I think my husband has undiagnosed ASD. We've discussed it together and he agrees that he probably does. I wouldn't change a thing about him, but he is currently trying to complete his probation year of teaching and is really struggling. I've been a teacher myself for nearly 7 years (English and History, but specialising in ASN for the past 4 years). I'm hearing what is going on in his school and it's clear they haven't realised that he is ASD (though I feel it's quite obvious) and are not supporting him with this. For instance, they act as though a missing comment in a jotter, or a class set of first year tests not being marked within the week is a serious matter (asking him to complete this marking during a training session which made him look bad in front of the council - but he did it because they 'strongly suggested' it. They also continually criticise him for not taking on (sometimes contradictory) feedback fast enough and keep threatening him with multiple 'action plans', saying it's to support him. I know that these action plans are actually just a version of performance management that puts an extraordinary amount of pressure on probationer teachers and makes them feel like they are about to fail their year.
He is also particularly struggling with the rather manipulative behaviour of a second year class, and an enormous workload. He is up until at least 2 every morning planning/marking/filling out profiles, then wakes up at 6. We've talked about getting a diagnosis, but as far as I'm aware it is a lengthy process which I don't think will be complete during this placement. He will struggle to explain this to his mentor and PT and advocate for himself regarding this. He has described feeling like he is in a small room with the walls closing in on him.
I would like to explain it to them for him, but feel like his wife calling his boss would make him look horribly unprofessional. I have tried to help him create tools to organise his planning better and work more efficiently, but he is still taking quite a long time to complete things. It is maths too, which I have never understood, so I can't plan things for him to take some of the load off. I've also tried to get him to take breaks for a walk etc to help him decompress a bit, but I think the time this takes stresses him out even more (he works non-stop most of the time to try to keep up with the school's demands). I've also told him to contact the union, but again, I think he will struggle to communicate what is going on (I've written down some points for him, but I think he'll get flustered when he tries to talk to them).
I am at my wits end. It's really difficult to see him so upset all the time, and not being able to help. I feel like he's on the verge of a pretty serious breakdown. Any advice?
First of all, I think you need to make an appointment to see his GP. Go together, talk through the issues, and as a minimum get him signed off sick for a couple of weeks with stress/anxiety so he can regroup and take care of himself. Find out from the GP how long the NHS waiting list is for ASD assessment, and also ask about private assessment services in your area. It's possible your GP won't know about either, so do make sure you do your own research too. A number of people on here have been told one thing by their GP only to discover the exact opposite.
It sounds like you're being incredibly supportive, which he's lucky to have, but it's clearly taking a toll on both of you. It's great that he is open to getting diagnosed, as that's not always a given either. Please consider speaking to NAS while you wait to see your GP as they will be able to give you advice both on getting diagnosed and managing your husband's work situation (see the 'Helpline/Contacts' tab on the top right corner of this website). Ultimately, it is not the end of the world if he is unable to complete his teacher training. There are plenty of other careers out there for people passionate about education and children e.g. tutoring, writing/editing textbooks or revision guides, child welfare officer/school liaison etc. where he can do more one-to-one work and which ends when he goes home each day.
Thanks for this. It’s actually really helpful. I have put together a to do list re: research tasks and job searches and we’ve now made an appointment with the GP. I really appreciate the support.
Hey, you're very welcome. I'm so pleased you've come up with a plan to move things forward. There are lots of kind and knowledgeable people on this forum and we're always here if you need advice, support or just a rant. I hope it goes well with the GP. Xx
Fundamentally your question is about disclosing (or not) a disability at work. It is a tricky thing and there are some risks either way you should consider. It is best to carefully plan and research. You received advice on the assessment. If I recall the average waiting time is 30 weeks and up to 2 years on the NHS. Can you afford to go private?
if you don't disclose he may fail and have a mental health breakdown. If you disclose, their reaction might not be what you hope for and he still may spiral into a mental health crisis. To have a supportive response, you need to give all the solutions. Research everything ACAS and the unions have developed. Research this forum about access to work and reasonable adjustments.
The most useful words I read on here were having frequent weekly meetings with the line manager and having a job coach for him and the manager to 'coach' them to work together. This will take time.
First read very carefully the Equality Act. He needs to be qualified (i.e. capable, not just with qualifications) with or without reasonable adjustments for his job to be protected by the Act. With reasonable adjustments are the key words. One aspect of the definition of disability is doing things differently. So try writing down how is he totally capable of doing his job, i.e. resolve all those incidents you mentioned if he performed his job differently, in the way that works for him, and which reasonable adjustments would enable that, and why they are reasonable. If you can answer those questions, you may consider disclosing if he is diagnosed. You can also disclose and request adjustments without being diagnosed, but that is even trickier. It works to the better with the right employer. But an unethical employer might just us the new information to find faults and set up for failure. It is not an unusual experience on this forum. Actually the episode with the council sound like a deliberate set-up. I am sorry if this is not reassuring.
Bagpuss7 I think is a teacher and might say something helpful...
Thanks. This is also good advice. We're going to write an email to the union, explaining the situation and asking for advice. I'll be sure to include details regarding how adjustments may have been beneficial and see what they say. Disclosing to the union is less risky I think.
Their latest is that he is backsliding because he didn't respond to an email within 24hrs (a pupil had left their PE kit in his classroom and they sent an email to staff asking about it... my husband didn't see the email in time), resulting in a parental complaint (they were upset with the school because they 'had to buy a whole new kit at great expense'). The council also turned up a day early today.