Tag Archives: social communication

A fresh start

24 Jun

It’s 3-Am the early hours of Thursday morning, Little man is running around the house like some headless loud chicken on pro-plus and redbull. 

“Come on, you really have to settle down now! You know you start your new school tomorrow, don’t you think you should get some rest”? This was me, trying to unsuccessfully reason with my ten-year old little man! He seems more lively than ever despite the 8 mg of Melatonin he had an hour before! 

It’s the night before the big event! This is quite possibly the biggest event in little man’s life to date, for the morning will bring with it a new beginning, a chance to start a fresh! Don’t all children deserve this? 

Over the course of a few months I watched my child lose every last stripe of his self-esteem. I watched him being gradually excluded from everything he had learnt to love, socially isolated from the friends it had taken far to long for him to make! I battled a system that took every last inch of my strength to break, the endless meetings, the tears from both myself and my child. I listened to the professionals each one slowly giving up on him, the constant calls to collect him as he was said to have been a danger to himself and others, maybe he didn’t fit in with the daily activities planed for the day. I went to court where I found myself prosecuted for my child’s school refusal, not once but twice. I watched him cry, hit his head and ask god why? When my child stated, “I just want to be normal” I cried and continued to cry for nights, days, weeks even months after. I was scared for my sons future, for what lay ahead. I felt lost, wanting to remove my child from the school I felt was truly damaging him, the school that taught him in isolation like some mass murder. I battled for a statement, I got one, then battled for the appropriate amendments to be made! I got brave filing a claim for discrimination and getting the result we wanted although knowing this already tough relationship would now get tougher. Finally I removed my child from the educational setting that was so, so wrong for him, and watched the slow improvements as he was taught 1-1 for five hours a day at the local library by a great tutor supplied by the LEA. I found a school, an independent special school, solely for children with autism! Yet the Lea were not about to hand it to me on a plate and only after every single state maintained special school failed to offer him a place did they finally give in, agreeing to his placement at my preferred school. Little Man had spent the last six months out off school, prior to this, for the period of a year or more Little man was either home on exclusion, educated at school for the period of just three hours per day given in an isolated environment, spending the afternoons at home where he was home schooled. Now he would take the steps needed to make a slow transition to his new learning environment with the help of his tutor, his now best friend! 

This was a big deal for him, I understood that! It’s a big deal for me too! His excitement was electrifying, yet his anxiety was closely hovering by! Little man is wide-eyed at 3-Am almost every night, So this night wasn’t any different! However his this degree of hyperactivity was at a high and risky level, one I hadn’t seen in a while.  

It was something past 4-Am before little man finally gave in, surrendering to his bodies cry for sleep. I tried hard to stay awake, the fear I would somehow sleep through the alarm having fallen asleep so late was within me! Though I gave it all I had but was defeated, just as Little man was an hour before. 

What seemed like five minutes later (God I hate that) I was rudely but thankfully awoken by the horrid buzz of the alarm clock. Rubbing my eyes and seriously struggling to see a thing I faintly made out the numbers on the alarm establishing that it was 7-Am. I could have so easily closed my eyes, reasoning with myself that five minutes extra would do no harm, that I somehow would be able to remain in touch with my head that would remind me that I needed to get outta bed. But I didn’t… Though I have in the past, I made myself get out of that bed and get on with it. 

Waking the little man was like waking an angry dinosaur that or an over hormonal teenager (at ten, this isn’t great… meaning I would preferably go with the dinosaur right now) He angrily gave me an unwelcome gesture of his middle finger then so kindly asked me to @%** Off! I persisted in-till I had movement. Up he got with an awful load of abuse in toll . This little guy had only been a sleep a total of three hours and of course he was filled with both the fear and excitement about the new school . I tried not to escalate the situation and let him dress at his own slow pace. Eventually I was greeted with a somewhat more pleasant child, who sat next to me and said, “Mum, I’m terrified”  Holding on to his hand, I told him it was gonna be Ok! But if the truth be told… I was terrified too!

I would not be joining him for his first morning, It was decided that he should instead start the transition process with the help and support of his tutor. He would only go till 12 p.m. slowly working his way up to full-time. His tutor would go with him for the first two days to settle him before his contract to teach Little man would reach an end. (This was going to be hard) The taxi came and the escort came to the door. Little man walked out to greet her, I shouted that I loved him, to relax, enjoy it, to have some fun. His reply, “I love you too mum” His eyes were so tired and filled with fear, yet I knew he was also excited. I was incredibly proud at that moment… I could have exploded with pride, for after all his been through he was now taking this giant step into the unknown. The morning dragged I sat by the phone on tender hooks, ten, then eleven o’clock no call. I just wasn’t used to this! 12.30 I heard the knock, I ran down the stairs like sonic the hedgehog and flange open the door. There he was, my little man and his tutor. 

Indoors, feed and settled, (this has to be done before probing begins) I asked… “Well, what was it like?” To which he replied. “It was the best mum. I even made a friend! Oh guess what? He has aspergers just like me”  It was then I realised that the tears & the battles had finally amounted to something. I’m not stating they were all worth it, just that for once they lead to something positive. This time I cried the tears of happiness! 

 It’s early days yet, but for once I’m opting out of my usual pessimist attitude and holding on to the hope that this is really it…

A fresh start!

A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP!

15 Aug

It’s Mid August and we are over half way through the summer holidays. I’m pleased to report, I still have my sanity, and things are going pretty well.

The fear of family trips has eased, which is good, given that we still have a few to come. Some nice days out we have had, and though they have never been problem free, they have been achievable. It’s somewhat easier when knowing what triggers a meltdown or another form of behaviour, then coming up with ways to manage and overcome them. Certain things have been avoided, and others tackled. I discovered that I myself was avoiding social situations in fear of not being able to control them. How was this fair on any of the children! Little mans sister and baby brother may live to resent him or me for them missing out. Little man also needs to be given the opportunity to make social mistakes and like most children, learn from them. It’s all well and good teaching him a string of social stories, but he needs to put them into practice. I’m not saying I don’t take them out or avoid outings of any kind, It’s certain times and places I’ve avoid, WITHOUT EVER KNOWING I WAS ACTUALLY DOING SO. I once took Little man to the park for lunch, this was in his school lunch hour, another period of time he was on home dinners. We sat on the grass to eat, but he had little interest in food, preferring to run around. He then went into the play area. This would prove to be a bad idea! Something went on involving Little man, another child, and a toy train. (We all know what Little man is like with anything transport) Little man had a complete meltdown, throwing the train, then the child across the play area. Little man was in his first year of full time school, We had moved to the area from Blackheath, and his school life was less then prefect. He had attachment issues and hated going. Mornings consisted of me trying to remove him from his bed, refusal to eat, not wanting to get dressed, and me having to chase him pin him and psychically dress him myself. Feeling I had seceded in my task, I would be ready to leave the door, only to discover he was butt naked again.  Well, we had no diagnosis back then, school got education welfare on my back for his lateness and lack of attendance, and now my son was having a full on meltdown in public. Though the park was busy, I had never felt so alone, and this feeling was completely pushed to the limit when the staff  went on to ban him from coming back. (This is a 0-5 supervised play area, within the park) The looks from the other parents! Needless to say, none of these local mothers have chosen to since speak with me. Lucky for me “I don’t give a dam.”

So was it since this day I’ve avoid play parks in fear of Little man being excluded? What I considered to be forgotten was very much still there. No mother wants their reception aged child labelled as a spoilt brat! So yes I would think it properly was.

A part from a recent school trip to the park, It’s been ages since we went. We go to the local parks, but they are much smaller, with fewer children. Now I found myself taking all three children to a large park, at a really busy time. The park is massive, extremely popular and host to many public events. Today their was face painters and bouncy castles. We saw birds of prey, and sat eating ice cream. Little man spotted a large play area, that was bursting with kids of all ages. The play area was very modern, far from your standard slide and swings, more recreational with rope swings, and space aged roundabouts, he ran straight for it, with his sister not far behind. Yep, you could easily see it was the summer holidays! The playground was filled with parents attempting to gain five minutes break, and hoping their child or children, would run out all their energy, resulting in them having early nights, leaving the parents free to chill. How comes, everywhere you go, you see these mothers! The types that easily form friendships with one another, resulting in large groups of mothers indulging in mothers meetings, based around parenting, soaps and bitching. I consider many of these “groupings” of mothers, to resemble those of teenage girl groups, that compete with one another over who has the best boyfriend, makeup, and hairstyle. Like these teenagers, these mothers feel no shame when sticking their nose in the air and shaking their heads, like the bloody Churchill dog! You see mothers like this stood around the school at home time! They are known to some as the “School gate mothers” No I’m not being a stereotype, I’m not saying all parents who stand at the school gate, chat, smoke and gossip! But many do, and that’s just how it is.

I sat my eight month old son into one of the swings. With me stood in front, Little man gently pushed his giggling baby brother. My daughter was well gone, she had taken herself off to the large sand Pitt and within a few minutes was playing along side another group off children. “Why don’t you go and play?” I asked little, why giving him a gentle push to encourage him. With this Little man was off, darting around the playground like a child running on super strength batteries. He was everywhere, kinda like a bull in a china shop. He didn’t hesitant, and attempted a number of times to involve himself in group play. Little man was jumping into conversations that did not involve him, then becoming upset by the children’s responses. Ok, of course I know Little man struggles socially, he has a social communication disorder, this isn’t new to me! I have watched Little man struggle with turning taking inappropriate language, controlling behaviour e.g. It’s just that I see this behaviour displayed when interacting with those we know, or friendships his already building. We do have problems with other children when out as Little man tends to tell it like it is. The only other time I saw little man really struggle to a great degree was a few years back. It was at a time in his school life were he wasn’t displaying challenging behaviour at school (More so at home) But he also didn’t seem to socialise with anyone (aloofness) I think he was just starting to want to interact and join in. When leaving a meeting in school I saw little man running around the playground from one group of children to another. I cried when I saw that these groups walked away choosing not to engage, others just run away. I assume because he was able to hold down a few friendships now, despite his more challenging behaviour, It would be the same, when faced with this type of social situation we were now in. I watched parents running grabbing their toddlers, moving them away from Little man. I understood, as I guess to a degree I would have done the same. He wasn’t horrible to these children he just had no regard for them when running into them as though they were not there. He often ran up the slide why children attempted to slide down, and had no concept of waiting. What was heartbreaking for me, was watching him attempt to communicate, this would always be with the older children. He jumped on the roundabout and shouted very inappropriately “Move it, that’s my seat” The child who was sat where Little man wanted to sit was in my opinion 14-15 years old (I later discovered he was in fact 11, just very tall.) Of course the boy was far from impressed and told Little man so. With this little man started shouting and telling everyone to shut up. I was shocked as I heard him saying you can’t do anything because my cousin who is 13 will come sort you out. The girls on the roundabout started laughing and telling him to go get his cousin. (Think they just wanted him to go away) I went and saved him, making sure all the children knew he wasn’t alone.

So here is the crazy bit! After all the above, Little man spots a tyre robe swing, and dashes over to it with no regard for his safety as the swing was full of children going in all directions. He then runs around trying his hardest to stop it. Finally it did stop, and with that little man jumped on squeezing his way between two other children. He then looks up and says to the boy swinging the swing “Push me then” He must have come across stupid as this child who was stood swinging the children, was the child who Little man had argued with ten minutes previous . What shocked me more was the fact this child chose not to continue arguing and did in fact carry on swinging the children, Little man included. With this I sat relieved  for five minutes and gave my baby and daughter a little attention.

A lot can occur in just two minutes! As I turned to check on Little man, I caught one of the girls from earlier push Little man hard in his chest. I ran over, baby under my arm to find Little man now screaming abuse and going absolutely berserk. “Your lucky you are a girl” followed by “My dad said I shouldn’t hit girls, but I really wanna hit you” was a sample of his language minus the swearing. Turns out the group of girls had got of the roundabout and fancied a go on the swing. They told the older boy that he should give it up as his had it ages. Little man got involved and the girls taunted him about his previous threat concerning his cousin. Little man then went on to make, what he considers to be a fair and valid point to one of the girls, “I don’t think it’s a good idea, you having ago on this swing, as your far to big and somewhat overweight” Umm not good I know! I was thankful for the older boy and his help to calm little man down. He had suggested going on the roundabout instead, and with that little man run off to select the best seat. With little man out of sight, I took my chances and explained that little man had problems with social communication, I said he was autistic. The girls did seem to look at his behaviour in a different way after that, I found them to be very grown up about the given situation, however this didn’t seem to be the case with everyone! As I turned to walk away, the eyes of every mother burned into me. I could hear the sneers and tuts. But my child was no longer a little reception age boy with no diagnosis, I was no longer a lonely mother. You see since discovering little mans Aspergers, I’ve discovered a whole new world. With the support of others and the love I hold for my son, I now hold my head high. I didn’t feel the need to explain his autism to every parent shaking their head, and those that wanted to judge me without knowing me, Well it was their problem! Non of these people mattered and still don’t. Yes, little man has normal naughty behaviour, typical of a nine year old, But he also has a communication problem. Can ignorance be cured? NO. Can autism be cure? NO. My point is as a parent to a child on the spectrum, I will always face such ignorance. I will be sneered at, laughed at, Pitied and gossiped about. Some days I have great tolerance towards these people, Other days I may not.

Next time you see a child in the park or anywhere else for that matter! Think before you judge, Who knows why the child is behaving in such a way? However I do know that the parent is likely to be facing enough stress in life, without such added pressure from strangers.

Request for Statutory assessment

2 Mar

As my last post explained I have decided to apply for a statutory assessment of little mans special education needs. Wanted to get the request written up and sent of before little mans school decide to change their minds in their decision to support me on my quest to get little man statemented and Into a school better suited to his needs.

I have posted a copy  of my written request for a formal  assessment. Please share any tips and advice you can offer me if you feel the request needs to be written any differently.

  • 1st March 2010
  • Re Giovanni Sarcone
  • 01/10/2000
  • Request for statutory assessment.
  • Dear Sir or madam
  • I am writing as the parent of the above child to request an assessment of his special educational needs under the 1996 education act.
  • I believe that Giovanni Sarcone whom attends xxxxxxx primary school
  • has the following special educational needs.
  • Bad behavioral problems in class and playground. His refusal to follow simple instructions and rules given by his teachers and TAs. I feel this is a result of his diagnosis of Aspergers which is a social communication disorder placed on the spectrum of autism.
  • below average learning age despite having age appropriate  IQ ( underwent IQ test at kaleidoscope in 07 )
  • Giovanni’s  in abilities  in coping with certain situations brought on by his difficulties with sensory processing.
  • Rude and inappropriate  manner and language towards staff and peers
  • reluctance to learn unless the subject falls into something of interest to him. lack of communication in asking for help if he has difficulties in understanding work. This brings on outburst of anger in which causes disruption  for the rest of his class.
  • Giovanni has a number of difficulties that affect his school day. His diagnosis of Aspergers means he has many difficulties  with social communication, Reading social clues , expressing emotions in an appropriate manner, sensory sensitivity and problems with routine ( A change of class teacher often results in Giovanni being taken out of class and even being sent home )
  • My reasons for believing that his school xxxxxxx primary cannot on their
  • own make the provisions required to meet my child’s needs are as
  • follows
  • Giovanni’s behavior becoming increasingly more difficult for the staff to contend with.
  • He often will be removed from the classroom due to him being extremely disruptive.
  • He will often miss out on classroom activities and playtime due to behavioral factors and a reluctance to follow instructions.
  • An increases in letters and phone calls regarding his behavior and refusal to work.
  • Their has been at times a need for me to collect Giovanni from school just for lunchtime as playground and dinner hall staff are unable to cope with him. He has also been sent home early or half day due to not following teachers instructions  and behavior problems.
  • He is on the verge of exclusion  from school which I worry will do more harm then it can possibly do good.
  • I understand that you are required by law to reply to this request within
  • a six-week period, And that if you refuse I will be able to appeal to the
  • special educational tribunal.

  • Yours Sincerely
  • Miss Claire Parkinson

Please note this page was updated on the 20th-04-10. The Name of the school has been removed. It was posted as a genuine mistake. Sorry if this caused any concerns or problems. Clairelouise82 blog author.

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