8yr Old & Loads of problems at School

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by AJ1, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. AJ1

    AJ1 Guest

    Hi there everyone! I was a member here a few years ago [diff user name, but can't remember what it was] and found a lot of support and help by being a member here.

    My daughter is 8 and was diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD 3 years ago. She takes Sertraline and Risperdal, both of which are helping immensely! Before she started the Sertraline about 3 weeks ago, things had still been pretty difficult. She has been taking Risperdal on and off for almost 3 years. The Risperdal helps, but after being on it for a while it helps less... but still, I have fallen into the trap a few times of thinking it wasn't helping much and she put on a lot of weight, only to find that off the Risperdal things got incredibly more difficult and miserable and explosive again!

    At home she has been very explosive [and thanks to this site I have read and reread the Explosive child] and life has been very hard. At school she has an aide who is with her for a part of every lunch time... but that is another story and I don't want to make this too long. At school things have been difficult for her [socially] but she hasn't been explosive there, not hitting etc. Unfortunately things have been getting progressively worse at school.

    Now I am coming to my point! I have tried approaching the school at various times over the years, only to be condescended to, hung up on, ignored etc. Thus my reluctance to try and approach them again now, especially as it is the end of the school year here in Australia. My daughter went to school yesterday after only 6 hours sleep. She has had a bit of trouble sleeping lately. I sent her to school with a note to let her teacher know that she had missed out on a lot of sleep over the weekend, and therefore school could be more challenging for her. Later in the morning I realised that she had not had her Risperdal the night before [and that explained why she couldn't sleep until midnight], I rang the school and left a message for her teacher.

    When I picked her up in the afternoon she was very upset and had been sent to the principal for 1 thing, and put on time out by her teacher for another thing. Both things she claims not to have done. I know that she fibs, but I know she also tells the truth sometimes... so what to believe, what to think, what to do. Today she is refusing to go to school because she has to go back on time out. And of course she is deeply upset that I am unsure if she is telling the truth.

    This time last year I tried to talk to the VP about similar things, and was hung up on. I am reluctant to try to talk to anyone there about what is going on since there are only 7 days left of school and it probably won't get me anywhere.

    I guess the point of this post is that I am lost. I don't know what to believe, and I don't want my daughter to think she can stay home when things get tough, but I also know I can't make her go when she is like this. One of the incidents yesterday was that she thought a boy in her class had touched her on her "private place", actually she thinks he punched her between the legs. After discussion with the other children, the teacher and principal decided it was an accident and wrote to me in her communication book [which hardly ever comes home despite things like this happening constantly] that everyone was happy with the outcome. Not my daughter. She is still convinced the boy did deliberately punch her there. of course I want to believe her, but i know that her perception isn't always spot-on. She had to sit in the hallway outside the principal's office, and she says the principal yelled at her.

    Anyway, not sure how coherent this post is... I don't imagine I am going to be able to get her to school at all before school breaks up for the year.
  2. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    Does she have an IEP? If not I'd start the paperwork, end of the year or no. I'd also request that she not be in the same class with this boy next year (because even if it was an accident she'll feel better not being in the same class with him).
  3. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    HaoZi -- AJ's from Austraila, they're school system is different than ours.

    AJ - What consequences will the school impose if she misses the last 7 days? In the past, when Tigger was unstable, I declared an early end to the school year as it was clear that nothing productive was going to happen. Maybe you can take in on a day-by-day basis.

    If it truly was an accident, then the school probably handled it correctly wrt to the boy. But since your daughter feels that it was intentional, her feelings of violation and lack of safety were not addressed. The school can't simply state that she shouldn't have those feelings. Can accomodations be made to keep her away from that boy for the last 7 days?

    I'll let our Austrailian moderator know that you are here -- she'll be able to give more accurate advice wrt dealing with your school system.

    Welcome back,
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    JJJ - you calling me a mod? I'm just one of the plebs, honest!

    Seriously, I think I remember you, AJ1. Were you BellyKate? I made contact with BellyKate who has a daughter who would be about 8 years old by now. I have been wondering how things were going.

    Some things that we experienced, when difficult child 3 was about 8 years old -

    First, the school needs to be nagged to follow through on the communication book. difficult child 3's teacher tried to "wean us off" the book and as the communication dropped off, all sorts of problems became huge. Nothing we could point to the lack of book directly, but when we picked up with it again and made an effort (the school and me, both) a lot of the behaviour problems eased. I think because on both sides, we were paying more attention.

    Second, your daughter is entitled to an IEP and support funding. This funding pays for aide time, for staff training, for playground supervision, for anything needed. If this is not already in place, I would start the ball rolling now so the request is in place for next year. To do this, you could call the school and ask. But make it clear - you want to put things in place now, as far as possible, in order to make the transition to the new school year a lot smoother for staff as well as for your daughter. To that end, you need to expedite this - who at District Office level should you talk to? Ask the school. I used to liaise with the school counsellor, the class teacher and the principal. If she is still in Year 2, you might need to liaise with the infants principal instead. But she's Year 3 now, isn't she? It's a bummer of a year for our kids.
    To push for support funding for next year, you will need a written diagnosis from her specialist (GP is not sufficient) and also something that says she needs supervision, support, assistance with this or that. If you have someone half decent at District Office level (ask for the District Office Disabilities person) then ask them what the letter from the doctor should say. Call the doctor's office and (hopefully) the doctor will write something fast and fax it off. So get the fax number for the District Office Disabilities person when you're talking to them. Get the specialist to fax a copy to them, also a copy to the school. Add to it your own letter (you can email it in, I think - ask to be sure) which is requesting support and supervision to be considered, and a Learning Team Meeting for your daughter, the meeting to be held ASAP in the new school year. Preferably no later than second week back. Try and pin them down to a date NOW. It won't be easy, with the school year almost over.

    Third - Year 3 is a nasty year, we found. The kids are really mean, the boys are bullies, the girls begin to really develop the "mean girls" streak and also if your child is Aspie, the other kids are increasingly picking up on differences and playing games with them. It was a horrible year for us. Frankly, what helped a great deal for difficult child 3, especially at the end of the year, was playground supervision. He needed a shadow. Not someone to hover, but actually it was someone who organised games (structured play) and was simply there, available and ensuring that whatever games were played around difficult child 3 were played fairly. What had been happening was, the other kids would change the rules on him partway through a game, and he couldn't pick up on that. Often the other kids would get difficult child 3 in trouble by not letting him have his turn at the play equipment, then when the bell went difficult child 3 would be out there determined to have his turn, then he would be in trouble for not coming in to class when he was supposed to.

    Another finding - you may have already seen this - both teachers and students get increasingly jaded towards the end of the school year. They all get hot and bothered, literally. We used to find that difficult child 3 would begin to b urn out earlier and earlier each school year. By Year 3, he began to really burn out in the second half of Term 3. We had playground supervision for him in Term 4 of that year and the improvement was remarkable. Not enough though. It was at that point I began to ask for a partial attendance option in the second half of each year. This request was always denied (I was told it was not possible - this is a lie).

    Something to watch for - some DET officials will still insist that kids on the spectrum (which includes Aspies) MUST attend mainstream school because these kids need to be around other kids in order to learn their social skills. But the problem with this is these kids do not pick up social skills by osmosis ,the way the rest of us learn our social skills. Autistics and Aspies learn social skills a very different way, and being exposed to bad social experiences is actually counterproductive.

    Now to the specific incident that has upset your daughter.
    First, the school appears to have investigated it, and taken the approach that this was accidental. That does not mean your daughter was lying. Nor does it mean necessarily that she was mistaken. She may well have been right, he may well have been deliberately touching her inappropriately. But the school has chosen to put a gentler face on it. Your daughter needs to know that she is not disbelieved, she is not necessarily wrong, but the incident cannot be proven. But in the process of investigating this, the boy will have got the message, "Touching like that is wrong and you must not do it." If he did it and has gotten away with it, well he has got the message to not do it again. So she should feel safer. If he didn't mean it, then it is good that he not be punished for something he didn't do, or didn't mean to do.

    It is a challenging social lesson, to be able to let go of perceived injustice. She feels hard done by because she was there, she has strong ideas about what she perceived happened to her. But unfortunately for her, there were no other valid witnesses so she cannot prove her point. It may be true, but she has to let it go. Not an easy lesson for an 8 year old.

    Now to the school. They need to understand tat she is unhappy about this outcome and she does not have the social skills or the maturity to accept their decision. Punishing her for her lack, is unfair and inappropriate. It will also be ineffective. Of course she is upset and feels she is not believed. The outcome is school avoidance - and in this case, the school's response to the situation is responsible for her school avoidance. When you talk to DET officials, do use that phrase - school avoidance. Also feel free to use the term "school phobia". In this case, the direct link to the school avoidance and school phobia, is being put on time out and the circumstances around it. It does sound to me that your daughter is telling the truth as she perceives it to be, and feels the injustice of the time out very keenly. At her age, punishment should be immediate and short. What are the reasons for the time out? If the time out was given to her because of her reaction to the situation, or if there is a component to her behaviour doe to not having her medications on board, then she should not be getting punished, especially on the next day. They need to limit consequences to only for things she CAN help, and only the same day.

    We went through a lot of difficult child 3 being put on detention, for things he could not help or for things he did not even remember doing, or for things he did in self defence. He was put on defence one time in Grade 4 for yelling at a teacher; difficult child 3 had complained to that teacher about a classmate sticking pins into him. The teacher did not handle it properly or do anything to keep difficult child 3 safe; instead, she simply told him to stay away from the other boy. Since the other boy was actively seeking out difficult child 3 to stick pins in him, this was stupid advice and difficult child 3 got angry with the teacher loudly. Detention. Wrong. Very. But it happens. It should not happen, and if a child has an aide through support funding, the aide would be the person to step in, observe, deal with it and keep the child safe.

    Also investigate other options. If she is refusing to go to school, you need to let them know this and also let them know that this problem is a direct result of her being NOT happy about the outcome of their discussion. So they can't say, "Everybody is happy." In any case of abuse or perceived abuse, the person who says, "I feel uncomfortable in that situation" is the one who has the right to feel safe. Many years ago when I was a uni student, I had to have a Pap smear at Family Planning. The doctor who did my check-up was a bit too enthusiastic and I felt very uncomfortable, and felt violated. Next time I had to go back, I asked for a woman doctor. I got Edith Weisberg! (boss lady) She asked me why I asked for a woman doctor and I told her. I also said that perhaps I was being a bit silly to make a fuss and she stopped me right there. She said, "He may not have intended to be doing the wrong thing, as you say, but the truth is - if YOU felt uncomfortable, then he was doing the wrong thing, by definition. You have a right to feel safe, always."

    With the incident with this boy, she needs to let it go. But the teachers need to recognise that she honestly believes the act was deliberate, and is not going to be disciplined out of her belief. And should not be. She needs to be helped to accept that nothing will be done, no action taken, but she also needs to know that they will watch out for her to keep her safe from that happening again (if it was deliberate). She has a right to feel safe and to be reassured.

    As for between now and the rest of the year - if she needs to stay home, it's difficult to force it. And the longer she stays home, the more difficult it is for her to go back. But the problem is partly of the school's making and this is a forerunner to more problems later on. The school needs to help you in resolving this.

    If she chooses to stay home, and it is easier on all fronts to allow this, get some schoolwork sent home and make her work. Do not reward her with time off school and a holiday. School work during school hours. Make that a rule. I suspect even if you get her back to school tomorrow, this sort of problem will happen again. Always have some school work available for her to do, something you can set her to when she is home/ Something she can work on, even if she is home because she is sick. It doesn't have to be punishment, just work. Because you don't want her to fall behind, you can tell her. Get her to watch a documentary. The ABC has stopped screening schools programs for the year, or I would say, sit her down to watch the ABC between 10 and 11. But failing that, get to your local library and borrow anything by David Attenborough. Or "Space". Or anything you can think of that is a documentary.

    Also if you are having problems like this, you need to begin to consider, for the years to come, that some form of home schooling, correspondence of even Distance Ed may be better for her, for a time.

    There are other options but it depends to a certain extent on where you are. If you are BK and you haven't moved, I will make enquiries for you as to what Distance Ed options there are. I think it would be the Sydney centre for primary; they also deal with children whose parents are travelling around Australia, or kids who live in the outback, or kids who are physically too ill to get to school. Or the gifted sports kids or child actors. The circus brats. difficult child 3 only had six months of Primary Distance Ed but it was the best decision we made. I wish we'd been able to do it yeas sooner

    by the way, if you hint you're thinking about this, you might find sudden support coming out of the woodwork. Of you might get told, "She would never qualify."

    Trust me - she would. And socially, despite the apparent disadvantages of lack of social contact with a classroom of 8 year olds, she would probably do a lot better.

    Welcome back. I hope we can get some action for you in the next week.