Tuesday, 23 February 2010


It's been a week since my last blog post, and two weeks since Barney started his anxiety reducing medication. And what a two weeks it has been. Things are no better. Barney is not going to school well. The Special Needs Teacher is phoning me up to 3 times a day (before school, during and after school) and nothing seems to be settling him.

Today is his first full day back at school. As usual it was horrific. As soon as we get near the school doors he started panicking, clinging on to me, begging me not to make him go in. He cries, screams, shouts. Holds onto me for dear life whilst the teachers try to peel him out of my arms. All the children in the cloakroom are watching him, whispering, and wondering whats wrong. He's screaming 'I cant leave you Mummy, I just cant be without you'. It is heart breaking.

Yesterday some boys from an older class were making fun of him; laughing at him and calling him a Mummy's boy; pointing and saying 'there's the boy who wants to take his Mummy to school with him!' He was very upset about that, and I don't blame him.

Today was possibly the worst so far. Probably because he knew that he was expected to go in for the full day. His anxiety started in bed as soon as he woke up. Usually it's not too bad until we get into the car. He was met at school by the SENCO and the principal, who both tried in vain to prise him away from me without too much drama. This was the first time the principal had seen whats been happening.

20 minutes of crying and pleading passed before Mrs M (the SENCO) decided to take him into the classroom whether he wanted to go or not. She told him that I'd wait in the cloak room until he was settled. If there hadn't been children coming in and out I think I would have sat down on the cloakroom floor with my head in my hands and just sobbed my heart out. I could hear his cries from the classroom. And I could see the worried looks of his school friends. He kept escaping from Mrs M and throwing himself at the classroom door. I would see his wee horrified face at the glass, pleading for me. Mrs M kept putting herself in the way of the door whilst he grappled for the handle. He kept throwing himself towards the door, begging to leave. It was really hard to see.

I felt awful for him that his school mates could watch him like that. So publicly upset. It wasn't fair on him or the class.

Mrs M finally came out and said that Barney was expecting me to go to the staff room until he had settled down. I told her that this couldn't continue as it wasn't fair on Barney to be humiliated like that every day in front of all those children. Mrs M's response was that it wasn't fair on the other children to have their day disrupted so badly. She always seems more concerned about the other children. But her role is as the special needs teacher, so you'd think she'd be more concerned about him.

In the staff room the principal came to talk with me and Mrs M. We came to an agreement that trying to get Barney into school through the usual cloakroom area just isn't going to work. He associates that whole entrance with a place of panic now and we are never going to be able to get him in that way. So the principal, and I decided that the best thing would be for Barney to come into school 20 minutes later than the other children - to avoid the hustle and bustle, pushing and noises that autistic children often find so distressing. I will bring him into school through the main entrance, past the school office and up to his classroom door without going anywhere near the cloakroom or back entrance that they usually use. I will take him to the double doors just outside his classroom, which is also where the school office is. I will stay in the school office for 20 minutes every day, so that he knows I am there whilst he settles. I am hoping this will stop him from going into panic. But if he does panic, he will be able to panic in the staff room with me; away from prying eyes, worried children, and the sneers of the older nastier kids.

Today at 1.45 I am going in to school where we are going to do a walk through of the process so that he knows what to expect. We are going to start at the car and do an entire walk through the process, so that tomorrow morning is less worrying for him.

I hope that this works. I know it may not work immediately. But as I have been trying to stress to Mrs M; we need to find a routine and stick to it. Doing something different every day is not going to succeed as autistic children need that routine. They need to know what is happening, and we need to stick to it. It might take a few days, or even weeks, but I'm hoping there will be some improvement.

In the meantime, Barney has decided that he just can't do school and that I should be home schooling him, like I did with his older brother and sister. I have to admit that if this continues I shall be tempted to do so. I mentioned to Mrs M that Barney wanted to be educated at home. Her face lit up and she laughed and said 'oooh well wouldn't you?' I thought to myself 'yes that would make your life a lot easier wouldn't it'. Honestly, through this whole thing all she seems to be worried about is how Barney affects the other kids. And for someone who has an autistic child of her own she seems to have very little understanding. For example- when Barney is anxious it takes him longer to speak, or formulate replies to questions. This is pretty normal for an autistic child, even when not anxious. The autism alert card that I was given even says on it to understand that there may be a delay in replying, and that people should be patient and allow for this. But Mrs M is so manic, and so noisy in general, that she asks Barney questions and when he hasn't replied in an instant, she just carries on talking.


Alison said...

I sooooo feel for you, poor Barney, this is a total nightmare and should never happen. Unfortunately our children are so overloaded and sensitive it is no wonder. Does he have the diagnosis of ASD yet Hazel? Is he statemented? If so, he will need a sensory diet drawn up for him which will incorporate all of the going into school late etc. likes and dislikes, triggers for behaviour......so very difficult and I understand completely what you are going through.

Oliver had a total breakdown at his previous special school placement through total high anxiety. He was only age 11 at the time. I had enough, he was actually vomiting due to sheer panic and upset, so I pulled him out - this was an NAS school btw! I home schooled him for 14 months and he is moderate/severe ASD. It took him 6 months to recover from the breakdown, he was a wreck.

I hope you get something sorted with this SENCO - is there a special school you could consider for Barney nearby? xx

Venus said...

Hi Alison, thanks for your comment.
Yes he has a diagnosis but isnt statemented yet. The diagnosis came in December. He is waiting to see an OT for a sensory assessment, and also for the educational psychologist to assess his needs. Im hoping he will then have his own assistant at school.
I dont know about special schools. the only one I know of seems to be for severley disabled children. He has some good friends in school and seems to enjoy the majority of it, once he is in and settled.
Going into school late today, and having me get him in without the help of teachers (the less people crowding him the better I think) worked much better. Instead of him being taken from me against his will I was able to talk him through the process, calm him each time he got too panicky, and wait until he was ready to go in. He did cry going in, but he went of his own accord and without being totall hysterical. It was much better.
But the SENCO seems to want these little steps to only be temporary. I get the feeling that her ultimate goal is to have these children appearing as 'normal' as possible, rather than doing what is best for them.

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