Me and my girl and boy, raising awareness and acceptance of autism

As soon as I see my D coming out of school, the first thing I want to know is “has she had a good day?”, it’s something that I NEED to know and I’m sure you’re the same – whether your child is at nursery, pre school, school or college.

Unfortunately she is not always in a position to tell me. If she has had a bad day at school, she tends to bottle up any negative or anxious emotion and let it out as soon as she sees me. This then manifests itself in either screaming constantly or bolting (running off with no thought for her safety).

If this happens, I have to spend the next 20 minutes or so calming her down, trying – and usually failing – to find out the cause and then I have to walk to pick up T from his school. You can imagine that I am walking along sometimes wishing the ground would swallow me up, especially as we have to go past a secondary school and another primary school before we get to T.

Why don’t I use school transport, you’re probably thinking? Well, I like the interaction with the school and if I’m being honest, some of the transport aides and drivers look as if they would unable to catch a “bolter”. I also don’t agree with the policy of letting the child walk to and from their house unaided (if they are able to walk), from what I have seen, the bus waits until they are inside before driving off but in my opinion, if a child is special needs, you need to escort that child to and from their front door.

Out of the 140 pupils that attend D’s school, there are a handful of parents that collect their children themselves, the majority (90%) go by school transport, so for the majority of parents the only interaction with school is at a termly parents evening and IEP meeting. Home-school diary for the majority of the term is their only contact.

I’m rambling… eventually we get home, take her home-school diary out and inevitably it is blank for the day. Or “a good day” written in, just that. I know that staff are very busy but it would really help understand triggers and anxieties if both the positives and negatives could be written down. I’m not expecting a blog but if something has happened in school that affects her, I need to know. Negatives during the day tend to manifest during night time so if I’m going to have a sleepless night, warning would be good!

I know that I am lucky in that D is verbal but there is a non verbal child in D’s class who also goes home on a regular basis with nothing in his diary. How on earth do his parents know what has been going on, similarly the teeny ones in the nursery classes and the wheelchair-bound severely disabled pupils.

When I have asked the school, or written a comment like “she was very distressed, told me xxxx hit her in class etc”, the answer is “we don’t have time to write everything down”.

I’m not asking for everything – just anything that is likely to affect her, it doesn’t take long to write one or two sentences and lets face it, we have enough to worry about, don’t we?

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Comments on: "Our children deserve better communication …" (11)

  1. every change in our child’s mood affects us and if the school isn’t able to clarify this it is not a good school. may be, it is an insignificant case for the school, but it can cause moral trauma to your child.

  2. So true it wouldn’t take 2 minutes to let you know. My son goes to a special school and everyday their home link book is filled in . I don’t see why other schools can’t take their lead, it would help parents such a lot and stop any anxiety.

  3. Laura Statham said:

    I work as a teaching assistant in a special school and we write in home/school diary everyday and not just “had a good day”! As we don’t see a lot of our parents as most children are brought on transport that’s the best way to keep in touch. I can’t believe they’re only writing a couple of lines! Parents need to be informed of the good and the bad, and especially if another child has hit your child it’s our policy to inform both parents of this either through a telephone call or diarys. (sorry I’m ranting now!)
    Really interesting to read your blogs by the
    way, keep up the good work!
    Laura

  4. This is so true and can be very frustrating.I have been asking on and off for a comment to be put in my sons diary for about 5years now.we ask and it happens for a couple of days and then its back to normal.It becomes obvious to us that an incident has happened at school as from the moment he gets home from school he becomes very loud,aggressive and cannot settle.If only we knee what had happenned,We could save hours getting to the bottom of it and would help both myself and my son have a more enjoyable evening together.The fortunate thing for us is that since my son has moved to a special needs school his life and ours has become much easier to manage and there are far less incidents,however still no diary updates.very frustrating.

  5. We do have enough to worry about. If I was in your position, I’d make an appointment to go and see the head, or at least D’s teacher and discuss this issue face to face.

    I have never had a real problem with communication since Amy started special school last September. If something happens, they ring me. Or her teacher writes it down in her home/school diary. They have told me to ring them should I feel the need to speak to them about anything, however small it may seem to me. I guess I’m one of the lucky parents. There are just under 100 pupils in the school and over 50 staff so I expect the children are being very well looked after. However, when Amy used to go to mainstream school, we DID have this problem. It was absolutely hopeless and was just another reason why I had to get her out of a very poor school, even though to parents of NT kids, the school was outstanding. It just goes to show that some schools don’t deal with special needs children well at all, yet they turn all their attention to the children who are able-bodied and without special needs – which is exactly what that mainstream school did.

    CJ x

  6. I don’t know why communication logs are such a joke. Our Kindergarten teacher and aid do a pretty good job of filling in Lily’s day. At the very least they hit the high points, accidents, behaviors, good or bad eating day. Sometimes we even get little anecdotal tidbits. . . but it’s taken a lot of back and forth to get to that point.

  7. We had the same problem at the beginning of the year. I persisted by daily contact with the Reg Ed teacher, the aide, and the SpEd teacher. I told in order for me to be of ANY help with issues that may come up, I needed to know what they were. The school came up with a sheet that is sent home daily. I guess they got tired of me asking every day because there are some days now when EVERY little thing that upset her, or she did well at, is listed. I’ve found making a pest of myself and letting them know I wasn’t going away seemed to work.
    Little bit is exactly the same during pick up. Holds it all in and when she sees me it comes out. Sometimes right in the middle of the hallway with many stares. I don’t care about the stares except for the fact the children will look at her differently if they see too many meltdowns. My heart aches for her when she is so upset, but can’t process it or express it until after a meltdown.
    Keep making noise, maybe they will hear you.

  8. I parent adopted children with attachment difficulties and trauma and it always surprises me how similar our two experiences can be. I too collect from school and have good face to face communication with the teacher at the end of the day.

  9. I’ve had to have meeting with the heads of Children’s Specialist Services and Specialist Services because of these types of issues. They finally listened to me after making *a lot* of freedom of information act reuests, complaints and letter to the MP.

    YOU ARE NOT WRONG. Some kind of communication is not only necessary, but a part of our children’s RIGHTS to a safe environment. They cannot have that if the parents are kept in the dark.

  10. Neil Ritchie said:

    Sounds so, so familiar. We get the shouting, screaming, verbal abuse. The issue over the home school diary is outrageous as open communication not only helps us, but the school too.

  11. I’m a teaching assistant in a mainstream secondary school where I work in a resource provision for ASD students. We always write in the home school diaries every day, both positive and negative. In addition if anything out of the ordinary happens either good or bad we will phone home or email parents/carers. We believe that a good school home partnership is fundamental to a successful time in school for our students.

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