Wednesday, 19 March 2014

When is assault "Assault"?

My son was attacked at school today, injured sufficiently badly that his school felt the need to call an ambulance to be on the safe side. But when you have a child with Special Needs the focus is invariably on the causes and reasons, rather than the actual incident. But it's a complete can of worms.


I got the call after lunch, having only just dropped his twin siblings back at school following a local paediatric review. I had gone straight on to our local pharmacy to collect prescriptions. It was't an unusual morning, we currently average three appointments a week in what has become quite an exhausting and relentless cycle.

It was one of those calls which makes the world around you slip away - you struggle to hear properly once the word "ambulance" is mentioned and your imagination cranks into overdrive. He was apparently ok, and there was no huge need for concern but my mind was spinning as I got over to his school as quickly as possible.

I can't fault the school's care of him, fearing a spinal injury they had taken every precaution and step to protect him. I was told he had slapped the other (older) child first, and my immediate reaction was the assumption that this was an over-the-top response to the (not uncommon) aggravation Harry had demonstrated towards the other boy. But in making this false step I let me son down, falling into the trap of believing difficulties he struggles with, that WE struggle with can justify an attack of this kind.

H has Autism and ADHD. He can be excruciatingly frustrating, irritating and annoying. But he still deserves the same understanding and response any other child his age would receive! And just because he finds explaining his version of events challenging, because he often latches on to minute (and sometimes irrelevant) detail thus missing the "main event", and because those trying to defend their own actions are often more vocal and more socially accepted it does NOT mean they are always right. Or that this was an unfortunate event which H could have avoided.

I feel awful. Totally sick that my FIRST thought (after ascertaining that he was ok I might add) was that his behaviour might somehow be to blame and thus excuse the actions of the other boy. In those first few minutes I let him down badly.

To add context, I should explain that H's behaviour has been hugely challenging recently at home, and often at school. We are often on the defensive, wondering where and when the next challenge will come from. It is exhausting - and really difficult to approach each episode with an open mind, but this is just further evidence of how easy it is to carry assumptions and prejudice about those with additional needs.

After having the opportunity to spend time with H this afternoon and try and tease out what happened, it was actually whilst discussing his cat that clarity came.
Of course it was.... direct questions never work and I should have realised oblique references might make more progress... 
It transpires he was playing a game with his friends and the other child first approached HIM, making provocative statements. A couple of minutes later he came back - with reinforcements who surrounded H and pinned him against a tree. Now it doesn't take much to realise this is likely to be a MASSIVE trigger for anyone with Autism.
                  So he slapped the boy.
                                  Who went ballistic.....

And yet - and YET the focus is on explaining how my son could have triggered this. A trap I too fell into. And yet it's almost irrelevant what the triggers were, an attack that necessitated calling an Ambulance is Assault.

And THAT should be the focus of any investigation.






33 comments:

  1. Oh my.
    Regardless of the Autism and ADHD surrounding by a group of older children that possibly would have been any child's reaction in the face of fear.

    Crickey I would have hit out if I'm honest and I'm 34!

    It's a natural reaction for anyone to try to protect themselves in these situations. I don't see how they can be blaming your son here :(

    I hope you get the answers you need and he isn't entirely blamed for this.

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  2. Oh my word, I am SO sorry to hear this! School can be am awful place when kids start trying to assert themselves and cross boundaries (such as ganging up on people and lashing out aggressively). I agree with you that no matter what the reasoning behind it, such aggressive behaviour like this needs to be dealt with appropriately!! There is no excusing such violence and I am so sorry your son was on the receiving end x

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  3. OOH blimey .
    You should n't need to explain .
    School should take a balanced approach.
    I hope he is better soon.

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  4. You're right, Special Needs is no excuse for violent behaviour. Thre's a world of difference between a slap or a punch and a retaliation which necessitates calling an ambulance. This definitely needs following up, as difficult as you may find it, and regardless of whose 'fault' it was initially. Hope H recovers quickly x

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  5. Goodness, what a can of worms indeed. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to try and work out all of this for the best. Your son must find it difficult to express himself and the school must know this? As should the children - I strongly believe that if not, children in schools should be educated about Autism. I hope you (and they) get to the bottom of what has happened and work it out in the best way.

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  6. Blimey! I hope he feels better soon. We had similar problem with my little half brother, it all end ok after all!

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  7. oh no, thats horrible! I left school many many years ago, and I hated it due to kids being unbelievably cruel to others, and nothing changes, years go by but kids can be nice and lovely but some cruel and bully, do you think it comes from family or society that they are like that?!

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  8. Oh no, what a day. There is never an excuse for violence no matter what. It sounds like the school did a great job looking after him. I hope your son (and you) are doing OK today.

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  9. Being surrounded by a bunch of other kids is terrifying, and for him to lash out meant he felt threatened - at least I know that's how I would have felt.

    I hope that he is okay, and the school manages to work things out with all involved in this. x

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  10. gosh, not good. I hope the other child is on suspension, and that the school see this for what it is...an assault on a fellow pupil and let the others know this is way out of order.

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  11. Ohhh my gosh it must be terrifying .x

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  12. This is awful, your poor son, makes my rant about the forth coming exams seem unimportant!

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  13. Even if your son didn't have Autismand ADHD, kids can be brutal with each other. So sorry this happenend, maybe the school needs to teach a course for all the pupils on anger management.

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  14. Hope the school sort it out. Also hope your son is ok now. So sorry to hear this happen!

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  15. This is awful! And if the school have put that emphasis on whether your child has provoked this attack then I don't think that is acceptable, to place any blame on him whatsoever! I hope he's okay. This must have been really scary for all of you

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  16. oh what a horrible thing - I too had the call recently that my four year old was in the back of an ambulance. I was teaching at the time, and had to quickly find someone to man my class whilst I drove down a motorway to the hospital. Those minutes until you get there are terrifying. Big hugs.

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  17. Awwww poor H, I hope that he is ok. Regarless of whether he has autism or not no child should ever have to deal with bullying like that because thats what it is. Got to say good for H for sticking up for himself. I sincerely hope this doesn't get pushed to one side by the school and tha the other children involved get punished. x

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  18. having autism is not the point here. if a child with autism or not is personally hurt by someone else raising their hands to them and harming them then it abuse

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  19. thats so awful! sorry to hear this happened x

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  20. You are the best ambassador for your child and you need to do what you feel is best. I would be tempted to approach the school and let them hear what you have to say based on the above. The thing is children fight. It doesnt matter what labels we give our children that matter, but how we deal with the challenges they all face,.

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  21. Not the best day for you two :-(
    I think you should have a talk with someone at school... just to make sure situation like this will never happen again

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  22. Try to be kind to yourself, we all have times when we presume the wrong thing. I hope the school sort this out and things improve soon, sounds like a rubbish situation to be in x

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  23. This is awful! They should definitely investigate this further. I hope he is ok x

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  24. That must have been such a shock. I hope you get this resolved soon and it hasn't affected your son too much. Doesn't sound like a nice situation at all and I hope the school see what really happened. xx

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  25. Out of such a horrifying story of an attack in a school I am at least pleased that the school did the right thing and everything that they could do when there is a suspicion of a spinal injury. There will no doubt need to be an investigation and I hope that action is taken to protect your son and the other pupils from anything like this happening again.

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  26. Oh no I hope he is ok :( - what a shock for you all - good to hear the school called an ambulance when not sure. x

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  27. Oh your poor son, I hope that the school investigate properly and deal with the other boys too

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  28. Oh that's awful - your poor son, and it must be deeply distressing for you. The main thing is, you and and your son were able to get to the truth together, and he knows that you're fully supporting him. I hope that the school takes proper measures to stop this from ever happening again.

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  29. oh my god, that is absolutely terrible. I hope they do a thorough investigation and do not blame your son! I can't imagine how terrifying it must be knowing an ambulance has been called for your child when you are not there. I hope he is ok and the school sort it out so that nothing like this happens again in the future!!

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  30. That's awful - any child could react like that in the face of older bullies surrounding them. Hope you get it sorted x

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  31. I hope the school dealt with the incident appropriately, sound like your son had no fault in it this time and they should at least acknowledge it!

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  32. Oh goodness, this is a terrible situation. A gang surrounding a child must be properly dealt with. Haow have things progressed since?

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    Replies
    1. He's more settled thanks and school have been supportive. He was still blamed for retaliating though :( We've seen a huge increase in anxiety but it is starting to reduce a little.

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Many thanks for taking the time to comment, I really value your responses.

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