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What help can a high school give for a AS / HFA child.

(6 Posts)
ICantFindAFreeNickName Tue 15-Jul-08 10:03:16

My 12 year old son is in the process of being dx. Various things have been mentioned but it seems likely to be HFA / AS. For those of you who have also had a late dx can you tell me what sort of help you have got from high school school. My son is very academic, it's more the social side of things that is the problem. Plus all the other problems associated with high school, frequent supply teachers, forgetting where he's meant to be next lesson (the 2 week timetable is a killer for him) etc.

His school have been quite supportive, but as he is very academic and doing well at lessons, they don't really understand all the problems that he has. I wish they could see him crying each day about how much he hates school and not sleeping because he is so stressed out about it. I don't really know what sort of help I should be asking them for, except for a magic wand to take away all the social problems and let him be happy!

amber32002 Tue 15-Jul-08 19:47:31

I can't tell you about senior school help for an ASD, as my own son has dyslexia and it's been a battle to get the right help for him (finally involving a change of schools). But I can tell you what you should be looking for in the school, based on my own experiences as someone with an ASD.

We have to know what will happen at each point of each day. It's not a desire, it's not a whim, it's an absolute must. The school has to be prepared to understand that and work with it. They have to help him structure his day and help him work out what he'll be coping with if there are changes to the plans or the teachers. Each new teacher has to know that he needs to have certainty.

Environment: Do they have fluorescent lighting in the rooms? Might be a real stress-factor for him and cutting across his thinking. Also any noisy social group-work in the classes, or background humming from machinery. It's as loud and distracting as sitting on an airport runway for us.

In terms of social things, if he is on the autistic spectrum, I'd say the most important thing is that they respect his need to be 'him', not expect that if they force him to socialise, it'll train him out of having an ASD. We don't 'do' eye contact or social chat. Well, we learn to do it because it's the only way to make more friends, but it's a massive challenge, and as exhausting as someone trying to climb a mountain. I almost lived in the library at school during breaks and dinner time, and any time I wasn't in the libary, I was on the tennis courts. Team sports were a total nightmare. Tennis a welcome relief, since it was a repetitive fairly solitary sport with no need to do eye contact or master the finer points of what the other person needs you to say to them at each point in time. I wasn't a lot of good at tennis, but that didn't matter to me. It was the repetition and the time to myself that counted. Find a hobby he loves, get him to do it at every possible point in the school day, encourage the school to support this too.

When he comes home from school, he'll probably need some 'down-time'. He will need to say nothing, do nothing. After-school activities will probably be too much if they are straight after school, unless it's a fairly low-socialising hobby.Most important, listen to your child and really take notice of changes in his behaviour. We're rubbish at saying when we're hurting or scared or depressed. I work better with pictures or writing things down than saying words when I'm very stressed, even as an adult. If he finds it difficult to articulate how he feels, get him to design a door poster for his room that has the key words on it so he can just put the right one up there. "Bad day" "Leave me alone" "I hate them". Anything at all that helps say what he temporarily can't.

A buddy scheme works really well in a school. A sensible reliable friend to keep a watchful eye for trouble, a well-policed playground so that bullying can be spotted, and a good-behaviour-reward scheme for the whole school to promote caring and citizenship. Get the school to contact the local charities for support, advice, training etc.

Keep in good contact with the tutor, the SENCO, and anyone else involved with his life. Keep calm. Keep notes. Be firm but fair with them.

Be proud of what he does well. Make sure the school is too. smile

Whizzz Tue 15-Jul-08 19:57:03

I support a secondary pupil with AS, his statement is for around 12 hours a week of suport but as well as being in the lessons he struggles with (such as English - difficulty with imagination etc) and DT (H&S issues due to poor motor skills) I also ensure he gets homework written down, generally look out for any problems between him & classmates, remind him of social aspects of being in class - group work etc. He also goes to specific social skills sessions. I have also learnt to recognise what might trigger anxiety & can now 'head it off' if need me taking him outside the classroom to calm down. If you have any concerns, talk to the SENCO & see what can be arranged for your son. With the 2 week timetable I woudl laminate 2 copies on different coloured card & make sure he has the right one in his bag each week - if need me mark the different weeks on a calender so he knows whats coming next.

Mamax4 Tue 15-Jul-08 21:04:34

Oh, this thread is a Godsend- this is exactly what I needed. My almost 11yo is HFA or PDD-NOS or whatever it is, but it is ASD, and I am wracking my brain here as to what to ask the school next year- how to help him. Whizzz, can I ask you- when you say you support a secondary pupil w/AS, what kind of support do you provide? 12hrs a week is a fair amount of time-- do you stay in class with him? in which subject matters? or work 1:1 on specific subject matters in a separate room? He does not mind that an aide is in the class with him? For info, my ds has never had any support in school, but things are getting much harder for him bc school work is getting less rote..

Whizzz Tue 15-Jul-08 22:00:55

Basically in year 7 I did a lot of scribing for him as his handwriting is hard to read. Now he uses a laptop in some subjects so I do less of that. I help him stay focussed & on task - maybe help him sort his ideas out with mindmaps etc when needed. He often shouts out in class so I remind him to put his hand up to answer, not to get to close to others (he spreads out over the desks!). Group work can sometimes cause problems because he can take over so few want to work with him, so I end up mediating & ensuring things run smoothly. If you want any more info just shout ! smile

ICantFindAFreeNickName Tue 15-Jul-08 22:35:33

Thanks for all your replies there are some really useful idea's in here that I can follow up. It's great to get both an ASD persons perspective & a TA's (or similar) perspective.
Mamax4, is your son moving to high school this September or next. If it's next year I would talk to their sencoearly next summer and see if he can get any extra transition visits to help him settle in quicker. Our local schools seem to vary in what they offer, and my son never had anything extra but I wish I had fought a bit harder for them. If it's this September I would quickly arrange to talk to the senco & his form teacher, and ensure that they know what his main problems are. At least that way he will not be just another new face/name in the classroom, and they are more likely to spot and react to any problems earlier.

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