Suddenly upset at school

My 9 year old son goes to a special school and has been there nearly 2 years.

He loves school and always enjoys going.

He also gets a taxi to school along with 2 other boys who go to the same school.

This week I have had reports back via his home school book that he is very distressed once he arrives at school and is hitting his head and banging it on the floor,he’s also lashed out at other pupils and teachers.

This is not like my son and is completely out of character.

He calms down eventually and has a good day at school but when he knows it’s time to go home he gets upset and starts hitting and crying again.

The school seem to think it’s the taxi he dislikes.

He has had a new driver and escort and car since going back to school after Easter and was initially upset by this but had calmed down.

Dont really want to take him myself as I think it’s good for him to have the time without me for a change.

I have his annual review tomorrow so will discuss what can be done.

Obviously he doesn’t tell us why he’s upset so it’s a guessing game as to the triggers of his upset.

Has anyone else had this problem or an anyone offer any advice?

  • From your description it does appear that this issue has arisen due to a change in the transport to/from school. If your son would be able to verbalise or visually portray anything to you about what is upsetting him in relation to this that would be best because obviously otherwise you are left to guess, so do try to ask him but only when he is calm.

    Certainly though, it isn’t a good idea to unexpectedly change taxi/driver/escort for a child who is autistic, especially as this could then create anxiety going forwards that things could change again without warning which can be very upsetting for anyone with autism. I don’t know what reassurances could be provided to you in terms of this happening again, or indeed if his transport could be changed back to how it was before, but you could try asking about this.

    Other than that if the problem persists then it may be a case of having to try new transport again or you taking your son yourself. I appreciate you don’t want to take him but if he would be comfortable with this and it would alleviate his distress at the beginning and end of the school day then it would be advisable.

  • Is there any way of having the school consider (and look into) whether the behaviour of the other two taxi passengers has changed in the same time period? Are these other 2 boys verbal, can they shed any light on what has changed about the journey since the new taxi driver took over? 

    It could be that the new driver takes a different route with the children, perhaps picking them up in a different order, and these changes of routine have upset your son? Especially if being picked up in a different order means that he cannot sit in his usual seat? Or, maybe this new driver plays loud music on the journey to drown out the boys chatter? There could be a lot of seemingly innocuous changes with a new driver and any number of them could be upsetting depending upon what types of things your son is particularly sensitive to.

    The driver himself could be completely unaware that he's causing any problems but if it's possible to speak with both drivers (?) it should be easy enough to compare notes and find out what the differences are. 

    Another good reason to speak to the drivers is that the problem may be with the other two passengers. Are they bullying your son? He seems to be fine once at school after recovering from the trauma of the journey and only gets upset at the thought of repeating the journey. Does your son have any contact with these other two boys whilst at school? If not, this would explain why it's just during his time in their company that he's so upset. perhaps the previous driver was able to control the boys better so that bullying didn't occur? Perhaps the new driver either doesn't engage with the boys, and so doesn't notice the bullying, or simply doesn't feel able to deal with the situation?