School pick up with ASD-Freddie's story

My 8 year old son Freddie is certainly unique. He has high functioning ASD and dyspraxia. But even in a class full of children with similar needs his behaviour ‘really stands out’ according to his teachers.

He has always been tricky to get into school. Running away, shouting, generally avoiding putting on shoes, coats, etc. But who doesn’t have some of those issues with their children in the morning? They don’t want to go to school. It’s an effort and they are comfortable at home with their family.

The thing that really surprises me about Freddie is school pick up. You would think he would be raring to go. Back to Mummy, back to his sister and his dog and to his safe place at home.

Sometimes he is. But sometimes he really isn’t.

“He was obviously uncomfortable and acting a little like a wild animal when he ran”

There are some quite funny examples of this. Always funny retrospectively of course. In his old mainstream primary school he had developed the habit of running away. This happened when he was uncomfortable and didn’t want to do something. Given that the thing he didn’t want to do was school work, this was incredibly often. He was obviously uncomfortable and acting a little like a wild animal when he ran. His anxiety was heightened as he felt ashamed for not being able to do the work.

However, being an annoyingly clever little chap, he realised that when he ran no one could really stop him. His teacher and teaching assistants were not able to grab him like I would, so he just ran with a great big smile on his face around the corridors. The only people trained to ‘hold’ him were the senior leadership team. Of course they had to be called and by that time he had often travelled quite far. Once he managed to scale the fence into the car park! Of course this wasn’t funny to the teachers and he ended up excluded a few times for this very reason. Of course it was hell at the time to have my lovely little 4 year old boy excluded. But you had to admire his commitment to avoiding work.

So, his running behaviour extended into pick up time. I would steel myself in the playground line waiting with all the other parents as their angelic little girls and boys dutifully skipped up to them with smiles on their faces and wonderful pieces of work clutched in their hands. I waited until the line died down and then his frazzled looking teacher or TA would give me the nod to come in.

“Was I doing something wrong?”

Sometimes we chased him around the classroom. Sometimes we encouraged him out from under the table in the corridor (that we had constructed for him as a ‘den’ in lieu of an actual quiet or safe place for him to calm down). Sometimes we went all the way through the school in hot pursuit. Sometimes I was ushered straight to the head teachers office where they had ‘corralled’ him for the afternoon when he had been removed from his class for disruptive behaviour. They often didn’t know exactly what had triggered him. Sometimes it is really hard to know, but what was always weird was why he didn’t just run to me immediately. His mummy and his safe place. Was I doing something wrong?

It all makes a lot more sense since he was diagnosed in the coming years. It was shame, anxiety, fear of change. So many things (often not obvious at all at the time). He now has a diagnosis, an EHCP and a much sought after place in a lovely ASD unit in a mainstream school. He is happier, has lovely friends and even gets some school work done. However, every now and then I still get the nod from the teachers. He still runs every now and then, only now he has some better places to hide like a soft play area and a sensory room!

Whilst this is written in a light hearted tone, I can assure you that there were plenty of my own tears and shame throughout this time. Plenty of other parents disapproval and judgement. If you are experiencing any of the same challenges trust me on two things. It does improve as they get older and no one judges you as harshly as you judge yourself.

More information by topics

Why exercise is so important for neurodiverse children
min read
What Is a Local Offer?
min read
What Is Right to Choose in the NHS World?
5 min read