Please help dd cutting her face and arms open in school

(31 Posts)
Agnesboo Mon 15-Jul-13 15:24:45

I have namechanged and this may be long but I don't want to drip feed.

My dd is 13 she has always hated school. We home educated for a year due to bullying but she didn't like it and went to secondary school about a month late in y7.

She has dyspraxia and is now seeing CAHMS and we are waiting for a diagnosis of either ADD or autism.

For the last 18 months school life has been hell. She began hanging around with a group of girls who all dared each other to do stupid and dangerous things, I am in no way saying my dd was innocent, she took part as much as the others and I have talked to her and took away her stuff when necessary.

I have been called in to school numerous times and had over 12 meetings this year alone. She has been slicing her arms open in front of friends as dares while she was meant to be in lessons. She has also sat in the classroom and done it. She has bought pencil sharpeners from the school shop and broke them to expose the blade. She and another girl walked out of class the other day and the teacher told them to separate when he came back they had both sliced their faces numerous times leaving scarring. The teachers did not contact me they just sent her home at home time aware that she had these cuts.
They have also ran around school with sharpener blades.

I myself have got the police involved and asked them to talk to dd. school did not seem happy about this I also got them involved when she was badly beaten up in a corridor.

She is a different child at home a normal everyday teenager but when she attends school she becomes he'll to live with verbally and physically abusive to me and her siblings.

When she sliced her face I didn't send her back because I spoke to a teacher who said they couldn't keep her safe but now I am classed as keeping her absent because I don't know what else to do, they have admitted dd won't be safe but won't help me. I keep her safe I even started walking her to and from school to try and keep her from meeting up with the girls on the way in but school seem to reward their bad behaviour by allowing them to sit on reception or go on the computers instead of lessons if they walk out of class.

Staff have also told me many confidential things about other pupils and contacted a pupils mum in front of me about an incident which struck me as wrong.

I have today rung ofsted after getting nowhere with the education dept and told them everything and they are involving a safeguarding officer, I really don't want to get anyone in trouble I'm just at the end of my rope but I'm worried now.

Before you flame me i totally understand my dds behaviour has been outrageous and unfair on the school and other pupils but I try to keep her safe and tell her she's not on the right path and school reward her by offering her days out and extra treats.
My ds also attends the school and is doing very well and is well behaved he never gets offered any incentives or treats it just seems unfair.

None of the cutting has ever happened at home either school have told me its a problem to do with dd totally disliking school but they just seem for me to deal with it and I don't know what to do anymore.

xylem8 Mon 15-Jul-13 17:11:19

does she ever cut alone, or is it always in front of her friends.

Agnesboo Mon 15-Jul-13 18:47:43

Always in front of friends while at school. She has never self harmed at home or alone.

creamteas Mon 15-Jul-13 19:15:11

Just because she just self-harms at school, does not mean that it is necessarily attention-seeking or related to the people she is with.

Although it might not seem like it, often self-harming (whether through cutting or other things like drug use) is an way to cope with deep distress, anxiety etc.

The cutting releases pressure and makes people feel better. So if she feels safe at home, then there is less reason to hurt herself there.

You do need expert assessment urgently. If you can't get into CAMHS they try contacting Mind. They have some useful information and a helpline.

In the short term, maybe suggest some other, less harmful, ways of causing pain can help. For example, keeping pinging an elastic band around your wrist. A friend's DD is doing this, and the cutting has reduced.

DaffodilsandSnow Mon 15-Jul-13 19:24:35

What a horrible situation for you.

CAMHS need to be updated on the latest developments. You could ring but it would also add weight if school or GP could write a letter outlining the current situation. Her behaviour has escalated and she is missing out on education and CAMHS should see this as a reason to bring her assessment forward.

School don't sound very helpful or supportive and it sounds like you need someone fighting your and your daughters corner at the moment.

I hope things improve and you get the help you both deserve very soon.

Agnesboo Mon 15-Jul-13 19:34:11

Thanks. CAMHS are aware her support worker is trying to rush through more support.

We have tried the elastic band/ice thing without much luck.

Since she hasn't been at school she is walking round with bare arms which makes me happy but I'm upset that she isn't getting any sort of education.

I know she is doing it because she's unhappy I've never punished her for that but I have punished her for shouting at teachers and walking out of class.

I love her so much I just want her to be happy and safe.

DaffodilsandSnow Mon 15-Jul-13 20:49:11

Maybe having some time away from school is no bad thing at the moment although I understand this isn't what you want.

I've just had another thought on the education side of thing
www.childrenslegalcentre.com/

I've used them alot through work and they give free and very helpful legal advice with regard to a young persons entitlement to education. There is a phone number on the website.

It sounds like you completely have your daughters best interests at heart so I don't think you should give yourself a hard time about causing trouble for professionals or making a fuss.

retiredgoth2 Mon 15-Jul-13 20:55:40

Does she have a statement? Or an appointment with an Ed Psych at least? It sounds absolutely urgent that she gets this.

Don't just wait for CAMHS; good people that they are they only have one pace. And that is glacial. They will be of ongoing help but you need more in a crisis.

Absolutely INSIST on Ed Psych review. Contact IPSEA if you have any resistance.

I've been through similar stuff- it is hard but you basically have to man the barricades to get your daughter the intensive social and emotional education she plainly needs. Good luck- there are plenty of folk here with related experience (check the special needs boards) who can help you along the way.

Agnesboo Mon 15-Jul-13 21:17:28

She saw an ed psych through primary and her support worker contacted her recently but she said she didn't need to see her again as she was under CAMHS.
I have fought for a statement for years but I just hit dead ends. She has dyspraxia, dyscalcula. I have been saying she is on the autistic spectrum for a number of years but am only just seeing some response to this.
Thanks for all the advice and contacts. I feel a bit better about things.

AnotherStitchInTime Mon 15-Jul-13 21:25:51

Sorry no experience so cannot offer specific advice other than to say it might be worth posting this in special needs as well as there are many parents there that may have advice on getting support and statements.

schoolnurse Tue 16-Jul-13 01:24:37

Have you got a good GP? If yes go back to him/her and get them to write to the school and the chair of the governors expressing concern at the way its being handled, get your GP to put in writing the need for another ed psych report and also state she will not be returning to school before the end of term. Get your GP to also chase up CAMHs. The ed psych is not going to deal with the self harm issues she needs help from CAMHs if she's going to wait ages and you can afford and find one a CBT counsellor specialising in paediatrics can really make a difference in these situations. I've seen it work really well with children who self harm.

"my dds behaviour has been outrageous and unfair on the school and other pupils"
This is not outrageous behaviour this is a child with significant mental heath problems who needs help Im sure its very worrying and frightening for you and I understand your frustration but punishing even if its not for self harming is not going to help. She's unhappy and self harming and behaving badly because she's really struggling at school because her educational needs are just not being met this is not her fault but the schools it must be so worrying and upsetting for her.

Agnesboo Tue 16-Jul-13 08:48:57

School nurse, I know it's so confusing though I've been told for so long that she is just a school refuser and that she is attention seeking that I haven't trusted my own instincts for a long time.

The autism thing was mentioned by a CAMHS nurse about 6 weeks ago so I'm just glad someone is finally seeing what I've been seeing.

When I'm sat in a meeting surrounded by teachers and support staff I tend to feel intimated one member of support staff actually said "this is not autism thisis naughtyism" I'm kicking myself because I didn't pull her up on it but when you're a SAHM and they keep telling you they've spent years at the school and know what they're doing I've gone along with a lot of what they've said but then they contradict themselves by allowing her to wander round school and giving her extra treats.

I feel like we've all messed up her education.

Did have a good GP but hes recently retired but will go back and talk to them again ASAP.

Thank you.

Thanks Stitch for your advice too.

xylem8 Tue 16-Jul-13 09:08:16

what was her behaviour like at primary, and whilst you were Home educating?

schoolnurse Tue 16-Jul-13 11:42:06

If it's attention seeking behaviour you have to ask yourself what is causing your DD to behave in such an outrageous and sad way. Anyone who knows anything will tell you that this is a desperate cry for help by a child who is very unhappy about something.
Do not beat yourself up this situation is salvageable and your daughter can still achieve at school you have plenty of time she only 13 believe me I have seen children very similar to your daughter get better although the road will be rocky. Don't be intimidated by teachers (who often in my experience sound knowledgeable but no nothing) standby what you believe, don't roll over, go to the governors governors and or the LEA and keep complaining your daughter needs you to do this.eventually
If your feeling is this autism stand by this support your daughter as best you can she needs to understand that you want to help and that you will standby her and support her come what may regardless.

schoolnurse Tue 16-Jul-13 11:45:10

Ignore eventually bloody iPad.

Agnesboo Tue 16-Jul-13 15:08:39

Her behaviour was a bit mixed at primary it got worse as she started juniors and didn't fit in as much. She was lovely during HE but bored.

Thank you school nurse.

cory Tue 16-Jul-13 16:52:22

"When I'm sat in a meeting surrounded by teachers and support staff I tend to feel intimated one member of support staff actually said "this is not autism thisis naughtyism""

Take notes whenever you meet members of staff. Have everything they say ready with neat dates on it in case you ever need to show that they have been obstructive. If at all possible, bring dp or a friend who can deal with the note-taking (and do so openly, so they see you mean business) whilst you are talking. And whenever you have been in a meeting, send them an email listing what was said. Speaking from bitter experience here. sad

schoolnurse Thu 18-Jul-13 09:42:50

Taking a friend is a great idea she'll be less emotionally involved and you wont feel so alone write down the points you want get across and the questions you want to ask then your friend can't prompt you if you get flustered and get her to take notes. OP don't do yourself down you may be a SAHM but be proud of this this means you've got more time for your DD than those of us juggling work frankly I'm envious and remember these are only teachers they are trained to educate y

schoolnurse Thu 18-Jul-13 09:55:26

Sorry pressed send by mistake .... your DD this does not make them knowledgable about everything else They are not all knowing Gods. Over the years I have been frankly stunned by comments about health related issues made with tremendous assertion by teachers; are these people meant to be educated?
Good luck.

MrsBeep Thu 18-Jul-13 10:23:23

sorry if this has already been asked or mentioned, but I'm on the run to work so no time to read all through (I will in my break)....but...the school just sent her home at the end of the day when she had cut her face???! That I'm sure can't be procedure or even basic human nature. That is so irresponsible of the school! They should have called you immediately and if they couldn't get hold of you then 999.

I'm flabbergasted.

Agnesboo Fri 19-Jul-13 11:35:58

Mrsbeep: yes they did send her home without contacting me. I had to drive back to school and ask to see someone to ask what had happened.

Thanks everyone else for kind comments and advice.

Update: I spoke to OFSTED at the beginning of the week and the had to follow up my complaint by email.
Yesterday social services rang to see if they could come out to chat to me about my concerns they did and were very nice. It was scary having two sw in my living room but they did stress it wasn't any concerns they have about our family.
Today another sw rang trying to get the names of other children involved but I didn't know surnames or anything.

I'm a bit scared now about the complaint that school are going to be really pissed off, but I did stick to facts and said that school had tried to help.

Have also rung CLC who advised me to try for a SEN but I'm not holding out much hope as I have been trying for Years.

hummingbirdhostage Fri 19-Jul-13 12:08:10

Well done for acting - and pushing others to respond too. Your dd needs an advocate and there is noone better placed than you are currently. No one else will be as bothered about her interests as you, and so good on you for calling time on the school's mismanagement. I'm glad you are being seen by CAMHS and hope that some diagnosis, or exclusion of one, may clarify what you are dealing with and how best to proceed. If there are shades of ASD, then there is nothing to stop you trying out associated management strategies recommended for children with ASD even without the diagnosis. Similarly with ADD. If you find something seems to help dd then you will be able to share this knowledge with school, to see how they can transfer it into the school environment.
Regarding the cutting, it sounds really anxiety provoking, especially her chosen site, ie face. I think it is really important for someone to try and work out with her what she is trying to communicate through doing it. Clumsily worded - sorry. But, basically, what need does it answer for her, or what does it do for her. Does it bring the reward of being accepted by her friends, being remarkable in her peer group, or just being noticed, by peers and teachers alike? I think it is relevant that she is not cutting at home (have you checked less obvious sites - inner thighs/ top of arms?), and think that this may give some clues about what she gets out of it. If she was using it to reduce anxiety or as a maladaptive coping mechanism, this would not generally fit with it just happening in one place, ie not at home too. The National Self Harm Network has a fab website.
In terms of school, I think it has been mismanaged, but maybe they would be receptive to advice and guidance from CAMHS and the EP, once involved. Press your CAMHS worker to liase with school, offer guidance where they can, as this can often get missed off and doesn't happen. I would also be clear with the ed authority why you are keeping her off, and ask them to provide alternative provision, given she is now involved with CAMHS.
Just some thoughts, you may already have done/thought this anyway.
Best of luck with it all xx

Agnesboo Fri 19-Jul-13 12:15:12

Thank you hummingbird that's really helpful.

The sw who visited yesterday has just rang now I'm very upset. She wants to come and talk to dds siblings. She says this is normal after a referral has been made about one child they have to check the welfare of the siblings. She also has to ring their schools and nursery.
She said she will stress that my parenting is not in question but I'm very upset I feel like I am being punished for protecting my child.

Meringue33 Fri 19-Jul-13 12:21:19

I have no expertise in this area but I DID have an awful time as a teen at a dysfunctional school with no effective discipline or safeguarding. I'd suggest taking her out of that school for good.

Agnesboo Fri 19-Jul-13 12:31:30

I don't think she will be going back meringue. I'm just very upset and worried now. Yesterday she didn't say anything about a sibling visit now she's saying she has to do one.

I have nothing to hide I just dont like it.

I have a feeling school have tod them that dd is verbally abusive and lashes out at myself and siblings. But I haven't kept this a secret I mentioned it in my email to ofsted and school have always been aware of it. But she only lashes out when stressed over school. Now she's not there she's lovely. sad

What a mess.

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