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Should we pull our son out of school after only 4 months

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newdads July 31, 2021 13:12

Thought I would pop in and provide another update.

EHCP Plan was slightly amend as the 'experts' were slightly worried about it mentioning his hitting and spitting and that it would affect him gaining a placement at another school.

We have been lucky in that a local SRP school has offered him a place which we have accepted. The three of us went and viewed it and it was a positive experience. They feel they can meet his needs.

On top of that, the LA have also approved for him to have a full time 1 on 1 at his new school, of which the school was surprised as once in. an SRP school, thats not usually offered on top.

Now we are in the holidays, things are tough, his behaviour is as bad as ever, with the hitting and spitting. We are trying everything as parents and it doesn't seem to be sinking through to him.

Ive seen lot of people online say that if they're kids spit, they get them to then brush their teeth, so another tactic we are going to try.

Me personally, I am feeling quite low and sad for our boy atm. We went to an indoor playground yesterday where he ended up spitting at children and for the first time ever, I received a lot of abuse from other parents. There's no point trying to explain his situation as they just don't understand. It's really knocked me and just don't know how we are going to get passed this.

He's such a polite and loving little boy but he seems to be on a warpath with himself and other kids either won't or can't play with him and that makes me really sad

Donatella July 31, 2021 15:02

It sounds like your little lad is really struggling. Can you reframe his behaviour - it’s not bad behaviour, more likely to be underpinned by ? what? Anxiety? Not grasping social norms? Sensory overload? What do you think his behaviour is telling you? His behaviour is his language, his communication. He doesn’t have the words to tell you how he’s feeling so you’re going to need to interpret that.

My son was a nightmare at 5 - from 3 really when he started school. He was excluded from mainstream at 6 and dx adhd at the same age and asd at 9. He’s 17 now and returned to mainstream last year to do his As with great support so there is light at the end of a (probably) very long tunnel.

Has anyone considered fasd? Did bm drink during pregnancy?

What support can social services offer via the ASF? Theraplay, therapeutic parenting training for you? Any support groups you can access?

Our kids are complex and there’s likely to be a range of things in the mix - often they come from chaos, dysfunction and even when removed at birth they’re still traumatised. Often there’s complex genetics in the mix too - diagnosed or undiagnosed. It’s a long haul.

What support are you getting to manage your emotions?

newdads July 31, 2021 16:27

It’s an odd one. He knows it’s wrong to hit and spit. When we make him have some quiet time, he can explain why his ‘behaviour’ hasn’t been good.

The play park yesterday was obviously caused by it being a busy and noisier place.

we know he asks kids to chase him and when they do, he gets over overwhelmed and reacts. The incident today where he threw mud at neighbours kids they were sitting and playing calmly. Again, we have noticed instances of this being unprovoked

Donatella July 31, 2021 17:51

But in the moment, for whatever reason, he doesn’t know it’s wrong because he’s not using his thinking brain. His primitive brain is in charge. Impulse control can be a real issue and combined with the lack of a filter then at that moment he’s not thinking. He’s doing. Think of it more like a panic attack - how would you manage that?

And if he’s repeating the same behaviours over and over then he’s not getting cause and effect either. Think ‘can’t’ rather than ‘won’t’. You can talk to him without shaming him - toxic shame is a killer to deal with and often results in yet more meltdowns - but there’s no guarantee that it’ll sink in any time soon!

When he’s overwhelmed and if it’s safe to remove him then that’s all you can do - and try to reduce over stimulating, sensory overload. We all want our kids to be able to do the same things their peers can, but sometimes they just cannot manage it.

Rather than parent him at his chronological age, parent him at his emotional age, his developmental age - he’s very likely to be functioning at a much younger age.

It’s hard and often the child you have is quite different to the child you imagined you’d be parenting. They’re very complex. My eldest is now in uni - just finished his second year - and we have a fantastic relationship now. He’s NT but that doesn’t equate to straightforward. My middle one has adhd and ASD and my youngest has ASD. It’s possible she also has fasd but no evidence. We’ve muddled through and it’s been a full time job for me.

newdads June 16, 2022 10:59

Hi all. Long time no speak. Thought I would provide an update as it’s almost a year has passed now.

so our son moved schools, an SRP one which more provisions in place to meet his needs.

From the offset, I was firm that I expected him to attend full time, 5 days a week despite the school asking for a staggered start. We knew from experience that if he gets the options of half days, it will never end. On this rare occasion, we were right. Attended full time from September and has coped brilliantly.

he was unlucky with 1 to 1 support as went through 3 of them through September and new year. Quite a few instances of hitting still and requiring insolation.

received a new 1 to 1 in January and has stayed since. He is very forthcoming that he intends to stay long term so we are preying that is the case. As a result we are really are starting to see things come on leaps and bounds.

except for odd occasion where he may get overwhelmed and need to take time away, he is full time in class with all the other kids. He’s actively participating in lessons and learning is very slowly starting to sink in.

At 6.5 years old he still can barely write his name but at the moment the school isn’t as concerned. For us all it’s about getting him comfortable and happy. He’s starting to read some words unaided and he’s doing really well in his maths.

Behaviour wise, it’s easing slowly. He doesn’t really spit and punch anymore. Where he just wants to be liked and play with kids he can sometimes just get a little impulsive and heavy handed which will result in loosing playtime but it’s easing None the less.

The school have funded equine therapy with the horses which he does once a week. They are seeing progress and hope we can look for it to continue into year 2.

He said a single line in his Easter school play in front of the whole school which made me break down because of how proud of how far he has come.

He continues to see his brother which was adopted separately every 3 months. They are close and to the point now where we feel light chat about him being his ‘brother’ may be needed sooner rather than later. We want to be open and slowly increase contact with maybe phone calls to soften the anxiety between gaps of visits. Behaviour always gets worse after this visits and usually being back the violence but making a more regular norm with his brother may help with this?

we have now gone back to Kent adoption and are going to look into play therapy using the adoption support fund of £5k a year. From speaking to someone who does long term sessions on it with kids thinks it could be ideal to help with the ‘behaviour’ and emotions. Meeting next week to see how that will be going forward. Not sure what else we can do to help reduce the tapping, hitting, shouting.

we Also went for an autism assessment. He has been re-referred again now to a London clinic because while he interacted well and made good imagination of stories and games, they think it could be more learning difficulties than autism. Can’t put his finger on it but the doctor said there’s something certainly ‘there’ Learning difficulties does fall inline more with the birth parents.

Currently the long summer days is making nighttime’s a nightmare. Sleep for 6:30-7:00 but awake by 4:30-5:00am every morning. Adoption agency recommended Menatonin to try and help calm him but again, it needs to be referred and not had an answer so far.

It’s going slowly but we are throwing every resource we can to help him and while from waking up to bed he is so full on constantly we are seeing progress

we Are more just looking forward to our first holiday as a family to Disney World in August. It’s no needed and overdue

Donatella June 17, 2022 13:49

It’s a long haul but definite signs of progress there.

A couple of things - my son couldn’t read until he was 9. We found something he liked - The Beano - and started there. He’s just finished his A levels, will be going to college next year to do an art foundation diploma - equivalent to 3 A levels - and then, hopefully, university next year.

My 21 year old has just graduated from uni and will be looking to do his Masters from September 2023 after taking a year out. This is after scraping through his GCSEs!

Kids need to feel safe before they can learn and that’ll look different for each child

Melatonin - I buy it online. Camhs, Paeds prescribe Circadin which is slow release. My son needs a combination of fast acting and slow release for it to be effective.

One other thing - if you have any suspicion that there may be ASD, ADHD, FASD etc in the mix, don’t let them fob you off. One condition doesn’t exclude another!

Safia June 17, 2022 15:00

Sounds as if you’ve got a lot of really positive things in place. Never heard of SRP schools - had to look it up! It’s good the school aren’t worried he is barely writing his name and sounds as if behaviour is heading in the right direction. I agree with Donatella’s comment about not ruling anything out - comorbidities are common! Have you looked into sensory processing problems as it sounds as if the school environment is triggering and that can often be related to sensory issues which often end up as “behaviour problems” - they are also common in ASD. I think you’re right about gently introducing his brother as that especially if he’s not aware as the sooner children know the facts the better and the more accepting they are of them. No advice about sleep except he seems to be getting enough as long as you can manage the early starts!

newdads June 18, 2022 08:48

Appreciate your replies.

its An odd one as they say he will happily sit and do his learning without issue. It’s the in between and playtimes we’re he can’t help but poke, prod and tap other kids even just walking across the class room.

playtimes, especially un-supervised he when the wants to play and get hyped and over stimulated.

We had our bi-monthly EPLAC meeting with the school and they do see him calming but the same kids that antagonise him are the same ones who complain when he’s makes contact with them.

As parents we don’t know what we can try for other than play therapy? Any toys he plays with are like a 2 year old, bashing and crashing them so I do think going back and just learning how to play and be gentle with be good.

Sensory processing problems I’ll read up more on as it’s something that could certainly be a factor. Not sure if play therapy can help with that?

Safia June 21, 2022 09:34

No play therapy won’t help with sensory processing - but if you look into that and find specific sensory experiences are affecting him adversely then adaptations can be made. For example in my daughters school which was a special school they changed all the lighting because of how it affected one particular pupil - and also he was given a “booth” to work in to minimise the distractions in the classroom. Play therapy will help with bringing out some of the feelings and memories that may be bothering him but which he can’t articulate. It can be very powerful. I also think your instinct of playing with him as a much younger child is right. He must’ve missed out on a lot of developmental experience which all form the bedrock of his learning. So thinking of him as a two year old and playing with him as such would be really helpful and having toys a much younger child might use available. Maybe get some second hand or from a toy library. Also (if you can bear it) things like finger painting and playing with dough. I would also keep an open mind about special schools and do some research about what is available locally

newdads June 21, 2022 09:49

So we had a call yesterday with post adoption. They’ve put us on the list to access the Adoption Support fund and fund play therapy. The school believe is such a good idea to help him that they are willing for him to do the sessions within school hours. They would offer it for him but can’t get the funding themselves for it within school.

we got a list ready for baby toys and things like farm animal toys where we are going to go and buy this weekend. start going back and re-teaching him how to play from scratch.

Still not having any luck with being able to get him Menatonin. GP wants to wait for his London referral with the experts as to let them prescribe it?

We’ve tried everything else like darkened bedroom with night lights, offered ear defenders for times he gets overwhelmed but most often decides not to take it up

Donatella June 22, 2022 14:39

There are some really good resources on Beacon House which you might find helpful,

I was trying to find The Wall graphic which should be here somewhere- it gives an idea of what might be missing in a child’s development.

Just a quick one as waiting to pick daughter up

Edited 22/06/2022
newdads December 6, 2022 08:40


Another follow up as we are at an absolute loss what to do.

Son started Play therapy back in late September. He attends outside of school and only during term times. Ever since he's started attending, I feel we have completely lost our son. He has regressed back so much. He is violent to most of the kids in his class. Female staff members are getting hit, bitten and spat at on a constant basis. His language is absolutely disgusting. F-off constantly and runs out of class. The other day he seemed to gain access to a knife of some type at school and is threatening to kill.

To try and support we have gone back to almost baby parenting as that is what he likes but when this morning when I was trying to dress him, he randomly spat in my face, bit me and told me to F-off. He constantly says he hates this family.

He has had some other changes like he gets a funded Taxi to school now but I can't help but feel that it's the play therapy that is causing this. We are trying to explain this to the therapist and she's is really giving us NOTHING back, she doesn't like us asking questions as she says we have to 'trust the process' He's getting a more in depth assessment of his needs and difficulties at St Thomas' London in March but again I just know what to do.

The school cannot cope although they keep telling me different, he's disrupting the learning of every other child and he is not gaining anything by being at school currently.

TBH, I am not sure anyone knows what I can do but I am just so broken as a person. Im depressed and at times have thought whether for me to just walk away.

Bluemetro December 6, 2022 19:16

Hi. Having read your post I was concerned regarding the play therapy. This is based on my son's experience of play therapy aged 7/8. The Play therapist was used by our LA and familiar with adoption. I was present during every session and thought that was usually what is recommended for adoptees, although it is not always the case with other children.

Simon December 9, 2022 15:13

Hi NewDads

Sorry to read are still going through it all.

Have you tried your local adoptive parent peer to peer support groups? Sometimes just chatting/sharing experiences with other adoptive parents can make a significant difference to how you feel and see things. It's not a magic wand, but it can sure help to keep your sanity and remind you that you are not alone in what you are going through. The things you describe in your last post are sadly not uncommon - I recognise them in my own children. Adoption UK have an excellent LGBTQ+ monthly adoptive parent peer to peer Zoom group and an equally brilliant LGBTQ+ adoptive parent WhatsApp group. New Family Social are very strong in London - we used to go to lots of their London meet-ups. Your local post adoption agency may know of local adoptive parent peer to peer groups too.

Good luck


windfalls December 13, 2022 14:50

sorry to hear things are still tough Newdads,

My advice would be to stop play therapy straight away, The therapist clearly has no idea about attachment and is doing more damage than good. I would also stop direct contact with his birth sibling for now and just do indirect contact - he is clearly not coping with this as his behaviour is worse after contact. Don't forget contact has to be in your son's best interests and clearly this is currently not the case. That doesn't mean to say you cannot revisit this at some time in the future but for now it isn't in his best interest.

Push ahead with assessments for ASD and ADHD - the fact that during unsupervised times he displays impulsive behaviour suggests to me that ADHD could very well be in the mix. ASD - this could also be in the mix from what you said above. Also consider dyslexia - fact that he is not yet reading could be due to this. Also dyslexia gives rise to the same type of behavioural symptoms as ADHD and so consider this as a possibility.

Sensory processing problems can be a feature of attachment and/or ASD - look for an OT who is familiar with attachment problems.

also does he have an EHCP? the SRP school - seems to be specialist provision in a mainstream school. I honestly would look at a specialist therapeutic school - this would probably be a better fit for his needs.

best wishes xxx

newdads December 13, 2022 15:13

Thanks for your replies.

Slight revelation this past week. So on Friday I had the deputy head call me and ask that for this week, he does a reduced time table and do half days. For us this is an absolute no no. It unsettles him further and he has a paid 1 to 1 who is there solely for him and that paid for by the council in his EHCP.

I got lightly annoyed by this and explained that that with all these provisions in an SRP school, how does he have access to a knife (blunt butter) or the ability to escape from the class and run off the ground which happened week before last when his 1 to 1 was off.

She basically admitted that they can't cope with him and their governors have made it clear that children who are disruptive need to be short term excluded or moved to another school. They've made their point inadvertently and shot themselves in the foot. Not much of a support network are they?

We've felt for a while now that this 2nd school may not be right but at least they've saved us a lot of hassle. They say they want to wait for the result of his assessment in feb/march but to me that won't change anything now with what they've admitted.

Agreed about the sibling. Indirect contact is how we are going to play it for now although we feel guilty potentially preventing themselves seeing each other.

The therapy I am stuck on, last week seemed positive and where our local authority are likely to take over the funding of them, they've said that they do enforce meetings between the therapist and the parents regularly so that there's a better understanding on how well things are going. I feel moving him will jeopardise the authority funding it as they are familiar with the therapist

windfalls December 17, 2022 18:06

Hi newdads,

Reduced timetable - the department for education is very clear that there must be a time limit and it must not be seen as a long term solution. Also you have to agree to it.

As your son has an EHCP and school has said that they cannot meet his needs then I would ask for a meeting with the head. Ask him/her what school they think would be suitable and start looking. Look at independent special needs schools as well - many of these will have in-house OT and SaLT therapists who will work with your son and the teachers through out the school day.

Find the school you think will be best suited to his needs and then ask the school to support you with the LA. If school on your side and it already has some sort of specialist provision and they can't cope then there shouldn't be too much of a fight to get him into a specialist school. He needs to be at a school who actually want him and will give him the support that he and you need.

Best wishes xxx

chestnuttree December 18, 2022 21:34

LAs want to fund therapy that works. If you feel this type of therapy or therapist isn't right for him, then I would put that in writing to your LA with reasons. I would talk both about your impression of the therapist (eg. lack of understanding of his needs) and your child's behaviour after therapy. I would also suggest an alternative that you think might work. You might find this helpful:

Your son's needs are clearly quite severe, so you could also ask for a specialised assessment from Family Futures, Beacon House, the Tavistock or the Maudsley. The Adoption Support Fund might fund that. The ASF should also fund your son's therapy, not the LA (they might, but usually they try to get funding via the ASF) if you are in England.

Do you know New Family Social? You might want to check them out.

newdads June 19, 2023 22:46

OK, Long post coming with another update. Good and Bad.

So our son is 7 now. Was kicked out of Nursery with in Foster care. Mainstream was a disaster for primary so we did the move to another mainstream with SRP provisions like mentioned before and the LA also agreed to fund a 1 to 1 for him. I mentioned before how things were not going well as his current school, well it got a whole lot worse. It got to the point where we found out that they were isolating him on his own in his own room which was actually a staff office. You could not swing a cat in this room it was tiny. They were not allowing him to play with other children and the kids would be antagonising him though a tiny window while he was only allowed to play alone. His 1 to 1 turned into 5 members of staff rotating to take turns looking after him. No learning was even attempted either, just colouring and playing with lego.

We were furious....The fact they didn't explain to us that they were doing this was disgusting. A member of staff even told us that they would hold the door so he couldn't get out of the room if he had a melt down. It explained why the violence and anger towards us was getting worse because he was so unregulated and down through isolation. The last straw for us was when he beat me senseless one morning because he didn't want to go to school (at this point we were trying to sort what alternatives we had) so we pulled him out of school. This was late April and he hasn't returned, nor will he return.

Firstly we went to see the GP who was shocked what we said and gave us a letter supporting us taking him out of school. Ive had to leave my job again to be at home as my husband needs to be at work as a police officer. We found online a SEN Advocate who knows the law inside out as well as EHCP and the whole process. We knew that if major things were going to happen, we needed help. We found a gentleman in London and while to date he has cost us about £1800, he has been worth his weight in gold.

Together we brought the ECHP Meeting forward and he completed ripped the school apart. They have failed our son massively. The EHCP anyway isn't fit for purpose as it's already reading quite outdated but during our review meeting I was shocked at the schools silence. They're reasoning for isolation were disgusting and the really didn't understand our sons needs at all. Our advocate came up with a list of ways the school were discriminating our son because of his disabilities including him coming home with dirt pants where we cannot wipe himself. The emotional damage the isolation was doing so we put a request to move to ANOTHER school but have specified that is has to be specialist school that can make the needs. It's already gone to a panel for a change of placement and we are just waiting for a result. LA Case worker thinks it will get approved.

Once we can get him moved, our Advocate is going to help us put in formal complaint to the school and LA at how awful they have treated our son. We aren't going to sew them but someone has to be accountable. This school should not be given SRP funding. From what ive heard, they have been failing several children with higher needs.

All while this has been going on, We went to the Evilina in London for an Autism assessment. We have had to have follow up calls but they have come back to us to confirm that they can give him a 'working diagnosis' of autism. He scored on their assessment levels where they are comfortable to say he has Autism but also want to do further work with him Ince he's in a new school so firm up their diagnosis. For us, we expected the diagnosis but its the start of a journey to explore it more and get him the right support he needs through that.

Sleep continues to be an ongoing issue. Takes 2-3 hours a night to get him settled and asleep. We were prescribed Piriton but it doesn't touch the sides. Separate clinic have received a sleep diary from us and are going to see him at the beginning of August. The Evilina agree with us that he needs to be on Menotonin but when I spoke to the sleep clinic they want to try behavioural changes first. I burst into tears on the phone... We have tried everything over the last 3 years, There's nothing else I can do. Hopefully a word from the Evilina may help support us get stronger medication to help us.

He is continuing Play Therapy after a 4 month Gap as funding ran out. Luckily, Post Adoption picked this up and have initially agreed to fund a years worth of sessions with a coach up meeting every 3 months with us and LA to see how things are going which is great as we weren't getting that before.

Daily life if im honest is hell on earth. Where he isn't at school, he's lost all his routine, He refuses to do a sort of learning at home and he's behaviour has become so extreme. Me and my husband are beaten, spat in the face, scratched and bitten most days. His swearing is disgusting and he says words we would never say as adults. Its shocking. Nothing we do works and he totally controls us.

For me it has become such a struggle that I had to go to my GP and he's put me on anti-depresance for now. It has helped somewhat but I dread getting up the next day. Ive thought about leaving as its affected my marriage so much, even to the point where I resent my son a lot. The medication is helping me but I know I'm going to have to do some serious work to rebuild our relationship.

We are also going to start looking into a medication that maybe calm his anger as that the biggest thing for us.

So while every day is a battle and I want to give up, tiny glimmers of light come through. Main thing is that this special school works this time

Edited 20/06/2023
Safia June 20, 2023 20:35

Is good to hear the update but so sorry it’s been such a struggle. Unfortunately it often is and it’s fighting all the way for what our children need - as parents we always know them like no one else does. We need to do all the research - find the best option - and then fight for it. It sounds like you’re well on the way to doing that. At the moment I wouldn’t worry about learning - just try and do fun things that support your relationship. Enjoying books and stories rather than worrying about reading and writing (though probably you’re doing that anyway) Do fun things your son enjoys - there are learning opportunities in everything. I remember when my son was out of school finding a very supportive book explaining the whole process and the importance of “de -schooling” before starting the next stage. I think it would apply whether you intend to send him back to school or not. If I can find the title I’ll let you know. Also don’t rush unless you’re sure about the next school being the right one. There are some excellent special schools (my daughter went to one) - but also some less satisfactory. Another thing is to remember to look after yourself and ask for some suitable counselling - it sounds as if you’re teetering on the edge. Self care too - finding some time to do something for yourself that you enjoy and also time with your partner. Good luck with it all and keep us posted - sounds as if you’re doing a great job!

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