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to think school is lying to me?

146 replies

MargeSimpsonswig · 10/12/2019 23:51

My 13 year old DS was diagnosed with autism in August this year and is currently having issues with school refusal. One of the biggest reasons for this is that he is constantly in trouble for low level disruptive behaviour and I have been working hard with various organisations to get help with this. I need to add that I genuinely believe DS is unaware when he is being disruptive as his social skills are very poor and he tends to make very awkward jokes with teachers to mask his uncomfortability in social situations. He told me that making small talk with people who he doesnt like and who he knows don't like him is the worst part of school for him and plays a big role in his non attendance.

The school started a nurture room programme for my DS to attend which is supposed to be a relaxed, homely environment where he learns better social skills. At one of these sessions he said he made an ill judged joke to the specialist ASD teacher, something along the lines of:

Teacher: why are you hungry?
DS: because you didn't come to my house and make me breakfast this morning.

The teacher then made a report to his head of year claiming DS was being threatening and rude and upset the other children in the room. DS was placed in isolation the entire day because he wouldnt admit that he had been threatening. He said they wouldn't give him specific examples of his alleged threats and he remains adamant he only made the joke as above and refused to do his work because he felt the punishment was unfair. He was then told he would be placed in isolation the following day for not completing his work and he has refused to go to school since.

Head of year emailed tonight (2 weeks after i first emailed her explaining DS's version and i would like to clarify what happened). She again said son was threatening and that the teacher has been working with ASD kids for 20 years and she had said DS's behaviour was not consistent with ASD and was pure naughtiness. No specific examples of what he said or did was given.

I spoke to DS again tonight and his story is exactly the same, he told a joke and he cant understand why school is saying this. He is adamant and i believe him.

I know I sound like I'm being precious about DS but I know my son and he has never been violent or threatening. He is extremely gentle and kind and it would take him being physically threated for him to become aggressive. I also k nw DS thinks in a very black and white way and does not lie. He has been very open with me about all other times he has been in trouble with school and fully accepted his punishments as he knew he has broken a rule (e.g. saying a swear word etc., forgetting his tie etc.). Before his diagnosis, he was labelled as a naughty child and my parenting was always questioned and I was told he had no boundaries at home and that's why he misbehaved at school. I always complied and worked with school to enforce punishments at home for misbehaviour and supported schools stance on situations like this but now I know it was his ASD that caused him to misbehave and he has always been so misunderstood. I feel so much guilt for always taking schools side when I can see now how tragically my DS was failed by the system and many mistakes were made (this post would go on forever if I explained).

Sorry for rambling on, I just really don't believe the schools version of events and I don't know how to respond. Would a teacher really make up all of this? (p.s I'm not teacher bashing, my mum was a teacher and I have the upmost respect for what they do but there are bad eggs in every profession).

What should I do?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

arethereanyusernamesleftatall · 11/12/2019 01:31

It might be this school just doesn't have the tools or resources to deal with your child or his needs. If they cannot support him properly then they are going to potentially use inappropriate methods as those might be all they have available.

I think you really need are more details so you can properly understand the accusations, but it does not seem as if they have ever really understood or supported your child, or known how.

If all you have is a hammer...

This x 100.

Start looking for a new school. This one just doesn't get your DS. I moved school at 13, it was fine.

What are your other options locally?

Creepster · 11/12/2019 01:34

"Schools are fuelling a mental health crisis among children by isolating them in harsh “consequences booths” for the entire day for trivial reasons, ministers have been warned."

GruffaIoCrumble · 11/12/2019 01:42

Also, as an aside, and yes am well aware budgets are stretched, if it is a nurturing room/social skills room then perhaps they ought to consider having some cheap squash, biccies or apple slices as hunger is a well-known and obvious trigger.
And your son could benefit with having a packet of dried fruit/nuts/biscuit in his pocket if he doesn't already for break (again, do not know the context of the situation...whether he was moaning about being hungry, tummy rumbling, fidgeting for break, trying to sneak a snack, asking for something): many learning support depts/chill out rooms/ASC bases, especially workshop based, could accommodate a reasonable request or I am a soft touch

HoofWankingSpangleCunt · 11/12/2019 02:18

Op, I could have written your post word for word.
Your poor DS. Is there any other school where he would be accepted and understood better? Because putting a child in isolation because they won't admit to behaving in a way which was perceived by someone else is crap. I'm not explaining myself very well. I've had similar situations. My DS when he was 6 was hauled out of carpet time and shouted at by the TA. She asked him repeatedly if he "meant to do that". Confused, he nodded, not sure of what was going on. It then transpired that the TA had thought DS had been flipping her the bird and he was about to be punished for doing so as he'd "admitted" it. I know all this because I was there. She only told me what she thought had happened when I got over to them to find out why she was shouting at DS. I had taken to spending large amounts of time in the classroom as I was so concerned about the treatment of DS who I strongly suspect of having Asperger's and was awaiting referral. The point I am making is I think this is the same sort of situation. Neurotypical people often make assumptions about the behaviours of those with autism. In fact , that's really no different to someone with autism making an assumption about how someone else is behaving. Yet it's us and our children with autism who have got to learn resilience and to be hammered into the round hole.
It's desperately unfair on the vulnerable non NT and I believe it is at the root of a huge problem we're currently facing whereby stressed and overwhelmed children are being penalised in an inappropriately heavy handed manner.
I would if possible try to move your DS Op and I know how that might not even be an option. I would not trust the school with caring for my child appropriately and I would not take in trust the "vagueness about the threat. I was particularly struck by She again said son was threatening and that the teacher has been working with ASD kids for 20 years and she had said DS's behaviour was not consistent with ASD and was pure naughtiness. No specific examples of what he said or did was given. How bloody dare they try to undiagnose him and how bloody defeated you must feel by now. I'm sorry Op. I get it exactly.

Oh and DS hadn't been giving the TA the finger. He had been bored listening to the story and was playing the game where you make your hands form a church, and the steeple etc. So he admitted to doing that, oblivious to the "reality" of the situation. Why should the TAs or in your case, teacher's version trump our children's, every time? I see no difference in my DS admitting to giving the TA the finger and your DS not admitting to being threatening.

Hope this post made sense. I'm tired but I don't sleep much these days. Worry over DS mainly . Sending you strength and love Op.

comfysocks8516 · 11/12/2019 06:35

Why would the school lie?

Bowerbird5 · 11/12/2019 06:42



Booboosweet · 11/12/2019 07:03

I always amazed at parents who think that teachers lie about students. We see hundreds of students a day. No one has time to sit down and concoct lies. School is a very professional environment and reporting is taken seriously and is done in a factual and impersonal way.

suggestionsplease1 · 11/12/2019 07:29

That's a really interesting reported interaction for someone with an ASC:-

Teacher: why are you hungry?
DS: because you didn't come to my house and make me breakfast this morning.

It shows quite elaborate theory of mind which is unusual for a teenager with ASC and I'd tend to agree with the teacher's assessment that it is not consisten with autism.

It's not impossible, I work with some adults with ASC who are extremely intelliegent and have been able to learn theory of mind to apply in jokes, but it is unusual as a quick come-back from a young teenager with ASC.

Equanimitas · 11/12/2019 07:30

The perception around here that teachers are living saints who never lie is extremely naive. They're human beings who may indeed bend the truth, e.g. because they know they have overreacted to something and need to justify themselves after the event. That may be what happened here, or it may be quite simply that the teacher misunderstood what your DS said. Either way, the refusal to say what the threat was is hardly helping the teacher's case.

And yes, the use of isolation rooms can be abusive. The Department for Education is supposed to bringing out some guidance to prevent that, I don't know why they haven't done it already.

MollyButton · 11/12/2019 07:31

@Booboosweet Have you ready any of the comments? How much experience of ASD do you have?
A person with ASD may have a totally different experience of the situation to the teacher. Add to that the fact that the teacher is a human being so may well find somethings "triggering" that in no way actually constitute a threat - for example soe children will flinch if you go to put your hand on their shoulder. Another example is if I have recently had a car accident my children making a loud noise in the back of the car make me nervous - when at another time I could just ignore it.

I don't think anyone is accusing the teacher of deliberately lying - just being a human who may have over reacted - or even be totally unsuitable for running a nurture group for ASD students.

But I would probably be looking around for alternatives to this school - I like to have at least a plan B available if not also a plan C etc.

Equanimitas · 11/12/2019 07:32

For anyone, whether a teacher or someone commenting on social media, to pronounce that behaviour is or is not consistent with autism is really quite arrogant. Guess what, people are different, people with autism are different, and autism itself presents at many different levels and in many different ways.

MollyButton · 11/12/2019 07:34

@suggestionsplease1 My DD could come up with something similar - but it could well be based on a stock phrase that the boy uses in other circumstances - does that help your "theory of mind" preoccupation?

CuriousaboutSamphire · 11/12/2019 07:36

But in this case the teacher and Head have not passed on enough information to be of any help to OP and her DS. They need to be far more specific, how else does any child learn?

No one ever learned from You have been naughty. Why? Because you have!

reporting is taken seriously and is done in a factual and impersonal way. That is the aim but, as an ex teacher, I can tell you that many of us fail to maintain that robotic impersonal manner. Every now and then something gets through the Teacher Armour and we wobble a bit. We are human after all.

OP Go back to the Head and tell themthat the lack of detail is simply not good enough. AS THEY SHOULD KNOW a child with ASD needs specifics, concrete examples not a woolly "Because I said so". If the teacher is as experienced as claimed SHE WILL KNOW THIS!

And yes, if they can't be more honest with you look for another school!

mummy21l · 11/12/2019 08:09

I think I would also be looking into another school. I've no personal experience but I do believe that mainstream school isn't always the best place for those on the spectrum, but obviously there are varying degrees which effect this decision.

I'd be questioning how much experience this teacher actually has - saying 20 years experience doesn't necessarily mean much, she may have been dealing with very low level perhaps.

I also think it's about an understanding of other teachers (and pupils) in the school. My husband is a teacher in a specialist school for autism/asd etc and is very good at his job he thrives in the environment, but when speaking to his family members who are teachers in main stream school, just don't have a clue to put it politely.

On the other hand, even in his school he has parents who are in denial about their child's behaviour, when he comes home with black eyes and cuts etc, and the parent still responds by saying my child wouldn't do that. But this definitely doesn't sound like this is that case here.

The school should definitely be being more supportive.

MargeSimpsonswig · 11/12/2019 08:13

Please don’t use his diagnosis as an excuse for him to treat people badly and get away with it

I have never excused my DS from treating people badly, I am trying to get to the bottom of what happened and so far the stories are not adding up. We have had alot of bad experiences with school which I wont detail here but specific examples where he was accused of doing something which later turned out he didn't do anything close to what was said and it was proven. I am also not being "passive" about his non attendance. It causes me huge amounts of stress and I work closely with school to try and improve this alongside a local ASD charity. Even though he was diagnosed in August, he has only just been seen by the local authority ASD team. They won't apply for an EHCP because of his poor attendance and his poor attendance is because he needs are not being met so round and round we go.

In terms of teaching DS resilience, he is one of the most resilient people I have ever met. Again I won't go into all the detail but he has been through ALOT in his childhood and i am very proud of how he has managed to stay such a sweet and loving person.

I am an LP with 2 other DS (youngest DS also diagnosed with ASD last week). I work 4 days a week and try my best to cope with an almost impossible situation. Oldest DS does not have ASD and goes to school regularly so it can't all be down to my lax attitude. I discussed with DS going to college to do a vocational course but he is bright and wants to do his GCSE's. Another school would be very difficult, which is why I really want to make things work at this one. He at least has a couple of friends at school and would worry about further social isolation if he had to move.

Thankyou to other posters who have been supportive and Flowers to those who are also going through this. DS is a big child (5ft 8, 13st) so it is possible he comes across as more intimidating than he realises. It's really hard to get him to explain his body language because he is completely unaware. I'll have to wait and see what the report says.

They do serve biscuits at the nurture room but he skipped breakfast that day because he wasn't hungry in the morning. He is also very tired often due to trouble sleeping which he is on medication for which doesn't help.

I didn't like being told his behaviour was not ASD because I don't think a teacher is qualified to say that regardless of experience (unless they also trained as a Clinical psychologist.)

School are also saying he can't continue the nurture programme (I think it's the official one) because of poor attendance.

It's so easy to be judgemental about situations like this if you have no personal or professional experience. His whole life he has been chronically misunderstood, he was diagnosed relatively late for an ASD child (they don't even have age appropriate materials for the diagnostic assessment) and is having to come to terms with alot right now. I want to work with school but also I don't want to betray my DS by blindly believing whatever is said about him. It will destroy our relationship if I don't at least try and understand his point of view.

OP posts:
suggestionsplease1 · 11/12/2019 08:18

@MollyButton, not really. But I do appreciate what you're saying, that stock phrases can be learned and repeated.

In this particular interaction there was a very impressive ability to apply a complex, high-order cognitive process - theory of mind humour. It was very tuned-in and responsive to the specific interaction occuring. I'm just saying this is really quite unusual for ASC. It's possible it was a repetition of an identical interaction that had occured with another pupil previously I guess.

CuriousaboutSamphire · 11/12/2019 08:21

School are also saying he can't continue the nurture programme (I think it's the official one) because of poor attendance. Wow! So the kid who needs it can't access it because of one of the reasons he needs it... What kind of logic fail is that?

Push for more info, tell the Head plainly why and how disppointed yu are that they have labelled him, failed him in this way. NOT for his alleged behaviour (which you are strying to deal with) but in their lack of detail, paucity of information and generally lax explanation.

SomethingNastyInTheBallPool · 11/12/2019 08:24

No advice - it sounds as if you have a good handle on the situation, OP - but the school sounds awful. I’d be looking elsewhere. Flowers

churchandstate · 11/12/2019 08:25

You need to get the other side of the story here. There is little point in relying only on your DS’ version since, as you have said, he doesn’t really understand when his ‘jokes’ aren’t funny or how others might receive them.

I am going to be honest: if he has a track record of rude and disruptive behaviour (which you accept has happened in the past) then I am going to say he is capable of being rude and disruptive. You need to find out from the teacher what happened.

deepflatflyer · 11/12/2019 08:26

My heart goes out to you OP. I have also come across teachers with 'ASD expertise' and frankly some of them don't have a clue. My son's Year 6 teacher had an MA in Autism Studies and she was the worst of the lot. Some of these so-called 'experts' can have a very narrow view of typical behaviours of autistic children and are unable to see the kids as individuals.

Do you have regular meetings? Is there a SENco as well? It seems that this nurture room is one of those good ideas that is, in reality, poorly-executed and makes matters worse.

Do you have a local support group of other parents of autistic children? Even if it's only an online one, I have found these things to be brilliant for comparing stories, including seeing if there are other schools in the area more suited to your child's needs.

They should be working with you and your son, not treating him as a naughty child. Diagnosis of ASD isn't an excuse for poor behaviour but it is a reason, and it needs to be addressed.

You sound like a lovely Mum and you're completely right to be on your son's side. The school is lucky that you also want to support them. You sound like you are doing a great job of trying to see things from both sides - and that's very difficult sometimes.

Are you keeping a record of all the incidents / reports and what your son says? I found noting things in a diary every day really helpful. Then ask for a meeting? Is there someone who could go with you?

Stick politely to your guns and continue to fight your son's corner. I'm so sorry you're going through this.

Mjlp · 11/12/2019 08:27

Why would the school lie?

I honestly don't see why the teacher would lie.

Teaching staff don’t usually make stuff up

They haven't lied have they. They've just been purposely very vague. The teacher said they felt threatened. Anyone can feel threatened by anything. It's very personal. Someone with ASD may say something in an unintentionally threatening tone of voice or with unintentionally threatening body language. Tha fact that she's worked with children with ASD for 20 years doesn't necessarily mean she's an expert. If you've met one person with ASD, you've met one person with ASD. If you've met 50 people with ASD, you've met 50 people with ASD. Everyone is different.

Unfortunately OP, many schools these days try to 'off-roll' children they find difficult to deal with. The longer your son is off school, the harder it will be for him to return. I fear they will soon suggest you change his school/home educate him/etc in order to try to off-roll him. It's not outright lying, but it is twisting things to get a child off-rolled, because they don't have the resources/will due to the importance of exam results to deal with a child they see as disruptive.

churchandstate · 11/12/2019 08:30

They haven't lied have they. They've just been purposely very vague. The teacher said they felt threatened. Anyone can feel threatened by anything. It's very personal. Someone with ASD may say something in an unintentionally threatening tone of voice or with unintentionally threatening body language.

And yet it can still make the person on the receiving end feel threatened. Intention isn’t the only issue here. Children who don’t understand why their behaviour threatens others need to be taught factually what they are not allowed to do, regardless of their intention.

Foxyloxy1plus1 · 11/12/2019 08:31

Are there any plans to reintegrate your son? Surely there must be a plan for his return.

You haven’t said, but I imagine he doesn’t have an EHCP, although additional support was put in place. Can you talk to the school and your son, about a phased return? I’m sure you know that the longer it continues, the more difficult it will be to return. Or is there a plan to change school?

deepflatflyer · 11/12/2019 08:32

Sorry - just read your most recent post

School have got this totally wrong. Not giving him an ECHP because he doesn't attend enough, when he's not attending enough because of emotional issues linked to not having support in school. How completely batshit is that? Ditto not being able to continue the nurture programme. Crazy. There are some very poor decisions being made in school.

Sleep issues are very common with ASD children and the poor kids end up feeling properly physically crap. Very difficult to concentrate, to emotionally-regulate when feeling like that. Not enough attention is given to this and it's often overlooked by the so-called ASD experts.

Also, if he's an intelligent lad, some teachers find it impossible to see how they can also have ASD.

Littlemeadow123 · 11/12/2019 09:01

This person has been working with students with autism for 20 years? And it was this comment that sent her running to the head telling tales and putting your son in isolation? Whether it was said threateningly or not, how does she cope with students who do get physically aggressive? Sounds like an overreaction on her part.

Maybe he did sound threatening without realizing it, but isn't it her job to help him with socialisation skills like this? Not put him in isolation for something he doesn't understand.

I would worry about her accusing him of just being naughty too. That was completely out of order.

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