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Need advice before meeting with school

(13 Posts)
SubmergedInSnow Wed 05-Nov-14 06:50:07

I hope you don't mind me posting here. DS has no diagnosis.

First things first. We are not in the UK, we are in Switzerland. DS (4.11) started kindergarten in August. He is being brought up trilingual. English (main language and his best at the moment) and French at home and Swiss German when he sees the IL's and now at KG.

He was in a crèche one afternoon a week from the age of 10 months, which turned out to be a disaster. He was supposed to be in the Geman group but they fired his key worker (without informing us) and basically the staff spoke Spanish amongst themselves and broken French to the children hmm. We removed him for that and other reasons. The crèche was shortly after shut down.
Then at 18 months he moved to a start run bilingual crèche where he was in a German speaking group. In August last year things started to go downhill and he became very unhappy. Coincided with all his friends moving on to KG and him now being one of the oldest of the group. (There were, 2, the others then much younger) and him being expected to do more things for himself. We removed him in January. On their advice we went to the doctor with a report detailing how he has difficulties following instructions, interacting with other children etc
Paediatrician referred him and he was assessed by a neurologist and a psychologist. Neurologist found nothing. Psychologist insisted on interviewing him in gErman, which is by far his worst language, at the time spoke only in single words etc. Conclusion was that his cognitive abilities are zero, boarderline ASD (but not worth pushing for a diagnosis) and they advised we kept him out of kindergarten for a year and entered him a year late and I kept taking him to playgroups.

We then spoke to the paediatrician again who said this was nonsense. He is clearly intelligent, but is very much a baby. That we should send him to KG and review after 6months. Basically we had no faith in what the psychologist said after she insisted on continuing in German when we said we couldn't be sure he understood enough and refused to even try in French (second language) which she must speak to be employed here (bilingual town). He loves being with other children and we couldn't see the benefit of letting him have an extra year with children on average two years younger than himself and missing out on a year of KG.

So... He loves KG and is always asking to go. But they are flagging up differences. He has problems fitting in. They put this down to him not understanding any Germanfor the first half term but are now realising this isn't true. We had a meeting at which they suggested how we could help him. Let him meet with other children. Let him have access to pen/paper at home. Let him join a club/sporting activity. Do some craft with him. Basically everything I have spent the past four years doing with him. They clearly didn't believe I'd tried to do anything with him since he was born. Genuinely shocked he was in a crèche for so long, that he went to playgroups, swimming club, gym etc. He is not allowed to go to KG on the day they have gym because they don't think he can get changed and wont follow instructions if it's not something he wants to do.

They do some games during the morning e.g. Jumping into a spinning hoop, rolling over on the ground which he doesn't manage to do (and the other kids laugh at him - they do get told off) and gets upset and is refusing to take part now.

They want to refer him for psycho-motor something.

It feels like they are blaming everything on my crap parenting. Yesterday we got to KG exactly on time. We live next door to the school so takes two minutes to get there. I allow 15 minutes to get coat/bag/shoes on and get out of the door. Yesterday he had a crazy tantrum about his jumper. So it delayed us. Then walking there his leg was broken... (Turned out he had been told off for climbing on something in the morning) . Teacher said he needs more structure. We have the same routine every KG day and what we had seems optimal. He detests getting ready to go out anywhere, and if he is ready too early then he gets upset also.

I have no idea what I am asking to be honest. And I know this is long. Sorry. What do I need to be aware of when I speak to the school? I'm a bit worried they are going tell us he isn't welcome there...

Ineedmorepatience Wed 05-Nov-14 08:07:10

Hi submerged and welcome to the board.

I dont have much experience of trilingual children but do have some of bilingual 2 yr olds so maybe that is similar.

The thing I have noticed is that when children are learning more than one language is that they need more time and more support and it doesnt really sound like your sons KG is doing this.

If he is working really hard to understand everything going on around him it doesnt surprise me that he is showing some signs of stress.

I would be asking the KG what they are going to do to support him while he builds on his already amazing language skills, rather than blaming a small child (and his parent) when things are going wrong!

At the setting where I work, we use lots of pictures and objects of reference to support our early communicators.

I dont know anything about the Swiss education system but is there an alternative to german speaking schools if it really does turn out that he cant manage all 3 languages?

Good luck smile

IsItMeOr Wed 05-Nov-14 08:09:53

I didn't want to read and run.

This sounds extremely tough, because of the language complication. I do, though, recognise a lot of the feelings that you're expressing from interacting with nursery about DS.

Unfortunately, the model in England (and sounds like where you are too), is to start off by assuming that inadequate parenting is the root problem. This is very tough as a parent, and very confusing when you are already doing all the things that you are "supposed" to do.

I can see why ASD is considered a possibility, based on what you say (DS has ASD and some similar behaviours).

Could you try asking the kindergarten what they would do for a child with ASD, and whether they would be able to try some of those things with your son to see if they help him?

Bear in mind that, even if they help, it doesn't necessarily mean he has ASD, as lots of children would benefit from the approach that works best for kids with ASD.

If English is his best language, is there any chance of you getting him assessed by an English-speaking expert in ASD? I can PM you a couple of links, but they are both in London.

It sounds like he has problems with focus and following instructions. We have found picture prompts and a timer have helped our DS when he was a bit older.

LIZS Wed 05-Nov-14 08:25:50

Swiss schools are notoriously intolerant of expat children and very quick to dismiss them as SEN even when perhaps not so. Once labelled as such it opens up a more limited state educational route through special schools and lower aspirations. I've known several such children move into the International school system and do much better there because language was less of an issue and the atmosphere more inclusive. However it does cost £££. I think you need to find an English speaking psychologist to get more of an idea of what is actually going on. Most gemeinde will have a local one attached to schools plus Speech Therapy, Ergo Therapie (OT) etc although you may find your health insurance covers it privately. The Gemeinde should also offer Swiss German classes to non-native speakers using the state education system. Also bear in mind it isn't uncommon to have children a year or two "behind" their peers , is it still May 1st cut off for school year, hence that recommendation. I assume his hearing , sight etc has been checked?

zzzzz Wed 05-Nov-14 09:41:34

I think what you are asking is for some validation that there is more going on here than "not enough stimulation at home" and for a bit of support.

Reading your post I would say that it is highly unlikely that your parenting is so substandard that it has produced the issues you highlight. The "poor parenting" line is trotted out to all of us. I have 5 children. Ds1 is my middle child and a twin. He just didn't pick up language like other children. His twin did. His older siblings were talking well and top of their school years. I am highly educated, and stay at home full time and have a very easy home life.....People STILL gave me the "talk to him more", "do you read books", "what about socialising" crap. Despite his twin talking fluently grrrrrrrrrr. IT'S NOT YOU.

There is lots you can do to support him, and there are lots of us in the same position.

SubmergedInSnow Wed 05-Nov-14 11:39:07

Thanks. Will come back later when I have more time. Interesting read Lizs. He is not an expat child though. DH is Swiss, as are the dc and me (although it did upset the teacher when she asked what nationality I was and I said Swiss!). No way we could afford international school.

Pyrrhagena Mon 10-Nov-14 08:52:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SubmergedInSnow Mon 10-Nov-14 08:53:28

They haven't checked his hearing or sight. He does seem to have no problem with sight, he can pick out details in books and at distance absolutely no problem. I have asked several times about hearing, as he's had a few ear infections in the past, but the paediatrician said it wasn't feasible to do a test at the moment as we wouldn't know if he was not cooperating or couldn't hear.

We have the meeting next week. MIL went into KG on Friday as they could take an adult in and at the meal she was sitting next to one of his teachers who kept saying how hard it is to be trilingual etc. The teacher who takes them on Thursday/Friday has been coming in Mon/Tues to help him in the past week and he does go to a lesson for non-native Swiss-German speakers once a week. There are 4-5 of them.

I shall check the health insurance, although we were told that this has to be referred through the school system.

3dimensional Wed 12-Nov-14 06:33:38

I was raised multi-lingual (4 languages). It isn't hard nor is it a reason why a child struggles at school. Problems with language acquisition in a young child, this is a huge indicator of learning difficulties later on at school.

I have been where you are now and I am sorry you are going through this. I can give you a lot of information and would like to help you. Just drop me a line (private message).

But just to get you going - try to get him assessed by a bilingual SALT.
He needs to be assessed by a SALT who is an expert in ASD
He needs to be assessed by a Paediatric Occupational Therapist for dyspraxia
Hearing & Vision needs to be checked by the right doctor
The list goes on

Please remember, your child is amazing and with the right support, he will fly!! Stay strong X

MeirAiaNeoAlibi Wed 12-Nov-14 14:52:15

Sounded so appallingly anti-multilinguist that I assumed it must be the UK blush. Plenty of evidence about bilingualism NOT being the cause of communication disorders. As above, if you get him seen by a competent bilingual speech therapist they should put paid to such nonsense.

French professionals have a bad reputation for being trained to assume most social-communication disorders are entirely due to malfunctioning parents. Perhaps Switzerland is similar. germany isn't

Lovethesea Thu 13-Nov-14 16:00:11

Has glue eat been ruled out? My DS has a phonological speech disorder due to glue ear and that was tested for and found using ear plugs that measure pressure and then normal headphones and cool toys that popped into view in a box when a sound went off. They made sounds at all different pitches, he looked for the toy to appear they knew he heard it. He was 2, so your sons hearing can definitely be tested at 4.

Ours was through a NHS audiology service as his speech was not developing as expected.

DS appeared to have normal hearing though as only certain tones and quieter sounds were muffled to him.

Probably isn't that for you but it used to have DS very stressed in loud environments because it hurt his ears to be in them.

SubmergedInSnow Mon 24-Nov-14 08:32:44

Meir It's weird! I've always thought of Switzerland as a multilingual country but I get more and more the impression that each person speaks their "own" language and are not interested with the others! Also we are right on the French/German boundary and there is a fair bit of French influence here.

Right, so the meeting was just a list of his faults to be honest, nothing new! That he cannot cross his hands and put them on the opposite shoulder. Can't hop (that one I knew, been trying to teach him for a couple of years!) Not interested in drawing people.

She has now said that they will leave the language issue to the side because he is improving and they are not not convinced that it is purely a language issue. They are going to refer him as an urgent case to the Psychomotorik therapist and see what she come up with. (DH was not in agreement, but gave in to me and the teacher, there is at least a 6 month waiting list so I thought it was better to get on it now.) There was no mention of him being allowed into KG for the day that he now misses (they don't want him in gym class). We mentioned we didn't think it would be a good idea he goes to the Christmas concert. They asked if we would bring him and we said no as then he would notice he wasn't there. She is not happy and needs to think about it. My worry is that he hates music (I always have to turn it off when he is home, although at KG he sits there but doesn't join in ) it is from 640-815pm and quite honestly in the evening he is often far worse than during the day, and to get him to do something he doesn't want to do is nigh on impossible. I am really worried that he will create a scene in front of the whole school. The kids take the mickey out of him enough on the walk to school as it is. And if that is his first introduction to the teachers in the main school.... I can't see how it will benefit him at all. But we are told it is compulsory...

Im not really sure what the was forwards is. To go back to the doctor? Wait and see what the PM therapist says? How to get DH on board? (He is of the opinion we just wait and see and that he won't have any problems at school except maybe in German) I'm worried along the lines of he won't be able to write...

MeirAiaNeoAlibi Tue 25-Nov-14 14:49:13

Physio-type person sounds good, except for the waiting list. Is there an equivalent of occupational therapy?

Skip the concert if you need to. If it was his job, that'd be overtime! Say you'll try to come along, if that's what they need to hear. But on on the day, if he's too tired, has a cold, or you forget... just apologise and ask for the dvd "so he can watch it at home" in the unlikely event he wants to

Music therapy was very useful for ds. Helped him cope with music and other noises, and seemed to help his communication as well. Lots of 'neurodiverse' dc have oversensitive hearing combined with acute sensitivity for rhythm and perfect pitch. With that, any dreadful loud, tuneless, off-beat wailing IE the racket which usually passes for preschool music lessons would be like medieval torture.

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