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Assault charges and children with ASD

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Hi there.

Does anyone have experience of their child being charged with assault because they've hit or kicked a teacher?

My 10 year old son is diagnosed with Aspergers and finds school difficult at times. Mostly the school have worked well with us, but this week he got upset over a trivial matter - which resulted in him completely blowing up and kicking his teacher. We were told afterwards that if this happened again, the police would be involved and he'd be charged with assault.

I think this was done to try and scare my son (and me) to improve his behaviour - which shows a lack of understanding of his condition. He knows when he's done wrong, but isn't able to control his behaviour well enough to stop himself at the time. My husband and I tear our hair out trying to work with himi to help him with his behaviour and the last thing we want is him hurting people.

I know though, that this is not an empty threat from the school. They recently charged another pupil with assault for something similar - this child is currently being assessed for ASD.

Any help or ideas gratefully received.

Thank you!

Hello Hellsbells.

This is very worrying to hear.  I would strongly recommend that you contact the NAS Education Rights Service:

http://www.autism.org.uk/educationrights

They'll be able to discuss how school should be handling this and give you some advice on how you can try and work with school.

You might want to take a look at this section aimed at teachers in case there is anything you can pass on to school:

http://www.autism.org.uk/working-with/education/educational-professionals-in-schools.aspx

It might also be worth having a look at the section on "Understanding behaviour" in case there is anything relevant there:

http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/understanding-behaviour.aspx

There's a lot of information in those pages, and I know how hard it is trying to work out exactly what the problems are when you're not there to see yourself. I think your best starting point would be to give the Education Rights Service a call.

Good luck and please let us know how you are getting along.

Sandra - mod

It might be useful to find out more about the circumstances in which this happened.

For example was the teacher out of the class immediately before leaving him with his peers, or had the class just started and something could have happened on the way to the class or outside the classroom.

What sorts of things were happening to him over several hours before the incident took place? Surely the school has looked into the matter and to be fair on him looked at contributing factors? So they must be able to provide some answers.

Was the teacher being confrontational, forcing eye contact or in too close physical proximity?

Please excuse my drawing on my own experience (decades ago) to clarify why I'm asking, but its the best way I can explain it. I haven't been much affected by melt-down except when I was at school, and simply because my peers worked out how to trigger one, and how to time it. I am affected by sudden noise or movement, or complex noise or movement, especially just within the periphery of vision.  My peers seemed to able to get me nearly at melt down so they got the desired response when a teacher was present. I would seem to break down for no obvious reason.

If your son is being teased or manipulated by peers he could be reacting to a longer "train" of contributory events. Also teachers should be aware of the sensitivity issues for someone with AS, and use sensible tactics.

Thanks for the comments.

Yes, I've already called the helpline, so hopefully someone there may also be able to help. It is very worrying, partly because, as Longman says, I'm not there, so I don't see what goes on around the incidents.

This particular one was my son being a pest and flicking kids with his scarf when they were waiting to leave the classroom at the end of the day. He didn't stop when asked, so the teacher took the scarf off him - not something I would have done - which provoked the reaction. This could have been caused by all kinds of things though - tiredness at the end of the day; him feeling it was unfair to have it removed - he sees things as very black & white and it's quite possible he was doing it to deliberately miss them, in which case to him being told off would be outrageous. It's so difficult to know!

We intend to request a meeting to discuss how she deals with annoying behaviour to stop it getting out of hand.

I'll also have a look at the suggested links to see if there are any tips.

Thanks again!

Hellsbells

There is a possibility that they have flicked their scarves at him earlier, and possibly more substantially/for longer, without intervention by teachers, or simply out of sight of teachers.

I remember any attempt to retaliate (I was always tall for my age - not at all physically weak) I was reprimanded and told to pick of people my own size. Where were the teachers when I was the victim?

But then in those days school was about toughening up - the notion of any kind of disability was just being a softie.

I do wonder how far a sense of injustice plays a part. Your son may have been doing no-more than other kids did to him, just they were savvy and did it when teacher wasn't looking.

I do feel it is important to look at contributing factors over a longer time scale rather than trying to understand the lack of an immediate cause. Tiredness and stress build up are amongst those factors. But what his peers do to him, and how observant the teachers are when it happens, is also important.

Hi Longman.

This is all really useful stuff. I think you're right that a lot of it is about the build up. He had another run in at school today, refusing to go to assembly and later said that 1 kid who he doesn't get on with, had been really annoying him.

I also think he does, as you said, have a really strong sense of injustice. Because of who he is, he doesn't get away with anything, whereas the other kids will flick each other regularly, but won't get caught out or if they do, told off in the same way. I can imagine his sense of outrage at his scarf being taken away when he and his friends had perhaps spent half of lunch time doing just this outside the school.

We need to sit down with the school asap and thrash some of these things out as they're just not dealing with it at all well. In fact they're now just calling us in to deal with is, which is very stressful and not a little annoying!

Thanks for your thoughts.