Son loves listening to Pink Floyd. Especially ‘Another Brick in the Wall’. I wonder why?

I’ve talked about this before but son really does not like going to school. It causes him so much anxiety and stress. During last nights panic attack (panicking about school) he told me the things which currently really bug him.

  • Do the kids think I’m weird. He worries that the other kids may think he is a loner, or weird or different.
  • Too many kids and adults. His current school has about 800 pupils …. his last one had 40. So many strange faces. Often too many to cope with. So many people, so many different types of body language to work through. Interpreting body language, voice tones and mannerisms does not come naturally to him.
  • Too much background noise. Its not the actual noise level it’s the range of noise sources which can overload his senses. School just means sensory overload.
  • Dyslexia. The school doesn’t offer specialist support so he has to take his chances with the limited number of general teaching assistants. They have to support all the kids in the school. As a result he tends to just try and work things out for himself. This makes him feel – going to use his word – ‘stupid’.
  • Timetables. The school operates quite tight timetables. This stresses him out as he struggles with the concept of time. He doesn’t respond well to pressure.
  • Teaching. Many of the teachers have to stick rigidly to the teaching programme. This programme is often anti-dyslexic and anti-Aspergers. For example Computing and its focus on coding. Plus the teachers always seem so busy just trying to control some of the kids in the large class.
  • Sitting. Son struggles to sit still for long periods. He often concentrates better when he’s walking about. At school you need to sit still for hours on end.
  • Lunchtime. The dining area is small with not enough seating. The queues for food are long. The social anxiety this causes results in a balanced diet of flapjacks or just going hungry.
  • No quiet zones. The school does have two designated silence zones. One is a small and very cluttered room which is often full – strangely not that quiet. The other is the library – not much help for a dyslexic.
  • Toilets. The school toilets are old, cold and not very nice. Bullying can take place there. On top of this Son struggles with using any sort of public toilet. So he never uses them and frequently comes home busting. Hardly conducive to learning.
  • Too many bright patterns on the wall. Bright or complicated patterns can be significantly disorientating for people with Aspergers.
  • Being in the bottom set. He hates being in the bottom set especially when he sees kids above him who got lower marks than him in the grading tests.
  • He hates PE. He struggles to dress himself quickly and can’t fasten ties. PE give the kids only a short time to dress. And you get automatic negatives for breaking the strict dress code.
  • He hates the strict rules. Although he rarely runs the risk of a negative he really does stress himself over the the potential for doing something wrong and then getting punished. Plus he just does not understand many of the rules.
  • The School. It’s a warren of jumbled rooms and muddled corridors set in several old buildings. Trying to navigate this with time pressures and with hundreds of kids moving at the same time …. it’s just a nightmare for him.
  • No Safety Net. At his previous school he had a two teaching assistants that he got close to. If things got bad he could go and talk to them. At this school he feels like he has no one.
  • School Bus. The noisy and unruly bus which changes in size and seating patterns for every trip is so disorientating.
  • Homework. Virtually every night he will have at least 1 hour of after school work to be done.

The list should be longer but his worries came out two quickly for me to keep up. But it gives you a feel for what his brain is trying to process on every school day.

What does the parent do with this. I’m probably the worst person to ask. I’ve been winging this for years…

But we have tried things. Some work, some don’t, some are slow burners.

  • Just listening to him. Just showing you care. Show you believe in him. Keep telling him that as long as he wants to keep pushing then I will do whatever I can to help him.
  • Keep telling him that this not all about Aspergers or Dyslexia. It’s not about things he’s done or any deficiencies. Its definitely not his fault. It’s about a broken educational system. He’s great, the school isn’t great.
  • Keep pushing a dialogue with school, the health service and support teams. If you don’t, nobody else will. This is tough. Many people including myself are not pushy, find confrontation so difficult. But it has to be done. All the evidence suggests that kids with Autism and/or dyslexia will fall behind without appropriate support. It’s not fair on the kids.
  • If you can get a dialogue going with a teacher don’t be afraid to ask about different teaching approaches. At his current school we have got many of the teachers to move away from pen and allow him to use his iPad. We have got all the teachers to agree to write any homework in his planner. Previously the teachers would just read out the homework and kids had to write it down, or remember it. We would spend ages trying to decipher his rushed scrawl.
  • Keep pushing the system for improvements to school buildings, toilets and support. The more noise you make the better the chance of some action. It shouldn’t be like this, but it is….
  • Try to identify positive elements of school. Maybe spending time with friends. Maybe getting the chance to learn about a favourite topic. Maybe the chance to play sports. Maybe school trips. Maybe a special teacher.
  • When he’s at home I try to encourage him to do things he loves doing. A hobby, a game, a movie whatever it takes. This all helps with stress. Forget about school for a while.
  • Some areas run workshops for parents which will allow you to learn more about a diagnosis and importantly provide an opportunity to meet other parents who are in the same boat as you.
  • I try to arrange for something special to happen at the end of each school term. Maybe a trip to the cinema. Or visit to a zoo. It gives him something to look forward to. One day will save up enough to take the ultimate reward trip to Disney Paris.

We have not had a lot of success in improving his current school experience. If we had then this list would have been significantly shorter. But everyday we try again. It does feel like we are wading through treacle.

I have not mentioned the elephant in the room. Home schooling. This post is already far too long and I’m sure I will revisit that very soon. Plus I can feel my eyes slowly filling up with sleep. Goodnight everyone.

81 thoughts on “Another Brick

  1. This comment stood out … Sitting. Son struggles to sit still for long periods.
    Remember a student I had in a grade 4 class. It hadn’t dawned on me till the head master asked me why one particular student was walking around in class during the lesson presentation. My response was 2 follow up questions. Was he on task? Did he respond to the questions I put to him?
    He needed to move around in oeder to focus. That’s why I seated him at the back of the room. That way his needs could be met without creating a distraction for the 25 other students.
    To be effective teachers need to step outside of their preconceived notions of how a class should be ordered and take their cues from the students in how they respond.
    If that’s not happening then yor point of giving teachers helpful information is the next best thing.
    Neural typical people usually have know idea what challenges or types of challenges neural atypical people struggle with.
    That was one big eye opener after I moved into the world of ABI (acquired brain injury).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. But most of us have been taught that many students – and dare I gender stereotype, let alone enter into neural typical/atypical territory – learn better when moving, or are active, learning and communicating ‘alongside,’ rather than ‘at ‘

        I feel bloody angry when young kids (and adults in sedentary commercial occupations, for that matter) are expected to sit for long periods.

        Good luck, he is lucky to have a parent advocate like you. I hope you are able to make some headway x

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Is homeschooling legal in the UK? I know in Germany it is not and my Canadian friend who is raising multiple kids in Germany struggles deeply with this not because of autism but because of a variety of other reasons.

    Even if homeschooling is legal sometimes it is not a practical option.

    I’m sorry…the issues are similar here in Canada and the programs are being cut back as we speak. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Prayers and hugs to you from WI. Yes, the challenges never seem to quite go away, but our kids are getting older, too, and they are slowly becoming more able to work things out. Three years ago I’d never have thought the boys would survive Kindergarten, but they’re actually doing pretty damn well, all things considered. I’ve been on at least two cycles with the diagnosis people about the boys, and I’ll keep trying until we get somewhere. We don’t stop fighting so they know how to keep fighting, too. Keep on keeping on, Friend. xxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can relate to many of the points you brought up. In some ways, homeschooling is the ‘easy’ route to take, which is what we did when our daughter had issues at school. At the time I was reluctant but we later found out, by her own admission, how suicidal she felt then. The education system needs to change and focus more on pupils as individuals. Sadly school years aren’t always the happiest for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There are a few pluses of going to school, the biggest being learning to interact with kids his age and making friends. If you could arrange for him to do so while home schooling, you can consider that option.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You shouldn’t have worries about isolation if you go down the home schooling route. I have friends who have done this for both their children, and it has been extremely successful – end result 2 bright, well-rounded, well-educated kids. If done properly, you would link up with others home schooling, in a loose-knit group that share resources and time (time is something you would have to dedicate a lot of). In their case, there was a group of around fifteen other children or various ages, obviously a little bit fluid as kids moved in and out of this group, and together they would access subjects and experiences as diverse as art lessons, archery, historical re-enactments or rock-climbing (which I taught them). For a child who struggles in large groups, with too much structure, it would be ideal.

    But, as has been pointed out, it is a huge time-investment on your side, and the authorities don’t go out of their way to make you feel good.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pink Floyd is a great choice! He’s a (Crazy) Diamond!

    Man, that’s a long list. 😦

    School is tough enough but that school sounds disastrous for him. Fortunately you are just what he most needs – even if it could put pressure on you when you are probably needing some support yourself.

    I feel useless here.

    Any chance of home schooling but with a friend/relative/retired person mostly guiding him under your oversight, allowing you to still work something like a working week?

    Hope you got a bit of decent sleep!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I get it!

        I think the benefits of de-stressing from the school would be worth the home school – for him….

        … Clearly you need some decent income before it could be practicable, that’s why i was asking if there was someone near who he trusts who could assist you.. it’s too hard if it’s just you two alone.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s a very big elephant to not mention! I personally believe school is not the right place for any autistic person. Or at least 90% of them. (I have friends who say it’s not the right place for any child, no matter their neurology. And some of these friends were teachers!)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I taught at a school where movement was compulsory. Children were NOT expected to sit still. We did action songs, took the kids out for frequent walks around the playground and never asked them to stand to attention with hands at their sides when presenting an oral. We encouraged our kids to move because it’s good for the brain! Result – the kids were happy, felt safe at school, and discipline problems were minimal. There were 34 children in my first grade class, all with different learning styles. It is possible to accommodate them all if you understand what they are. I did not have a permanent helper but did have room parents coming in from time to time – some days there was nobody. Teachers need ongoing training to help them know how to deal with dyslexia, Asperger’s etc. They need the support of the principal. It just takes the right kind of organisation and the system can work.
    Home Schooling is a good idea if you can manage it. My school allowed home schooled children to join in the sports program or to attend certain classes. It doesn’t sound like your school would be open to this but you never know.
    If you can find other parents near you that would be helpful.
    In South Africa where I live, Home Schooling has become very popular because of the overcrowding and poor facilities in many of our government schools. Small private home schools have also sprung up. My ADHD, Dyslexic grandson attended such a school for his last three years of Senior School. It was a good solution for us. The fees were not as high as Private School but more than Government School fees.
    I sincerely hope that you find a workable solution for your son soon. It really upsets me that in a First World Country like the UK there is so little support for children with problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was talking to one of the local Paediatricians. He said that the majority of teachers in our area receive no specialist training in dyslexia or autism. The schools rely on educational specialists – unfortunately these are virtually impossible to secure time with. The health service has tried to provide some brief training to teachers in these areas. But According to the doctor they tend to be only given 30 minutes on a teaching day and most of the teachers don’t seem to be that interested.

      Like

      1. That is so sad. I understand that teachers are pressured by the curriculum but if they just realized things would be easier and more rewarding if they considered each child’s needs

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Your son does not sound as if he feels safe at school. Not going to the toilet because the consequences are too great are worrying. I understand that the finances don’t necessarily give you an option to home school, and that village life does not provide good schooling options. Is there an option to send him to a better school with smaller class size, further afield?

    https://www.goodschoolsguide.co.uk/

    I’m sure you have already checked out the autism UK organisation for help.

    I’m guessing that private school is unaffordable (and not necessarily the right answer).
    Can you do a job, working from home that would make home schooling more viable?

    Bullying (or even the fear of being bullied) is not good for your son to settle and learn. He will do everything in his power to avoid being bullied and that leaves him open to exploitation by mean kids who will coerce and manipulate him.
    Have a meeting with the school to see what they can suggest. Don’t have too much faith in the rubber stamped bullying policy. Low key bullying goes under the wire and is often missed by teachers with large class sizes.

    I don’t know what else to suggest, but do try to engage with your son about who he likes and dislikes. There will be only a handful of students at most, and teachers names will come up. Go to the meeting with the school, armed with those names. If possible, ask for those specific teachers to be present.

    What a terrible thing to resolve. 😔

    Like

    1. Also, the P. E. Thing…. You may be able to convince your local GP to write a letter that you can give to the school (on the grounds of sensory overload from the teamwork which he will not be so good at) that will excuse him from taking part in P. E. He may find the time useful for catching up on homework or lessons that he is struggling with. As long as you do some physical stuff together at the local park, your son will not find himself at a disadvantage physically.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m currently trying to arrange a meeting with the Head. My current job allows me to work a bit from home and work round son. I need to work out what support I can afford to bring in and how many hours I can afford to drop to teach. It will be tight. Thank you for caring. x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just been thinking… Perhaps suggest that the school have a website where teachers upload their term curriculum lessons and homework requirements for students. Then parents concerned about their child’s progress can step in to help their kids. It shouldn’t be so hard for teachers to do that… Everything is done on laptops these days… It will save teachers time later if it is all uploaded at the beginning of every term. Parents can have access with a code assigned to each child they have enrolled at the school. Parents can download the lesson and complimentary homework to help their kids understand it if they are struggling. This may help get half way to home schooling your son (you providing the extra tutoring to get him through). This won’t solve social problems for your son but I think it would give a solution for lots of parents who don’t know how to help their kids with their schooling.
        Teachers can benefit too… Once uploaded, much of the lesson planning for subsequent years, just needs tweaking and updating. It is a data bank for everyone.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I totally get this. Problem is you’re dealing with an over-stretched system with little common sense. However, the plus side is that you’re an intelligent man filled with love for his child. I can give sympathy but I sense solutions are needed. Firstly I’d talk again to your son and try to establish from everything on the list, what two things would make it a little better for him. Let’s say, ditching the PE and having a quiet room. Then, explain briefly the extensive list to the Head, how you have managed to compromise, condense it to two points and what is now required. Every child is different and has different needs. Offer solutions as to how this might be put into practice and how it could work. Offer a little of your own time to help. Ask him to help find some solutions and ask him what exactly he will be prepared to do. Make him realise in the nicest possible way that you’re here to make some changes and you’re not going away. Make a follow-up appointment and keep going. You’re dealing with an ill-equipped system so try to make the best out of what you can. Your son is a smart cookie and he will be fine with you and all your love. Good luck my friend. I hope this helps. Katie

    Liked by 2 people

  12. You are dealing with a lot there, but you are doing a great job.My daughter is a worrier wart too and we have been working on her for years.Finally we are starting to see some results.
    I am personally not a big fun of homeschooling because I thinks that socializing is as important as learning in school but , it is also true that every situation and every kid is different. I’m lucky because my daughters school is very small , around 70 kids in total, but the downside is that if you won’t get along with some in your class, then you are out and that is what had happened with my daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

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