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ASD teenager GCSE's

(16 Posts)
Boo2323 Wed 15-Feb-17 09:59:33

Morning all, just thought I would ask your advice about some issues that have cropped up lately regarding our DD and her journey through the diagnosis process for ASD in our area. Last July DD was seen for her initial assessment, she is now 15 and due to be doing GCSE's in May. She has now been seen at home by the Educational Psychologist rather than at school as she has been unable to attend for about 6-8 weeks consistently.
School have put a part-time timetable in place with the hope that she will start returning to lessons in the subjects that she is continuing with after deciding to drop 3 or 4. She has been to school part time 8.40 - 11.10 over the last three weeks and been taught (more like looked after) in the (pastoral care unit) They have tried to reintroduce her to her friends but that has had little impact, she has had support in a couple of lessons but again she is unable to engage in the learning as she is so overwhelmed and behind that she becomes distressed then cannot listen, write or read what she is supposed to be doing.
I do not know whether she is School Action/ Action + as far as I know she does not have an IEP we do not have a ECHP or been part of an EHA but have had a CAF in the past. I have no idea what her future looks like and I feel time is running out. I feel I have let her down, but I have a job and need to work so teaching her at home would be very difficult in many ways.
We are supported by councilling from a charity Action for Asperger's but not covering all the bases with regards to getting an education that she deserves and one that helps her to attain what we know she is capable of.
A bit stuck and would love a little advice from the lovely people who have supported us with wise words.

GraceGildee Thu 16-Feb-17 22:28:39

Ask if the LEA will fund tutoring. My Aspergers child hasn't been to school for about 18 months, we got the funding for tutoring last September. It's only a few subjects but it's one to one in the library (can be done in your house but another adult must be present). I could have written your post, it's so very hard. Do you have any CAMHS involvement? Where we are CAMHS have to assess the child as Tier 3 for them to be eligible for funding, this may not be the same everywhere.

MrsFish13 Fri 17-Feb-17 20:14:40

I am in a similar position to you, but only a couple of weeks in. My boy - 15, year 10, has struggled the last few weeks, but not able to attend at all the week before half term - the SENCO is twisting everything I have said, mis interpreting and damn right untruthful - We are seeing Ed Psych Wednesday, I am still hopeful that he will return monday - we will see.......
Be good to hear how you get on, and chat to someone who is going through something similar, I am tired of being told all teenagers are like that :-(

CatsDogsandDC Fri 17-Feb-17 22:42:30

Hi Boo,

I apologise in advance that this is going to be be long, but having been through this extensively with my DS, I feel I could write a book on it! Feel free to ignore anything which does not feel right for you.

I'd say it is all about priorities at this point. GCSEs are ridiculously voluminous anyway and I can entirely understand children just opting out of them, let alone those with additional needs.

I think you are right to drop some subjects and I'd say be ruthless about dropping any subject your child is never going to pass and just keep reiterating that if she doesn't get a pass in the ones which are left she'll have to sit them again (true for maths and English anyway). My DS dropped all three sciences and his MFL to focus on his best subjects.

The other thing is keep reminding her she doesn't need to know everything, she just needs to know enough.

My DS, now 18, has ASD and ADHD. He hates writing, is not really academic and struggles to apply himself - no revision whatsoever took place in our house unless actively managed by me.

The view I took was that I wanted him to get 5 GCSEs at C grade eventually because that is the minimum for keeping options open for later on, but I was not stressed about how long it took. Parents are sold this idea that you only get one shot at GCSEs. That really isn't true, you might have to push and nag or sit at a different location, but it is perfectly possible to sit them more than once.

It basically took my DS 3 goes (using resits in November too) to collect his five. Maths was the hardest one to get and it took him 3 tries to get it, but in the end he did it.

The most useful thing for him was me and his teachers sitting down and going through the marking system i.e. if you put that you can only ever get one mark, if you put this then you'll get five marks. Get 50% and you've got a C. Sounds ridiculous but he learned it like a menu and just wrote his exams to it because he could see the point. So much learning feels ridiculously abstract to aspies.

The most difficult part is that it sounds as if your school are not delivering teaching to your DD at this point. I can understand that she is panicking because she feels so behind. I agree with trying to get your LA to provide tutoring if possible, If that is not possible then I'm afraid it will probably mean you have to work with her in the evenings and weekends, but at least it is only a few weeks.

I think it is critical that she has success in at least one GCSE this time round and it is perfectly possible to plan for that. Remember the old joke "how do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time". That'a how you learn to pass an exam.

My suggest would be to pick your DD's best subject, get the course books for her exam board and past papers and Cliff Notes and bash though them with her. Look at other (ideally easy and memorable) resources too - I still maintain that my DS passed his history paper on WW1 based on a combination of the film Gallipoli and Blackadder! There are lots of helpful online resources too.

Most subjects have a limited range of exam questions and it is possible to develop pro forma answers to them. You might not be able to cover the whole syllabus at this stage but it is very possible to conclude after studying the past papers and syllabus and talking to your child's teacher that, for example, there is always a question about characters in Pride and Prejudice and learn a set of numbered points about that. Teach your DD that passing exams is not about knowing everything, but about knowing how to answer enough banker questions to pass.

Once you have identified your banker questions and answers to them, pick one question and answer, break the answer down into a list of points and learn this list of points in different ways - make your DD write it out, type it, write it on a chalkboard, read it out and record it. Whatever you can get her to do. If she doesn't get it, break it into smaller sections and use read, cover, write again and again until she does.

Do not expect your DD to be able to structure answers without your input, she can't, that is why she is floundering now. She just sees a scary mass of information. Your role is to make it bite size.

You want her to get to the point where you say e.g. "Explain how Elizabeth Bennett's view of Mr Darcy changes" and your DD says "there are 12 points, the first one is etc etc"

Learn ONE set answer to one banker question at a time. Don't add another until she is 95% perfect on the first answer. Remember to keep going back over previously learned answers periodically. Praise her a LOT when she sticks to task. IME aspies tend to be younger emotionally than they are chronologically so they need the level of encouragement you would give to a child several years younger and really spell it out. "That was great, you knew all the first six points and the last three, points 7 and 8 were still a bit wobbly but now you know to think especially hard about them next time so I'm sure you'll get them all next time. Just think, yesterday, you didn't know any of these and now look at you. You have worked very hard and you should feel very proud of yourself." Sounds over the top but it works. You are giving feedback and praise at the same time.

Aim to teach in 15 minute bursts with a break in between and a treat of some sort every half hour. 3 x 15 minutes in one evening is plenty. 2 x 15 minutes is probably more realistic.

Lots of schools are very poor at teaching the techniques to pass exams and students are left just learning long reams of information. Actually I'd say success in exams is at least 70% technique.

Now is probably not the best time, but once GCSEs are over please do pursue a statement for your DD. I found it gave access to all sorts of additional support (like speech and language therapy to improve manual dexterity and pattern recognition) and it definitely makes it easier to take up cudgels on behalf of your child when you can move the dialogue from "your child is naughty" to "your school is failing to meet my child's needs".

FWIW gaining that final maths GCSE was a real turning point for my DS confidence. He has always been interested in art and ended up going to college to do a level 3 BTEC in an arty subject. He's a couple of years older than the others in his class but none of them know or care about that. Better still (and slightly to my amazement) he has managed to stick to his course and does (just enough) work to get by.

Interestingly his two best aspie mates have also ended up repeating a year or two to boost their results, a result decided on entirely independently by their mums.

I'll shut up now!

Boo2323 Sun 19-Feb-17 17:16:21

Thank you so much for the advice many ideas and strategies that I can act upon or take forward in our journey. Will post how we are doing over then next few weeks. Thanks again

Boo2323 Mon 20-Feb-17 16:25:15

Well was ready for an interesting day today, DD was expected to go into school 8.30 to 11 as usual this morning after the holiday and yesterday after having a friend round and seeming to be positive about going, woke up at usual school time and I just got that vibe that she had no intention of attending. She had not got her uniform or bag ready and despite the usual encouragement from us she did not get up,and would not go. "felt odd" was her comment. tried to support her from 7 - 8.30 to no success then must admit I gave up and left her to it as nothing I could say will make any difference at this point.
Once DH & DS had left for school and work ask DD to get up and have breakfast. Now she was very upset and sad that she had let everyone down and frustrated with her self. Reminded her that I would take her into school at any time if she was OK to go.
Planned to do some English study in short bursts with her for between 1/2 hour to hour. this morning. Not that impressed with my suggestion but agreed. Looked at exam paper question and study guide and did OK but got the distinct feeling that she was bored and not at all engaged fully in the activity. after lunch tried again with a little more challenging question but even less engagement and yawning!!!!! not maintain focus or concentration and I might have well been doing it myself! After the 1/2 hour left it and she went to her room.
Went to talk to her about her attitude and what she was finding so difficult or problematic. Got a right rant, "pressure, not going to get any GCSE's anyway so whats the point, when I am doing an exam I can put in more effort. I do OK. I know what to write," but her answers were clearly inadequate and lacking in technique.
She was very angry with the school system that she sees as being pointless for her, she can't learn what they want her too, this is why she doesn't want to go. Felt totally useless by the time she had finished yelling and there was no reasonable discussion just her worries and insecurities and her belief that she does not have to do the exams and a naive belief that she can find a job without qualifications doing something she can cope with.
So upset for her and her view on the world as a place that is not designed for her and she doesn't fit into it and therefore cannot achieve.
Now feel concerned for her well being and moving sharp objects out of the way as it is not far in her head between 'don't fit into this world' and what's the point to the only way out is to leave the world! she has spoken about this before and assured me and her dad that she wouldn't do anything silly but I am worried about her and want to reassure her that things will be OK, difficult but OK and we love her dearly. ahhhhhhh!

MrsFish13 Tue 21-Feb-17 07:17:25

My heart breaks for you, its so sad that our children are so desperately let down by the education system.
My son has similar views - I did manage ro get him in yesterday, but I think that was in response to me pleading with him to give it a try, he has asked to be home schooled, we both work full time, have a huge mortgage and cant really afford for either of us to give up work.
The school have paid for him to see an ed psych tomorrow, so I will let you know how we gwt on with that.......
Good Luck today!!!

Boo2323 Tue 21-Feb-17 12:31:38

Hi new day new challenges. Yesterday received the Ed Psyc report and in her summary -Next steps "DD's profile of difficulties are consistent with a autism spectrum disorder and that there is probably not a great deal of further assessment needed" A priority stated in the report is for DD to get back into education with a high level of support from school and home. Well there it is in black and white.
Today DD got up and went into school for part of the day as agreed but it was such a strain and so uncomfortable for her. SENCO rang to speak to me and make an appointment for a chat this afternoon. She mentioned de-registering DD from school but they would pay for her exams, also mentioned Autism Outreach could work with her at school or at home.
Taking her out of school is a big step and I worry about isolating her from the few friends she has. I will mention an Early Help Assessment and have also been looking up horse therapy in our local area. Lot's of things to think about and will update on meeting outcomes later.

CatsDogsandDC Tue 21-Feb-17 13:32:56

Hi Boo

I'd get on to your LEAs special needs team and talk to them about options. It may suit the school to deregister her but without something else to go to that is just a cop out.

Your options are probably to either stay in mainstream with support or to seek specialist provision. Ask the special needs team what their plan is for educational provision for her and if there are any special schools near you which specialise in autism or specialist units attached to a mainstream school. Prepare for them to say they are full but keep pushing. Would you be able to part fund a place? That might help.

My DS would not have been able to participate in secondary school without moving to a special school. For him it was fabulous. Small classes, a staff team who understood his needs and teaching geared to aspies. I knew it was the right place when he came out at the end of his trial week there and said "they understand me there".

user1488802768 Mon 06-Mar-17 12:39:14

My name is Meta and I have just joined Mum's Net. I have a daughter who I adopted, she was born with feotal alcohol syndrome, then diagnosed with ADHD and some years back also diagnosed with autism. We started by fostering her when she was two years old and the first dress I bought her was for age 6-9 months. They told us she would plateau at 7 or 8. She is now doing foundation GCSE's but getting very stressed as no idea what she wants to do after finishing school. As she does not communicate well this will be difficult.

I recently started a new business totally inspired by Kirsty and at present I am having prototypes made of school uniforms and other items especially made for people on spectrum, trousers, only seam on inside leg and other variaktions, they will look just like other school trousers but inside will be brush cotton. Can't give anymore away at present. During my research so many people mentioned sock. So I am sole distributor in all Ireland for Smartknit seamless socks and underwear as people here were having to pay such a lot in postage. Don't know whether I am allowed to mention business as first time on here. I have also experience of dealing with teenagers on asd spectrum. When we went to school for transition meeting we were basically told she is sixteen and when she leaves school all help finishes. She is statemented and has classroom assistant. I came out of meeing very angry but whilst doing research for business I found out that there was quite a lot of help which has eased my mind considerably. As I said only started business a few months back, I do a blog on my site called Diary of a Mum/Carer would be Entrepeneur aged 58 (I know I am old) but I do want to help other mother's for whom getting their children ready for school is like a battleground. I don't know how this works, if anybody wants to explain it tio me that would be great. My son helps with social media as I am complete technophobe.

MrsFish13 Fri 10-Mar-17 21:26:53

Hi, just thought I'd see how eveeyone is getting on?

I had managed to get my boy back to school 4 days last week, and then 5 this week until he got a 3 day exclusion for fighting today urghh!!!

Boo2323 Mon 27-Mar-17 17:00:42

Hi quick update, DD is not in school at all and is really having recuperation time at home after her mental health issues meant that school was so stressed and she had so many anxieties about going that we just could not get her to go at all. She is now at home full time with school still keeping in touch and me having to text a response to the absent line daily mentioning her stress and anxiety about her GCSE's and school in general. We are due to have a Neuro-developmental Assessment on Wednesday at our local hospital and not until we have some results from that can we move forward with any contact from the Autism Outreach team or get her EHCP underway. DD has had some blood tests to see if she is anemic or has Coeliac disease as I have it and so does my mum. both results were negative. School have also mentioned a local organisation that provide Theraputic Education to support students who have been out of education and struggling with anxiety and depression. I am considering starting some home education programs after Easter but finding it daunting and I know getting her to study more formally will be a challenge especially on the days in the week when I or my husband are working and she has to organised her own time. She is still taking anti depressants and has a very poor appetite along with her sleep patterns being all over the place. Far too much computer /phone and x-box time but I am struggling to find the energy to limited its use despite the knowledge that I should. I am feeling a little overwhelmed and very worried about our current circumstances but DD is deffinitely less anxious and stressed at the moment.

Boo2323 Wed 29-Mar-17 12:59:39

Had the Developmental Assessment which was an emotional but enlightening experience. After a long discussion with the psychiatrist about DD development when she was younger focusing on her language, communication skills, social skills and and other significant early developmental issues in his view he felt that she did not have ASD and that she is struggling with Anxiety and the behaviours she is displaying now are a result of her levels of anxiety rather than an underlying neuro-developmental concern such as ASD or ADHD. It gave us quite a jolt and we have been going down the path of possible ASD or Asperger's and DD has been to councilor who works for a ASD charity so things are now up in the air again and the support our daughter needs might need to be accessed from a different source. Very mixed emotions. As a family we need time to rethink things again. We will just keep on keeping on as we have been doing for the last 7 years! Ahhhhhhhhh!

Boo2323 Wed 29-Mar-17 12:59:49

Had the Developmental Assessment which was an emotional but enlightening experience. After a long discussion with the psychiatrist about DD development when she was younger focusing on her language, communication skills, social skills and and other significant early developmental issues in his view he felt that she did not have ASD and that she is struggling with Anxiety and the behaviours she is displaying now are a result of her levels of anxiety rather than an underlying neuro-developmental concern such as ASD or ADHD. It gave us quite a jolt and we have been going down the path of possible ASD or Asperger's and DD has been to councilor who works for a ASD charity so things are now up in the air again and the support our daughter needs might need to be accessed from a different source. Very mixed emotions. As a family we need time to rethink things again. We will just keep on keeping on as we have been doing for the last 7 years! Ahhhhhhhhh!

MrsFish13 Wed 29-Mar-17 17:16:37

Wow, that must be a shock for you. Working in mental health myself, Anxiety can be a mixed bag, CBT can really help address difficulties, along with medication that can really help relax your DD. Where as ASD is unable to be controlled with Meds.

We are fortunate the boy is back at school, however it is a mixed back of behaviours and lack of underatanding from the school. We are sti waiting for the report from Ed Psych, he is having more time in the SEN room, which he tenda to have a much increased output, probably due to reduced stimulation and distractions.

Good Luck, keep me informed of how yoy get on :-)

Boo2323 Fri 07-Apr-17 16:28:32

Glad to hear your lad went in to school for a few days, but I know how precarious these small steps are and that things change very quickly from day to day. Hope you and him can sustain this positive step and build on the ways of working that work best for him at the moment. Flexibility and always having a plan B worked out for when things are more difficult for him in school are important I know we have had one at home too, and if B plan didn't work then a plan C and D are always handy. Sending our best wishes and thanks for your kind words. We are still not sure where we are heading with our daughter in the long or short term but I know a combination of councilling, medication and CBT might be the most successful combination as we move forward.

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