anxiety at school and meltdowns at home

I have recently become a SENCo at a large comprehensive school.  A number of pupils that I have with ASD are showing the 'Jekyll and Hyde' characteristics (Attwood).  In other words, they are behaving well and fitting in at school, but having huge meltdowns as soon as they get home.  I would love to be able to support parents, as well as these pupils.  Has anyone got any ideas of what I can do at school to help, when there don't appear to be any problems and the pupils aren't verbalising any issues?  Thanks


  • wrote:

    Has anyone got any ideas of what I can do at school to help, when there don't appear to be any problems and the pupils aren't verbalising any issues? 


    Tony Attwood's book the The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome, is chock a block with information and work arounds about the maturational stage developments of pre-adolescent and adolescent children with autism, obviously more centred upon Asperger's Syndrome, but as I have been informed by social workers that I suggested the book to, the information in the book has been generally useful across the board.

    The basic suggestion for school induced meltdowns, is a period of private relaxation once returning home without any requests or orders to do anything ~ so as to calm down and relax from the demands of school, or if pent up ~ a sporting activity or such like to physically burn off the tension.

    Might having a good jumping on the spot and loosing up session at the middle and the end of the school day be worker there perhaps?


  • Hi NAS35925,

    This may not be the advice you are seeking.

    I couldn’t help but first wonder whether the kids that you say appear to be ‘fitting in’ so well at school are really as okay as you perceive them to be.

    ‘Fitting in...’ the ‘act of being suitable or appropriate?’ Much can be learnt from the smallest of things…I wonder what it might be like to ‘act’ suitable, every day…? And I wonder further if, when acting can end, such as when we feel safe, such as when we get home, whether everything just comes flooding out in one terrifying, uncontrollable, confusing, outburst…

    Absence of ‘affect’ (absence of outburst, meltdown, behavioural problems, resistance, refusal) in school is not really evidence enough that a ND child is okay, particularly with individuals on the spectrum who may be introverted and internalise their suffering as opposed to ‘acting it out’ in public. Therefore, it follows that ‘good behaviour’ may be an important indicator from the schools perspective, on whether a child is deemed to be ‘okay’ (acceptable to the school)  but it is not indication that all is well from the perspective of the child.  

  • I couldn’t help but first wonder whether the kids that you say appear to be ‘fitting in’ so well at school are really as okay as you perceive them to be.

    Absolutely.  I probably didn't explain myself very well.   I am very aware that the young man who I am most concerned about is masking his anxiety all day long and this is causing the meltdowns at home.  I just need some practical ideas of how to help him.  For example, he has a timeout card and can come to the unit when he needs to, but often he won't use it because he doesn't want to miss lessons and he doesn't want to be different.  When his distress is so debilitating at home he sometimes spends the day with me rather than being in lessons at all, but I'd rather find out how to avoid that if I can.  I now that the amount of'chaos' and change in routines at the end of terms is stressful.  Just taking him out of lessons seems a bit of a cop out!

    Tony Attwood's book the The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome,

    I saw one of his articles on pupils with ASD and homework, as this is a massive issue with the same child ( I am working on this!).  It sounds as if I should invest in his book too.  Thank you.

  • Hi,

    I'm 52 so Sencos hadn't been invented when I was at school and nobody really knew anything about Aspergers/HFA and I didnt get my diagnosis until last month. I just about got through primary school but had a breakdown in year 9 and didnt go to school for 9 months finally returning full time yr 10 spring term. Up to the point of breakdown I was very Jekyll and Hyde, I just about got through school but had no self worth and no energy left by the end of the day due to all the bullying, wind-ups and social exclusion etc. The three worst areas/times where I could have done with help were;

    1. Sports/PE lessons - the changing rooms were the worst place ever for bullying! The actual sports were no better either - I like many aspies had poor co-ordination and hence was useless at most sports as I couldn't kick/hit a ball to save my life and I am not naturally a competitive person (again a common aspie trait) so to be forced into team sports was pure hell. When I returned to school I was excused from all sports/PE lessons and spent the time studying in the library. My opinion is that forcing kids on the spectrum to do sports in a situation like mine is at best counterproductive and at worse abusive.

    2. Breaktimes on the playground - the 2nd best zone for bullies - when I returned to school I was allowed to spend breaks in the library this helped massively in me getting through my last 18 months of school.

    3. Getting to and from school - probably the most difficult area for a school to deal... I ended up cycling which helped a lot but even so I got cornered and attacked by groups of yobs also on bikes.

    I realise my experience was 35-40 years ago and things maybe (hopefully) very different but I thought it worth mentioning seeing as you asked. I'm really pleased that you have gone to the trouble of coming here to seek out advice, its a shame more Sencos dont do the same. Deepthought's recommendation of Tony Attwood's book is a very good one. There are some excellent seminars on Youtube by Tony including this one on reducing bullying and teasing;

    www.youtube.com/watch