Ad is just turned 7, has been home nearly 4 years and is doing really well but really struggling with school. Emotionally much younger than her age and starting to be aware of being different to peers. As a lot of our kids, she struggles to regulate her emotons and quite often has outbursts where she might push away a child who is being mean to her or has now started to fjght back when being hit by other children. She hides under the tables in the class (and sometimes screams) when she feels unsafe, or frustrated or just generally struggling, sometimes drops to the floor and refuses to talk to engage. She doesn't do any if these things at home. School have actually told us that some of the other kids will purposely be mean to her just because they want to see her react and disrupt the class. They have told us this but still she's the one who gets into trouble. So yesterday my husband went to pick her up from school and was accosted in the playground by another parent who has never spoken to us who started yelling at him about Ad's behaviour, how she had hurt her child, how it was ridiculous that she had been at the school for 3 years and still 'playing up' so she was going to report us to SS as unfit parents who 'are obviously unable to parent her.' All of this was screamed infront of all the other parents picking their kids up and in front of our AD. She was really distraught and ran off, so my husband gave chase as obviously her safety is much more important that this screeching idiot in the playground. It took us an age to calm her down at home as she is now terrified that a SW will come and take her away, despite lots of reassurance from us that this will not happen, we are a family forever, the judge said do and so do we and that we will love her no matter what. I have set up a meeting with school for this morning but not hoping for much. We have met with them several times over the years and, to be honest, we don't think they 'get' attachment and trauma and don't really seem to have any interest in learning. We have had to have words with them about putting my Ad's images on their Facebook page, of them disclosing private info about ad to another parent and they just seem to close ranks and just smile and nod in the right places when talking to us. We have given them SO much literature, info, tips on how best to help our daughter but they never seems to get it right....always act after the horse has bolted. The head of primary has no interest as when the head of early years emailed him to ask if he was happy for her to deal with this he replied 'yes please. Good luck with this one!' I'm so sorry for such a long post but I'm sitting here in tears at 0340 in the morning having only slept for 2 hours and wondering what the hell we do next. I am SO upset for her.
What to do about school
So sorry that this is happening for your daughter. It does sound like she is struggling emotionally with the demands of school and is finding it quite a stressful environment.
I’m sure you’ve made some appropriate suggestions to school in the past about how they can help her regulate better and keep her feeling safe. My son, had an arrangement to take himself away to a corner of the room where there were cushions and books when he felt overwhelmed. He was allowed to do this, rather than letting his frustrations boil over and have an outburst. He could then re-join the lesson when he felt able. This worked well. He had, after a difficult time at secondary school, a similar sort of arrangement too.
However, it does look very much like school aren’t listening. Do you think it would help if you arranged a meeting with school with the post-adoption social worker, for example? Perhaps there would be more willing to take on ideas if it came from another professional?
The taunting of your daughter by the other children is not helpful either. At the school my son went to, if something like this happened, they would often do a “circle time” talking about tolerance or diversity (in an age-appropriate way), but I suppose I’m probably being hopeful that your daughter’s school would pride itself on its inclusivity.
As for the parent, I would definitely complain to the school that it is not appropriate for your husband to be treated in such a manner on school premises. I hope your daughter feels more reassured today that a social worker isn’t going to come and take her away. I think many adopters change schools too, if the school doesn’t “get it”, but of course, that is a big thing to do and I don’t know how easy it would be possible for you. Others might be able share their thoughts on that, as I have no experience there. Oh, and try to relax (easier said than done), nobody is good on two hours sleep. 😉
Sorry you’re going through so much - I also have experienced a show down in the playground with another parent and it’s a horrible feeling. Fortunately for me, my school has been very supportive and actually the parent in question is known for being pretty obnoxious to most people, so in my case it back fired for her, as I ended up getting more people rallying around me. I didn’t realise it at the time, as we were new to the school. But when I spoke to a few people about it, they were very much on my side. You may find that this is the case with that parent too - let’s face it, reasonable, emotionally intelligent, respectful people don’t behave that way, it’s more likely to be a parent who probably could do with some support on the parenting side themselves.
Legally the school is supposed to have a teacher responsible for looked after children and previously looked after children, who should have training on understanding and managing trauma related behaviours. I would ask to speak to them and if you get no luck there, then look at your local authority website for information about the virtual school - all local authorities in England and Wales are legally obligated to oversee the education and care of LAC and post LAC children in schools via a ‘virtual school’ - basically a department, and if the school is not providing the support that your daughter needs, they should be seeking help from the virtual school in managing her needs.
Firstly I wanted to extend my sympathy. This is not acceptable behaviour from a parent. The first thing the school should do is communicate to parents that any problem they have with another child should be addressed to staff. Can you ask the school if you can collect your child from the school office to avoid confrontation and unacceptable comments which affect your child? The idea about involving Adoption Support is a good idea.
Another suggestion if you do not get any further is to consider a different school.
For your own support and your child do PAS offer a helpline and some may offer a meeting to discuss your concerns.
@Wildings, is this a succeeding school in a middle-class, high achieving area? Just a guess, and, if so, I’ve been there and still have the psychological scars. I too had a child who was so anxious that she hid under tables and, similarly, I was berated in the playground because my child was ruining the chances of the other children passing the 11+ (we live in a selective area). The children were 5!!!!!!!
The school and teachers were kind and well-meaning but adopted and looked after children were so far removed from their area of experience and expertise that they really didn’t know how to cope. We - stupidly in hindsight- stuck things out but, following an extremely violent and shocking incident of playground bullying on a Friday in Y2, my child never went back. I home-schooled or, rather, deschooled for a few weeks and then I chose a school with a high proportion of PP/PP+ & FSM on the basis that they probably wouldn’t be fazed by my child’s non-neurotypical behaviours. While it wasn’t perfect, the school move was the best thing I could have done for my child’s wellbeing and my sanity.
We didn’t stick out as the rogue family at the new school and my daughter flourished socially and academically and I actually made a couple of school gate pals.
Honestly, I sometimes feel that as adopters we’re tested to the nth degree on our stick-ability and perseverance and we try to make impossible situations work. Sometimes, in my experience, it’s okay to walk away from unhealthy and toxic environments.
I am really sorry to hear this as a headteacher in a trauma informed school it is upsetting that they can treat a child in this way. I have to say I agree with Furcifer that finding the right school is important. We have very high PP, children with SW etc... all my staff are trained in supporting children who have had trauma and very little fazes us and our parents are amazingly understanding of other children - as we are trauma informed we have very few major behaviour incidents as children feel safe and are able to communicate feelings in other ways. I would suggest trying to support the school in learning but sounds as though they will not listen. I would put in a complaint though just to know you have done that. Good luck.
Sorry to hear about all the difficulties you are having with school. That parent was really out of order, and as others have said probably has issues of her own. I am a school senco and find it very sad that school do not seem to be supporting you. I agree with others about asking someone from post adoption to go with you to a school meeting. We did this and it made a lot of difference to the support she received in school. From what you say it could be the school will still do nothing to support you; and if this is the case after taking someone from post adoption to support you I would seriously consider looking at other schools.
Do you think there could be any underlying conditions with your dd such as autism or ADHD?We were constantly told by professionals that our dd’s difficulties were all down to early trauma but she ended up with a diagnosis of ADHD and Anxiety disorder at 15. I suspect also that she may have ASD but again I have always been told it is attachment. I so wish she had been given an earlier diagnosis as it opens up doors to support.Both ADHD and ASD are very common in adopted children so it might be worth getting an assessment from a paediatrician to rule these out. In the mean time is there any chance of you bringing dd to class a little early before the main rush to give her a calm start to the day?This has helped a number of children in the school where I work. ( not necessarily adoption related but with emotional difficulties) We also have children who are collected from the office a little earlier to again miss the bustle of home time. The school may not agree with this as it does involve teachers having to be available a little earlier ; but might be worth a try.
Hope you can sort out something.
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