We are awaiting an assessment, and forms from the school and myself have been forwarded to the appropriate service.
In the meantime, the school want to meet to discuss my daughters needs, and how they might help support her. The thing is, I don’t think there’s anything she particularly needs. As mentioned here, she is the perfect pupil! Her problems start when she gets home.
Do you have any ideas for us? My daughter is 14 and between us we cannot come up with anything solid. She already does what’s best for herself, for example, chooses to sit alone in class so she can concentrate...
I guess if staff knew of her possible situation, they might not think her lack of eye contact, or ‘questioning’ look on her face is down to a bad attitude! She’s unlikely to respond to someone talking at her, if they haven’t called her name. How does she know they are talking to her if she isn’t looking at them?..
I am not sure I can offer much in the way of practical help, but I can certainly identify with your daughter being unaware that her facial expression and lack of eye contact may be misconstrued by school staff. These should be explained as innocent mannerisms of her difference.
There is a novel written by the mother of an autistic boy, the main character is autistic. I suspect your daughter is bright enough to to draw some insights from this sort of gentle approach.
The book is described as being suitable for young adults, so it may be best to read it yourself first to make sure it is appropriate.
An article about the book may be found here.
Definitely get the "recognising lack of eye contact as normal/not forcing eye contact" and "using her name to get attention" things in the plan- that's a good start!
Some of the reasons her problems are apparent when she's at home might be due to things she is experiencing at school, maybe things that she isn't even consciously aware of herself. We often mask our autistic traits in public (a survival tactic in a world that's not built for us) and let all the pent up stress go at home- very common, especially with us girls who tend to be such masters of disguise!
I suppose another good thing to start with might be to have it written down in her IEP (individual education plan) that when she does those things that are "best for herself" that is to go unchallenged by the teacher (e.g. going to sit by herself when there is a seating plan that puts her elsewhere in the classroom). She might be fine now but with a particularly inflexible teacher I can see that situation blowing up. Having it in there would nip that in the bud.
Is she ever disturbed by extraneous noises or other stimuli that the school could try to minimise (e.g. is it hard for her to concentrate when a fan is on, or she is sitting in bright light)?
Does she ever feel she needs a break from the classroom? Might she have a card or a note on her IEP that lets her take that break- perhaps under the guise of going to the toilet if she is self-conscious about appearing different from other pupils- as and when she needs it?
How is her friendship situation? Do other pupils ever pick on her? Might she need some help to socialise? She's reaching the age at which social politics suddenly get very hard to navigate- how is she finding that? What might school be able to do to help?
I hope these might be good starting points.
Thank you for your response. I did broach the subject with my daughter again last night, and she stated she didn’t need special treatment. She said no one would challenge her sitting by herself, and that nothing at school agitates her...noises etc
Her friendship situation has been good for the last 4 or 5 months. She’s never been bullied, but like most children, she has had the odd occasion where someone might have been a bit mean and she didn’t retaliate, but not during high school.
She gains new friends all the time, but inevitably it falls apart. I always feel my daughter has said or done something inadvertently, and hasn’t come across as wanting or needing the friendship, so the friend moves on. There’s never any bad blood, but my daughter is clueless as to what went wrong.
Most of the time she’s questioning what people said and is unsure of the context it was said in. She’s in a constant state of confusion with understanding expressions, and tones of voice, and things like sarcasm. I say constant, it’s more like 70% of the time. I have always given her advice on communication and social things instinctively, even before I suspected she might have an ASD
On a side note, she has been very volatile lately. I’m assuming it’s because things have been stirred up by the SENCO teacher requesting we meet to discuss support. She’s had 2 meltdowns since, which have had her hitting herself which is awful to see. I do wonder if she has ADHD at times, but wouldn’t this rear it's head at school?
Letting them know of things such as addressing your daughter by her name when talking to her, and her eye contact/facial expressions, helps to build that understanding between teacher and student. Even minor things can make a lot of difference, so be sure to mention them so that the school can do what it can to help your daughter!x
Much love <3
Understandable that she doesn't want "special treatment"- she's scared of standing out. I was the same.
All you can really do is tell them the things you already know for now- the eye contact, the moving seats (whatever she says, if she gets a supply or a new teacher who happens to be strict they might try to stop her), the using her name. Would she take any communication-based interventions to help her retain friends if nobody knew about it? It does sound like she's upset by these friendship breakdowns. Maybe a bit of communication training would help her with it, and it could be after school or something so she wouldn't feel singled out in front of other pupils?
I suspect the volatility is indeed a reaction to the people around her suddenly treating her differently and discussing potentially doing things that she's nervous about.Sorry you're having such trouble with the meltdowns they are horrible to experience and to watch.What makes you think she has ADHD too?
Thanks again Emma for your reply. The only reason I am trying to get my daughter assessed is so that she can get support for her communication/social problems and to find coping solutions for her meltdowns (managing her frustration, anger and anxiousness).
She knows she could do with the help, and would certainly attend any sessions, wherever they may be.
All her friends are very supportive. Only a handful know that she may be autistic, and they are fine with it. There are several children in her year with autism and they seem very accepting.
I do question ADHD, due to her temper, how she gets easily distracted and because of how hard it is get her to do things a lot of the time. Outwardly, it seems she is actively rebelling against what I ask her to do, or that she is being purposefully difficult. Or is this true of someone on the spectrum?
Thank you. I am compiling a little list to refer to.
i asked her about eye contact, and she said it’s fine. She can do it. She said she is always thinking about how long to look for and when to look away. I think that’s a big giveaway, as people in general do not think about how many seconds to look at someone in the eye!
It sounds to me like it could be AS behaviour. I was always very defiant and difficult to get to do things (especially if it meant stopping something I was concentrating on- that's very classic aspergers) and the distractibility could be a sensory sensitivity issue (depends what's distracting her).
If she's still in the assessment phase I would hope that her assessor will be able to delve deeper into the reason behind the behaviour and so rule in or out other factors including ADHD.
Glad her friends are supportive! That's awesome.
I would definitely pursue communication support if she is willing, and you can find something local- again, something to ask the people assessing her.