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HT threatening "consequences" for DS' meltdowns

(31 Posts)
Jacksterbear Mon 23-Sep-13 17:42:18

I was called in to see HT at pick-up time today. DS had kicked his CT while having a meltdown. sad. (Background: DS is 6, in Y2, has dx'd SPD and anxiety and under assessment for ASD/PDA; has just started OT and has part-time 1:1 support amongst other support measures at school. His anxiety levels since the start of term have been through the roof and he's been having multiple meltdowns most days but this is first time he's lashed out at anyone in school).

We have not really dealt with HT before (been dealing with senco who is also the DHT, and his CT and TA). Obviously the kicking of his CT has triggered HT involvement.

So HT said during our conversation that he thought there needed to be "consequences" for DS' behaviour. It has previously always been understood that there are no "punishments" as DS' behaviour is not within his control and is a result of his anxiety rather than naughtiness. HT said he had told DS (while DS was screaming and repeatedly banging his own head fgs) that he would have to make up every minute of missed class time while he was dcreaming by doing the work another time, after school if necessary.

I was too upset to respond to this at the time, but am now horrified by the implications of this. It could not be a worse decision IMO. It will not teach him right from wrong -he already knows this. It won't act as a deterrent - when DS goes into meltdown mode he loses all sense of reason. It will only serve to make him more and more anxious about being punished, instead of reducing his anxiety. School is already torture enough for him. And it certainly won't foster a love of learning in him, effectively using "learning" as a punishment hmm.

Right so what now? Obviously I need to go back and talk to HT, to explain rationally why I think he's wrong. And get the Senco on side if I can. What else? Who else can I get to back me up? I can ask his OT, although I'm not really sure that's her remit? And what if he won't back down? Can I remove DS from school? On what grounds? And what happens then?

Sorry for rambling (again, I seem to do a lot of that on here!) - am furious, horrified and worried sick.

I am not expert enough to help you. But surely that is like punishing a person with diabetes for having a hypo, or a person with epilepsy for having a seizure?

I would want to clarify what further support they are going to put in place to minimise the risk of a recurrence, not ways to discipline him for his additional needs.

Bluebirdonmyshoulder Mon 23-Sep-13 17:54:37

That's appalling.

Can you get a letter from your GP / other medical professional explaining to the HT what you've just said? Obviously you're right but it may carry more weight coming from a doctor.

Good luck, so sorry you're having to deal with this.

Oh, and it doesn't sound like the school are meeting his needs effectively.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 23-Sep-13 17:55:03

Grrrr. Tell the headteacher, as previously agreed, 'consequences' should not be used and instead 'preventative' strategies are more appropriate.

The meltdowns need to be recorded and the success of these preventative steps or not can be measured by a reduction in meltdowns or not.

TheBuskersDog Mon 23-Sep-13 18:10:09

It's difficult to manage this sort of behaviour in (I presume) mainstream school, your son should not be punished for behaviour he cannot control but also his teacher should not have to accept being kicked whilst at work.
I agree with Bluebird that it doesn't sound as if the school is able to meet his needs.

PolterGoose Mon 23-Sep-13 18:18:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OneInEight Mon 23-Sep-13 18:31:42

Both mine have had multiple exclusions for behaviour during meltdowns. The only positive is that it gave us sufficient evidence to ensure a statement and to enable us to get them into much more suitable settings. Make sure school is doing a full, written behaviour record after every incident so that the need for support is fully evident.

Jacksterbear Mon 23-Sep-13 18:50:35

Thank you all for all the advice which I'll use to help me form a strategy of what to say/do next.

Thanks for the awesome link, Polter - great summary of the "Explosive Child" philosophy!

Obviously it's not acceptable for teachers to be kicked in school. And the HT has to keep his staff and pupils safe. But the ridiculous thing is the proposed punishment system doesn't even seem to relate to that but to DS spending time out of class screaming while having a meltdown. confused

Yes I agree that his needs are clearly not bring met at present. Am meeting with his OT (who has observed him in school) and senco/CT later this week, to hear it's proposed interventions in school, so am hoping that this will be the start of change for the better.

cansu Mon 23-Sep-13 18:52:26

I would also add that when my dd was doing ABA there were occasions when she would resist doing an activity and would tantrum and sometimes try to bite etc. The advice given was to give her space but the original task had to be completed as by backing off we would be reinforcing the negative behaviour. This might mean doing something quite quickly but it was still done. we would then discuss what exactly she was finding difficult and try to plan for next time. I guess what I am saying is maybe try to work with the school. The HT does have a duty of care to his staff as well as to the children. My dd bites when anxious or annoyed or over stimulated at school. We have put lots of measures in place to try and prevent it and the TA is extra vigilant at transition and other times dd finds difficult. But if she does bite she is told the behaviour ir hurtful and she has time out. She isnt always able to control herself but the consequences of hurting someone are always consistent and she is improving. The HT was wrong to try and discuss what had happened and the consequnece when your ds was in meltdown mode but when he is calm, it could be appropriate that he completes the work that he didnt do. A consequence doesnt have to be a draconian punishment. I would also think about the long term. Is this the place for your ds? If so how can you work with the school to make it work? If it isnt and they aren't able to help him, start to gather evidence for the kind of placement that would manage him better. I have another ds who is in independent ASD provision. Meltdowns there are managed differently because the understanding and control of the children is much less. If you think your ds is operating more at this level then maybe this mainstream school won't work for him.

Jacksterbear Mon 23-Sep-13 18:54:01

P.s. HT also said he would not exclude for this incident , which I took to mean exclusion is not being ruled out in future for other incidents!

PolterGoose Mon 23-Sep-13 18:56:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jacksterbear Mon 23-Sep-13 19:05:34

cansu yes I see what you are saying re completing the work. I think the approach you are suggesting is closer to that which his CT and TA have already been taking, when he refuses to do work - they don't push him to do it then and there but they find time at another time in the day (e.g. at assembly time - he doesn't usually go to assembly anyway due to sensory issues) when they will help him do it. But it's been made very clear to him that this is not a punishment, and that he won't lose any playtime etc in order to do it.

The way the HT was talking about it seemed to be very different - firstly, as you say, because he told DS this was going to happen while DS was mid-meltdown, as if that was going to do anything but make DS more worked up!! And secondly, because he definitely seemed to be talking of it as a punishment ("he needs to learn there are consequences").

prunesyrup Mon 23-Sep-13 19:56:04

angry - I would be asking them what they are going to do to reduce his anxiety so that he doesn't get punished for not being able to cope!
I speak as someone who's child with PDA and complex communication difficulties who was permanently excluded for repeatedly failing to follow instructions - you couldn't make it up!

Jacksterbear Mon 23-Sep-13 20:21:50

I will do prune, and I'm sorry you have had bad experiences (and to the previous posters who have too).

Just thinking it over, it was the way he phrased it that really got to me: "... and I told him that for every minute he spent screaming, he would have to make up that time completing the work he'd missed... and that really upset him"... grim smile, as if the fact that he had further upset an already hysterical child meant that his strategy had somehow worked. confused angry

prunesyrup Mon 23-Sep-13 20:25:11

He sounds an arsehole I'm afraid - there are plenty of this type running schools unfortunately.

PolterGoose Mon 23-Sep-13 20:29:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

streakybacon Tue 24-Sep-13 08:39:16

Oh dear, Jackster, this sounds horribly like the situation we had at ds's school. No preventative support in place and repeated punishments when he blew up, and teachers with attitude problems and no idea how to address a child in meltdown - absolutely awful and you have my sympathy.

You've been given good advice but if the HT is an arse you've a real challenge on your hands. In ds's situation, I advised on proactive strategies and they were all ignored. I offered copies of the tools we were using at home and they were dismissed. Social stories that were promised never materialised. Ds's hideously disruptive behaviour did not lead to sufficient concern to warrant a statement. And I wrote and emailed about every single issue to make a paper trail, but his file 'went missing'.

I hope you will have more success than we did and that your little boy can get the support he needs. There are people here who can advise you on how to escalate the situation if the school won't cooperate.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 24-Sep-13 09:23:31

So sorry this is happening to you and DS, this is all a result of his additional needs there not being met.

I would think they are looking to exclude him if not permanently. Permanent exclusion or threat of is often used in these sorts of cases. I would certainly complain about the conduct of the HT.

I would also speak to IPSEA as a matter of urgency and apply for the statement for your DS today if you have not already done so. I'd be asking the SENCO why presumably the Ed Pysch has not been in to see your son.

AttilaTheMeerkat Tue 24-Sep-13 09:25:30

IPSEA also have information re exclusions:-

The sheet below is for up to 5 days when there is no statement in place:-

I think ultimately if the HT is an arse you will need to find DS another school. Even with a statement in place there is no real guarantee that this lot will do their utmost to support your son.

Bluebirdonmyshoulder Tue 24-Sep-13 10:39:14

After TheBuskersDog's post, can I make clear that I was no way insinuating that your DS shouldn't be in a mainstream school. I was saying the school needs to get a grip and use the agreed strategies in order to meet his needs.

Jacksterbear Tue 24-Sep-13 15:37:44

Thanks all for your advice and support and sorry so many of you have had crap experiences with schools.

Well we've seen another paed today (at the CDC) who confirmed what the previous paed (private) thought: not ASD, but definitely SPD and anxiety - referral to CAMHS for the anxiety.

Re exclusion and disability- I had a look at IPSEA and at the EA 2010 guidance but am not sure whether with this diagnosis DS would count as having a disability. Guidance talks about developmental disorders e.g. dyspraxia (does SPD fall into this category?), and mental health conditions and mental illnesses e.g. OCD (does anxiety fall in this category?). Does anyone know the answer to this?

Does it make a difference if a more specific diagnosis than "anxiety" is given, e.g. GAD (both paeds have just said "anxiety" rather than "an anxiety disorder" - not sure if this is because a psychiatrist or psychologist needs to give the more specific diagnosis?)

PolterGoose Tue 24-Sep-13 20:01:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jacksterbear Tue 24-Sep-13 21:45:33

Thanks polter. That's the link I was looking. Seems to me his dx fits the definition but wonder if anyone can confirm that?

Been trying to get through to ipsea helpline, no luck so far, will keep trying!

Looking at school's disciplinary policy, it seems from what they've said (eg mentioning a "behaviour plan") that they've jumped straight in at level 6 of an 8-level set of escalating sanctions (level 8 being exclusion). (Policy does also mention that violence may result in accelerated progression through the levels. )

PolterGoose Tue 24-Sep-13 21:51:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jacksterbear Tue 24-Sep-13 21:57:37


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