So here we were, not even half way through Year 1 (still aged just 5yrs), but now with regular reports from school of the ‘disruptive, defiant, rude and aggressive behaviours’. Meetings with the Head became the norm with the clear message that ‘these behaviours cannot continue’.
Internal exclusions commenced
During March 2014, this was when not only the playtime but also the lunchtime exclusions commenced. Again, I did the ‘normal’ parenting thing and was putting sanctions in at home as a consequence for my daughter’s behaviours at school and even discussed with her that the ‘police deal with naughty people’ (Things I wish I had known).
It was during this period that some of my daughter’s more, what I will refer to as, ‘random’ behaviours were noted at home. She could be extremely upset one minute ie about being told off or pulled up on something but within a split second her mood would switch back and, as an example, she would happily immediately ask me ‘what is for tea?’….this to me was very bizarre. How could someone’s mood change so quickly and dramatically?
Referrals to Professionals commenced
It was also during this period that school had requested support from the Education, Support, Behaviour and Attendance Service (ESBAS) and I was seriously considering a referral to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). My daughter’s behaviours were so extreme and the lack of respect for authority (including refusal to complete work, shouting out loudly, blowing raspberries in the teacher face and generally being disruptive) was, not short of, disturbing.
The Police Station visit
Having threatened several times in the past with taking her to the police station unless her behaviours at school improved, on 7th March 2014, the day finally came when I felt I had no option other than to follow through. Walking dubiously into the station we were then met by a female officer who had stern words with her, which appeared to sink in. However, as we left the station she punched the air and said ‘yay! I didn’t get sent to jail!’….ummm that was effective then!
Whilst the weekend following the visit to the police station was fairly calm, albeit also fairly hyper (other random behaviour we were experiencing), the following Monday at school was not good, not good at all! Her behaviours appeared to have escalated to also include laughing, spitting and screaming at the teacher whenever she spoke to the class. Literally, whenever she spoke!
Friends were pulling away
Heartbreakingly, my daughter was also verbalising how she ‘likes no conversation’ and ‘likes not playing with her friends as prefers to be on her own’. Very rapidly, friends were moving away from her and she was becoming more and more isolated. Did I blame her friends? No of course I didn’t, but it did break my heart that my little girl no longer had many friends that wanted to play with her. They would deliberately avoid her and even more sadly that she didn’t appear to care.
Finally 1:1 support with lessons were implemented throughout the day and this saw a marked improvement, however being with the whole class continued to be very challenging not only for my daughter but also for the other children and staff.
Behaviours at this time were significantly worse in school than at home, which was odd as children’s behaviour is usually the other way round and play up more for the parent/s. However, I wondered if being mainly around adults at home instead of children may have been the reason for this?
By the end of March 2014, behaviours had escalated further and now included throwing things at staff and things appeared to have become more physical even towards adults. Swearing (using the ‘f’ word) was definitely on the increase too and my daughter was even swearing at the teacher.
Okay, enough about behaviours in school as this just continued on a significant level from there on in. What was also worrying was that she appeared not to care who was the target (even the Head) of her negative behaviours or indeed the size of her audience.
Initial referral to CAMHS
Having done a considerable amount of chasing, I finally had confirmation that my GP had referred us to CAMHS! However, due to the fact that I had only ever discussed my concerns about my daughter’s behaviour at the same time of asking for a referral, I very much doubted that my GP had sufficient information that would have been required for CAMHS to assess. With this in mind, I made the decision to self-refer and included a vast amount of information (the-diagnoses-journey-up-to-age-6yrs/) in the hope that we wouldn’t be dismissed. To my delight, we weren’t turned away and the assessment process shortly began.
Things appeared to continue to escalate at a rate of knots and despite 1:1 ESBAS input commencing in May 2014 (now aged 6yrs), there were no signs of improvement in the classroom.
Additionally, we were now seeing similar behaviours at home that were being experienced in school, with a notable escalation in physical aggression.
Despite the prolonged difficulties in school, it was only in the June that the real difficulties with getting ready for school began at home; refusing to get dressed, lashing out, kicking out, shouting, screaming and swearing at me. It would often take up to two hours from waking her to finally getting out the door.
External exclusions loomed
By the end of the summer term in Year 1, more time was being spent out of the classroom than actually in it! Additionally, I had also received information from the Head, that whilst she would ‘try and keep her in school’, I was warned that ‘if the behaviours didn’t improve in Year 2, then she would be excluded’. However, still no Educational Psychologist assessment had been carried out despite the ongoing concerns and escalation.
And then there was Year 2………..