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Struggling wih ds1.(14 Posts)
Ds1 is 15.
He has had a non-clinical assessment which identified ASD, PDA and OCD traits and anxiety. He also has poor processing skills.
We haven't gone down the route of official assessment because he is now HE and we're not sure it would be worth going down that route (we live in a terrible area for ASD diagnosis).
He was referred to CAMHS 3 years ago for the same sort of behaviour, but as he masks well, they couldn't see anything and discharged him.
During the day he is lovely to be with, in the last few weeks we've seen an improvement in his mental health.
He's very against any learning of any sort, he will not do anything alone at all, everything has to be led by me.
I have very low energy levels at the moment (low iron and low vit d levels which are now being treated), so it's possible he may be a bit bored as I need to very carefully pace myself at the moment. Also this afternoon we had an unexpected dentist trip for ds3 which probably threw him.
When the other DC arrive home from school, he becomes very OTT and winds them up.
Ds2 has ASD/PDA and needs quiet when he gets home, ds1 seems to deliberately go out of his way to be in his face and trying to control him (which is a complete no-no!).
Tonight, I'd managed to get everything sorted, ds2 was quietly eating his tea, and ds1 grew a cushion across the room, knocking his tea on the floor. He then ran up to his room and barricaded himself into his room. He has flat denied any of this happened. I can't remove his phone as he gets very rough and it will be a fight to hand it over, so I've turned off wifi, he has ripped all his posters off his wall, then disappeared outside for an hour.
We have never found any punishment that has any effect at all. When he's in this mood, he has no empathy whatsoever, he doesn't give a shit what anyone says or does. Things are done his way or it's a massive problem. I'm pretty sure I could drop down dead and he would be seriously pissed off at how much it had inconvenienced him!
When things are going ok, he's the loveliest, kindest boy.
I know I'm missing something here, and there's something I should be doing better. Eg. Today, I knew things would be tricky because of the trip to the dentist, we talked it through etc and he seemed fine, but as soon as ds2 finished school everything kicked off.
What am I missing?
You say he doesn't like learning, what does he do? (MN this is a genuine ? I HE one of mine for 3 years and understand the juggle with school for some and not for all)
We cook meals, I try to make sure we talk about what's going on in the world, watch newsround reluctantly.
We have chickens and ducks that we look after, he has some vintage engines that he's restoring with Dh.
We do everyday sort of things.
He helps with a milk round sometimes.
He is doing some stuff, but he refuses to write anything (I think school put him off anything that looks vaguely educational)
I have said that we're starting English and maths GCSE in September, but I have no idea how on earth that will go.
I'm supposed to be seeing someone from the local childrens' centre with evidence of work, and apart from photos showing things he's done, there's no evidence at all. I feel quite panicky about it all. In school he was doing terribly, but he was in school so no-one cared.
ASD traits have increased since leaving school, which I guess is to be expected.
You don't need to give any evidence as far as I know but it can be a useful process.
I'd say it was time to start making him do some work. 15 is a funny age and ASD is going to complicate things. Our RDA had jobs (mostly muck digging and scraping) for young men to work off some energy and get some focus. It sounds like he could do with getting tired and making some money?
He has only just left school. It sounds like he is just getting used to having peace and quiet in the day, and not being in school. Which would account for his extreme reaction to ds getting home. It must be like a trigger for him to be reminded a) that children in school are tired and b) that he has been doing something unusual, ie staying at home all day with you. Which makes him v tense and hair trigger.
Ds2 used to do this when the other kids came home, pick fights with them etc, it made him uneasy to remember that the order of things might suddenly change back to him coming back from school too, ifysim. He also actually missed them in a strange way, it was as if being back in the "family" all day made him more aware of what he was missing out with them, if they had all got on beautifully. He felt like they should be playing with him, chatting to him. It felt wrong that they ignored him when he was waiting for them (in his head)
Things are so much better now, although ds2 still picks sparring matches with ds1 at bit, and tbh ds1 is the one causing trouble (tired after school and possibly jealous of ds2 for being at home relaxing) Ds2 gets on so much better with dd too.
I would say the main thing that has helped us is that ds2 does his own stuff in the day, sociable stuff. He knows this, he is proud of the people he has seen and the fun things he has done. We built this up quite slowly, a few home ed groups (which have always included a few teens in case you are worried about that) More home ed teens are really friendly and quite open minded, there isn't the same peer pressure as in the school setting.
Workwise, I wouldn't worry in the slightest about the work you have to show to the Home Ed inspector, just say firmly that you are trying to reduce ds's anxiety and talk up some of the activities you have been doing. I never showed a bit of written work, just mentioned on the phone some books we read together, topics we had covered (this could be a television documentary, or the News!! or a visit somewhere that was vaguely historical)
Join your local home group if you have one, even quite distant ones might have trips or activities you can join in with, people often travel quite far.
But most of the time you can just do what you are doing, milkround sounds excellent, independence, finance.
I also wouldn't turn off the wifi if he is in a state. I would just encourage other activities rather than pulling the plug on the wifi at this point, it is like a punishment, when what you want to do is make him feel safe in his new environment, so safe he can venture out eventually. And it sounds like he is venturing out already, which is the most difficult bit, so that is great.
I think it was another poster who once said that once anxiety or OCD is reduced a lot more ASD traits become apparent - rigid mindset, sensory issues, not being interested in much outside special interest, communication difficulties in conversation. Before that, all you are getting is the barage of anxiety refusals, reactions, screaming. Afterwards you get the less stressed but unmasked self.
Home ed isn't a cure all, it is more a time when you can deal better with some of the issues and find a good balance. Just keep reminding yourself how badly he did in school and think, well however badly he does now, at least he is in a safer happier place. Reset your goals, and his.
Ds2 also doesn't do any "formal" learning alone. It is frustrating, but we keep the amount quite small as a result - I don't think I could keep up that pace, and ds doesn't like 1:1 of that nature for too long - he has a form of inattentive ADHD I think which needs quite limited time slots and quite closed exercises to complete. All the idea I might have had of him free ranging through a topic have had to be abandoned pretty much.
I love the sound of the vintage engine restoring and the chickens and ducks. You know that some colleges do Animal husbandry for sixth form? Would he be interested in thinking ahead for that? There are also new rules allowing 14 year old up to attend colleges to take some GSCEs even if home educated - so no formal school institution, just attendance on certain courses.
zzzzz, he helps with a milk round which earns him some money. We hope at some point this will progress to some more farm work (will have a quiet word with his boss), but yes, I think some physical work would do him good.
Knitting, I have joined some FB groups, but we have yet to join in. Ds refuses to do anything that involves meeting people. He has only just got comfortable enough to meet up with his cousin and visit family willingly.
And thank you, that does sound like what's happening when everyone gets home. I'd never thought of it like that.
I still think home ed has been the right choice for him, but I think I had rose tinted spectacles on, and thought it would be a cure all!
We're hoping that he can get an apprenticeship to be a mechanic, he loves engines.
I looked into college as this would have been ideal, and unfortunately all our local (and not so local) colleges have stopped their 14+ courses (the courses used to be full of less academic pupils, but apparently due to government changes these pupils are no longer being put forward for these courses).
Ds2 can hardly even load a dw willingly let alone feed an animal; and not at all good at cooking or mechanics so I think your ds is doing really really well with all these activities. I would be so proud of ds2 [or indeed Ds1] doing any of the things you have described. You may also find that writing is never going to be any good; presumably he can use a laptop and text so maybe encourage more communicating outside the home by typing - you could try getting his cousin to send him emails perhaps?
I maybe sounded too enthusiastic - he doesn't willingly do anything, it's a massive battle to get him from "my leg hurts, I can't do that" to actually being in the kitchen doing anything
Good idea about emails and texting.
The step up in physical activity is about his age (and gender) and in my experience has a huge impact. I think you are right to encourage the engine work. He is of an age where enthusiasms and hobbies start to drive career courses and he is SO lucky that his interests lie that way. I think I'd be contacting big companies in the area and enthusiasts (like steam train/water mills) and seeing if they run any schemes or would be interested in doing so. You are likely to find more traditional engineering peeps kind as ASD is within their community.
As far as home school goes I'd focus it all towards the engineering
but then I did Mech Eng at Uni
There are a couple of local garages that specialise in vintage cars, I might see if they might take him on sometimes. That's a really good idea, thanks zzzzz.
He has some mechanicing books and does quite a bit of that sort of thing with Dh (and doing up an old land rover), so he's definitely not without skills.
Nike shops often are quite approachable (if it is mechanics rather than engines)
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