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Conundrum!


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Time to pick some of those brains of yours!

 

We have child at nursery, who is going to be three before Christmas. We have had concerns about him for some time ...very little speech (odd words, very occasionally), wants to sleep all the time and screams if he's not allowed to, obsessive about trains, can't share, won't make bonds / attachments.

 

All of these things have been ringing alarm bells for some time and we have tried and tried to talk to mum but she just laughs and says "oh bless him ... what a pickle!" and other such remarks. She has heard the other children in his cohort chattering away and she just says "he'll get there in the end". We have tried to point her in the direction of the S + L drop in locally but she always makes excuses not to go (forgot ... couldn't get time off work... etc) She just won't accept that we have a problem. Today, manager asked her again about the S + L drop in but mum said "Oh I'll go next time" manager asked if we could get some help in to support him, with the motivation being "Getting him ready for the preschool group in January" but mum says "oh no, if he's not ready for the preschool group he can just stay down with the 2 - 3 yr olds"

 

my question is ... when does this become a child protection issue? child is failing to thrive in my opinion as he is not being allowed to access support which he needs ... mum is adamant that its all fine and its just him ... my gut reaction tells me otherwise (and my SENCO agrees)

 

So what to do?

 

pw xx

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Accepting that you have a child with SN can be a process of grieving. Part of that process is denial.

 

You need to support this little one as best you can within your setting and keep his mum informed of his struggles. She may be very well aware of his difficulties but just not ready to handle it for real.

 

I wouldn't call it a child protection issue as parents have the right to refuse support for their child.

 

I think you might be better working hard on building up a trusting and supportive relationship with this mum because if and when she has to accept that her son has SN she's going to need you.

 

My guess is that she'll come round eventually, probably when it's too obvious for her to keep her head in the sand any longer.

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I agree wih upasy daisy. It can be very difficult to accept your child isnt 'normal'. We all want our children to achieve and match their peers and when that doesnt happen we can fall straight into denial.

Support the child in the same way you'd support any child with difficulties, give feedack to mom and hope you can win her round. :o

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I wouldn't want you to think we don't have an extremely supportive and trusting relationship with mum and dad already. We have known this family for many years and we're very comfortable talking together.

 

My concern for the child is such that I don't want to let him down.

 

I understand totally the shock involved in acknowledging a SN child but nevertheless the child is entitled to the help he needs and we can't do that justice without Action or Action +.

 

pw xx

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I think that what you're doing now is exactly the right thing.

 

To be honest even if you could get someone to assess him it would achieve very little without the support of the parents. The system is quite biased towards not giving a diagnosis unless there is no other option.

 

Yes he would benefit from early intervention but my feeling is that the best way to get that is to continue to support the parents, be honest about what you see and be ready with lots of evidence when the time comes to call other professionals in.

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If the child is in a caring and loving family and there are no other signs that the child is being abused or neglected, then I wouldn't class this as a child protection issue.

 

As others have said, the journey towards accepting that your child has any kind of learning difficulty can be long and arduous and some parents take an awful lot longer than others to come to terms and accept that the support of outside agencies is necessary to help them reach their potential. As Upsy Daisy says, I think you're doing everything you possibly can at the moment, especially in continuing to foster close and trusting relationships with the parents under what must be difficult circumstances.

 

All you can really do is keep supporting the child as best you can and keep a good dialogue going with mum and dad so they can continue their own personal journey and gradually come to accept that your concerns might be valid after all.

 

Good luck - I'm sure this family are well aware of how lucky they are to have entrusted the care of their son into such a warm and caring setting!

 

Maz

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I have been in this situation and it's really hard :o

 

I contacted Ofsted for advice and they recorded all my concerns, advised me to record everything, make notes of dates and conversations with parents as, in their experience, these situations often come back to haunt the carer later on...usually when the child starts school and concerns are raised, referrals made and a diagnosis agreed upon. Apparently, this is when the "why didn't anyone tell me sooner?" question arises.

 

Ofsted passed my concerns to their advisory team who said that child protection procedures COULD be appropriate and suggested I rang my local Safeguarding team for advice xD

 

If parents repeatedly choose to ignore/refuse to act on advice given by their childcare professional it can be seen as neglect and if it is damaging the childs development the parents wishes can be over-ridden "if it is in the best interests of the child" They asked me to make this clear in any future conversations with the parents so they would realise the seriousness of the situation.

 

Despite lots of support from my Childminding Network and the LA pre-school SEN team the parents still wouldn't acknowledge or act on my concerns and it damaged the relationship I had with them beyond repair.

 

They left and moved their son to a Nursery where, to date, no concerns have been raised but I know from other parents who are still in contact with the family that he still isn't making the progress he should and could be with suppport.

 

I have to have faith in the system and hope that he'll get it one day.

 

Nona

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agree with the record , record, record, everything form chats to observations, to comments etc.. i was one who it came back and bit! but in my case I had done all the recording and was found that it was not missed, but ignored by parents who had complained to Ofsted that I did not pick up on childs issues/ needs while with us... and this was 3 years down the line! I know it took school the 2 years to get parents to accept there were problems and that something had to be done to support the child. ..

 

it was complete denial by both parents for 3 years!

 

we and school did all we could but without parent on side and accepting it we could do nothing..

 

Inge

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Thankyou for all these useful comments ...

Reassuring to know that our situation isn't unique and that my feelings about potential child protection issues aren't too far wide of the mark.

 

As advised we will continue to support, continue to plan appropriately and continue to feedback truthfully to the family. We will record all our conversations and all our concerns and be ready to help the family when they are ready to move on.

 

Thanks ... any more ideas will be gratefully received

 

pw xx

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I've been pondering this all evening. I feel like there should be some information out there you could give this mum to look at in her own time. The problem is that many things like that are diagnosis specific and you're a long way from diagnosis for this little one.

 

The process of accepting your child has SN is an awful one but so is the diagnostic process and getting the correct support afterwards. If this mum knows someone else who has been through this she may be reluctant to take on such a gargantuan task. It takes over your life.

 

If there were a leaflet or some other form of information explaining to her how the code of practice works, how she can retain control and keep it low key if she wants maybe there's a chance she'd be more willing to accept support.

 

She may also have a husband or other family members who are in denial and are making it impossible for her to accept his needs.

 

I may well be wide of the mark but I'm just trying to work out what her stumbling blocks could be.

 

Sleeping all the time could be his reaction to being in an overwhelming environment. Could you find a small safe den/tent for him to retreat to where he can feel more secure? You could put a cushion or beanbag (for comfort) and his coat (for familiarity and the smell of home) in there along with quiet/soft toys.

 

Sorry not to come up with many ideas but perhaps someone else will be aware of a useful leaflet.

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Hi, my quick reply is that he sounds a lot like several of my class who are all autistic. My more sensible reply is... it's not your job to diagnose this child. If you find that certain ways of working are best for this child then obviously you are going to take this into account when you are teaching. To a certain extent every FS child needs a slightly different way of teaching, be it that they are an only child so need more support in working with others or that they are fussy eaters so need encouragement to join in at snack time.

Try not to see this child as different from the others, but just do as I'm sure you always do and supply the things they they need to progress. The parents will eventually realise and accept that their child may need extra support, in fact they probably already know. You say that you've known them for a while, does this mean that they have other children at the school? If they have older children then I would guess that by now they have realised that there is something different going on with this child. You know this family better than I do but I would hazard a guess that they are waiting for someone to say 'something's wrong here'. If I were you I would begin to mention traits that are unusual to the SENCO and the parents. I'm sure that the parents will want what is best for their child, even if that means accepting that they have a special need.

Good luck and if you agree that there may be autistic tendencies showing and want ideas of how to deal with that, let me know and I'll try and tell you all I know! My class are all autistic and it's amazing what a difference a few little details can make to them!

Amy x

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More helpful thoughts ... thankyou

 

The layout of our setting is such that there are many cosy corners and 'den making' bits (blankets, low tables, two different sofas and a big old fashioned armchair which children can cosy up in and also cosy up under!) - child doesn't hide himself away or try and retreat ... just lies down where ever he feels (often in the middle of a freeflow area)

 

Child is always planned into group of 4 - but as with all our children could move into any of the different groups if he wished to (all staff have planning for all the ages and will 'deliver' to whoever is with them and whatever their particular 'thing' is) - child doesn't choose to be with any particular staff member or child and behaviour is the same whoever he is with. We usually end up with periods of the day (he's full time) with 1:1 but this doesn't make any difference and child still plays alone without interaction. 1:1 enables us to negotiate changes with him - we have a visual "now / next" card for him to help him with the transitions between activities.

 

I'll have a think about what information we could make available to mum and dad - I think at the moment talking is best ... they're familiar with that.

 

Thanks again

 

pw xx

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Lots of useful ideas have been mentioned here, however the sleeping all the time thing could be an indication of some sort of physical problem, rather than a psychological one (though the screaming does sound psychological, although it could just be the same thing as an overtired baby crying). Could you try to find out from the parents how much he sleeps at home and how long he is sleeping at night? This will have to be done sensitively so that they don't make their child out to have a more normal sleep routine when he actually might not.

 

If you have concerns that he is genuinally needing to sleep all the time (lethargic, dropping off at inappropriate times, difficult to wake up etc) then perhaps you need to mention these to mum as concerns for his health which she might need to see a doctor about. Parents can be more accepting of physical illnesses than psychological ones so at least he might get checked out in this sense. If not and you are worried about the sleep issue then I would say you definitely have a child protection concern, since it is certainly neglectful to not allow a child's physical illness to be diagnosed or treated and it could of course indicate a more serious underlying condition.

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