Thursday, May 27, 2010

The life and times of Boy 2

Those who have been following my turgid output over the last few years may recall the occasional mention of the behavior of Boy 2, sometimes written in a jocular fashion, sometimes not.

This may go on for some time, so give up now if you like, I'm sort of using it as a bit of a release.

Boy 2 has always been a bit different. His development as an infant was very quick. He crawled, walked, spoke and read at very early stages, and we always had to have eyes in the back of our head, as he was constantly on the go.

He went to a private nursery for one day a week, mainly to give A a breather, and to the village toddler group. From there he went to the village playgroup, and to prepare him for the structure of school, a Montessori school. The two years he had there were excellent, but the principal made us fully aware that we could have problems when he entered mainstream school, and prepared an extensive report for the school.

Without being consciously aware of what we were doing, we had coping strategies in place at home for his behavior. We never thought of them as such, just parents putting in controls to cope with a boy with extraordinarily high energy levels.

When he started school, he was a year ahead of the expected levels, now he is coming to the end of year two, he is now average or below.

It was at the end of the first year that the school first made us aware of their concerns. we had every confidence in the headteacher and have always from day one worked closely with the school. She is no longer there, and we are increasingly losing faith in the abilities of the new head.

He was being hugely disruptive in class, and had a problem in controlling his movement, and also rejected authority. He also had little concern for being disciplined in any way.

I can feel the 'he's a naughty little shit' thoughts coming here. 'Why don't you get your child to behave?' He has an elder brother who has been brought up within the same family environment. Boy 1 is a house captain and a school prefect, and is hugely respected by both the teaching staff and his peer group.

The only response seemed to be to remove him from the class. We understood why they had to do this. There was often no classroom assistant, and there was after all, a whole class of children to be taught, and the teacher's attention could not be solely taken by Boy2. He would often be sent to Boy1's class, who would be mortified by yet another appearance from his 'naughty' brother. We have asked time and time again for him not to be sent Boy1's class if he is removed, but two years on, they did it again on Monday.

At the end of the first year, we agreed for the school to ask for assistance from the behaviour support team (BST), and for him to be assessed by an educational psychologist. The head teacher is the school SEN coordinator, and despite sixteen years teaching experience, did not know what to do next.

The initial reports shocked us. They spoke of 'stress related behavioural patterns', a 'lack of self esteem', 'unable to regulate his feelings or emotions', 'difficulty in engaging'. I have to admit that as we read and re read them we both become very emotional, was this really what was going on inside our little boys head?

These sessions have been ongoing since last year, and there have been mixed results. The BST and ed psyc have put forward a number of strategies, some which have been implemented, some not, and indeed the validity of some questioned by the head teacher. He has developed a good relationship with one particular teacher from the BST who regularly observes him, and her reports make interesting reading, as she his built a relationship of trust with him.

Early in last term, one unpleasant incident ended up having the best results. We had a telephone call from the head, she had the chair of the governors with her. They were going to act on complaints they had received from seven parents regarding our son's behaviour in class. He would be removed from the classroom for most of the morning and taught on a one to one basis, He would be back in the classroom for the remainder of the day.

We were very unhappy with this course of action being taken without our consultation. Bear in mind for the past eighteen months I have effectively taken Friday afternoons off for the past eighteen months to have weekly review meetings with the head and his teacher. We had always been very supportive as we were all working to the same end, and thought we should have been consulted. The other unsavoury thought was that we would know these people, it's only a small village school. This whole episode has taken us through a whole gamut of emotions, and rightly or wrongly, anger was the one present at this time.

So, in consultation with BST, an individual timetable was prepared.More paperwork, by this stage he had already been within a CAF, and moved onto a PSP. It all worked like a dream. At this time we were fortunate to have a fully qualified teacher as a classroom assistant, and she took him for the one to one. He had frequent 'brain breaks' both inside and out, and had various 'fiddle objects'. He was also allowed to work standing up, which seems to agree with him. The improvement in his behaviour was amazing, and he was much happier at school.

At the same time we were on a waiting list to see a clinical psychologist, at the recommendation of the educational psychologist . The education department do not communicate with the health department in these circumstances, and the onus is on you as a parent to drive it forward.

So, the start of this term. The school has lost funding for the full time classroom assistant, and to our frustration (but much as we feared) he has regressed. His class had SATs two weeks ago. Could someone please explain to me why on earth we need to test seven year old children, as I really have no fucking clue. He had got himself into a bit of a state about the tests and was removed from the class on the first morning. So, a seven year old child, who in their words, not mine, has a problem with anxiety and self esteem is left on his own in a corridor to complete an examination.

I was livid. Why had they not requested support from the BST when they had always made it clear it was available? My wife offered to monitor him in school during the SATS, but luckily the BST came up trumps and he completed the week.

We finally saw a clinical psychologist this week. Fortunately we had taken all of the correspondence and reports from the past few years, as no one had had the foresight to send them to her. She could offer us little advice on coping at home as she told us that we had already implemented the coping strategies for the home that they would suggest. We just thought it was a common sense approach to dealing with a very energetic child, structure. Basically, what is going to happen is that the education professionals and health professionals are going to start to speak to other, and we are going to see some progress with knowing more about what goes on in his mind and how best to help him.

Which is a relief. All too frequently we have seen our loving, tactile and generous little boy reduced to a bundle of frustrated misery.

He is a wonderful athlete, with fantastic hand/eye/ball coordination, but has been excluded from after school rugby, football and tennis clubs, despite excelling in the out of school clubs he attends.

It's been very hard for us to watch him go through this, and of course there have been frequent occasions when we have questioned ourselves.

I love him more than words can describe, and I'm also very proud of him.


Brennig said...

Tough times, you have my earnest sympathies.

DJ Kirkby said...

OMG, I'm absolutely furious after reading this post. Why do schools do their best to try and make geniuses fit into mainstream molds? have you not applied to the LEA for a statuatory assessment? You can as parents and if they reject your application then take them to a tribunal. We did with out lEA and got a statemtn for N3S at last, he now has 1:1 assistance 5 days a week and is coping much better. Your 'local' Mencap or Parent Partnership will be able to guide you through the application and tribunal process. Email me if you want to discuss in depth.

Gumpher said...

Bren, thank you.

DJ. We've considered SA, but have decided to wait for a full diagnosis from the CP, and then consider his options from there.

We have sought advice from various sources and have decided that this is the best course for now, and then we can consider what is the best way forward.

Thank you for your input, any advice is very much appreciated.