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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?

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Am I being unreasonable?


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LittleDragonGirl · 11/12/2019 16:15

We do have a sense of humour, it's just that it might be a bit different from the average person's hmm For example, I know a lot of people with ASD and none of them enjoy laughing sadistically at the pain and embarrassment of others, unlike the average person, if we go by the popularity of talent shows where people who don't realise they're bad singers are subjected to ridicule, or, in the past, the inexplicably popular You've Been Framed. In fact, jokes that exploit absurdity (like a teacher coming to your house to make you breakfast) are quite popular among people with ASD.

@LastMichaelmas You have no idea how much that ^ actually meant to me, I always thought I was very very weird to not find things funny at other peoples expense, so its reassuring to know that its quite a normal characteristic.

Sagradafamiliar · 11/12/2019 16:54

Why have you not had a face-to-face meeting with the teacher responsible (preferably with your son there)? I'd have thought you'd want to get to the bottom of this. Your DS' schooling is really being affected now that he's taken 2 weeks off because he doesn't deem the punishment acceptable.

LastMichaelmas · 11/12/2019 17:05

LittleDragonGirl — and yet we're the ones without enough empathy… HmmGrin

CardsforKittens · 11/12/2019 17:25

LittleDragonGirl — and yet we're the ones without enough empathy…

My thoughts exactly.
The other thing that I think about a lot is schools’ reliance on authority for discipline instead of giving children reasons and explanations. My son is generally quite prepared to comply with instructions as long as he’s been given a reason, but teachers frequently rely on some version of ‘Because I said so,’ and actually I don’t want my children to learn to comply unquestioningly with people who claim authority!

springcomessnowmelts · 11/12/2019 17:31

Yanbu op

I wish some posters would understand you can’t punish the autism out of a child

2stepsonthewater · 11/12/2019 17:35

I hope it's not the case, but it could be the teacher felt 'threatened' because your DS is 5'8 and mixed race with a big afro.

I would insist that they explain exactly what he said/did that was so bad.

arethereanyusernamesleftatall · 11/12/2019 17:41

I always thought I was very very weird to not find things funny at other peoples expense, so its reassuring to know that its quite a normal characteristic

I'm not autistic but don't find things funny at other's expense either. I don't understand why people laugh at that stuff on You've Been Framed. I don't think it's an NT / not-NT thing. I strongly suspect it's an arse / not-an-arse thing!

(Mind you I do have ADHD so not NT).

LastMichaelmas · 11/12/2019 17:52

I don't think all non-autistics enjoy sadistic humour, but obviously plenty of people do, or these TV programmes wouldn't exist — but my experience is that when I mention this around autistic people, none of them have been able to understand why people find other people's pain funny. I'm sure there must be some autistic people who find it funny; it's very rare that you find something all autistic people have in common. But my feeling is that it's probably much more unusual in autistics. There may of course be some who don't understand that the other person is suffering.

LastMichaelmas · 11/12/2019 18:02

Also trust me there's plenty of autistic arses 😂

ShawshanksRedemption · 11/12/2019 19:16

@LastMichaelmas Yep, I work with young kids, some of whom are autistic, some with ADHD, some with other disorders. Just today one of the autistic boys laughed at someone who had fallen over and hurt themselves. He was laughing at the falling over bit (they had fallen over on their bum) not that the person had hurt themselves. This boy doesn't display empathy, but that doesn't mean he doesn't feel it. Instead he goes quiet because he's not quite sure how to interact.

@MargeSimpsonswig you need more detail from the school. Even if your DS didn't intend rudeness or aggression, he may need to clarify that with the school. He may need to explain that he said what he said as he thought it was something light-hearted and fun. It may be he had heard it elsewhere and it got a few laughs so thought it was a good line to use? My own DD, who is autistic, does that sometimes.

Even NTs get things wrong and inadvertently upset people when no offence was meant. Recognising that and apologising for any offence meant is a good way forward - could your DS take that on board?

But yes, get more detail as to why the teacher found it threatening because from what you have said, I can't understand why she felt that way.

ShawshanksRedemption · 11/12/2019 19:20

and upset the other children in the room.

How does your DS feel about that? Does he agree with that observation?

MargeSimpsonswig · 11/12/2019 22:05

So here's an excerpt from the email from last night "(Teacher) has 30 years of experience working with students with special needs and is our ASD Coordinator and Additional Needs Manager.
(Teacher) assures me that (DS's) behaviour was not in line with Autistic traits and aligned more to wilful, poor behaviour."

It was 30 years, not 20!!

I am fully prepared to eat my words if the report comes back and he was genuinely in the wrong. I also am still waiting for a response for my request for the report. I can't just turn up at school tomorrow and sit in reception until they let me see the head. I have a job which I cannot just decide at short notice I cant go in (NHS). I haven't let it 'go on for 2 weeks', DS had a problem with non attendance well before any of this and it happened on one of the rare occasions I actually managed to convince him to go in (if anyone has a school refuser you will know how big a deal this is). He then gets put in isolation on the first day back, why would he want to be in school? Also, I have had a lot going on in the past 2 weeks. DS 3 was diagnosed with ASD last week and he has not taken it very well. He is a whole other thread in himself but I cannot stress to someone who hasn't been through this how difficult it is to juggle being a LP (no contact or financial support with dad or dads family) with 2 DC with ASD whilst juggling a demanding career which involves a 3 hour commute every day (no I cannot find a job closer or give up work). I'm also in the middle of buying a house and all the paperwork that entails so I dropped the ball on not chasing up an email i sent school 2 weeks ago.

Thankyou so much for the support on this thread and it's been so lovely reading comments from people with ASD/ASC/autistic people and seeing things from your perspective as it helps me to understand DS more. Learning everything about autism when I only found out one of my DC has it (never mind 2!!!) in August. It's a steep learning curve and I am still trying to figure out how to figure out how to help DS and also what is naughty and what is autism. It is so hard to judge as a parent as I love DS and don't want to destroy his already painfully low self esteem by being the one person who didn't believe him in a world that he doesnt understand and it doesnt understand him.

An added factor is that i strongly believe i have ASD (but don't want to pay £1000's to find out) and therefore it's the blind leading the blind here.

I'm at breaking point emotionally and constantly feel like a shit parent as this is what I have been made to feel like since DC were small. My parenting has always been brought into question when i knew although i wasnt perfect, this was some extra level parenting shit i was dealing with. Unfortunately, we are judged by so many professionals that we have come into contact with over the years. I'm judged for being a SP, my DC are judged for being black and they are judged for their fathers past behaviour.

A perfect example of this was a conversation with DS3 today. He has struggled with his diagnosis and made me promise not to tell his primary school until he had read his assessment report (because he needs to be convinced he has ASD) which obviously I could not honour. I have clashed with the head (was also head for younger DS when he was primary aged) for many years because essentially younger DS has spent most of his school life in a PRU and excluded illegally on several occasions. In his assessment last week, the clinical psychologist at the end told DS he is not naughty, he has ASD and that he should have NEVER been at a PRU because his issues are not behavioural. To be told that broke my heart, all of those years he has been physically restrained during a melt down when it turns out he has sensory issues and hates being touched, locked in padded cells for hours until he calmed down, forced to speak when he had gone mute from extreme anxiety, I could go on. Anyway, he was really pissed off with me when I got home tonight because he knew I had told the head teacher about his diagnosis. When I asked him how he knew she knew (because I have asked her not to mention it to DS), he said "she's treating me really differently, she's being so nice to me and I don't like it". From the mouth of my 11 year old ASD DS.

My DC's have a disability which is recognised legally. They are entitled to an education and no child should have to go through what my DC have been through. The system is broken and so many children fall through the cracks but unless you go through the system, you don't realise how bad things are and how often children are failed.

Sorry for the epically long post but I hope it gave some of the ASD "experts" reading this some insight into what these children have gone through and us parents!

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MargeSimpsonswig · 11/12/2019 22:15

@ShawshanksRedemption, I asked DS about this. He said they had to have a discussion as a group about whether ghosts were real. DS made it very clear that he knew ghosts were not real, that it was a pointless and stupid discussion and all the other children thought ghosts were real (which I can imagine he got very animated about but not aggressive). I actually think DS had a point.

I know the nurture room is for kids with different disabilities so some not as high functioning as DS but to expect a very intelligent ASD child to discuss a topic like this and not argue that ghosts are real or not is setting him up for failure. His favourite subject is physics. He knows based on the laws of physics that ghosts are not scientifically possible and he will argue until he is blue in the face despite whatever woo counter theory another child offers. He is not intellectually impaired and he is tired of being treated like he is which he finds frustrating.

OP posts:
ShawshanksRedemption · 11/12/2019 22:27


Am I right in thinking that the discussion he "had" to engage in as a group was for him to practice how to interact with others? EG take turns, listen respectfully etc.

MargeSimpsonswig · 11/12/2019 22:40

Yes @Shawshank and I imagine he failed miserably when discussing this topic. I asked if he was shouting or swearing and he said no, he was asked his opinion and he gave it. Not taking turns to listen etc. whilst very rude, is a big leap to being threatening and aggressive.

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Neolara · 11/12/2019 22:43

I would get an appointment to meet with the senco and ask specifically to set up a plan to get your D's back into school. The longer he is out of school, the harder it will be to get him back in. I would be mentioning "reasonable adjustments" quite a lot. I think it's entirely reasonable to say you understand that the teacher may have felt threatened, but that your dc genuinely does not understand what he did wrong. (It might be worth trying to unpick exactly why the teacher thought it was naughtiness instead of bad social communication skills.
They may have additional info that you are not aware of.) You could suggest that school use a comic strip conversation to unpick the event with him and problem solve what he could have done differently. Senco needs to help repair the relationship between you Ds and the member of staff who is feeling so offended.

Chattybum · 11/12/2019 23:21

I actually think what your son said was quite creepy and if said in the way I have understood it, a sexual innuendo pertaining to the teacher spending the night. If this was how the teacher has taken it then yes, I think it is intimidating and totally inappropriate.

LastMichaelmas · 11/12/2019 23:27

That's deliberately choosing the worst possible inference Chatty. From a child with a communication disability. Proud of yourself?

Chattybum · 11/12/2019 23:30

No I'm just suggesting that an poorly judged 'joke' can come across very differently to the person whose expense it is at.

Chattybum · 11/12/2019 23:31

And why is it every other inference is possible except this one?

LastMichaelmas · 11/12/2019 23:36

Because most of us would have to work hard to find that sexual meaning in what he said. You didn't posit it as a maaaybe possible interpretation the teacher might have made. You said that what he said was creepy and that you understood it as sexual. That wasn't anyone else's first thought, though you're not the only person the possibility has occurred to, but it was the first thing your mind leapt to and the way you say you understand it. Says more about you, perhaps?

MargeSimpsonswig · 11/12/2019 23:43

😂 I think DS would rather die than make a sexual innuendo to a 60 odd year old woman in front of a room of his peers. Knowing my DS, he was trying to show the teacher how ridiculous he felt her question was of asking "why" he was hungry when to him it is very obvious he is hungry because he didn't have breakfast (which he will assume she knew because that's how his brain works) and she should know that because she (obviously) didn't make him breakfast.

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Chattybum · 11/12/2019 23:45

The fact is the teacher felt threatened enough to report it. Why on earth would she go to that trouble, add to her workload and report it to her seniors for a hapless hilarious joke? It clearly wasn't a joke to her and I'm simply suggesting how it could have been interpreted.

Poppinjay · 11/12/2019 23:51

The fact is the teacher felt threatened enough to report it.

That's not a fact. The fact is that the teacher claims she felt threatened. As she won't expand on what he actually said, it's more likely that she's using this as an excuse to justify her overreaction.

MargeSimpsonswig · 11/12/2019 23:53

To be honest, I don't even know if it was the "joke" they are referring to. All I have been told is that he was threatening and aggressive but no specific examples given. If you read TFT, you will see the joke was DS's version of events, not schools.

The whole thread is about the huge disparity between DS's version and being told by school he was being aggressive which he cannot understand. I'm not saying it is impossible that DS was really that awful, but I'd say highly improbable based on the fact that he normally would tell me about incidents at school and recognise he was in the wrong but this time he is adamant about his version of events (perceived or otherwise).

I will call school tomorrow and chase up the report and ask for a meeting, although teacher concerned was also copied in and hasn't commented. DS said he would be happy to sit with me and the teacher to go through what happened as he genuinely wants to know. I cant see why he would put himself through that when he has already faced his punishment in school (isolation) and the whole thing has been dealt with as far as school is concerned. It is him wanting to drag it all up again as he feels it was a miscarriage of justice (his words).

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