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5 year old doesn't want to go to school(22 Posts)
I've posted on here a bit about my DD - she's just turned 5, and we think she has ASD, although we can't get a referral because they won't refer here without a letter from her school. She masks very well at school, so they are unaware there is a problem, but are willing to with with us. Anyway, Christmas is the worst time for her - all her routines are messed up, plus she is freaking out about the Christmas show they are putting on. The last few mornings have featured crying and screaming that she doesn't want to go to school anymore. We are still able to get her there, but obviously if she starts refusing completely, life is going to get very complicated, so was just wondering if anyone has any tips for making things a little easier and less stressful for her?
How helpful are school when you get there? Can they have activities set up and a TA to meet her to try to help her start the day on a positive when she gets in? That way if you know you can use that as an encouragement.
I would arrange an urgent meeting with the SENCO who should be able to support. Are they using things like visual timetables to help manage the change in routine?
Your response actually made me feel a little emotional - I'm not used to people taking me seriously. My sister just tells me that all kids try and stay home from school, but my daughter is genuinely distressed - she very rarely cries tears normally.
The school are extremely helpful - they tailor their teaching to the child's needs, regardless of any formal diagnosis. They do use visual aids, although I am not sure if these are covering the change in routine, so I shall ask them about that today. Having a TA meet us is also a good idea - one of the teachers has been really helpful in encouraging my daughter to let go of me in the mornings, so making that a regular thing could be a good idea.
I won't be able to see the SENCO until next week, but shall definitely do so. Thank you so much for your response though, that's definitely given me some good places to start!
Things that helped my boy at school when he was five included
A visual time table that he was able to refer to whenever he wanted.
A TA who allowed him to go to her as soon as he entered the class room.
Being allowed the things he liked as rewards at school instead of the same rewards as the rest of the class.
Extra help with the lessons he struggled with.
An organised social group lesson with the amazingly kind children in his class.
This board is brilliant for understanding and taking you seriously. The people on here have helped me to feel far less alone on many occassions.
transitions are very hard for children with ASD. Sometimes it is the change from one activity or location to another that is the problem, and the build up of anxiety associated with the morning routine "transition". So getting dressed, putting shoes and coat on, getting in car, walking can all be toxic reminders.
Sometimes what helps is to talk through each stage of the routine, almost like talking to a much younger child, taking it very slowly, so she can concentrate on the actions and not try and think beyond putting one foot in front of another. So first just concentrate on the shoes, then the walk, and then the handover, maybe practice these things to defuse them, or act them out, so she is so familiar with them that they don't cause her so much anxiety. Also talk through the day ahead, first you do this and then you do this rather than just hoping to get her in and then teachers sort it out. It is also so scary if you think you are not allowed to ask for help and want to be "good" and not break any rules, so you could talk through how to ask for help when she is worried about something, needs the loo, or doesn't like something.
I think your sister is right that lots of children find transitions hard, and don't want to go to school because change at that age is quite exhausting, being at home in one setting with one adult and then sharing with loads of other children requires you to change all your responses and skillset, no wonder it makes them anxious. Add to that the overwhelming noise/busyness and requirement to do the right thing. I think it is too much for lots of children let alone those with ASD.
There is another poster on here whose Y5 child (ie 9/10 years) is finding it unbearable the last week of Christmas term and has refused to go in due to messed up routines and overstimulating activities, film, play assemblies. She just decided to keep him off, and lots of posters all agreed it was a good idea.
Actually someone shared the Nice guidlines on Asd the other day on FB and it said that Asd doesnt need to be seen in 2 places because of masking! I will see if I can find it tomorrow for you!
Thanks for all your responses. It's very hard for me to keep things in perspective - since looking into the possibility of my daughter having ASD, it has become clear that I probably do too, and I had a very bad time at school. I don't even completely remember why it was so bad (possible trigger warning ahead), except that I had no friends (although I didn't care about that until later on) and found everything confusing. I also had teachers that disliked me intensely, as I kept correcting them and other children. I attempted suicide for the first time at the age of 12. I do remember not wanting to go to school, and crying that I didn't feel well many mornings - this is the exact wording my daughter is using. I am trying so hard to remember that she isn't me, that my parents were extremely dysfunctional, but the idea that she could be as miserable, hopeless and confused as I was, but I am still sending her in, is killing me. I know this is stupid, I know this is only Reception class at a very caring school, but I just feel like I want to bring her home and keep her safe.
that is very hard for you. I also found school quite frightening and scary, and clung onto my same age cousin for dear life I remember (to the point that I drove her mad with my insistence that I had to go everywhere in school with her, sit next to her at all times) But I just want to reassure you that I did enjoy school and so did Ds2, I liked the routines, I liked the stimulation, I loved the nice teachers who cared for me, I loved the music, the craft the reading. I'm sure I had ASD, I was incredibly shy, no friends in primary, but I still enjoyed school in many many ways, and was never bullied except in Reception, and that was really just a bit of teasing. I think this is why I felt ds2 was cherished despite his later diagnosis of ASD, I knew it was possible.
However, you are completely justified in wanting to know she is safe and not just "coping". This is not about resilience but about genuinely finding support for her, whatever she needs to feel safe and happy, whether it means coming into the classroom with her every morning, helping as a volunteer (if you don't work outside the home) in some capacity, asking for half days, signing her off sick if she finds a certain day unbearable in run up. I did all these things except the first, and never regretted it for an instant. I've known other parents take their kids in every single morning to settle them rather than leaving them with TA at the gate or door. You don't need to feel scared of the teachers or browbeaten, or of your sister for that matter who sounds like she is pressing quite a few buttons bullywise.
Also dont forget that home ed is a perfectly viable option for lots of families. If you feel like school is the wrong environment and you are physically able to take on home ed.
School was never the right place for Dd3, she struggled for much longer than was necessary but now that she is home ed she is doing much better.
Get onto your GP about an assessment though! Schools are rubbish at spotting Asd in people who mask but that really shouldnt prevent a child from being assessed.
Remind the GP that teachers are not trained to spot autism!
I have enjoyed home educating ds2 very much in secondary, and come across many many people successfully educating their children at home in primary. There is loads out there to do, and people to meet, just as patience says...and it can take the stress off both of you considerably, once you have the courage and the support of other home educators, but in the meantime you will get a lot of flack from people whose kids are in school and from professionals who claim your child should be in school, so be aware of the pressure from that, if you weigh up the choices, and don't let THEM bully you. However, your child also has the right to be supported in formal education if that is what you wish.
the obsession with separating children from their parents aged 4 and confusing that with independence (which is quite a different thing) is
I agree knitting , socialisation is the one that gets bandied around the most! Dd3 is way more social now than she was at school. Forced socialisation made her tank run on empty all the time! Now I give her space to recover from challenges that require lots of energy be they social, physical or whatever.
Your Dd does have the right to be in school though as knitting says and if thats where you want her or need her to be then the school need to do lots more to support her.
Thanks guys! I realised after posting that that I had probably got a bit deeper than I should have! I think my daughter going to school is bringing up a few emotions that I haven't deal with properly.
Anyway, thanks for the link Ineedmorepatience, that is really helpful. Unfortunately, we can't get her assessed as our referral to a paediatrician was rejected until we could get a letter from her school. I rather naively thought that her struggles would be obvious to her teachers, but it doesn't appear to be that way.
Your post was reassuring, knittingwithnettles, is hard for me to imagine how someone like me could core with school, so it is really good to hear that others have done more than just cope. I've always said that if I feel that school is too damaging, I would consider home schooling, but I think that is a last resort. Trying to teach my daughter would ruin our relationship, as she hates me telling her what to do! I think she is already starting to compete (may have got that from me too!) with me, and would really struggle having me teaching her things.
I really appreciate all the advice and support!
At her age, your daughter doesn't actually have to be in school. Would keeping her home this week be viable?
btw, just to correct a misconception when you home educate you don't have to "teach" anything formally, especially in primary. They learn when they want to, or by osmosis. So for example..reading, you just read books to them or let them have lots of books, and when they ask for help to decipher words they are interested in, that is when you give them formal "help". You do craft with them to strengthen fine motor skills, which help with writing, let them draw lots of pictures, hama beads, and wait for them to start wanting to write little notes and letters. History is talking about the world around you, as is Geography, Music is obvious, and Science is cooking and Natural World.
Last day of school today, and she is at home. She woke up stressed and anxious, was crying and saying she didn't want to go, so I said okay. Her brother has been ill, so there was always the possibility that she was getting sick too. Anyway, she calmed down a bit, and then decided that she did want to go, so we got everything ready. She then decided that actually she wanted to stay at home, but I didn't want her to think she could keep changing her mind, so I said she had to go. She ended up crying hysterically, and there was no way she would get in the car, so she's at home. This might cause problems when school starts again, but I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it! Don't think the school will be happy though - the SEND woman was adamant that coming to school should be non-negotiable.
Tough if they're not happy. This term she doesn't have to be in school anyway. However, it will be compulsory next term.
I'm also an autistic parenting an autistic so I get what you mean about fears for them. But the advantage is you know what is going on for her and there is so much online and in books that you can access yourself nowadays. Have you thought about pursuing a diagnosis for yourself? I found this helped them to see what was going on with my child as most people are aware of the genetic link. Ironically I am still waiting for my formal assessment while DS eventually got his diagnosis before me!
If you need a letter from school can you target the most likely person to get it from? Share some stuff with them about masking, ASD in girls etc. Maybe think about filming her (not nice I know but they need to see the difference in her behaviour).
Christmas at school is very difficult, hopefully things will be a bit better next term when things are back to normal. If you can, try and have a quiet holiday, doing things she likes - special interests or sensory stuff she enjoys, to recharge her batteries ready for next year.
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