Not sure if this is a familiar situation or not?
My 7 year old son has suffered from bullying at school the worst of which was dealt with but he has suffered verbal bullying and things like boys shaking their wet hands at his trousers after washing them and laughing, sort of low level less obvious bullying if you like. The other day he came home and said that while queuing outside the classroom an older boy who has picked on my son before, had pulled his ears and stamped on his foot and he had pushed this boy away from another younger boy when he'd turned on him. However the Head teacher said she spoke to the 3 boys involved including my son, and all had a different story. So she viewed the CCTV and it showed our son pushing the other younger boy because he had threatened to pull our sons ears, while the older boy was bouncing around and trod on his foot. Our son is extremely honest and very rule abiding, but as with our older son who is also AS, it takes a lot of careful questioning to get to the actual facts. Unfortunately what has added to his anxiety is his class teacher telling him off for lying and that she is disappointed in him. He now thinks it's better not to tell teachers anything 'incase he's lying'. I guess my question is, how do I make sure he can say something if he is being bullied but cope with being able to sort out the sequence of events and get his story straight before saying anything? I feel like just telling him to keep his head down and don't say anything as I feel like the teachers don't understand that he struggles to communicate his concerns.
I hope this makes sense as its kind of hard to explain.
I‘m really sorry to hear about your son’s experiences; it’s brought back memories for me—either being accused of lying, which, like your son, I was cognitively not capable of, or being accused of “turning on the water works” for sympathy when actually I was incredibly distressed about something.
Irrespective of their qualifications and training, neurotypicals really struggle to see the world from any perspective other than their own, despite the fact they should have the capacity to at least part-empathise with your autistic 7 year old, and not expect him to perform to their standards.
I’m not comfortable with the idea of telling him to just keep his head down, and I doubt you are either, but compl
etely understand where you’re coming from out of exasperation. Are you in contact with the school’s SEN coordinator? I imagine they would be a good place to start. Regardless of disability, your son should have a voice if he is being bullied and be helped by specialist staff to develop this accordingly. While all kids have to learn to stick up for themselves, as you say your son is at a distinct disadvantage because of his impaired executive functioning and communication from his autism, which I imagine is more pronounced when stressed or anxious (such as when called in front of the head teacher).
Sorry, not sure I’ve been particularly helpful there? Others here may have more recent experience or better knowledge of where to get appropriate help for this.
All good wishes,
thank you for your kind thoughts and practical advice, it is very reassuring.
There is no SENCO at his school at the moment and I'm not sure when they are getting one. So I think I'll have to meet with the class teacher and try and get across to her about Autism and cognitive processing though I have a feeling it will fall on deaf ears. While talking to my son about the incident the Head asked him to look at her and took his lack of eye contact as him lying. He also pushes his tongue round his mouth and wells up when someone is or he perceives that someone is cross with him an obvious sign to us that he is super anxious but not seen as the same by his teacher's.
I want to be able to go in with some coping strategies they could use with him as well as talking to them about how autism effects children and not be seen as a precious, fussing Mummy or for them to take it as criticism and then get annoyed which could make life harder.
You are right to know that I don't really want him to just keep his head down, but when no one is really listening and willing to empathize it is frustrating and lonely.
Thank you again.
Nessie said:Irrespective of their qualifications and training, neurotypicals really struggle to see the world from any perspective other than their own, despite the fact they should have the capacity to at least part-empathise with your autistic 7 year old
How do we know she's a NT and even if she thinks she is one this might not be true. I qualified as a teacher many years before I even suspected I was autistic. At the time, I often copied other's behaviour, such as acting how I'd seen them approach a situation, as this is how I coped. Autism didn't come one my radar until I attended a training course about it when I was 35. Rather than making assumptions about the head and the teacher, if the OP keeps an open mind these members of staff might surprise her and you never know the OP could change their lives too. I wish one of my students' mums were able to raise my awareness of autism in females much earlier on in my career.
Being able to communicate clearly is a key life skill so as difficult as it maybe it's definitely worth persevering with your son.
If I was talking to my daughter about this I'd explain if a situation isn't life-threatening communicating clearly and effectively is much more important than communicating quickly. As such, she might want to come home and talk through the situation then bullet point all of the information she wants to get across. Depending on what she wanted we'd either turn this info into a letter to give to the teacher or we'd practice how to explain this effectively. If needed, I'd also be willing to arrange a meeting with the school, then sit behind my daughter whilst she lead the conversation but I added support/clarified points when needed. The meeting would enable me to model effective communication for my daughter to learn from.