update on difficult child and my frustration with school care or lack thereof


New Member
Hi all

I have been MIA for a month and man i feel it now :smile: ...... I have battled with my sons school and unfortunately i did not win..... He got his report and is so far behind in reading..... No one told me....

Then the kid has gone a whole term with no bad notes.... they had a kindergarten presentation and i could tell when he was forced onto the stage that he was struggling......after he got his award he then had to perform...BY the end my heart was breaking for him......when i went back to pick him up at days end i was given a note for bad behaviour...He belted a kid in the head but when i questioned him he said it never happened.....

Well the school have a reward system at the school where they get rewards for good behaviour; due to his ONE bad event all term(all yr it was every day)he was not allowed to take part..... I argued with the teacher and called him all kind of names in the end..... How can my baby learn if he is punished for ONE mistake...what happened to everyone having one chance...... :mad: they say that the good kids get annoyed when the naughty ones get rewarded.... my son is not NAUGHTY !!!!!!

My son wanted to go to school though and would not be swayed.....three kids in thewhole class had to suit inside all day and miss out while the whole school got to have fun......Well i decided to say stuff em and kept my baby home for the last days of term/.... I have to now explain to difficult child that no matter how good he is he can never have one bad day...that he will never be rewarded unless he is perfect all the time.... :frown:

so what does a :warrior: do?? i called the dept of ed and then i called my local woman in charge..... then i called a new school.......Our local say they cant take difficult child till they do a risk assessment...... and that they may not have the ability to deal with him as their class's are made for next yr etc.....They will let me know next yr 2 days into term..... so we have no uniforms...no school and no way to prepare my baby for his school...

they said they wouldn't allow him to start till day 3 anyway as its too much for an autistic child to deal with......thats fine but with difficult child's record of violence the risk assessment determines if they think he will hurt others,...if they feel that will happen then they wont have him there..... I am annoyed .... so hurt...so upset for my baby :tears: .... so pi#%@* off with australia's crappy school's.....and i needed to vent big time......,. Its good to know you are all here as everytime i think i have this whole think licked.... i get a rude kick ....

Ohhh by the way they had to increase his ritalin to 1 tab am...1/2 lunch...1/2 3pm.... and the paed says he cant go up anymore and that we may need slow release which is not PBS approved in aust.....

well at least i am getting snow for Christmas
...right now i'm snowed under



Well-Known Member
I don't know how Australia's school system works. I know in the US you could get him school help. I hope things improve and you find a way to get your child more appropriate school supports. (((Hugs)))


Active Member
Hi. I've been wondering how you were getting on.

It doesn't have to be like this, but you are going to need to keep educating the school and the staff, wherever you send him.

First, some good news. There ARE changes happening in NSW Dept of Ed, at senior levels, concerning autistic kids and their needs. It's new and is going to take some time to percolate down through the ranks, but if you call Head Office (Dept of Ed, Bridge St) once school goes back and INSIST on talking to someone in charge in Disability/Special Needs/whatever they're calling it this week, you should get a better response. Be as gentle but firm as you can - the people in Bridge St Disabilities "at the coal face" are generally really good people. The problem is, we need someone who can kick rear ends further down the chain of command, someone who isn't already overworked.

I'm not personally acquainted with the DET people in your district. I don't know if they're worse than most or better than most. it sounds to me like the school is floundering and not doing what they should. This, unfortunately, is a problem common the world over.

More good news. In case you missed it when I told everyone just before Christmas - I got my Special Education class not only in our area, but Eastern Suburbs as well. Now this isn't going to help you now, directly, but it IS part of the DET increased awareness. It also means that by the time your son is high school age (assuming you both survive the process) there should be many more of these classes. It also increases the chance of classes like this being set up in primary schools around the state, beginning with Sydney. These will be optional placements- we can still mainstream if we want to.

Now, what can you do?
First, put on your Warrior Mum armour.
Second, in your dealings with the school and DET, present them with what THEY need to survive this experience. This includes teaching them what they need to do to avoid future lawsuits from "parents in a similar position". "It will be easier on school and staff if you do this..."
From memory, didn't you have an IEP meeting early in the year? You met to discuss funding, at least, I'm sure you told me. Their failure to put ANY of this in place is VERY NAUGHTY (they should have been made to miss the fun stuff at the end of the year). It is So naughty, in fact, that I think they have probably broken a number of laws and quite a few regulations.

We do have rules in Australia. Our schools are far less well equipped to cope with difficult children, but they're MUCH better equipped than you've been shown.

Does DET Regional Office in your area have a file on your son? They should have. I would ring them as soon as you can. If you can send them a fax off your computer, do so. Keep records of ALL conversations (school teachers, DET, the lot) and refer back to them. Communicate with them in writing. Ask for replies in writing. It sounds like hard work but in the long run it is much LESS work. Mind you, they HATE to put anything in writing, which is why you need to take darn good notes when the telephone you. If you have no computer handy, get yourself to a scrap of paper and pen as soon as you can after the call and write down everything you remember. Then, if you REALLY want to kick them effectively, send them another letter minuting the call, including the line, "If I do not hear from you in writing to the contrary I will assume this is a true and accurate record of our conversation on xx/xx/xxxx."
And the reason you send it by fax - it is still written communication, it is cheaper than a stamp and THEY have to pay for the paper. It will be there waiting for them when they eventually stagger back to work after Christmas/New Year. And some of them do, well before school goes back.

So, if DET has a file - ask them why there was no funding or support put in place. tell them how bad it has been and how there have been NO appropriate concessions made for his autism. The school has had no inservice, to your knowledge, and they are not coping. Neither are you, neither is your son. he is not learning. he is a bright child who by law has to be in school, and yet he does not have access to education because every scrap of his energy and intellect is being focussed on "trying to behave" and to cope.

Failure to take his needs into account - this is discriminatory. Before school goes back - talk to the Anti-Discrimination Board. Find out what is NOT legally permitted.

The school SHOULD do their utmost to get DET to provide funding for support. This should pay for an aide, among other things. The problem is, if DET say, "No," the school can't appeal. This is where YOU have to step in and appeal. It's like Centrelink knocking you back for Carer Support (you should be getting this, no appeal needed).

The local school HAS to take him if you insist. If they're not ready - it's THEIR fault, if you gave them enough notice. A child in a wheelchair at our local school was applying for Kindergarten and the school tried to suggest they send her somewhere else because they had no ramps. The parents insisted, and the school's delaying tactics meant that the entire Christmas break was spent with DET Properties Office doing a rush job on ramps. They HAD to be in place by the new school year, at least in a rudimentary level.

It was the same for us - they knew they were getting difficult child 3 and that he was autistic. We didn't have the first meting for funding until after he'd started, but that meant the teacher had his measure. We could have done it sooner and they did have some seeding funding in place to start them off.

So, if they say no - they have to explain why in Parliament, if necessary.

Funding - DET can access emergency funding in a matter of days, if necessary. They need to act sooner rather than later with autistic kids AND THEY KNOW IT. Don't let them plead ignorance. The schools may be ignorant but Regional Office should not be. And if you meet ignorance - keep going over their heads. Go right up to Minister for Education if you must. Tell them that you will keep ringing up the chain of command until you get someone who can put some help in place ASAP.

Practical support - by getting him to start a few days later, it is actually a recognised strategy. With Term 1 the kids never go back on Day 1. Teachers go back on Day 1, some classes go back on Day 2 and other classes go back on Day 3. An autistic kid - a case can be made to ease him back into school, beginning part-time and working up. difficult child 3 has an autistic friend about to be mainstreamed into Year 9. This lad is going to be sent part-time to begin with, for a few weeks, to see how he copes. This was sorted out in Term 4 this year, including a number of visits and talks with him. DET already have in practice to not shove these kids into a class and expect no problems.

Other options - if he's not reading and on paper is not doing well, the high IQ (assuming you've been able to measure it with any reliability) can be overlooked because FUNCTIONALLY he's doing badly, and you can get him into an IM class (for kids with mild intellectual disability). It's where they shove autistic kids when they're not coping, providing the child isn't already doing well academically. In the absence of a Special Education class for autistic kids in your area, IM could be the way to go. The classes are a maximum of 9, usually fewer, with a Special Education teacher and an aide, full-time. The education program is/can be modified to meet their needs and the social structure IS modified for them. I don't know a lot more because difficult child 3 was denied entry to this class. Don't let the "intellectually handicapped" label bother you - some really bright kids get in here too, in the absence of any other options. It also forces the hand of DET to put in the specific classes we need.

At some stage things should improve, once you start kicking with your steel-capped boots. Write out a wish list of what you feel difficult child needs. Include things like giving him space to withdraw (with schoolwork) when classroom noises/activity/etc becomes too distracting/distressing; an aide for as much time as you can get; transport to and from the school (paid for by DET if he gets into ANY special unit such as IM); no homework (if you have battles); the opportunity to withdraw/be withdrawn from class performances (that was just plain cruel - ignorance by the school, but no excuse); involvement of DET's Autism Outreach teacher in your area. Behaviour management/playground supervision.

You can do this. But you will find yourself having to become far more 'heavy' and boot-kicking than you ever thought you'd need. Once they realise you won't be pushed around, it does become easier.

You also need to know not only your rights (and your son's rights) but also "the ropes", especially in your area. Find a local support network, even if it's just an email one.

Also, join ASPECT and sign difficult child up for "Early Intervention". You need to be an ASPECT member to get this, but they will come out to the school and explain to them about autism. It used to cost us A$100 per day visit but the school funding would cover this. Check it out before you commit to it - DET Autism Outreach teacher should do the same thing.

All this takes time and effort initially but in the long run makes your life, and your son's, so much gentler and easier.

Your son loves school - that is such good news. It also backs up your early beliefs, and mine, that he is a very bright kid. Simply by your insistence of investigating the IM class, you could be setting in chain the development of a primary high-functioning autism Special Education class in your area.

Your ultimate aim is to have your son's needs met, preferably yesterday. If you have to begin pounding desks then do so - some things take time and benefit many others, but if YOUR SON benefits, you have won.

Your local school - they CAN'T say they don't know if they can take him - they have no choice. Risk management criteria or whatever - they have no choice. It's THEIR problem if they want risk management assessment, they should have got it done before and they can't expect him to stay home (against the law, folks) while they belatedly do their job. It's also THEIR responsibility to find a place for him that is acceptable to you and meets the legal requirement of him being in school.

I'm curious - do you have that one in writing? If not, write to them and ask them to confirm it, in writing. Then send a copy to your local NSW MP, the Anti-Discrimination Board, Today Tonight, ACA... you get the picture. I'm betting they will back down, fast.

get your MP on side, anyway. You will need to put all this into a letter (keep it to less than a page if you can) and to request a meeting with your MP ASAP to see what he can do to resolve your son's education problems. Take him with you to the appointment. Take your own notes with you, listing the specific problems as well as what you want the MP to do.

But it does sound like you need to plan to be home with him for the first week of term 1 2007.

Good luck. Kick rear ends. Call me, or pm me with your contact details (sorry, I've lost them - it's why I haven't rung).



Active Member
Sorry that things are not going well for you right now. :-(

Something to keep in mind is that unless another school has a strong reputation for working well with special needs students often a tranfer just results in problems. They might be different problems due to philosophical or staffing differences, but unless they are experienced and/or receptive, it can result in putting the child through the stress of a transition for the same end result.