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Finding it hard to cope :(

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by maggieDD, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. maggieDD

    maggieDD New commenter

    I have been working 30 hours a week with a non-diagnosed child with a statement for severe behavioural difficulties since September last year. He is under CAMHS and sees a play therapist once a week who has not had experience of his meltdowns. He has several tantrums a week, usually involving throwing things,screaming, kicking, punching, spitting and biting.He has been excluded many times and his mother is now looking to move him to a specialist residential school, the problem is there isn't a space until September.
    In the meantime he has been excluded from the classroom as his outbursts are usually because of demands made of him (potential PDA) and children are scared in case they get hit by something he throws.
    I have been asked to sort out basic early years activities for him and they take place in a small (cold and depressing) room with just me and him. He is still having outbursts, last couple were because he made a mistake in his drawing and he didn't know how to play a maths game on the computer (it's instantaneous, there is no time to look for triggers)
    I have asked if I can share the job with someone else but I've only been offered one afternoon a week. When behaviour support visited last week they were shocked to learn that I was expected to deal with this child, alone all day every day.
    I am finding it overwhelmingly stressful, it's interfering with my sleep and my studying (doing an OU degree) and I dread going into work. Other staff are supportive and say they will take him for 5 minutes when he gets too bad but to be honest it won't really help.
    Any suggestions would be very welcome :(
     
  2. hubcap

    hubcap New commenter

    If it was me I would speak to the head again and tell him that I feel stressed out and need a break away from this child for some part of every day. If that can not be sorted out I would go to my doctors and take some time off for stress. It isnt fair on you or the child. Good luck!
     
  3. Poor you! I was in a similar but not as intense situation with a child last year. Fortunately, my head was great about it as he understood that my health was the starting point for everything else and without it, everything else would fall down. Have you taken the afternoon they offered? Speak to the head again, and contact your union as they may be able to offer advice.
     
  4. Oh dear Maggie, it sounds like this has reached a crisis point now. The situation sounds absolutely appalling for both yourself and the child. PDA and handling it is far too complicated to discuss in 1 post and really requires everyone to be on board from headteacher to lunchtime supervisors. Are you the one in a school in Essex?
     
  5. maggieDD

    maggieDD New commenter

    I am, yes. Have been on PDA contact forum but as the child's mother was also on there I was reluctant to share too much information.
    Everyone I've spoken to thinks it's wrong that I am having to deal with this alone, even though others will offer the odd suggestion for an acitivity (go play football, snakes and ladders, etc) it isn't enough. I am now making my own resources at home, for my own sanity as much as for the child!
    Each day is so unstructured and it's making putting me on edge :(
     
  6. Hi this sounds like it is getting to you and i think you should point out to your head/line manager that you feel a little overwhelmed.
    i have worked with several children with quite a few behavioural issues in the past-well still do.
    my tips would be:
    • if you are planning for the child use a topic of interest to him to base the work around.
    • if they cant deal with mistakes then model how to deal with mistakes eg both draw, you make a mistake and talk it through.
    • try and do things that make the room a little more welcoming to both of you. soft cushions/bean bags etc.
    • state that the activities are and which would you liek to do first. ive always found that giving a choice even when its actually something you need them to do helps.
    • stay calm-if you need to get out for a breather maybe use a red card system where someone can be on call to give you 5 mins.
    • positive behaviour management-reward the good-however small.
    • have sanctions that mean something to him-no computer or less play etc. you may find that he will challenge everything you say but they do eventually know that you stay consistent.
    i am sure you've prob got all this already but this is what ive used. ive found myself working in old empty classes on my own with children with PDA type behaviour. and these strategies have come in useful to try and lessen the outbursts. i am assuming primary age so if wrong-sorry.
    The other thing is do you or any colleagues have any physical handling training? we've found that as an absloute last resort holding to calm is the only way.
    i hope this helps somewhat.
     
  7. maggieDD

    maggieDD New commenter




    Hi and thank you for your reply and yes, he is primary (age 6)
    I will be going in during the Easter holidays to paint this room and make it a little more welcoming. as you said, I have been using those strategies you suggested, but as he has violent angry outbursts several times a day sanctions are pretty pointless.
    As it stands we are doing lots of art based activities, some around the subject of Ben 10, other ongoing projects involving making and also maths and literacy games so it's not just all play. I have discussed with him what he should do if he makes a mistake and like you said, I've modelled what to do when I've made a 'mistake' when drawing and he understands and agrees. Unfortunately it's like a light switch when he goes and there isn't time to prevent anything escalating and once he's that angry there is absolutely nothing you can say that will help (in fact he just gets angrier) if I stay calm he gets angry, if I show empathy he gets angry if I show displeasure he gets angry (this I've discovered over a period of 7 months)
    I have had positive management training which included restraint techniques (which I had to put into place yesterday when he was shouting at children and then punched a reception child in the playground for treading on his chalk drawing)
    So as you can see, it's difficult to say the least :(
     
  8. i do completely see. and he sounds like so many of the ones ive worked with. i think the lack of a consistent trigger is hard-ive learnt to read the facial expressions of so many to try and fend it off. but it is hard. i had a child similar who im now working with (in a group of 7) who now knows that if he kicks off and a sanction is put in place he knows i will carry it out. ive had kick off over it, seeming no effect etc. he was one that sending home would've played right into his hands. the child i have now kicked off couple weeks ago like he used to every day everal times a day for the first time in ages. i'd forgotten how exhausting it was.
    just keep up the good work. and keep a supply of chocolate for the tough days. [​IMG]
     
  9. Oh, gosh! It sounds as if the child has classic ASD.
    Just a thought, have you tried putting a daily plan together and trying a visual time table with him.
    Give him strategies to cope with his frustrations. Tell him what you expect him to do when he gets angry. ie Tom say ' I'M ANGRY' or give him a teddy to scream into. Social stories are great as well.
    What is your SENCO doing to help you structure this boys day and support YOU?
    You need to have time away from this child during the day. Good luck
     
  10. supermum3

    supermum3 New commenter

    How stressful for you!
    When you talk to him after his outbursts, does he say how he feels? Can he feel the rage building up? Can he draw a picture of the incident and how would he portray himself in the picture? Would he be able to use a strategy which he can employ when he feels the 'red mist' descending? eg flicking an elastic band on his wrist, squeezing a stress ball, blowing up a balloon... anything really which might dissipate the rage.
     
  11. maggieDD

    maggieDD New commenter



    Hi and thanks for your replies.

    I have used the strategies behaviour support suggested, drawing a picture of a body and how it feels when it's angry. He talks about what he should do when he's calm but when he gets angry and I remind him of the calming strategies he came up with I just get 'I DON'T CARE!!! I WANT TO BE ANGRY'
    Today he went crazy the second he couldn't read a word on a computer activity and started smashing the keyboard up and sitting on the laptops. Later he went into a rage because I was holding another child's hand (as well as his) in the playground.
    I felt so ill today that I told him that his tantrums were 'boring', after initially getting angry he actually stopped and asked for a hug! I was amazed (doubt it'll work again though and it's probably 'unprofessional' but my sanity and health is being affected now!)
    The annoying thing is, when he is with someone else he doesn't behave anywhere near as horrendously, which makes me feel like I'M his trigger!
    I beginning to find it intolerant when he clambers all over me, pinches me, head butts me ('accidentally') and this is when he ISN'T angry. No matter how often I tell him it isn't appropriate he not only keeps doing it, but has a rage when I ask him to stop!

    Don't know how I'll keep going until the end of July... :(

     
  12. oh!how awful for you!! i worked with a child in year3 who sounds very very similar to him!! i would suggest that he behaves worse for you as he has a bond with you and feels comfortable with you (blessing in definate disguise!!!) he used to completely kick off at me, but i honestly feel it was a battle of wills! he knew that what i said went, that i wasnt frightened of him (or his tantrums) and that had firm expectations, taht would ne rewarded!
    I quickly learnt to live by "mean what you say and say what you mean" i had to give very very simple expectations and clear instructions. as hard as it was, i had to ignore completely his negative hehaviour (even when he wa slaunching the contents of teh book shelf at me one day!) over time, he realised that he was not getting a reaction and that he would do as asked. I started off really small steps ie "you can choose this pencil or this one" and not entertain any alternative. we also took 5 minute breaks every 15 minutes regardless of behaviour but his playtimes were removed minute by minute like golden time for negative behaviour.
    After 3 weeks or so, he was a completely different child (for me!) we gradually integrated him back with his peers but it was a VERY long process (up to mid y5) and stressed a full school approach!
    I honestly feel for you, but at this moment in time, it sounds like you are the only adult who could have time for him in school! you need full school support for strategies and a break across the day!!
    hope it settles down for you soon!
    x
     
  13. maggieDD

    maggieDD New commenter

    Thank you :)

    I am of the belief that he should just have his tantrums and 'burn' himself out (for that half hour anyway!) and this is how his mother treats his meltdowns at home too. He then has to clear up what mess he's made.
    I want to apply this strategy at school, but when he has his tantrums, and well meaning others come along to give me a break, they pander to him, whereas I think he should just be ignored.
    Also, when he does spend a small amount of time in class (golden time, eg) he is very aggressive towards the other children, treads all over the Lego, doesn't share toys, etc. If I were to reprimand him it would risk a child getting injured when he throws something in a rage at being 'told off'
    I feel it's imperative that he is not allowed to get away with this kind of behaviour, and it feels like he is doing it intentionally for attention, but when other children are involved you can't ignore it :(
     
  14. maggieDD

    maggieDD New commenter

    Have tried ignoring and reading but this child just ups the ante by throwing things or hitting so that strategy's impossible!
    Having just gotten over a cold and developing sinusitis I had the day off yesterday (first one since I've worked there) found out today that they'd told the child's mother not to bring him in! Is that legal?
     

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