and on Friday he threw a chair across the classroom after refusing to do something he'd been asked to do. shock The other children had to be evacuated from the classroom while DS was calmed down. And later that day, after thinking he'd been told off for something (actually the telling off was aimed at a group of other children he happened to be standing next to) he bolted off into the playground and would not come back for some time.

I feel sick and horrified that his behaviour has got this bad in school (actually, this is the kind of thing he does at home but until now it seems his behaviour at school has been much better). The thought of the other children being put in danger because he is being violent is just so awful. And the thought of other children in his class going home and saying "X threw a chair in the classroom today" and the mums saying "Ooh, stay away from X, he sounds like a nasty boy" is just sad sad. I am sobbing while typing this and have literally made myself sick over it. I could really use some support right now...

Handywoman Mon 22-Apr-13 11:28:13

Jacksterbear how awful for you and your ds. Sounds like you have enough going on without having to worry about what other parents think. Have you been able to discuss this all fully in a formal meeting with school? Do you have any idea whether this is a 'transition back to school issue' (ie which might improve in a week or so) or is there something new challenging him? Hopefully if you can talk it through with your ds's school (who do sound rather fab) incl CT and TA which might make you feel a bit less on edge about things. Does he have an IEP yet? Have you got the wheels in motion with NHS and private assessments? I always feel that if I have assessments in hand it makes me feel a bit calmer. In any case <holds hand> stick around and keep us posted (((hugs))).

Jacksterbear Mon 22-Apr-13 11:28:57

Am panicking myself into a tizzy as now worrying he is going to be excluded from school (not that school has given any indication of this) because he's a danger to other children. sad

Jacksterbear Mon 22-Apr-13 11:34:59

Handywoman thank you for your response; x-posted with you there!

Have had meetings with DS' teacher and SENCO but his behaviour, which seemed to be improving by the end of last term, has been much worse so far this term. Had a long chat with his teacher on the phone this a.m. and will be meeting with her at the end of the week. Yes I think this a change-in-routine thing as he was bad (but not this bad) at the beginning of last term too. I also think that it is to do with him having been put up a level at reading (as he was making really good progress at the end of last term) and finding it challenging.

He has no formal, written, IEP (at least not that we have seen) but we have verbal and emailed agreements in place with the school as to the steps they will take to support him. I am not sure what CT and TA are in this context so will google!

Jacksterbear Mon 22-Apr-13 11:37:46

p.s. re what other parents think, it's more that I am worried that DS will lose the few friends he has, either because they will be put off themselves by his behaviour, or because mums will tell them to stay away if they hear of his behaviour, iyswim.

Handywoman Mon 22-Apr-13 11:48:08

Sorry those abbreviations mean Class Teacher and Teaching Assistant. I think it is time to ask for a formal IEP (if there are intervention already agreed in writing then it should be fairly straightforward to transfer into a formalised IEP). The reason I think this is appropriate is so a graduated response (as per SEN Code of Practice) can be demonstrated by school to support any future application for more intensive help from a dedicated budget (statement of SEN) should this become necessary.

Dinkysmummy Mon 22-Apr-13 11:51:49

Hi, my daughter Dinky is 5 and has a referral to a developmental Paed to be assessed for PDA/ASD.

What you said could be said for dinky, it is hard when they behave like that at school when you are used to it at home.
Dinky lost some friends but she also kept 2-3 friends (I think they liked the rebel in her).
She had one friend whom she was overly obsessed with and was the reason for a number of meltdowns when he got a lift rather than caught the bus with us. His mum stopped him coming to her party because she is 'naughty', but they were firm friends at school and when his gran took him home they were allowed to play together.
Kids are great because they will play with who they want to despite parents disapproval. (Actually it normally makes them want to play with the other kid more!)

The school couldn't handle her so I had to move her schools, I think your son's school sound great and it seems like they want to help which is good.
CT= class teacher
TA =teaching assistant.

I really hope he settles into the school environment again soon...

flowers

Jacksterbear Mon 22-Apr-13 12:01:48

Handywoman, thanks, will follow that up with the school.

Dinkysmummy, hi, have seen you around on other PDA/asd threads, thank you for your reply. DS also has a best friend of whom he is very possessive (gets v upset if friend wants to play with other children). Thanks for the words of encouragement!

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 22-Apr-13 12:35:28

I would be asking for a formal IEP to be put in place as of now.

Did you see the GP with a view to asking for a referral to a developmental paed?. Do not rely on school to do this as it could take an age.

School seem nice but they can and should be doing more here. His additional needs there are clearly not being met so he is not managing there.

I would also now start applying for a statement from the LEA for your son. Also you do not have to go through the whole school action, school action plus plan before you apply for a statement. This sounds perhaps a bit drastic but it will make people sit up and take notice.

You are his best - and only - advocate here. You are truly best placed to fight his corner for him, this is also because no-one else will.

Jacksterbear Mon 22-Apr-13 12:48:15

Thanks attila. I need to look into this and will do so. I think we thought his needs were being met but now his behaviour has worsened and we need the support to step up accordingly.

I saw GP last week to request referral. He has asked for a report from the school, which school are writing this week. He also asked to see DS, which worries me as DS is perfectly capable of being calm, rational, polite, chatty and charming when he feels secure. I did explain this to GP and he did say that he understood DS' needs might not be apparent from a 10 minute appointment. I can't help thinking though that the GP will think I am making it all up if he sees DS at a "good" moment.

The one good thing is that this latest behaviour has surfaced now rather than e.g. next month, i.e. in time to be included in the school's report to the GP.

Sorry for the rambling. Have loads going round my head so just blurting it all out here! Thanks for reading.

popgoestheweezel Mon 22-Apr-13 13:31:11

Don't worry about the GP, the school will tell them how he is at school including the chair throwing incident and you tell him how you find him at home but that he is like jekyll and hyde. I am sure the GP will refer on that basis.
My ds (PDA, awaiting diagnosis) has been having a terrible time behaviour-wise since Christmas, we still can't figure out exactly why. I also worry about the few friends he has being told to stay away especially after a massive meltdown at a birthday party(only ever gets invited to two a year- now it will be one or none) in front of all the other parents as they picked up. He screamed and screamed at the other kids telling them he was going to kill them. I had to physically restrain him. This is after years of parents witnessing his meltdowns in the playground and on the way to and from school as well.
I would take attila's advice and press for everything to be recorded. I asked for it but didn't press hard enough and now we have no written evidence of the longevity of problems at school. He has been going slightly 'under the radar' until now with relatively low level behaviour (messing around at carpet time, ignoring instructions, emotional outbursts, hiding under tables, friendship issues in playground etc etc) but that has stepped up lately to be much more disruptive and disturbing. I have had to ask several times and put my request for IEP and behaviour monitoring in writing to the CT and head but I think they have finally understood it's importance.

Jacksterbear Mon 22-Apr-13 14:00:10

What you describe sounds so familiar, pop. sad Jekyll and Hyde is exactly it. It's quite unpredictable what will set him off and he can "turn" in an instant. God it's so hard isn't it. Thank you (and everyone) for the advice and reassurance. Feeling a bit calmer now I feel like there are some further positive steps I can take to help him.

popgoestheweezel Mon 22-Apr-13 14:22:24

I use rescue remedy drops when I feel in need of an instant calm (about 50 times a day!) might be just placebo effect but seems to help a bit.

Belsbels Mon 22-Apr-13 14:51:33

Hi, my DS (6) sounds very similar to your DS. He has a recent diagnosis of autism. My DS has always been difficult at home and over the last few months his behaviour has worstened significantly at school, we are not sure why.

I can't offer too much in the the way of practical advice as we are new to this. But I know how hard it all is and really empathise with you. Parents of several children in DS's class have complained about him to the HT, and I am sure they are warning their DC to stay away from him. He does not get invited to parties or playdates, and has no "friends" to speak of sad.

On thing I have noticed about DS is his behaviour is cyclical, he may have a good week and then a very bad week or two and then the odd good week again. I keep myself going through the tough times by waiting for the next good period. Sometimes it is a long wait though.

I hope things settle for you and DS very soon.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 22-Apr-13 15:19:01

Belsbels

It may be that your son's behaviour has worsened over time in school because his additional needs at school are simply not being met by them.

Is your DS on School Action plus for instance?. If he is I would be pushing for more support i.e applying now for a Statement from the LEA as he is not far off Juniors and that particular establishment can be extremely unforgiving for those who have additional needs when those needs are not met. Unwritten and unspoken social codes make the place a minefield.

IPSEA's website may well be of help to you www.ipsea.org.uk if you want to apply for a statement (and I would certainly suggest you do this). You are his best - and only - advocate.

Jacksterbear Tue 23-Apr-13 17:42:02

Well he had a better day yesterday and I was beginning to feel more positive, but today at school he's been screaming, shouting, disruptive, hiding under table, and then refused to leave school at hometime when our nanny came to pick him up. Feel like it's all spiralling out of control. Fuck. sad

popgoestheweezel Wed 24-Apr-13 12:57:26

Sorry to hear you've had a bad day, it can feel like you're on a roller coaster. On a good day you feel like everything will be OK and on a bad one you wonder how you're ever going to manage- I totally sympathise. We had a shit one yesterday too. Ds came out of school cheerfully and positively and when we were invited to go to the park with some friends I though it would be OK but it ended with him punching a child two years younger than himself in the face for accidentally knocking him on the climbing frame. I took him straight home and he went to bed, even though it was only 5.30! Still didn't settle to sleep til 10.30 though.
Make sure school are keeping a note of his behaviours and keep one yourself of what they tell you too.

coff33pot Wed 24-Apr-13 13:23:32

Jacksterbear first off stop worrying what others think. They really dont matter. From playground gossip days sometimes you only have to sneeze and a story goes round smile

Just concentrate on the here and now. May be a good time to suggest an emergency meeting with the school. Take a list of any questions you wish to ask to keep you on track so you wont forget.

Ask them for a brief timetable of his day. I would say something has changed for your son to be more anxious than the norm. Ask them to complete a home diary book. Tell them the more information you can pass to professionals the better and broader picture they will have to help understand his needs. These home books are a great way of forming patterns of stressful periods and repetitive occasions when a child finds things difficult to manage.

Keep an ongoing diary yourself of anything your DS says regarding school.

Keep one for home life anything that you find concerning.

Just for the record my DS turned tables, hid in cupboards and would stay outside all day rather than face a class of 30 plus kids at 6yrs.

Turn the clock forward to now since dx and his needs met and he is in class, has friends and even some he lost due to them not understanding bless them.

Oh and in a clinical environment DS would be calm as can be but they still worked it all out.

You are only at the start of the road the best ones to focus on are your family and your boy never mind anyone outside that bubble x

Jacksterbear Wed 24-Apr-13 14:43:37

Thank you so much for your reassurance and sympathy coff££pot and pop. It is very much needed and appreciated smile. And for the practical suggestions which I will take on board (some of them we are already doing - e.g. the home-school liaison book which includes a daily timetable of specific activities for the following day and a report on his mood/behaviour that day). Meeting with CT on Friday after school to review the week and make a plan going forward.

Feel like my world is falling apart at the moment but need to pull myself together and start being pro-active to start getting more support in place at school as well as better management strategies at home. Have just received my copy of the Phil Christie book on PDA which looks good. And have ordered "The Explosive Child" which someone on here recommended.

Hope today is going better for you, pop. smile

Jacksterbear Wed 24-Apr-13 14:45:02

Oops: coff33pot not coff££pot!

MareeyaDolores Wed 24-Apr-13 15:17:12

Bad is good when it comes to statementing wink.

make sure every little detail of any terrible event is recorded in triplicate, as if the school want /need extra support, it'll help them get it. And with the right support, it's very likely that this will all settle down.

MareeyaDolores Wed 24-Apr-13 15:18:34

If a child's behaviour is causing major hassle in school, they'll have plenty to gain from improvement, which means an incentive to help tackle the triggers quickly.

Schools have thousands of priorities. but chair-chucking trumps most.

HotheadPaisan Wed 24-Apr-13 15:39:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Rolf Wed 24-Apr-13 20:56:48

We had some similar problems with DD1. Things were difficult in reception and got worse in year 1, and peaked with a violent meltdown (chair throwing and kicking a TA on a school trip) in year 2. As a PP has said, although it's dreadful for you, it pushes the situation into a critical category that will force quicker intervention.

Taking good ABCs is essential, and was one of the things that helped with DD1. I'd recommend that you and the school both use them. There are various templates available that make it easier to set it out in a way that can be analysed later on. It's really difficult to keep them - both emotionally and practically - you find yourself thinking "hang on, did she hit her sister first or throw the ladder" grin.

DD1 already had a diagnosed neurological problem which meant that when we sought help I think it was easier for us to get it quite quickly. We were referred to CAMHS and saw a neuropsychologist who assessed DD1 and then worked with the school and the LEAs ed. psych. They used a programme called Triple-P (positive parenting programme) which, when used consistently at home and at school, made DD1 much less anxious and aggressive. A bit later, they brought in the LEA Behaviour Support Team who set up a Positive Handling Plan which helped the teachers and TAs recognise triggers (which are identified by analysing the ABCs) and deal with them before the situation becomes critical. They also recommended setting up a social group which has been brilliant for her.

The other strand of the neuropsychologist's help was the cognitive assessment, in which she identified a very uneven profile and areas of thinking where DD1 really struggled and was getting very frustrated and confused. Once these were identified, the school was able to set up intervention programmes that helped, and indeed when DD was assessed a year later her profile was much more even.

We looked into having DD seen privately by a neuropsychologist. We were advised that the LEA wasn't obliged to follow the recommendations of a privately-obtained report. That swung it for us in deciding to use the NHS route, but if we'd had a fight on our hands to get the initial referral I think we'd have gone privately.

The chair-throwing incident was the worst it got. DD1 is now in year 3. She's doing much better academically. We had a multi-agency meeting recently and everyone is delighted with her progress. Her behaviour is no longer a problem at school although she does still need a lot of support. From the first meeting, when everyone was very defensive and edgy, to this meeting, where the staff quite rightly feel really good about themselves, there's been huge progress. We've had a horrible couple of weeks with her at home - I was about to post about it actually, but reading your post and realising how far we've come has helped smile.

Jacksterbear Thu 25-Apr-13 09:38:46

Thank you again everyone for the support and advice. It is so helpful to hear others' experiences; I feel so alone in RL as, however well-meaning friends and family are, most of them just don't really "get it". Rolf it's really good to read about the progress you and your DD1 have made, although sorry you're having a rough time atm.

Hothead your comment re everyone needing to realise he is not just going to snap out of it one day made me realise that this is exactly the process I'm going through at the moment: the realisation is starting to hit me that this isn't just a temporary problem that's going to go away or a phase that he's going to grow out of. sad

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