It made me sad to see Consultant Child Psychiatrist sadly nod his head and remark that perhaps school is not the best place for a child presumed protected by a Statement of Special Educational Needs. Having had 5 children on the Autism Spectrum and battled to get them all through school successfully (thanks to two old school headteachers who actually cared) it is very disappointing that my youngest son has been abandoned and failed by a system that has been brutally cruel to him, a HT who seemingly abused him in Primary school and damming his future, scarring him forever.
What is his school like for him a kid with challenging behaviour? How does HE perceive his school day? I knew some of his thoughts and feelings but not what was really going on deep down inside his soul. The chat revealed some very interesting and perhaps sad findings.
My child’s words not mine
School is pants mum, they don’t really care about us but they tell you they do. A couple of teachers are legends and have always watched my back but there are others that crawl up your arse mum, just because you have a qualification and they don’t, they just tell you what you want to hear but that’s not how it really is. It’s all hopeless and I don’t want to return ever and I don’t wanna talk about it any more.
My son is no angel I will admit, his behaviour often challenges us at home, but we can’t and wouldn’t want to ‘send him’ anywhere unlike school who are only too keen to ship him out at the first opportunity. And school should remember that by calling the parents incessantly (I felt they had me on speed dial) it sends whole families into meltdown in a heartbeat.
School to many kids on the autism spectrum is a concoction of the things they hate most in life. People en-masse, authority, regimented rules, injustice, long lessons, zero tolerance challenging behaviour, regular changes triggering meltdowns, petty rules and knee jerk reactions.
What do you do when a child on the autism spectrum wants to do some work alone listening to music on his headphones? Refuse? That’s what school did to my son, it ended up with him in a meltdown and arrested by the police when he ran off to calm down.
Meltdowns are NOT psychotic episodes! They may look pretty scary and you may think that what you are seeing is ‘aggression’ but actually what you are seeing is a rush of adrenaline and plenty of fear. Sectioning, arresting, punishing someone DOESN’T WORK. Calming them, shhhing them, soft tone of voice and respect DOES WORK. It’s all too easy to rush someone in a meltdown and cuff or restrain them, but it’s cruel.
Police, teachers and professionals have seem to become entrenched in this age of political correctness defending their knee jerk often over exaggerated reactions by saying ‘we were just trying to protect other people’ yah yah blah blah….yeah right. Actually you just didn’t understand the situation, misread it, probably triggered and exacerbated it but hey don’t worry, you may not admit to it, but we know the truth.
Teachers and professionals in general are pretty much unsupported and untrained in Autism Spectrum conditions, perhaps not their fault BUT….some are still not listening to advice from others. Some just march on in their own inimitable way. Even OfSTED’s chief inspector recently reported that 5000 schools were not being led properly by their HT. Click for link
Still it seems the message is slow to get out, still kids are being failed in a system that has not been adapted to support their needs efficiently. Still kids are being kicked out of school for? Exhibiting their core deficits? That’s discrimination isn’t it?
School for many on the autism spectrum and with AD/HD find school toxic. Parents complain and Governing Boards stick together like glue, the Parish Priest, Mrs Doo-gooder, Mr Pillar-of-Society and Mr Justice-of-the-Peace responsible members of the community who like the teachers don’t want challenging children messing up their OfSTED report or academic achievement league tables.
Ignored, invisible, unwanted and disposable. That is how some of our children on the autism spectrum and with AD/HD are being treated still. A sad, sad state of affairs in a civilised society in 2012