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Child with down Syndrome toilet lock in

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by janeymiddlewife, Dec 7, 2007.

  1. I'm supporting a DS child in Y4 (held back a year), with a team of TAs, who transferred in as parents were unhappy with previous school. She had basically been allowed to do what she wanted to avoid upsetting anyone. We are now trying to lay down some basics. She is exceedingly stubborn, and seems immune to either a "carrot or stick" approach. She tears up stickers, will rub off smiley faces. Counting down 3- 2 - 1 works sometimes, as does a stopwatch with audible beeper, but not always! The real challenge is getting her out of the toilet. She tends to "leak" so we often have to take her on a daily basis to change underwear a) because she smells and b) because she gets sore. Our toilets have locks on that can't be opened from the outside. We have tried variously threatening, ignoring, cajoling - all to no avail. Today she was in for 30 mins.
    her class teacher and the head teacher are male so wash their hands of her. She has now used up all her "missed"playtimes, so that doesn't work and she quite likes staying in anyway. She seems to universally hate all subjects, the only motivator is food, which we can't really use as a consistent reward as she is fairly overweight.
    One member of teaching staff is keen on a "naughty chair" but she's been sat on it so long and so often even that is losing it's effect.
    Any ideas - or do we just accept and ignore?
     
  2. I'm supporting a DS child in Y4 (held back a year), with a team of TAs, who transferred in as parents were unhappy with previous school. She had basically been allowed to do what she wanted to avoid upsetting anyone. We are now trying to lay down some basics. She is exceedingly stubborn, and seems immune to either a "carrot or stick" approach. She tears up stickers, will rub off smiley faces. Counting down 3- 2 - 1 works sometimes, as does a stopwatch with audible beeper, but not always! The real challenge is getting her out of the toilet. She tends to "leak" so we often have to take her on a daily basis to change underwear a) because she smells and b) because she gets sore. Our toilets have locks on that can't be opened from the outside. We have tried variously threatening, ignoring, cajoling - all to no avail. Today she was in for 30 mins.
    her class teacher and the head teacher are male so wash their hands of her. She has now used up all her "missed"playtimes, so that doesn't work and she quite likes staying in anyway. She seems to universally hate all subjects, the only motivator is food, which we can't really use as a consistent reward as she is fairly overweight.
    One member of teaching staff is keen on a "naughty chair" but she's been sat on it so long and so often even that is losing it's effect.
    Any ideas - or do we just accept and ignore?
     
  3. that's Down's kids for you! Absolutely hilarious but incredibly stubborn. You need specialist advice - it's not the same as with other kids. Will speak to my Gran who was Head at special school and get back to you.
     
  4. As Caroline said, children with DS can be incredibly stubborn. I would say to you both, though, put the child before the disability, not the other way round. Some people can be offended if you put the disability first. A child with DS is a child first and foremost, they just happen to have a disability.

    You could contact the DS Association for their free information sheet on behaviour (it might be available to download from their site, I'm not sure).

    You could also introduce a visual timetable and include toileting. If you show her the timetable before she goes to the toilet, she might want to get back quickly if she enjoys the next lesson or activity. I know you said she seems to hate all subjects, but it might work occasionally. It would also introduce a routine, which I have found important to children with DS. Maybe she could move the hands on a large clock to show the time she goes into the toilet? This would also support number skills and telling the time.

    Instead of a smiley face chart, you could have a chart that shows a smiley face for good behaviour and a sad face for bad behaviour. This shows the child that they have disappointed you. It works for my son. Use a sheet of paper and ask her to draw on the smiley face herself - it can't be rubbed off and might motivate her. You also have a record of any pattern that emerges.

    Try to work with the parents. Do they have any strategies that they could share with you?

    You could point out health and safety concerns to your headteacher. What if the child hurts herself whilst in the toilet? Do you have disabled toileting facilities that she can use?

    Also try posting on the SEN forum. I only have the experience of my own son and a few friends who have children with DS. All have enjoyed school and have never locked themselves into the toilet before.

    Good luck x
     
  5. As others have said, the joys of working in SEN!

    On a more serious note I am surprised that the toilets have doors that are unable to be opened from the outside what would happen in an emergency, say a fire? Perhaps you could ask for the lock to be changed?

    With regard to her leaks could she be given special underwear....... these look good http://www.allaboutincontinence.co.uk/catalogue/browse.ph...
    to help with the odour/discomfort issue (Parents may be interested especially as she gets older)

    None of the SEN children I have worked with have responded to stickers or smilies. You may need to find something more appealing, say if you come out within x minutes 3 times you can x minutes on the pc/book or whatever she likes doing before lunchtime. I have used food, dried fruit, so a healthy option.

    Good Luck

    Trueblue
    http://ta.forumup.org/
     
  6. Glad that these posters gave you first-hand advice. I have a friend working with DS children, plus as I say my husband's Gran was a Head of a special school for years. The usual strageies don't always work! On the plus side they provide some hilarious moments as they don't have the same inhibitions as other children.

    The one story that always makes me laugh that our Gran told us was about a pretty little blonde girl about five who peeked through the window of the Wendy house she was playing in at the offical inspector who was visiting the school for pretty serious reasons and shouted out 'Oi you!' and when when he replied 'Yes?' She shouted 'Eff off!'
     
  7. R13

    R13 New commenter

    Good advice above but for goodness sake ask the Head to change the lock on the toilet door to one that can be opended from outside with a key - this is otherwise going to be a mammoth daily battle which you are most likely to lose
     
  8. I agree that many of the children I know with Downs definetley have their own agenda. Because they have a communication and learning difficulty they are watched much more than their typical peers who are allowed much more freedom at home and at school. Because of this when they do get the chance to a have a bit of independance or escapology they do it with a vengence! Thats why it is important to give them responsibilities to help engage them.
    This little girls sounds like she has 2 issues
    If she is having little accidents is it something the school nurse/paed can help with? What is happening at home?
    I think someone really needs to devise a behaviour plan for her targeting the behaviours you wish to target ie.toileting. Do you have a downs syndrome / behaviour specialist in your lea who can help advice you?
    What exactly is she expected to do? Is she escorted to the toilet or is she expected to go on her own and return to class? Is there a disabled toilet she can use with an adult?
    I think you need to take away the means for her misbehaving ie taking her to a door that doesnt lock(or can be opened from the outside) or a disabled toilet.
    When you have done this you can start to look at the way the teacher is differentiating the curriculum for her
    "her class teacher and the head teacher are male so wash their hands of her. She has now used up all her "missed"playtimes, so that doesn't work and she quite likes staying in anyway. She seems to universally hate all subjects, the only motivator is food, which we can't really use as a consistent reward as she is fairly overweight."
    It sounds to me like she is using these behaviours to escape the classroom and playground because she is unhappy and feeling a failure.
    I think the school needs professional input if this child is to succeed within this school enviroment.
     
  9. Thankyou all for your replies - unfortunately I'm off sick with tonsillitis so not sure what's happening this week. It's all been a bit of a disaster really. Her main TA who does 3 hours a day every day is leaving after 2 months (no support), there is NO differentiated planning, it's just a case of turn up, ask the teacher whether she is to stay in the lesson and adapt it as you go, or whether he wants her out of the classroom, in which case scrabble around for something to do. I spent hours surfing the net to photocopy some worksheets, she has some speech therapy activities, but other than that nothing. We can't even use a computer because they have all been taken out of the SEN room, so the ones in the clasroom either don't work or the teachers don't want you in their classroom if the programmes involve sound. We were refused training as there was "no money" and everyone dreads working with this child as we don't have a clue how to manage her behaviour. I did suggest using the male staff toilet which doubles as a disabled, but we would have to go in with her for now in twos as there is no lock.
    I will ask mum what she does at home with her - we just have to find a reward system that works!
     
  10. So in otherwords this child is getting no support other than staff trailing after her and then are wondering why she is behaving in appropriatley?
    Sorry that is ridiculous especially as she will have a statement of sen needs for which the school is recieving money to help pay for her education.
    Her "accidents" are a cry for help because she is in an abusive enviroment where the school is ignoring her needs and pocketing the cash!!!!!!!.
     
  11. Downsright - I absolutely agree with you - it's awful, probably why other TA was off sick and I'm ill too. I wonder how often this goes on in mainstream schools - "Inclusion" is one thing, but I suspect in many schools these children are just a blank chequebook. I spent the last three years working with a boy with ADHD who was able to follow the curriculum, just didn't want to! This is almost the other way round I'm sure. I've posted elsewhere about the other child I look after, at least with him i can use the time allowed for OT & SALT to include some pre-reading stuff. This little girl has no breaks - the worst thing was the other day she had been ill, I could see she was in no state to cope with a classroom activity, but he insisted she stay in and make paper aeroplanes then failed to understand why she ripped it up and threw it across the room. God knows I was frustrated with the instructions myself. I really am tearing my hair out, the SEN governor is a fellow TA and has been at the school donkeys years, everyone is dreading a looming ofsted (with good reason), and the Head would like us all to go as we're on permanant contracts and he'd like us all replaced with temp contracts. 2 Senior TAs who ran the place left, the TA who has been promoted to admin support found out the SENCO doesn't even have a diary - it's laughable.
    Sorry to rant, but really fed-up. Would look elsewhere but have a son in Y3 so difficult to travel too far until he is older, but also means reluctant to rock the boat as don't want to make things difficult for him
     
  12. Could you show an interest in this child's IEP and ask for help from the teacher with ways to help her achieve targets? Can the SENCO help? What does the school's Disability Equality Scheme say?
     
  13. Er - what's a Disability Equality Scheme? When I complained about this partic teacher before over another child the SENCO just said "you're wasting your time with him - he'll agree to your face and then go and do exactly what he wants" he's also deputy head, doesn't think "these children" should be in a mainstream school and asks me repeatedly how long I think they're going to "last", and wouldn't it "be kinder to put them in a Special school?"
    I'll try to see if there is a provision map for her, although I doubt it as one hasn't yet been done for the other SEN child. AFAIK there are no targets in place, a major problem is that she is supported by 5 TAs, so there are issues of continuity and arranging a meeting with all staff involved with her is impossible. However, as a new staff member is due to start after Christmas that might be an opportunity to give em all a kick up the backside - as long as new TA has her wits about her. Wish me luck!
     
  14. R13

    R13 New commenter

    Some people see inclusion as - going to the local mainstream school.

    At my special school children's needs are met, they are valued as individuals, they are given work and support to enable them to learn and participate in society . . .sounds nearer to any decent idea of inclusion than sending a child to mainstream and then giving the a 1-1 (usually underpaid, undertrained and undervalued) and often given the task of keeping them away from the teacher and the other children if they have difficukt behaviour.

    Sorry to rant - I am in fact all for inclusion but the number of times we see poor provision and unwanted SEN children in otherwise good maintream schools is just sad
     
  15. LORRYW

    LORRYW New commenter

    A friend of mine is a Portage teacher and she finds the current push for inclusion very difficult. Parents are being actively encouraged (pushed?)to seek inclusion for their children. She feels they would be far happier in Special Schools where their needs can be met and full potential reached.
    This thread is just another sad example of how badly things can go wrong, even with the best of intentions.
     
  16. R13

    R13 New commenter

    As the 'pro-special schools ranter' above I would very happily recommend mainstream for most Downs children IF it were the inclusive it is often described as and talked up by people like the Down syndrome association . . . it is the all too frequent reality I find depressing
     
  17. I think this illustrates why the sen governor is better off being someone outside the school stafff - no offence meant but unless she is willing to speak up things will continue.
    An independant person has no axe to grind and doesnt have to pretend things are ok. All schools should have an disability equality scheme which should encompass the views of all stateholders ie disabled staff carers and disabled chidlren - the sen gov should be pushing for a working group to look at sen within the governing body.
    I PERSONALLY THINK YOU OWE IT TO THE PARENTS TO TEL THEM WHAT IS HAPPENING. They are trusting this little girl to the care of your school and she is being let down but cannot verbally tell thm what is happening to her.
    Children with downs can cope in the right primary school this clearly isnt it and her family need your support
     
  18. R13

    R13 New commenter

    It would be considered very unprofessional to 'go and tell the parents' as downsright advocates - you should however be sharing your views with your HT if you have already shared them to no effect with your line manager
     
  19. I used to work with a child with similar behaviour, but a little younger, 7 going on 8.

    Firstly, I understand the need for privacy, but why is this child being allowed to lock the door in the first place? You are female, she is female, no locked doors are needed.

    Secondly, her IEP/PEP should have ideas to plan lessons for her. We used to use Numicon for maths and literacy, she could choose any book in the library, then we would find one sentence, (this has to be done in advance) print out in Comic sans large print, x 2, she would have to arrange the words under the sentence, match word to word.

    Thirdly, visual timetables can be good, but often Makaton is more interesting for the child. DS kids are often better at signing than symbols, but not always. But photos of themselves doing an activity might work better than symbols.

    Fourth, behaviour wise our method was to ignore any inappropriate behaviour that didn't cause anyone harm. Turn away and start talking enthusiasticlly to another child. Help someone else with their work etc. After 30secs turn back, ask if she's ready to work, if not keep ignoring. They get bored eventually. Feel free to walk away across the room, she'll miss the inidividual attention. When she makes any sort of achievement, huge praise, big it up!!! That was sooooo good washing your hands, that running in the playground was brilliant!!!!

    Also for a reward chart I did a very simple peice of cardboard, 5 blocks velcroed on, she has to reach 5 to get an activity she loves, which will be a photo or symbol after the 5. I used to use computer, (your ICT suite should have headphones) outside play, a 10min session in the nursery messy play (previously agreed with nursery), or whatever else she was into that term. Make the tasks for 1-5 really achievable at first, like making a scribble or looking at a book, or putting rubbish in the bin. Make it quick and easy so reward happens within 10mins.

    Fifth, stay in class as much as possible until behaviour improves. First because you need other kids around to talk to when you're ignoring her, second, because you are not ultimately responsble for her. If the teacher actually asks you to leave reguarly, for no good reason, In my eyes thats grounds for a complaint to the local authorities as it is going against inclusion policy.

    Above all I wish you luck and strength, you are doing a wonderful job :)


     
  20. I'm so glad you all said that about inclusion. I think it is wrong for some children to be in mainstream school, they are being failed. No problem with it for children that it suits, but there are some children who just should be in schools that can cater for them.
     

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