Thursday 8 March 2018

When you find out your child has got upset at school

Sad boy

When I dropped Jane at school on Monday, her older brother's teaching assistant was waiting at the door.  Anthony has autism and ADHD and has a learning support assistant (LSA)  or teaching assistant (TA) help him at school.  At first I thought he must have forgotten something, but then it was obvious that his TA was checking in because he'd got really upset a few days before.  It doesn't matter if your child has additional needs or not - no one wants to hear their child has been upset.

Anthony is in Year 5 and as part of supporting Anthony's independence, he's been walking into the school on his own. This means I'm not always there to speak to his LSA or TA. Sometimes she comes to find me at the door of his sisters class. Jane is only in reception so he's always dropped and collected direct to the classroom door.

"What have I missed?" I said humorously, assuming I was at some fault.  When you've three kids and two schools, and two of the kids don't really communicate much, it's easy to make slip ups.

And then out it came.  Anthony, had apparently had a massive meltdown last Thursday. Anthony hasn't had an autistic meltdown as school in two years.

His LSA (who is brilliant) talked me through what had happened and we thought about what might have been the trigger for it.  Anthony had been going about getting spelling wrong in a test in January.  Anthony gets a lot of his spellings wrong and finds it frustrating.  Often it's not what Anthony is talking about that's actually what's caused the meltdown - it's often just a final straw.  And he does love to perseverate over things.

As his parents we know it's most likely that he's been finding it difficult in Year 4 and now the Yr 5 is just too much for him in the mainstream environment.  Anthony has been tested for cognitive abilities  that show he should be able to cope with the class curriculum. It's just he can't cope being taught it in a class of 29 other kids in a mainstream school.  It's hard for him.  And this is, at least in my mind, most likely the build up and cause of his first meltdown in two years.

I talked to the LSA.  We've discussing him needing a new school.  She cried at the thought of him leaving, "I know it's the best thing for him, but he's like an extra son to me."  Of course, and why not? Anthony's LSA sees him on a one-to-one basis as many hours as I do throughout the working week.

I was very factual when chatting to his LSA, but as I sat in the car, waiting to start the engine on the way home, I burst into tears.

I don't think it's so much that this is yet another evidence that Anthony needs a different type of school education.  I think it was I was upset that I'd had no idea Anthony had a meltdown.

I wasn't there.

I couldn't help.

My child was upset and I'd not only done nothing, I hadn't even known.

I've written before about the emotional drain that witnessing your child having a meltdown can have on me as a parent. This was the first time I felt emotional with just the knowledge that it had happened.

Of course, I pulled myself together and got on with the rest of the day.  The main task was stripping wall paper from the lounge. Surprising therapeutic.  But honestly the day was a bit sad, and I really only felt better once I'd picked up the kids.  And held Anthony's hand on the way back to the car ...

"Is it OK if I hold your hand Anthony?" (after all he is nearly 10)

"Of course mum."

Thanks hun.


  1. Oh I'm so sorry to hear about this I can imagine how upsetting it must be to have not been there for him when he had a meltdown. It's so hard when you can't be there 24/7. Thanks for sharing with #coolmumclub xx

  2. Totally understand how you felt. It is so upsetting to know we can’t be with them �� Good luck with the next steps x

  3. It is really horrible discovering your child has had a hard time and that there was nothing you could do to prevent it - I hope you work out what school will be the best option for your son. Best wishes with your quest for finding the right placement. #spectrumsunday

  4. That sounds so difficult for all of you. I hope you manage to find the best solution in terms of his school placement. #KCACOLS

  5. That sounds horrible :( I hope you manage to find a suitable school place for Anthony soon.

  6. Well now I am ugly crying in a coffee shop! My eldest is highly sensitive and acutely aware for a 5yr old so his propensity to get upset is higher than average. It breaks my heart when he has logical reasons for not wanting to go to school but we have to talk them through and watch him trying to hold it together as he walks through the school gates. It breaks my heart but childhood is tough (on the kids and parents!) #KCACOLS

  7. Aw I can see why it's upset you but great that you've got such a good LSA. I hope you felt better after the wallpaper... #kcacols

  8. Oh no I can imagine this must have been so upsetting! I hate it when I hear one of my girls has been upset at nursery, it makes me feel even more guilty for leaving them there. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

  9. I can identify with this. My son isn't autistic but there was a day a few weeks ago when I picked him up from preschool and his key worker said he'd got VERY upset at lunch and had been sat down in a corner crying and rocking, totally out of character for him. I was so upset that I wasn't there when he was obviously distressed. It's an awful feeling. #KCACOLS

  10. You were there, you might not have know but you were there. #kcacols


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