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Help please - really struggling with a challenging class - one child in particular!

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by spironette, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. Thank you for your response, I suppose you're right, but hitting seems to go on so much in school that it's part of the background. i have just accepted it but you're right they should offer more support. Four of the other pupils in my class hit etc too, but it doesn't seem to be We fill in pupil monitoring sheets every time something happens, but if I recorded every incident point by point it would be a lot of paperwork. I try and do a more general report. To be honest it just happens, and I feel I have to cope with it or I loose face - it's that kind of school. I will seek out my union rep and ask for advice. Thank you for your help x
  2. Chris4

    Chris4 New commenter

    Mmmmm, that seems a funny thing for staff to tell you! I hope they aren't trying to undermine you as a new teacher to the school by saying that. Don't let it get under your skin though, as that way lies madness. You should be the one to manage behaviour, but you can maybe do that by getting someone else to do it for you, under your direction. That's not an opting out, it's the best result for this child at this point. As a longer term strategy, have a go at spending some time with her, without other children around perhaps, in case that is what she is aware of. Give her a bit of your positive attention and try to get to like her as she will feed off any negative vibes you are giving off (quite naturally you don't like her, no criticism here!) Play a game she likes with her, look through a picture book with her, do whatever she likes to do for five minutes and give her your full attention. It won't work magic the first time, but persevere and let her see that you want to spend some time on her and are interested in her. You might also see what her parents say about her and see if there is some light they might be able to shed on her. Good luck, you'll get there in the end, I'm sure!
  3. I'm afraid I don't really have any advice other than to say I am also an NQT struggling with a severely autistic child in a mainstream class. It has got to a point where I dread going to school and don't feel positive about the situation at all. I got so upset about it at the end of term that Ive decided I must go and speak to the head. I doubt anything can/will be done but at least I'm putting the serverity out of the situation out there.
    Is yours a special school/unit?
    Good luck.
  4. I'm an LSA who has been working with ASD children for the last four years, at the mild level of the spectrum where violence on the part of the children is rare and where the tolerance level for it within the school has a very low threshold. Having fathered a massively handicapped daughter some 24 years ago and mixing and working with other handicapped families, I've learned quite a lot elsewhere too.
    I am very, very sorry that you are having such a hard time.
    I wonder what in-class support you get, in the way of LSAs or TAs? One teacher alone with this size of group does not seem healthy for anyone.
    Your pupil went, you tell us, from violent behaviour to very close, demonstrative, affectionate behaviour, and then reverted to her violent mode?
    I have long believed that violence is often a sign of a misdirected, fundamentally positive, desire for contact, and may occur when positive contact is, or is believed to be, unavailable. I can go into why I believe that - it's an accumulation of circumstantial evidence - but at base it is a belief that someone who wishes to hug may punch because they believe the hugging is, or is considered to be, inappropriate.
    x can't embrace y because both are boys and the action could be interpreted as 'gay', so x routinely 'dead-arms' y instead. a is not allowed to hug mum very closely because he/she is a big boy/big girl now - verbal or physical violence may be a means of making some form of 'contact' at least. b would love to take that teddybear in his arms and cuddle it, but he is 'beyond the age' for cuddling teddy bears and others would deride him for doing it, so he kicks it across the floor instead.
    I suspect and believe that it is this learned concept of appropriate contact which underlies the rumbustious, tumbling play of boys, for instance, rather than innate male behaviours.
    If I understand correctly the close physical contact you had with the child ended at a point when you were trying to moderate its level because of potential inappropriateness. It could, of course, just be a form of mood swing, but it could possibly be because of a sensed reservation.
    I suspect that it is not a 'negative' relationship you have at all - and from your writing I suspect that negative relationships are not something you are going to encounter much, you're too decent a person. I suspect the possibility, at least, that the relationship is not positive in the way that your pupil would like it to be.
    We compel our kids to grow up, and often too soon, and many of us would like to hold on to our first warm dependency that saw us held and hugged and petted, being driven, even, to seek that in our closest adult relationships. For a child whose future, for whom growing up, is a challenge, it would not be too surprising if she clung all the more tenaciously to baby/toddler traits.
    What can you do? I wish I could tell you with certainty. First, though, you can stop beating yourself up. You are loving your children and doing your best for them in what sound like difficult circumstances and you are to be applauded, even for just being who you are.
    You could try defining the limits of contact that are permissible and then encouraging contact to that limit with your child. Embrace her, perhaps, of your own volition, and try, whatever else, to keep smiling. Possibly see if there are resources you could find upon which children can take out their aggression - I've long argued for a punch bag in our department. A ginormous teddy bear might help.
    That's all off the top of my head and may be absolutely useless. I will keep my fingers crossed.
    Very best wishes to you.
  5. First question, after wishing you the very best of luck and applauding you even for trying, is to ask if you have any support in your class. An autistic child should, surely, have an attached support worker?
    I work as an LSA in my school's ASD unit, and our target (striven for, but never entirely reached) is 1 to 1 support in mainstream for our 'mild level' ASD children.
    warmest best wishes,
  6. Thanks for the reply. He has support all day every day. But it is a very difficult situation. He can't actually access anything in class.
    It's making me really frustrated with the system and although I am just trying to get through this year, it is dawning on me that this situation could exist in any class, any year.
  7. One wonders why, if he can't access anything, he's there at all. Can't be good for him, or for your other students (or you, clearly).
    I did support a student, for about a year and a half, I think, who really couldn't access anything and really didn't understand anything, and the consensus at the end was that he should not have been with us at all. I don't know how or why this happens.
    I take it you don't have an Autism/ASD unit? A child like the one you describe would almost certainly do better with 1 to 1 outside the conventional classroom.
    Again, my sympathies and best wishes, for what little they are worth,
  8. Thank you very much for your encouraging and supportive messages, I just think this forum is wonderful with so many knowledgable and thoughtful people taking time to not only respond but really think problems through for people you haven't met. Sorry to be soppy but these responses have meant a huge amount to me...sometimes you just need to hear that you're doing your best! Sheffgirl I really feel for you on your own with this kid. I at least have four support assistants who are great but perhaps the team hasn't gelled yet. Something else to work on! Probably the hardest thing about special school teaching I've found is that everyone has their own experiences and strong views about behaviour. Everyone wants to try their own thing - 'victory' in dealing with behaviour seems to be what a lot of staff value the most. I think Sheffgirl is right to talk to her Head about the problems she's having and I want to do the same, I think they need to know staff are stuggling it's what they are there for.
    I'm going to give spending one to one time with this girl a go, and regardless of appropriateness I'm going to cuddle her if she seems to want it - we probably both need this! Perhaps this will help us get to a better place where she knows she has my attention and affection and I don't feel like throttling her!
    Thanks again and I hope everyone has a great Christmas xxx
  9. I'm glad if you've found some help here - I don't doubt you deserve it.
    You probably already do, but try to be sure you get some time with your support staff as a group and as individuals, to give and ideally receive feedback. You've identified a couple of very real problems in the passage above.
    It's very easy for staff working with such children to 'forget' and begin to relate to them as if they were 'normal, mainstream' kids (if there is such a thing). It is then that they think in terms of 'bad' and 'naughty' when, most of the time, the behaviours are just not what we expect.
    I'd suggest - humbly, I'm no authority - that you look for every opportunity to give staff positive feedback. Support staff wages are a poor reward, and it is often, I think, the case, that Management are very poor at positively reinforcing staff, including teachers. Many's the time I have felt almost invisible. The suggestion's strategic, however, because rewarding your staff in any way you can will undermine their need to find 'victories' in outdoing their colleagues.
    Hope that makes some kind of sense,
    A very happy Christmas to you, too.

  10. Hello Spironette,
    Just wondering if you're making any happier progress?
    Best wishes to you,

  11. I was wondering if your local authority have an Outreach service that could offer you some more support. If the outreach service are involved then a working agreement can be set up to help look at the particular issues that are going on in class and there is more of a focus for all of the school team to be working together with help with progress.
    Outreach services often focus attention on children that are not making the progress that the school would expect, so this may be a good way for you to approach looking for additional support as the school are going to want all of the children to be making their upper quartile progress!
    I hope that things settle for you soon.
  12. I have been very bad at checking TES recently, and thank you so much to the last two posters for asking how things are going and for your helpful suggestions. Things behaviour wise are have actually got more challenging, but I feel better overall because the class team have gelled and I feel we are approaching things from the same angle and talking much more. The staff have changed and changed again, children have started going to respite and 'growing up', but we are doing okay. Not much learning but hopefully some positive behaviour managemend! How are you all doing? xxx

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