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Possible ASD and being bullied- now what?

(14 Posts)
BellaVida Wed 22-May-13 15:03:03

Please bear with me. I am feeling so upset and lost with all of this. I have been reading other threads but just don't know what to do.

My DS is in mainstream school and after some issues, the school suggested he was observed by a visiting paed dr. The outcome was that he showed autistic traits. They said it is mild as he is not affected academically and is v bright, but finds group work and play times difficult.

The other issue is that he is increasingly being bullied verbally, emotionally and physically- called names, taunted, tripped up, kicked. He has low self esteem and this is just making everything worse. He loves school and gets really involved in all the clubs and activities, but he is starting to say he is unpopular and bad at everything. He puts so much effort into everything it breaks my heart.

I have spoken to the school several times about the issues and bullying, but a lot of the time it feels like they are deflecting it back on him, although since last time it seems they are putting some measures in place.

If he had a diagnosis would it help? I worry he will be alienated, like never get chosen in games, be overlooked for any kind of recognition at school and bullied even more. Worst of all, I feel bad I didn't realise earlier......I could cry, in fact I do....regularly.

PolterGoose Wed 22-May-13 16:09:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SingySongy Wed 22-May-13 17:44:25

Hello Bella, I'm quite new here too. My son is eleven, and has recently been diagnosed with aspergers.

He has big problems at school with friendships, and there are definite bullying issues at the moment. I have to say, even with a very supportive school, who deal with incidents very proactively, we have still found it really really difficult. Bullying is such a complex thing - the most recent incident, for example, happened when our son said something to a friend, that in his eyes was completely logical and reasonable, but really upset said friend. Our son then in true aspergers style refused to apologise (why should I? What I said was true - it's all his fault for not realising what I meant, I hate him!), and when other boys stepped in to stick up for his upset friend it all spiralled out of control, and led to a week of what I would describe as proper bullying and social exclusion. Our son obviously needs some support in recognising that he should have been more careful with his words, and in apologising when he accidentally upset somebody, but what happened next in terms of the bullying was unacceptable in my eyes.

Now that we have the diagnosis, discussions with school about managing these kinds of incidents are different, and probably more helpful. What I think is really really hard though, is that although bullying is obviously wrong full stop, there are things our son does that invite problems, and at times I don't really blame his peers for objecting when he breaks the social rules and conventions. They all need help in getting along - unfortunately the older they get, the harder it is to intervene in social times.

I don't really have an answer I'm afraid, but I do think that seeking a diagnosis is a really useful step on the way. I'm really hoping that the more our son understands about himself, and his condition, the more he can take control of problems as they arise. And if all else fails, at least it makes it a bit easier for us to intervene.

SingySongy Wed 22-May-13 18:05:16

Like your son, he also says that nobody likes him (I don't think this is actually true, he has some good friends!), and he can be very very negative about himself. It's very hard to hear as a parent. You have all my sympathy. Just read back what I wrote, and just wanted to make clear that I'm not saying the bullying is his "fault" at all - just that there are probably things he can actively learn to do that put him in a stronger position socially. You shouldn't accept your school reflecting the problems back onto him.

BellaVida Wed 22-May-13 19:13:23

Thanks Polter and Singy!

The school have mentioned the words HFA and aspergers and are doing some social skills work with him. The ball has been left in our court as to what to do if anything. They said that as he is doing so well academically the chances are he would never get a statement anyway. Also my DH has used the "labelling" phrase and is very reluctant to go down the dx route.

On the bullying, he is not one to lash out, but can get very upset. The other problem is a lot of the time he doesn't report it, then just breaks down at home. He is an easy scapegoat as he won't stand up for himself and the teacher has even said this. He gets called some terrible things which just make his self esteem worse. I know he can misunderstand some things, but in my view being attacked by a group of kids, or pushed to the ground and kicked so bad he had concussion are unacceptable under any circumstances.

Polter- someone else said to me about keeping a diary so I am. I need to make sure I back up conversations, but at the same time I don't want to be confrontational as I need them to be supportive. How do you handle that?

Singy- my DS is 9 and it has really been this year when thins have been more noticeable. I really worry about him getting older. I have to say I am leaning more towards getting a dx but I guess I am still clinging to a hope that maybe it's just a phase and they have got it wrong. How old was your DS when you realised and how long did the process take you?

Thanks so much. This is very helpful! Just having someone to talk to is amazing.

PolterGoose Wed 22-May-13 19:31:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BellaVida Wed 22-May-13 21:50:16

Thanks Polter. I totally get that it is a medical condition and so does DH, but I do get his point of view that many people are perhaps ignorant of these conditions, so can be a lot lesson sympathetic of the effects. I know that both of our families would be very dismissive, which just makes it feel worse.

I just keep saying that it has to be about what is best for him. I honestly couldn't say how he would react to a diagnosis. You're so right about school though. I think I have already quite calmly stepped on some toes, but I went in raging when he was seriously hurt. I just don't want to make things worse for him. Day to day I am his only advocate, so I will do whatever it takes.

Then I hear all these stories about the road to diagnosis and it taking forever and just think 'what about now?!'

Kleinzeit Wed 22-May-13 22:25:45

From my experience, yes a diagnosis did help. The diagnosis was not just a label, the diagnosis process revealed a lot about exactly where my DS’s difficulties (and strengths!) are. Children with the same diagnosis can have very different abilities and disabilities. My DS is academically successful and I was astonished by some of the things I found out that he couldn’t do.

Along with the detailed diagnosis went a process of finding therapies and services that could help. Some we were pointed at by the professionals we saw, others I had to find for myself. Services are in short supply, it’s never easy to find out about them and get access to them, and not having a formal diagnosis only makes it harder.

And a diagnosis also makes it easier for the teachers to support him using their own experience and resources. Imagine if your DS had a mild physical disability and you wanted the school to support him - but it hadn’t been fully diagnosed so no-one could tell the school exactly what his disabilities were.

So, that's a “yes” vote from me anyway! smile

PolterGoose Wed 22-May-13 22:52:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ilisten2theradio Thu 23-May-13 10:17:01

I agree with everyone above who has said that getting a DX was helpful. It made me more aware of DS's strengths and weaknesses and made me more understanding and creative about finding solutions.
WRT school it meant that I had a lever to use to get them to provide appropriate support. It didn't happen all at once but evolved. At the beginning - like the OP it was mainly to do with group work and break/lunch.
Re the bullying, you really must tackle school. My Ds often didn't/doesn't tell me about incidents for weeks so you must make a note when you do hear about something and then go to school to discuss what is happening.
In my case when I finally put all the things together and realised it was bullying I went to school and demanded to speak to the head. To give him credit, once he knew what I wanted he made time to hear me out, then he went to investigate. We had several more meetings and the school took a lot of time to work with all the children involved. It took a while but things did get better over time.
Good luck x

BellaVida Thu 23-May-13 12:26:59

Thanks all. This is really Insightful. I am pleased to hear that there could be help along the way going through the diagnosis process. Also, it hadn't occurred to me that they might uncover other difficulties which aren't obvious. It's so hard because he does manage well day to day, but I just know it takes so much effort and causes him a lot of confusion and anxiety.

I think we have just sort of felt a bit in limbo since the paed dr observed him as her feedback was that he was coping well in class and there was certainly no urgency over taking anything further. I guess that threw us a bit iyswim?

I will def be showing this thread to my dh.

Ilisten2theradio Thu 23-May-13 18:15:48

Yes when we got the Dx of AS I hadn't really thought of much else but it turns out the hypermobiity is connected and that and weak muscle tone contribute to handwriting problems, which has meant teaching DS to touch type so he has the option of using a computer in exams later. It also uncovered sensory issues and other useful things helped by a good OT.

AgnesDiPesto Thu 23-May-13 21:27:38

I have three boys, the youngest has moderate asd. The older two both have children in their class with what I can see are mild asd/adhd/dyspraxic traits. All of these children struggle socially. The other children in the class see them as being naughty, angry, babyish, silly, over reacting, know it alls, arrogant - they either bully or are bullied (well teased but because they are vulnerable they can't cope with teasing).

Even though my children live with asd they don't see it in others. Children only understand if things are pointed out and explained. I would love to be able to say to my children x doesn't get your jokes and over reacts because he has a bit of asd like your brother and doesn't understand language the same way you do. I can't because none of these children have a label and the reasons for their difficulties are not talked about.
We are open with everyone about my son's autism - to be honest its so obvious we didn't have the luxury of hiding it. We have no bullying issues. The opposite. Children are accepting, not judgmental and go out of their way to help him. So I don't find a label leads to bullying, I find the opposite, it leads to understanding. I don't doubt in years ahead we will come across bigots, but the children in his class just accept him as he is because we have talked to them and explained it at a level they can understand.

You dont have to use words like autism, you can talk about differences and some children having difficulties understanding language or social rules. There are resources schools can use eg here. Given he is bright and 8 you will probably want to talk with him first and see if he has any concept of his own difficulties. You may then decide you would like school to talk to the other children in the class (without him there) about social difficulties. You might then find a positive reaction.

I don't think you need a formal diagnosis to address this. Around here there is a 2 year wait so that would not solve your immediate problems. I do think though that you have to give children an explanation if you want them to be more empathetic and understanding, they don't have the insight at 8 to figure it out for themselves.

Your son may come across information himself. I have seen threads about children who diagnose themselves from tv programmes. Sometimes it can be a relief to know.

aliblake Sat 25-May-13 18:25:01

I have three sons, my youngest is hopefully on the verge of a diagnosis in a few weeks and going through this, we noticed our eldest son who is twelve has 'traits'.
We met with the school SENco but as it's a large school and my son is a bit of a wallflower, nothing flagged up, however we decided to ignore what they said and start the process anyway, we had the referral paperwork the other day, anyway..
My son thinks everyone is his friend, he often comes home saying so and so said this and that, my husband and I look at each other concerned, a boy got his him a headlock the other day, but this all goes over my sons head, he doesn't realise what is happening and both myself and husband are in a quandary what to do for the best, it doesn't upset our son, he isn't bothered by it, so we haven't made a big deal out of it.
He does clubs most days during break times, one being Lego therapy, which he loves and seems to help.

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