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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.

vickibee · 11/12/2019 09:03

Myo 12 yo son is high functioning asd and this is the sort of random thing he might say. He doesn't deliberately get it wrong but doesnt know how to get it right
For example a teacher asked him if he could take his coat off and he simply replied 'yes' not realising it was an instruction becuase it was posed as a question. He was given a behaviour mark, six = 2 hour after school detention.
I generally think staff do not fully understand ASD, the sensory needs , the social difficulties and the need to try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Just to get through the school day is challenging for my Ds. I see him as a fizzy drink getting shaken up all day with each incident. He has a lid that mostly holds in the fizz but sometimes if it gets too much the lid comes off
Becuase he is high functioning his needs are often not taken seriously
I feel your pain

Wehttam · 11/12/2019 09:09

DP is a teacher and often says how ASD kids can sometimes be absolutely lovely or absolutely menacing and scary, some can be very gifted others are simply not. Many display split personalities and can manipulate social situations to their advantage. Is there a possibility OP that your DS is lovely for you but could become challenging to the school staff in certain circumstances?

It’s wise to be open minded because the world does not take well to parents who excuse the behaviours of their ‘lovely children’ whenever they do something wrong using the banner of they have ASD. As someone mentioned earlier, society will not adapt unfortunately.

WheresMyChocolate · 11/12/2019 09:10

There's an 'accent' that goes with autism and so many people, even those who work with autistic people don't get it. All my life I've been told by people who don't understand that I'm aggressive and/or threatening. But I'm not, I'm a very gentle, fragile little flower, my voice just doesn't match my personality.

This peculiarity of how you sound is one of the things they look for when diagnosing autism. Which isn't that surprising when you remember that autism is a communication disorder.

Could this be a possibility with your DS? Does he come across as more threatening than he actually is?

anon2000000000 · 11/12/2019 09:20

Like everyone else, I think this is a perception thing.

challenge the isolation as that's not good any child.

We moved my sons school after his experienced asd teacher was vile to him every single day. She broke him down, he was miserable, crying, refused to go. It was awful for him to go through.

He's much happier in his new environment. He's much calmer and happier where he is now. He occasionally talks about the things the teacher said to him at his previous school.

Rainbowhermit · 11/12/2019 09:36

As an aside, and this may not be an option for you, but you can apply for an EHCP as a parent. The only real barrier is that you have to scrape together the funds for a private EP assessment. I did this for my daughter when she was 15 - ASD school refuser, but school claiming they could meet her needs. Emphasis social and emotional issues in the request. There are charities who will help - SOS!SEN and IPSEA for eg.

DarlingNikita · 11/12/2019 09:44

I find it suspicious that they can't or won't give examples and explain exactly how the teacher felt threatened. I would push for specifics.

MargeSimpsonswig · 11/12/2019 09:46

Yes he has been rude and disruptive in the past but never threatening or aggressive. That is what I find so difficult to believe. There has only ever been one incident when he was in year 7 where he was "aggressive". They were doing cross country so no teachers around and a child fell over (not injured but bruised ego) and DS laughed. The boys friend took offence to this and started calling DS a nigger and a slave (DS is mixed race) and then kicked him in the shins and was sticking V's up at him. Ds reacted by pinning the boy to the floor and then let him go but although he is one of the youngest in his year, he is one of the biggest and could have easily caused the other child serious harm but he is not a violent person and I think showed restraint by not attacking him. School placed DS in isolation (rightly so) but DS did not explain the whole story (because he didn't think to do that) and other child said he was attacked out of no where and was believed. It was only when I asked DS what happened that the full story came out and there were witnesses to DS's version so other child eventually had an isolation too. Other examples are where he has been told to leave class and stand outside for being disruptive but it turns out another child was constantly touching his hair (Ds has a big afro) and he hates his hair being touched so he told other child to F off. I have so many other examples like this and DS is always honest about what happened. I'm not blindly believing him but not blindly believing school either as they have been very vague about what actually happened.

I agree that it is non sensical that they will not go forward with EHCP because of poor attendance because that is his main issue at school. To be honest, I feel they have given up on him. ASD team said he is a complex child and they wanted to discuss his case with a more senior person so I need to chase this up.

No plans for reintegration as they only got back to me last night about this whole incident. They have offered a reduced timetable in the past but this has not been implemented for various reasons.

His "joke" was very literal, she didn't make him breakfast therefore he was hungry. I don't see the higher cognitive function of this. It isn't a funny joke and shows his complete lack of understanding about the heirarchal relationship with teachers. Thankyou for undiagnosing my son based on a few posts about him though. I'll just ignore the assessment by CAHMS which I fought for 2 years to get because DS tries to have a sense of humour. Hmm

OP posts:
AmaryllisNightAndDay · 11/12/2019 09:53

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.

Give over, no it doesn't. That's just as likely to be very clunky, simple literal mindedness. He's hungry, she didn't come and make him breakfast. She is the one asking why he is hungry, why isn't she responsible for his breakfast? Though she might feel threatened by that, especially in a context where she had just scolded him for something.

Mjlp · 11/12/2019 09:54

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.

Firstly, the teacher claims to have worked with children with ASD for 20 so she should really be aware of this very basic symptom of ASD.

Secondly, ASD is a condition someone is born with and dies with. You can't teach someone out of it.

Thirdly, anyone can feel threatened by anything, regardless of whether it actually is threatening or not. The fact the teacher claims to have felt threatened, does not mean the child was actually threatening her. The teacher could be mistaken/wrong, just as much as the child could have been using the wrong tone/body language. The teacher should have explained calmly, not put the child in isolation.

vickibee · 11/12/2019 09:56

I would apply for ehcp yourself. We did and was successful my son was dx aged 9 and we got the plan just in time for 2ndry.
It is a hard process and you have to be pushy to get the outcome you need.

vickibee · 11/12/2019 09:58

We have tried to teach ds learned responses to common situations. So for example someone once told him their cat had died and he just changed the subject. I explained how to empathise with a social story. He fidnt know how to get it right and ended up looking mean

Genevieva · 11/12/2019 10:16

Talk about using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. Presumable the point of this new scheme is to help teach social skills. That means using explanations so that he learns, rather than punishing him when he doesn't understand what he has done wrong. Regardless of whether he did do something that was considered threatening, the school are failing to handle this well. I wonder what qualifications the ASD teacher has, because she certainly appears to have no understanding of ASD. I wouldn't believe the school's version of events either, because they aren't being transparent. I don't know what you can do about it though.

Dontdisturbmenow · 11/12/2019 10:25

My friend has been a teacher and head of department for over 20 years and says her bigger headache is parents who won't accept their kids behaviour insisting that they would never behave as they have and refusing to accept their kid might not have told them the story as it was.

The problem is that it is extremely common for kids to act differently at home and school. My boy was an angel at school but very hard work at home. His teachers couldn't believe when I related things he said and did at home. The same applies the other way around.

Personally, I find it to believe things happened as your DS claims. Someone would such experience of Sen wouldn't reach the conclusion she has from what you say he told her. There must be more, privacy quite a lot more to it

churchandstate · 11/12/2019 10:27

Firstly, the teacher claims to have worked with children with ASD for 20 so she should really be aware of this very basic symptom of ASD.

She may well be aware of what looks like a symptom of ASD and what doesn’t. That’s what she seems to be saying, that this doesn’t.

And I didn’t say we could teach people out of ASD. We can, however, attempt to teach them facts: other people find it threatening when... Because of your condition you may not understand that... Therefore it’s important that you never ever...

And the teacher’s sense of being threatened should not be dismissed as being a purely subjective, probably erroneous feeling. If his behaviour is what most of us would regard as threatening, whether he means it to be or not, the teacher has ever right to object and to take steps to protect herself.

FreedomfromPE · 11/12/2019 10:33

I'd question the assertion that a SENCO in 20 years of dealing with students with autism thinks that they can tell instantly whether the behaviour is naughtiness or autism. Utter bollocks. Autism and teen angst combined throw up some very confusing feelings and challenging behaviours. I've seen that. I know that I'd also not assume I've seen or know it all. The SENCO needs to retrain.

churchandstate · 11/12/2019 10:35


And I would argue that, if a person with 20 years’ experience of dealing with people with a particular condition can’t tell when they are seeing a behaviour which is probably a result of that condition, neither can anyone else. Retraining won’t help, because it’s clearly an impossible task.

OldElPasoHadAChicken · 11/12/2019 10:39

My daughter with adhd and autism comes out with things like your son. OP. While her secondary were getting to know her in her first year, there were a few calls about things she had said, which once were put into context and they saw more of her, helped with the EHCP and getting her into the diagnosis pathways.

The first autistic child I worked with, who was 12, was often inappropriate and made a few female staff uncomfortable, but I saw each interaction which was made a fuss of and despite at that time being so much less informed and clued up, I knew his actions and manner etc were not intended as they were taken.

I'm autistic with adhd and I've still made mistakes with some of the children I've worked with or known, because you can't learn an entire spectrum on a few courses for teaching staff, and even personal experience of the conditions doesn't mean you're the same as every other person with the diagnosis.

So this so-called professional with experience sounds like she's been given the big standard training, has worked with some asd kids and thinks she has it all neatly worked out in a box labelled autism. She needs to know it doesn't work that way, you can't just work out every single person's autism.

I would want to see the report and would encourage my daughter to apologise based on the fact that knowingly or not, she made someone uncomfortable. I find it important to practise this same approach if it when I do or say or ignore things which upset others. I've had to develop strategies to make my apologies sound right. This includes them being suitable for times when you are aware/made aware that you really didn't know it was wrong/ came across the way it did etc but that doesn't mean you aren't sorry.

I hope he's back in school soon.

WheresMyChocolate · 11/12/2019 10:50

Thirdly, anyone can feel threatened by anything, regardless of whether it actually is threatening or not.

Quite right. Including an autistic child being punished and put into isolation with no understanding or knowledge of what they'd done to warrant it. I've been there, it's genuinely terrifying as you feel under attack and you've no idea why. I got punished once for the aggressive way I spoke, I've still no idea what they meant, and it resulted in me not speaking at all for almost a year because I was too scared to.

LadyCordeliaVorkosigan · 11/12/2019 11:02

My son is 11 and autistic. When reading, he can figure out theory of mind fine - it's applying it in real life that's hard. He could easily have made the same joke - it sounds like a Garfield cartoon or a wisecrack a kid on TV might make. Trying to explain why kids on TV get to be sassy and talk back, but it's not appropriate in real life, and also that some things are funny once but not repeatedly, is really hard.

Just because a teacher or TA has worked with kids with autism for 20 years doesn't mean they were any good at it. I've found often the best support comes from inexperienced staff who have ASD themselves, because they can tell where the child is coming from and explain better than the kid can.

LastMichaelmas · 11/12/2019 11:04

Assuming no lies from OP's DS, his behaviour was not threatening because no threat was intended. Assuming no lies from staff, his behaviour was interpreted as threatening.

This could be because 95% of the population would use that behaviour if they wanted to communicate a threat, and therefore it's sensible to interpret it as a threat.

Or it could be that the teacher sees that behaviour as threatening even when most people wouldn't, for personal reasons.

I think the former is more likely, but I wasn't there so I don't know.

Miscommunication requires two parties: one whose words or behaviours are such that they can be interpreted differently to how they are meant, and one who interprets them differently to how they are meant.

For people with ASD, it's not always easy or obvious to know what the average person will think their behaviour means. Most people just absorb this information as they grow up, but people with ASD need to learn the meaning of different types of body language, tone of voice, etc., in a different way.

OP's DS may well have been behaving in a way that the average person would misinterpret as threatening. If this is the case, it's vitally important that he learns which behaviours can be misinterpreted this way as soon as possible, or he is at risk.

One would think that the ideal place to learn that would be in the sandbox of a specialist environment with specialist staff, who know that an autistic person's behaviour doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as that behaviour would mean from an average person. This was a fantastic opportunity for OP's DS to learn something that he absolutely needs to learn before he becomes an adult male. And she chucked it away because she doesn't know enough about ASD and now she won't back down.

MrsLinManuelMiranda · 11/12/2019 11:09

Firstly I would question why the chocolate is still using terms like ASD instead of ASC. Labelling the individual with a 'disorder ' is not very helpful. Autistic Spectrum Condition is much better. I work as an LSA with students with ASC and one of the first rules is...'If you have met one person with autism, then you have met one person with autism!' When some of my LSA colleagues who work in the mainstream department meet my students they think they are being rude or sarcastic, when in fact they are merely being truthful and do not think that anyone could possibly be offended by it. I think the OP needs clarification on what actually happened. To posters saying that teachers wouldn't lie, all I can say is take off those rose tinted specs. I am certainly not saying all teachers lie, but it is very narrow minded to think that this would never happen.

MrsLinManuelMiranda · 11/12/2019 11:11

^ Chocolate! School , obviously.

Mjlp · 11/12/2019 11:14

She may well be aware of what looks like a symptom of ASD and what doesn’t. That’s what she seems to be saying, that this doesn’t

She's a teacher not a psychologist. She doesn't get to diagnose whether a child has ASD or not. The child has already been diagnosed by someone who is actually qualified to do so.

And I didn’t say we could teach people out of ASD. We can, however, attempt to teach them facts: other people find it threatening when... Because of your condition you may not understand that... Therefore it’s important that you never ever...

But that assumes that as soon as you've taught those things, someone with ASD will never ever do those things again. And in effect not have ASD anymore, which is ridiculous. You can't teach someone about every possible scenario that could ever happen in life and expect them to remember what to do and what not to do. The brains of people with ASD are wired differently, so they think differently. You can explain how other people think and hope they understand, accept, remember, but you can't teach someone to not have ASD.

And the teacher’s sense of being threatened should not be dismissed as being a purely subjective, probably erroneous feeling. If his behaviour is what most of us would regard as threatening, whether he means it to be or not, the teacher has ever right to object and to take steps to protect herself.

Who would interpret because you didn't come to my house and make me breakfast this morning as threatening?! Even if it was said in an angry tone, even if the child was standing over the teacher?! It's not threatening. The only way it could be interpreted as threatening is if the child held a knife etc to the teacher whilst saying it. But clearly nothing like that happened from the school's vague response.

Schools don't have enough money to support children with special needs theses days. Secondary schools do not want children on their roll who could potentially make their exam results look bad. So they try to get these children out. Most people can see this. Most people, according to the voting, agree the school is lying/twisting things.

LastMichaelmas · 11/12/2019 11:15

I've just read back and seen he's mixed race, in which case it's even more important for him to learn whether he's behaving in a way that others interpret as threatening, and how to learn behaviours that typical people use to communicate lack of threat. It's possible that that was a factor in this incident, but certainly in the future he's more likely to be judged aggressive than a white man behaving in exactly the same way, and he'll be at even higher risk.

I'm not saying this is right, obviously(!) It's just the society we live in…

JanMeyer · 11/12/2019 11:18

Firstly I would question why the chocolate is still using terms like ASD instead of ASC. Labelling the individual with a 'disorder ' is not very helpful. Autistic Spectrum Condition is much better.

Funny, all the autistic people I know prefer ASD to ASC. I like ASD better myself too, I don't think "disorder" is offensive. I mean by definition an autistic person's development is out of order, so disorder makes sense to me. Condition on the other hand, it just feels like the wrong word completely.

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