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#36 updated - he hurt himself again. seeking support and advice in dealing with DS's school


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#1 LisbethSalander

Posted 26 May 2017 - 12:24 PM

Hello,

Im nervous about putting the things that really matter to me out here these days, but I do need some experienced support and advice and I ask that you please keep that in mind.

DS13 has autism (CARS 44 when dx'd but he was then nonverbal etc etc and now would be considered less severe) as well as some physical conditions. Since starting high school (mainstream, no funding granted due to his speech only being one standard deviation below, blah blah blah, you know the story) his anxiety has increased. Last year it became so bad that he got very unwell and spent two months not able to hold down much food at all and vomiting consistently before school etc.

While the school appeared concerned, there was little done to alter their support of him and the end result was keeping him home for a half day a week.

This year seemed to start on a much better note. DS had been happy and engaged. Fast forward to the last few weeks. Vomiting again and not eating again (just after his improvement in his weight!).  Now there is a new issue. When he is very upset, he has started growling and yelling and scratching up and down his face hard enough to leave long streaky sores.

I contacted the school last week when it started and made them aware of my concerns. I got the usual luke warm response of ' I will talk to all his teachers and the social worker will see him and we will see if anyone has noticed any difficulties'. Yesterday DS came home from school with new scratches down his face and deeper ones. He tells me it happened in one of his classes but wont talk further about it.

Im disappointed that the school didnt get in touch considering Id already communicated my worries and his teachers were all apparently informed. There was no intervention or follow up with DS about this except for telling him to go for a walk.

Ive been in touch with his care co-ordinator and his Lovan is being upped and he is going back on melatonin to help him get some restorative rest at night and I kept him home today to decompress and went with him to his psych appt.

While in the appt Ive missed the call from his year level co ordinator and she is now unavailable til after 2pm. The psych appt showed that his issues are his own, contributed to by worries at school, but definitely not caused by anything in particular at school. So now I need to explain to his year level co ordinator that I feel he needs a lot of emotional support right now and I fully expect because it is not a specific learning problem that this will be mostly ignored with a token weekly appt with the wellbeing officer. History shows this is likely.

There is a specific unit for kids with disabilties but as DS is not funded they have said their resources arent able to accommodated him.

I honestly dont know what is reasonable to expect. I want his teachers to be able to support him on a personal level but we are talking about a public mainstream high school - not terribly renowned for small class sizes and well supported teaching staff.

This is my fourth year battling the high school. Some years are better than others. There are no other educational settings that are available to us. Please for the love of god do NOT mention home schooling.

What can I ask for that is reasonable to expect from a school that sometimes finds kids like mine 'too hard'?

Edited by LisbethSalander, 30 May 2017 - 05:40 PM.


#2 eggplant

Posted 26 May 2017 - 12:31 PM

What is reasonable at the very least is:
- to expect a phone call when it happens at school

I would be kicking up a stink about that.

Apart from that it depends on what your priorities are. Make a list and work out what they are willing to accommodate for and what they won't. At least you know where you stand with this school and if you need extra support in areas they won't support you can look elsewhere.

#3 LisbethSalander

Posted 26 May 2017 - 02:34 PM

Thanks. I feel that way too. I try to be reasonable and respect the fact that most teachers are doing the best with what they have.

I have had it suggested to me that many kids with ASD sometimes drop their LOTE subject to reduce angst and give them some quiet catch up time during the week. I am considering bringing this option up too.

It seems like despite knowing my child the best out of all the people who deal with him, my concerns and requests seem to hold the least weight.

Off to ring the school.

#4 Expelliarmus

Posted 26 May 2017 - 04:15 PM

What does 'support on a personal level' mean to you? What would that look like?


#5 LisbethSalander

Posted 26 May 2017 - 06:06 PM

Thats a good question.

I mean a genuine interest in and noticing of his mental state. Not the kind of care that means he only gets notices if he grabs a knife in food tech and threatens to kill himself.

I understand that level of interest and understanding is a difficult thing to cultivate when you have up to eight and nine different teachers dealing with your kid in a class of over 20.

Thats where I find it difficult, while its my job to advocate for my child, it surely shouldnt be my job to find the educational solutions to support his wellbeing at school. Well I guess it is to an extent, but I feel the bulk of the burden is mine and I am not sure that is right. I can keep him safe at home. I can communicate with school. I can keep his therapists in touch with his teachers. But I dont know their limits and what is reasonable to ask and what they can offer (the reason for this thread).

ETA: the phone call with the ylc seemed to offer little in the way of hope. DS is going to be buddied up with someone for the room changes which a positive and practical step, but that was it.

Edited by LisbethSalander, 26 May 2017 - 06:15 PM.


#6 José

Posted 26 May 2017 - 06:48 PM

So you said the year started well. What changed?

You seem to be saying that your DSs difficulties arent related to school.  And I think you've said his therapists are already in touch with the school so they could offer supports and suggestions.

I think the weekly appointment with the wellbeing officer is appropriate.  
Im not really sure about what else school could do. If there was stress around the work or assessments id say look at modifying tasks or getting extensions or additional scaffolding or support. If playground was a problem id say arrange an alternate space to spend break times
Perhaps we don't have enough info to be able to give thoughtful and meaningful suggestions

#7 Expelliarmus

Posted 26 May 2017 - 07:00 PM

I struggle to adequately do that and have only one class. I'm finding that sort of pastoral care very draining right now, so I not all that positive about the prospect.

That said DS' teachers have called us regarding him 'looking sad' so perhaps it is possible? But not all of them called, just History last term and English this term - and I think it stems from highly alert staff due to a suicide last year - so may be an abnormal reaction from high school teachers.

#8 LisbethSalander

Posted 26 May 2017 - 07:00 PM

Apologies, youre right Jose, I havent been very clear. Its been a build of everything basically. What I meant to say is that the stressors of school are his trigger, but on a general level, as in nothing in particular is the root cause, but the high school environment and demands as a whole. The work itself, the room and teacher changes, the friendship dynamics and social side...the whole thing. As opposed to there being a particular problem. It is his autism that is the root cause. Thats what I mean, if that makes more sense?

His therapists arent current involved with the school but have been previously.

The weekly social welfare visit is a joke in our school. Sad but true. Its ineffective and any recommendations he passes on to staff are routinely ignored.

The YLC told me that she was under the impression (and stressed that she didnt know for sure) that DS's work is already being heavily modified. I have seen no evidence of that myself, but Ds wouldnt really know if it was happening.

#9 onetrick

Posted 26 May 2017 - 08:44 PM

I teach at a high school, so I come from a different angle to you, obviously.

We teach an average of 25 students per class, and most teachers have 4-7 classes of kids. Oh, and we get approx 3-4 hours of planning time during school hours a week (and limitless 'optional' meetings that really aren't optional before/ after school)- including all follow up emails/ phone calls, marking and planning.

I know I can say with absolute confidence that I do the best that I can do for my kids (yes, even the 18 yo's are kids lol)... but phoning parents is something that I can't do as much as I want. Partly due to the lack of time, but also (esp. in cases like this) due to the absolute lack of privacy in my staffroom at lunch time. I share with 5 other staff, and we encourage students to visit at lunchtimes.

BUT what I can say that I would do, is try to help your child in some way. I assume that your child's teachers know about the ASD diagnosis, so they should already be on the looking for stress behaviours (it's scratching with your child, I've had kids who make bird noises, hide under the table etc), and learning about how to help.

What I would also do is talk to the counsellor and psychologist at school for ideas on how to support your child. Probably also the nurse due to the physical injury aspect. Definitely the support staff to ask for ideas of support- he might not be funded, but they are experts in ASD and I'm not.

I would then email you as parent, and put the supports in place in my classroom, whatever that looked like. Possibly other teachers, especially if there was one that seemed to have a good relationship for advice. We would then keep in touch whenever we needed to, and keep in contact about strategies that worked/ didn't work.

I'm very much hoping that the above is happening and that you hear from the teachers soon. Give it a week or so maybe? I think news travels a lot slower in high school compared to primary school (I know a fair few primary teachers, and very much envy the connection that they have with their students).

#10 Quirkymumofone

Posted 27 May 2017 - 12:12 AM

Hi,
Please check with your Dr about the interaction between Lovan and melatonin. My internet research into melatonin is that it not a good mix. It did ease my son's anxiety for a month but with my son his behaviour at school totally changed. Worse at home.

#11 LisbethSalander

Posted 27 May 2017 - 08:30 AM

I'll keep that in mind, but it is the paed who suggested it. I appreciate the heads up though. Always better to know these things. :)

#12 Weirdly Sane

Posted 27 May 2017 - 08:41 AM

I think I understand what you're saying LS.  The stress of just holding it together and appearing "normal" in a mainstream large high school setting is in itself a huge stressor for your DS2.  And it seems the school doesn't quite get that, and is looking for specific incidents.


Sorry if this is a laughable suggestion but is your DS2 getting any support via the NDIS?  Is there any way some of that support would involve developing a quite details support plan you could then take to the school?  that's assuming the school has the staff resourcing to implement it... :(
I too have heard of children in a similar situation opting out of LOTE and using that time to recover.
Perhaps at a minimum you need a few specific concrete suggestions, like that, that are actionable for the school and don't require too much additional resourcing.  No Lote.  Movement breaks.  A safe space.   A games club at lunchtimes to avoid the playground overload.

#13 LisbethSalander

Posted 27 May 2017 - 09:00 AM

View Postonetrick, on 26 May 2017 - 08:44 PM, said:

I teach at a high school, so I come from a different angle to you, obviously.

We teach an average of 25 students per class, and most teachers have 4-7 classes of kids. Oh, and we get approx 3-4 hours of planning time during school hours a week (and limitless 'optional' meetings that really aren't optional before/ after school)- including all follow up emails/ phone calls, marking and planning.

I know I can say with absolute confidence that I do the best that I can do for my kids (yes, even the 18 yo's are kids lol)... but phoning parents is something that I can't do as much as I want. Partly due to the lack of time, but also (esp. in cases like this) due to the absolute lack of privacy in my staffroom at lunch time. I share with 5 other staff, and we encourage students to visit at lunchtimes.

BUT what I can say that I would do, is try to help your child in some way. I assume that your child's teachers know about the ASD diagnosis, so they should already be on the looking for stress behaviours (it's scratching with your child, I've had kids who make bird noises, hide under the table etc), and learning about how to help.

What I would also do is talk to the counsellor and psychologist at school for ideas on how to support your child. Probably also the nurse due to the physical injury aspect. Definitely the support staff to ask for ideas of support- he might not be funded, but they are experts in ASD and I'm not.

I would then email you as parent, and put the supports in place in my classroom, whatever that looked like. Possibly other teachers, especially if there was one that seemed to have a good relationship for advice. We would then keep in touch whenever we needed to, and keep in contact about strategies that worked/ didn't work.

I'm very much hoping that the above is happening and that you hear from the teachers soon. Give it a week or so maybe? I think news travels a lot slower in high school compared to primary school (I know a fair few primary teachers, and very much envy the connection that they have with their students).

Ok, I appreciate your really considered response. I am really aware of the strains on public education staff and their good intentions. I hope I made that very clear. This is not an 'anti teachers' thread.

But in all fairness I dont think it is my job to worry as much about that as insist upon the school as a whole (not a specific teacher) stepping up their game to support my child in his very challenging navigation of high school.

I am aware that as far as the Dept of Education is concerned, funding or not, a school is legally obliged to provide whatever level of support is deemed reasonable and necessary to ensure good learning outcomes for my child. My child cannot learn when he is vomiting, not eating, and hurting himself, he is unable to learn. If the reason he is doing these things is because he is finding the work and environment overwhelming then I think it is ok for me as a parent to expect more to be done.

I know that funding and resources are limited. I accept that, but this is one time where hearing how stretched our public resources are just makes me angry. It makes me feel like my child doesnt matter. It makes my child suffer.

I am not talking about phoning a parent 'as much as you can' my child was self harming and no one said a word. That is not acceptable, surely.

There is no seeking of suggestions from DS's service providers. there are no meetings to discuss supporting my child. There are emails sent from me that are not responded to. There are emails sent out from the YLC that are no replied to and not followed up.

I am an open, communicative, understanding and (generally) reasonable parent willing and prepared to work with the school in providing support for my child. I want communication from his school. I want homework tasks communicated to me along with the supposed modified work. I want to see a real interest in my child hurting himself and I want a sh*t ton less of buck passing. The reason from the YLC of no one telling me about DS's self harming? Because afterwards he buried his head inn his hands for the rest of the class. Didnt bother having a quick word after at the end of class ? nope. Didnt pass on your concerns to anyone? no. The rest of his teachers for the day? Assumed it was something someone else must have already dealt with. Is this ok? no. Is this ok given my email to each individual teacher on Monday voicing my concerns and his recent incident of self harm the Friday before? Hell NO.

#14 LisbethSalander

Posted 27 May 2017 - 09:12 AM

View PostWeirdly Sane, on 27 May 2017 - 08:41 AM, said:

I think I understand what you're saying LS.  The stress of just holding it together and appearing "normal" in a mainstream large high school setting is in itself a huge stressor for your DS2.  And it seems the school doesn't quite get that, and is looking for specific incidents.


Sorry if this is a laughable suggestion but is your DS2 getting any support via the NDIS?  Is there any way some of that support would involve developing a quite details support plan you could then take to the school?  that's assuming the school has the staff resourcing to implement it... :(
I too have heard of children in a similar situation opting out of LOTE and using that time to recover.
Perhaps at a minimum you need a few specific concrete suggestions, like that, that are actionable for the school and don't require too much additional resourcing.  No Lote.  Movement breaks.  A safe space.   A games club at lunchtimes to avoid the playground overload.

Not laughable at all. the NDIS support DS gets is significant. It often misses the mark but is a huge improvement on what we had. Over half a dozen times now I have had the service providers give suggestions and plans to the staff via the YLC or the home group teacher and the response is always positive with the implementation being a bit of a let down and really inconsistent.

Im aware that because the school has a limited budget they use a large volume of new graduates and there is a large overturn. That makes consistency difficult I am sure.

Again, I ensure I keep the realities in mind and make it a point to understand the challenges the staff face, but again, apart from a basic understanding, I am resenting how much it seems to be my problem to worry about the school rather than my own child.

#15 onetrick

Posted 27 May 2017 - 06:33 PM

Sorry, OP. I didn't mean to sound like I was excusing the complete lack of care...

No one spoke to DS after class (or sent him to the sick bay?)? not ok. No one responded to email? no ok.

I'm pretty sure self harming would come under madatory reporting and I would need to tell the child's coordinator (and regardless of whether the parent knew or not, they should get a phone call from the coordinator- coordinators do get time to help support kids one at a time).

So sorry- I know not all teachers/ coordinators do the right thing (trust me- this frustrates us too!), and I didn't mean to be righteous, just trying to help you understand why you might not have gotten a phone call...

Is there any way that your child could qualify for funding (cause funding= an aide in class) based on behavioural issues? I don't know much, only that I have taught children with ASD who qualified for behavioural support and they haven't had the same level of resulting issues that you have mentioned...

Honestly- I cannot apologise enough for how my post came across.

#16 LisbethSalander

Posted 27 May 2017 - 06:57 PM

Please dont apologise. Its a valid response, just one that Im really aware of. I wasnt offended at all by your post.

Behavioural based funding relies on a child being disruptive in the school setting. Not really something Ds does.

#17 raone

Posted 27 May 2017 - 10:24 PM

Honestly I'm new to this but shouldn't the school be working on a strategy to stop his self harm at the least. Like if he feels overwhelmed go to a place that calms him like the library or whatever. They don't have to work hard to try a strategy for that. Just ask him what he thinks may help or provide suggestions then let all his teachers know so he can implement when he needs it without the other students noticing if that is also causing him anxiety?

#18 Mummy_Em

Posted 28 May 2017 - 01:01 AM

I was going to suggest a written safety plan for self harming, including likely triggers and warning signs (if any) that he might be going to hurt himself.

I'm wondering whether it is also worthy insisting on an Individual Education Plan for him? Or at least requesting a meeting with each of his teachers to see what his modified curriculum is.

I don't know what the law says about this, but is it possible to have him enrolled but just attending part time for his core subjects?

#19 Bird1

Posted 28 May 2017 - 06:44 AM

Sounds like neither of you are getting what you need from the school system. Is their any other type of schooling available to him in the area. Smaller school or the like

#20 .Jerry.

Posted 28 May 2017 - 07:46 AM

I would be wanting a support plan for him.  The support plan could detail the classroom adjustments he needs and the emotional adjustments to help him.
A support plan doesn't necessarily mean individual support from an aide or something.  

Under the DDA, your child is entitled to adjustments that enable him to access the curriculum like his peers do.

#21 LisbethSalander

Posted 28 May 2017 - 08:22 AM

Yep. This is where my frustration lies. I know he is in theory entitled to an IEP and other bits.

Making that happen is another thing. Even getting a meeting is ridiculous and I have not yet in four years been able to see more than two teachers at once. And by the time a plan was developed, the teaching staff all changed again and off we went for the next bout (because it truly feels like rounds of battles).

Sorry I know none of what I have just said is helpful. Right now I need to kick back against the unfairness of it all.

I will insist. I will lobby. I will rally.

#22 Feral Nelly

Posted 28 May 2017 - 09:31 AM

Does he have a home room teacher or form class/roll class? Some kind of pastoral teacher? At my school, a class teacher wouldn't necessarily contact parents directly but would generally report concerning behaviours to the home room teacher who would contact parents and liaise between class teachers and home.

Also is there a teacher in charge of students with additional needs? If so, I would start talking to this person and try to get an IEP rolling.

I'm sorry that the school is letting down your son.

#23 .Jerry.

Posted 28 May 2017 - 09:42 AM

..

Edited by .Jerry., 28 May 2017 - 09:44 AM.


#24 José

Posted 28 May 2017 - 09:45 AM

Im not in your state but in some states there are local education offices you can contact. You could ask their representative come out to school and support the development of the plan
Its highly unlikely you will be able to get all of his teachers to participate in that meeting though. Woth timetabling in high school its very difficult. and with the number of students time wouldn't allow for it. Whatever plan is developed should be communicated to all teachers.

#25 Expelliarmus

Posted 28 May 2017 - 10:16 AM

I would think a plan would be developed by the special ed teacher and the pastoral care teacher. I would start there rather than expect every teacher present. The ILP should be communicated to all of them - that's why it's written.
I would start with his pastoral care teacher and the Year level coordinator and request a meeting to outline your expectations. I would also bring an advocate with you. The education department can advise who is an appropriate parent advocate.




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