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How do you handle playground politics?

(14 Posts)
5inthebed Wed 16-Sep-09 13:24:18

I'm fed up of the other mothers looking at me and DS2 like we are freaks, and pulling their pfb's away from him like he is diseased sad. I'm trying not to let it get to me, and it is only yhte 2nd week of a new school year, so I'm hoping things improve.

Today I found myself apologising to a woman, because her DS had shoved my DS2 to the floor after DS2 had got in his face to say high and got very excitde he growled like a dinosaur. I explained he had autism, as I didn't want her thinking DS2 was a naughty child, so felt the explaination necessary, but I don't want to have to do this every day.

I've had a word ith his teachers, and will try dropping him off later, after I drop ds1 off at a different entrance, but it can't be long term as the reception kids go in before the rest of the school (for some bizarre reason).

Sorry for going on, I'm just feeling so sad for ds2 and sorry for myself.

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 16-Sep-09 13:36:05

You need to isolate the queen bee, or alternatively someone nice, and have a long chat - first about normal stuff, then tell her plainly and honestly about DS. Make her see how hard your life is, but how strenuously you are working to make sure DS gets a good education and makes some friends. She will then gossip it round as good "currency" to all the other bees(mums) and they may start being nicer. Or at very least they will know that they have to pretend to be nicer. School playgrounds are a fucking nightmare of oestrogen even without the SEN thing. My older child is now in year 3 and I've found the mums I like and now have my own safe group of nice, normal, intelligent open-minded mums. The ignorant rest, I still smile and say hello to - which puts you in the right and them in the wrong at once. And then I think to myself - karma will get them one day. I have had that thing where people pull their kid away - the other day I so nearly said "madam, my son is not aggressive, he is just autistic, and even if he were aggressive he couldn't get anywhere your child who is built like a blue whale". But I didn't, and that was probably a good idea! IMHO, bunches of women together, bored, for half an hour a day is a recipe for BITCHINESS with a capital B. We should start a mumsnet thread about how mums react to SEN kids in the playground - are their own prejudices feeding through to their kids? We should call it "Walk a mile in my shoes - what it's like for mums of SEN kids in the playground jungle". Mumsnet is exactly the kind of forum which could help. The other thing to bear in mind is that we really are just there to drop and pick up our kids - there is no actual need to chat, and if you go to a central London school (where all the mums are rushing to get the tube to work) there's none of this bloody suburban standing around for hours having a chat, it's just a brief smile and nod as you run off. That's a lot better, I think, and that's how men would do it if they were in charge of drop-off and playground politics! Don't though drop him off later, why should YOU be marginalised when THEY are the ones out of step with today's society with its more open-minded attitude towards SEN, both in law and in the media etc??

ihearthuckabees Wed 16-Sep-09 13:44:35

I hope I'm not being insensitive here (as I don't have any children with SN), but I am wondering why you don't want to tell people that your DS has autism. Surely it would help everyone if they understood why he behaves differently, and if their children understood, they might be more tolerant too.

Sorry you're having a hard time.

luckylady74 Wed 16-Sep-09 13:52:48

Smile brightly at everyone, tell everyone about his issues - that's all that worked for me.
I used to say very loudly to anyone who'd listen- 'yes he's never seriously hurt anyone that's just his way of saying hello' whilst removing ds1's hands from around their child's neck (it really was his way of saying hello - a gentle throttle!).
It does get better ime - you all get used to each other.
A lot of people don't understand properly, but I'd far rather they felt sorry for me or ds1, or anything other than judging himm or being cross with him.
One women in particular used to look horrified every time we came near-now in year 3 she manages a hello.

5inthebed Wed 16-Sep-09 14:03:54

ihearthuckabees, it's not that I don't want to tell everyone, its just that I shouldn't have to explain him to everyone. I have told a few people, and I'm not embarrassed at all, incase I came across like that in my post. I am very proud of him, and what he has accomplished so far in his little life.

I've even thought of asking the head to send a letter out to everyone in his class, explaining Autism, but not entirely sure this is the way to go.

Sickof, that is very good advice. There seem to be a few queen bees though, so will have to see.

I am a very chatty person, and will talk to anyone, so shouldn't be hard to start a conversation.

DS1 has been at the school for 4 years now (eek) and all the parents from his year know what DS2 is like and don't give him a second thought. They are used to his quirky behaviour.

cory Wed 16-Sep-09 14:57:24

5inthebed Wed 16-Sep-09 14:03:54 Add a message | Report post | Contact poster

"ihearthuckabees, it's not that I don't want to tell everyone, its just that I shouldn't have to explain him to everyone."

well, quite frankly, I am not sure that you shouldn't

there may well be children who are genuinely frightened or uncomfortable by a too-much-in-your-face approach: if they then go home to their mums and say I don't want to go to school because of x, then their mums will need to have some sort of explanation for them

then you can hope that they will be wise and tolerant and teach their dcs to get on with your ds

(I remember dd having a sleepover with a friend with Aspergers whose parents hadn't told us about the diagnosis; dd was absolutely terrified by this girl's behaviour; she would have coped so much better if she had had the chance to make sense of it)

even if a child is only seen to be getting special treatment (like my ds who will be allowed to use a laptop because of his sore wrists), I think it helps to have it all explained to the other children

children are sticklers for fairness, it is really important that they are not left to believe that one of their mates is getting away with murder or they may well turn against that child

I think you should go with the letter or ask a teacher to explain some time when your ds isn't listening; and using the queen bee is also a really good idea

ihearthuckabees Wed 16-Sep-09 16:30:46

I am lucky in that I've not experienced the infamous playground bitchiness that so many talk about on here, but I do think people would be more understanding if they knew the full facts. I am surprised that your DS's autism isn't common knowledge already, and I agree with Cory that young children will be a lot more accepting if they knew why he was loud and so on.

Sadly, if you're expecting people to take his behaviour in their stride, you probably do have to explain your DS to people. If someone with Tourettes was shouting swear words out in the playground, what would your first reaction be? Or someone with an inner ear balance disorder was walking around looking drunk? It's easy to make assumptions about people, but it's also easy to educate people.

Some people will still avoid your DS - not everyone has the energy or will to deal with difficult behaviour, even when they know there's no ill will involved, but I suppose you know that already. Hope you find a way to make things easier.

anonandlikeit Wed 16-Sep-09 16:48:11

5inthebed, when my ds1 started school (before we knew aboutds2) he came home one day & said... I've got a friend in my class called X he has soemthing called autism, it means that sometimes his brain thinks about things a little bit differently, but we all do that & thats why someimes he acts a bit different, but he is still my friend"

It turns out that is exactly what the head had told the class. That child has always just been another kid in DS1's class, in fact he hardly mentions him, which i take to be a good sign that he isn't thought of any differnetly & is accepted for who he is.

Could you ask the school to do something similar if you feel it is needed.

5inthebed Wed 16-Sep-09 17:20:13

Maybe something should be said then, to either the kids in the class, or a letter or something sent home to the parents.

I just don't want to look like I'm trying to come across as a sob story, or someone who wants an excuse for her childs odd behaviour.

I might ask the EP about this and possibly the SENCO well.

sickofsocalledexperts Wed 16-Sep-09 17:29:21

anon - the head of your school sounds very good, I wish DS's school would give out a message as good as that one.

anonandlikeit Wed 16-Sep-09 18:58:12

it is a village primary (less than 100 children) yrs R -4 so i suppose it is easy to share info in a small school. But yes it is a fantastic school, with a number of children with sn from outside catchment.

We are very fortunate to have a good choice of small village primarys that all cater well for sn's.

But you are right the head is lovely grin

claudialyman Wed 16-Sep-09 19:58:49

It can get very frustrating to explain repeatedly and there are times and days I definately want a short break from thinking or talking about the "abnormalities" of my sons behaviour. And wish people would see the positives and the positive intent!

But ive found through trial and error that its best to pre-empt my son encountering any negative reactions with explaining in advance.

It can be difficult for any child to lose a label if he gets seen as "naughty" or "wierd" and it seems best to step in before anyone gets a chance to draw that conclusion.I'm surprised the school havent adressed this tbh and given you options as to whether you want children (/parents) educated. The school will hopefully take their cue from you.

I know it can feel like you are apologising for your son and you certainly shouldnt have to do that. Theres a big difference between an apology and an explaination. Bear that in mind if you are saying anything and it will help you hit the right note.

Should you have to keep explaining? No probably not. But if its also going to smooth the way for your son when you're not around during the school day then it may be well worth it?

5inthebed Wed 16-Sep-09 21:44:22

Thanks Claudia.

I've been giving it great thought tonight, and think that maybe a letter sent to all parents might be a good idea. Will speak to the EP if I can get hold of her, and I'll make an appointment with the SENCO.

grumpyoldeeyore Wed 16-Sep-09 21:50:45

My ASD child is my third so i am lucky to know mums at school already and have not yet hit this with DS3 as he is only 2. However I can already pick out the parents who have siblings of DS3's age who I know will not be open minded when it comes to having DS3 in the same class as their kids - but it also so happens that these parents tend to have not very well behaved older children probably because they have not very nice parents with sh*y attitudes. So don't assume that their kids have polished halos - they probably have lots of behaviour issues to deal with too. I have however decided I am going to be open about DS3 and I will probably ask the teacher to do something on autism and provide some books for them to share eg a my friend has autism type book for circle time and provide some info for parents on how autism affects DS as I don't want people assuming he's rainman or something. I think if you explain to the kids at 4-5 they are just so accepting at that age and then it doesn't become an issue. I have heard of parents writing a letter to go to other parents or offering to do a "talk" about autism for staff / parents. I think this would be really useful if there were sensory issues. My older son had 2 severely SN children in his class at reception and because of confidentiality nothing was said so my son just thought these children were really naughty because they didn't follow rules (he's a stickler for rules) and didn't want to play with them in case he got told off too. I asked the teacher what their line was in school because I did not want my son to have this attitude, I wanted to give him an explanation but not divulge anything the school or parents weren't happy with and the school said we just say these children can't follow the rules as well but didn't explain why - so because their parents hadn't given permission for the school to talk about their conditions none of the parents knew what to say at home. But had it been explained WHY, my son would have been better informed and made better choices as he's a very kind boy he just didn't understand these children were different - he didn't notice their (very obvious to an adult) physical disabilities, he just saw them as normal children who were acting up. So I think you can't expect children to "just know" it does have to be explained. I think it would also really help in school if you were open as if there were incidents eg the teacher could say well I think X reacted like that because he doesn't like to be touched remember or whatever the child's issues are. That way it gets dealt with in the classroom at the time and the children don't go home and say so and so did this but didn't get told off etc. They can understand why different rules apply. There will be Mums who are too ignorant to deal with it but there are probably others who will go out of their way to talk to you, make sure their child treats your child kindly, invites your DS to parties etc. My son now often gets buddied up with the SN kids because he is kind and responsible so it shows what a bit of proper understanding can do. Which is just as well as he turned out to have a SN brother of his own!
The NAS have a teacher resource pack you can download with some ideas eg sensory games - or memory games where they switch a loud noise on in the middle and then ask children whether they found it hard to concentrate with loud noise and use that to explain what it feels like to have autism etc. The school aren't allowed to say anything about your child's SN without your permission - i think the benefits of everyone knowing will outweigh the negatives and mean the school can be proactive. Then everyone can glare at the mums who treat your child badly and know just how ignorant they are.

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