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ASD son, 12, and school trip.

(4 Posts)
EndoTheRoad Tue 31-May-11 10:53:42


My son's off on a school trip for 3 days with the school. I believe about 30 children are going in total with 2/3 members of staff.

One of my son's teachers has rang me to ask if DP and I wants him to have a (discreet, "He's-wired-up-differently") chat with DS's peers and staff at the centre they'll be staying. DS has very quirky behaviours and he believes it may explain it a little.

I am not sure. On one hand, I believe it'd better - it's all out and everyone 's aware. On the other hand, I'm worried that it'll attach some kinda stigma - make his a target for bullying.

Can anyone offer any words of advice/experience?

I'd very much appreciate it.

PiousPrat Tue 31-May-11 11:09:20

Tricky. DS1 (11) has AS and went on a Youth Hostel activity holiday last summer by himself and what we did (which of course may not work at all for you, all situations are different etc [/disclaimer] ) was to speak to the staff when booking it and again when we dropped him off to make sure they were aware of his different wiring and how that manifests, so that they could keep an extra eye on him and step in if necessary.

That worked better for us, because DS1 is quite sensitive and defensive about his AS so if the whole group had been sat down and had all his differences pointed out to them, it would have ruined his week and put him on the defensive, which makes some of his issues more prominent and starts a vicious circle. We also spoke to DS about the trip, likely scenarios that may come up and how to handle them, coping strategies, that sort of thing so that he felt more able to deal with things himself.

As it turned out, he came home with loads of new Facebook friends and several of them had no clue about his AS until he mentioned it on a status one day. Had they all been sat down at the start and told, it may well have coloured the judgement of some of them and they would have viewed him differently, instead of just thinking he was a bit quirky they would have judged him as odd or ill and maybe kept more distance.

TBH it depends on how your son is with his ASD. I assume that if his teacher saw the need to maybe tell the other kids, then he isn't that noticeable with it since they are all in class with him, so I would be inclined to not say anything to the other kids and just ask the teachers to keep an eye out if anything does happen, so have them react rather than try and head off issues that may never come up.

What sort of trip is it? Is it something that is likely to engage him so his quirks won't be that obvious anyway or will it make him anxious about being out of his comfort zone?

EndoTheRoad Tue 31-May-11 13:06:21

Thank you, PiousPrat, for your reply.

Sounds like your son had a great time! Will he be going again?

DS is going to Normandy. They are staying at a family centre - looks like a Centreparcs! It's an educational trip so taking in museams and the like, but there's also a pool and fun activities to do at the centre.

He has been on a camping trip in the past with his old (primary) school which reported no problems, but it was a special school with low numbers and high staff/child ratio, plus he'd been there 5 years. I know he's still uneasy with the children in his new school and that's my main worry, I suppose. His peers at school are aware that the staff make allowances for him and must question why.

Maybe I'll ask teacher to mention it to centre/visits staff, but not the kids.

Thanks again for your response!

PiousPrat Tue 31-May-11 13:57:32

He had an amazing time and it was perfect for him as it gave him a bit of confidence in the holidays between Primary and going to a Secondary where only a handful of his old school mates were going. Sadly he won't be going back, as it was heavily subsidised and the government funding for low income families has since been cut, meaning the cost has gone up to five times what it was last year shock he is going to Italy for 9 days with the Scouts this summer though, so all is not lost wink

Ratio is key in these things I think. 1/10 is quite a high ratio so the staff might be trying to do damage limitation as it were, and avoid having 29 kids come up individually to ask why your DS gets to do things differently, but that shouldn't need to be at the expense of your child's confidence or be a source of embarrassment for him. Have you asked him what he wants to do?

I ask because we had this issue the first time DS1 went away on scout camp, although he knew a lot of the kids from Cubs or school, most didn't know about his AS but it was going to be more obvious while they were away and together for 3 days than it was at school. I gave DS the choice of the leaders explaining it to the whole group (before he arrived as he would have been mortally embarrassed to stand there while he was discussed), have the leaders tell people about his AS if they asked, or get the leaders to refer people back to him if they asked why he did things a bit differently. He decided to have people come and ask him, then he just replied "yeah I have AS so my brain works a bit differently so I cope in different ways" and left the other kids to either ask further questions or leave it at that. It worked for him because he is quite blasé about his AS and doesn't see it as a big deal, whereas public attention en masse is anathema to him but of course all kids are different and your DS may see that as confrontation and be freaked out by it, or may prefer that people don't know at all. At 12 I would probably say go with what he wants to do, but again that depends on his ASD and how capable he is of making that decision himself and understanding the options and implications of all of them.

I hope whatever you decide to do, it all works out well and he has a good time. I am quite jealous of all the excellent trips kids get these days!

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