Understanding and Reacting to “Non-Compliance:” A Letter to Teachers.

The following is a letter I have just written that I shall be giving to my son’s teaching team next week. He has attended a mainstream school since the start of this year, prior to that he spent two years at a Special School. I think it is worth sharing on my blog, because it touches on issues relevant to all autistic children, and on the problematic issue of dealing with seemingly”non-compliant” behaviours. The only change I have made to the letter, is my son’s name; to protect his identity and privacy I have changed his name to “Joe.”

Joe can appear to be a non-compliant or stubborn child, but in my experience the non-compliance is almost always a reaction to something he can’t or hasn’t verbalised.

By Jonathan Reyes, via Flickr

His autism means he struggles with communication, anxiety, social interactions, and understanding instructions (for example, because of his literalness). He also continues to have issues with physical fine motor, gross motor and general coordination skills, he has been diagnosed with a weak core area and weak ankles, he wears orthotics to correct the position of his feet which then affects his movement and gait.

These challenges are often masked because he is a smart child who has learnt to cope and hide many of these issues – often by avoiding the activities that highlight them. In the autism community we call this “passing:” It is a common tactic and significant issue for higher functioning autistic individuals, they “pass” as neurotypical by utilising strategies that hide but do not eliminate their struggles. It can be mentally and physically exhausting for them to pass every day, which can and does lead to burn out. The underlying challenges and issues are still there, but they aren’t been dealt with or expressed so the person may be considered more capable and less affected than they actually are. This issue impacts on adequate provision of support services too, and is a well-known and significant issue for the autism community.

When Joe says he doesn’t want to or won’t do something, it could be for any number of non-expressed reasons. In order to help him join-in and do as instructed, it is vital that someone makes the time and effort to figure out why he is saying no. Joe is not fundamentally a non-compliant child, quite the reverse; in my experience he is eager to please and to get praise (often too eager). So it is worth taking the time to figure out where the “no” is coming from  – for his own mental and physical growth, to encourage his social communication, and to long-term increase his class participation. The short-term of asking each time why he says no, even though it may be time-consuming, is an important step in helping him towards a more interactive and compliant class experience in the future.

Two actual examples may help to illustrate the point.

Joe came home from school on Friday pale, weak, nauseous and with a fever. The first sign to me that he was unwell was not the physical symptoms themselves, but the fact that he was incredibly non-compliant to my requests that he wash his hands and get dressed as he usually would after school. When I took the time to talk to him and listen to him it became clear how sick he was, the non-compliance was just a marker to the issue. I asked him if he’d been OK at school, and he started crying while he told me what happened during “dancing.” He said that he felt like he was going to throw up during the dancing, and he kept trying to lie on the floor because he felt so bad, but the teacher kept telling him he had to join in and do the dancing. I asked him if he told the teacher he was feeling sick, and he looked very thoughtful for a while and said “no, I forgot.”

This is typical of Joe: He forgets or doesn’t know to fully communicate the information that people need to understand what he is doing. It is a classic and strong symptom of autism that they struggle to understand others’ perspectives; it is hard for Joe to understand the way we take for granted that the rest of the children do, that a teacher needs to be expressly told why he is doing (or not doing) something. He needs reminding and even prompting, this is all part of his educational requirements, and should be adequately supported to allow for the encouragement of this type of communication. If the teacher has too many students to deal with at the time, Joe needs more individualised support to facilitate the time and effort required to help him communicate better in class.

A second example may also help illustrate the issue. Joe had been told by me that he didn’t need to see the school dental nurse because he had his own dentist, and I had signed a form denying consent for him to see a school dental nurse anyway. The form was misplaced by a teacher, but regardless Joe knew he didn’t need to see the nurse and I had expressly told him that if anyone makes him go along, he can tell them that Mummy said no. Despite these clear instructions to him, when it came time for him to be taken to the dental nurse, he apparently simply told the teacher “I don’t have to.” Which was interpreted as “I don’t want to / I have a choice in the matter,” and he was made to do it anyway. Instead of assuming non-compliance – as with the dancing example above – the teacher should have asked more questions and made the effort to encourage Joe to communicate why he felt he didn’t have to. That way, he would have had the chance to be reminded to say what I told him, or to better express his reasons for not going along.

In such situations it may indeed turn out that Joe is simply being non-compliant, but that is not my principle experience with my son; he is not a fundamentally non-compliant person just for the sake of being difficult. He is almost always reacting to anxiety, fear, confusion, lack of information, illness, or something else unspoken. If no one makes the effort to figure out why he is being non-compliant, then it is impossible to figure out the appropriate response to the situation. For example, if he is ill he should be allowed to non-comply; if he is scared he should be reassured and given emotional support; if he is confused or has a lack of information he should be further informed and given more certainty and detailed instructions; if he is simply being non-compliant he should be reminded of authority figures and the importance of doing what is asked of him, etc.

The older and more skilled he becomes at communicating and performing tasks, the less intensive the extra support that will be needed. But he is only 8, has only been talking for 3 years as opposed to the typical 5 years experience of his peers, he has physical weaknesses and challenges that are literally hidden (in his shoes for example!), he was once so severely autistic that it was declared he’d be unlikely to ever speak in a sentence and would be dependent on us for the rest of his life. It needs to be kept in mind how hard it is for Joe to be “just like everyone else,” to “pass.” His autism is not all-consuming of who he is (though it once very much was), but just because it’s not always obvious doesn’t mean it isn’t there impacting on his brain and body every single day. He is an incredibly loving and good child, but if you ignore the impact autism is having on his communication and skills it is easy to see him as a “problem child.” He needs help to understand what is required of him and to do it, and he needs reminders though-out the day. The more time and effort that goes into this now, will mean less is gradually required over the years. If he is receiving inadequate support to allow the teacher to deal with him in the way he needs to flourish, then we need to review his support allocations now rather than later.

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50 Responses to Understanding and Reacting to “Non-Compliance:” A Letter to Teachers.

  1. suburp says:

    this is very much the types of situations I get reported from school. and when (much later) we can talk about it at home, most cases, as you say, were purely reactive from his side and always result of miscommunication. that’s a great letter but to be quite honest, i would fear my son’s teacher would find this overwhelming. i am at the moment at a point where i feel there are certain simple things that could be done to make school easier for him – and those around him – but there is a certain resistance of our school ( se qld, australia) to put too much in place ‘just’ for one child…

    • I really appreciate the feedback suburp, I will rethink and maybe redo the letter to be more precise about the problems and exactly what I want from them. Thanks 🙂

      • suburp says:

        Please don’t get me wrong: you are spot on, including examples that should make sense to anyone. And teachers of all people should have the intellect and heart to translate what is crucial advice from a parent into everyday teaching of an autistic kid.
        I just fear that given their reality, lack of time and an obvious need to generalize their approach to reach all the kids at once, often stands in the way of giving our kids just that little bit of extra time and support they need to thrive or even cope.
        I am myself thinking ahead of the teacher change for January, and am planning to write a letter with some insight and tips. I just find it hard to formulate my (reasonable) requests with the possibility of rejection because the teacher in question might feel I tell them ‘how to do their job’.
        I will follow this closely to see how you go!

        • Thanks for coming back and adding those comments suburp, and you’re absolutely right that it can be hard to communicate with teachers in a way that won’t come across as telling them how to do their jobs or seems to ignore their resourcing constraints. I am lucky in that my son does have an attentive and interested teaching team, and he does already qualify for some extra assistance (I just think he needs more, or seems to need more), but I do still wonder how best to communicate concerns and requests to them. Thank for your support and your interest in how it goes 🙂

    • Wife of Jack says:

      I understand this frustration. At home with time or a gentle rephrase of the question, non compliance or the default “No” to the question asked can often turn 180 into a “Maybe yes?” Our son has just needed time to think about what is being asked of him. Time is often in short supply in a classroom.

      As for “passing” my son does it well. Too well. I often wonder how he actually feels about all that is asked of him and whether he understands all that is asked of him.

      He works hard at passing, and sleeps like a log. Hard work being a little kid who retreats to cat language and behaviour in his leisure hours for respite from the intensity of passing in a mainstream classroom.

  2. quintorpian says:

    i liked your letter you wrote and think it is great to educate teachers and others to look outside the mindset that noncompliance has only one explanation, that being a wilful act of disobedience.. I would suggest that this possibly holds for more neurotypical children too. But of course a really big issue for our kids who are working hard on many fronts, besides behaving ‘properly’. My son was having lots of trouble with his teacher who he had for two and a half years. Teacher was often commenting on his refusal to do what he was told, and he also believed my sons constant refrains of ‘it’s too hard’ was merely more evidence of my son trying to get away with not doing any work. The upshot of that fine teaching style was lots of confrontations and a boy who felt incredibly inept. Thankfully this teacher recently resigned and the new teacher is experienced at teaching children with a variety of learning styles. She told me the other day that she asked class to write down a passage off the board and handed round photocopied sheets as well and said for those children who found that too hard, they could simply paste the sheet in their books. My son then announced that he wanted to write it in himself. His motivation was so much higher when he was provided with the scaffolding he might need, with no hint of him being wrong for it. I think it is just a copout to assume children are being naughty without taking time to work out what is behind the behaviour. You will help your son’s teacher immensely by giving her some insight as to why your son, and even other children, might be behaving ‘strangely’. Curiosity is a great thing.

    • Thank you for sharing that experience quintorpian, it gives me more confidence about presenting this letter to his teachers, and I like the idea that their heightened awareness of these issues will benefit other children in the class too.

  3. Matty Angel says:

    I would change the word neurotypical or add an explanation of what that means (Personally I don’t think neurotypical exists and I would say “pass” as a someone without a disability)

    If someone was reading that and had no idea that word means, and if they look up that word there will be a million zillion explanations for what it means. Some of those explanations are very mean and hate filled. It is very sad.

    Anyway, I see that word as a road block to those not involve in anyway to Autism on the internet… and I imagine some of your child team only know what they have been told in classes about autism.

    I hope I do not come off as mean for saying above, I just didn’t want you to find any blocks in your goal of things being better for child with Autism (Something I like and want so much)

    Otherwise I like letter 🙂 I hope it all works out very much!!

  4. This is so important. With your permission I’d like to share it with my children’s teachers.

  5. Sidney says:

    Thank you for this post. First I need to say that I’m Dutch, so please pardon any spelling or grammar mistakes. I think your letter is very helpful for teachers to get an insight in how Joe’s autism has an impact on his behaviour and skills. I wrote a similar letter, but it was more a ‘personal guide to (let’s call him) Otto’. I made a very rational, practical guide with the autism triade as a basic structure. I would be happy to share it with you, but I’d have to translate it first. In short, I first briefly stated ‘Otto has Aspergers. Asperger is a form of autism, also known as the ‘little professor syndrome’, the ‘geek syndrome’, or the ‘invisible autism’.
    I took the triade of autism and for each pillar (communication, social relations and imagination) and then explained how that manifests itself in Otto’s behaviour, and for each section I added a ‘how to’ with practical examples. For example, for ‘communication’, I explained how Otto is highly intelligent, very verbal and therefore assumed to understand all instructions, but he often doesn’t understand what is expected of him because verbal instructions are processed slowly and are often disturbed; that his ‘output’ is stronger than his ‘input’. Then, in the ‘how to’, I gave the example of breaking instructions into segments, and avoid figurative speech as well as ‘vague’ instructions. E.g. ‘Instead of saying ‘work neatly’, rather say ‘write so I can read it’, or ‘instead of giving multiple instructions at once, break it into segments and ask him to repeat what he needs to do in order to make sure he understands what he needs to do’.
    For social relations, I explained -amongst other things- how he copies other kids behaviour, and does not understand how his behaviour could make other kids sad or angry. Then, for the ‘how to’, I wrote ‘keep an eye on him during recess, and when he seems to become upset, take him apart in order to avoid conflicts and escalation. E.g., say ‘I saw Alex pushed you. That’s upsetting for you. Alex didn’t do it on purpose. Alex is not angry at you.’ Or, ‘I know you think your idea is better than John’s. Your idea is good. We’ll try both your ideas. If we don’t try John’s idea, John will be sad’.
    One last example: for ‘imagination’, I briefly explained how Otto can not imagine anything he hasn’t experienced before, as well as he can’t imagine how other people experience things differently than he does. In the ‘how to’, I wrote ‘asking Otto to make a drawing about the holidays, is an impossible task for him. If you ask him to draw the beach he visited, he will draw it in great detail’. And ‘please don’t hold him accountable fot his lack of empathy, but help him to understand how other people feel’.

    It’s more or less the same thing you wrote, i just chose to make it very structured and semi-‘medical’, more like a patient dossier. I was trained as a nurse, so I’m used to write patient dossiers. I thought it would resonate better with professional staff, but it really comes down to the theacher’s willingness to understand.
    I’m very happy that I did it. His teacher said that this was the lost clear, understandable ‘guide’ she ever read, and his therapist is now using it at her practice to show it to other parents as an example. Not trying to brag, but as I’ve had many setbacks and made numerous mistakes in raising Otto, I’m just happy I did something ‘right’. 🙂

    Also, I want to add that I have some friends who work as teachers, and they all told me they would be very happy with a letter or guide that explains the kid’s behaviour, they wouldn’t interpret is as a negative thing (‘Is she telling me how to do my job?’), but would find it a helpful tool. They all say they have very different kids in their class, they don’t always understand their behaviour and they welcome anything that would make it easier to understand their pupils and therefore make their job easier.

    • Sidney says:

      ‘lost clear’ should be ‘most clear’.

    • Thank you for sharing your approach for your child Sidney, it does sound like a very good and practical approach. My son’s teachers have been working with him for a year already, and we have had IEPs and many discussions about how autism impacts on his learning, the letter I wrote is more specifically about a recent issue that is starting to have a real impact on his school experience, and is expressing (in effect) my dissatisfaction with how they are dealing with the issue at this point.

      • sidney says:

        Really, wow, I thought you just changed schools. In that case, don’t know if I could be this polite. How hard is it to ask ‘why?’ and maybe do a little digging?

    • That’s great! It’s nice for everyone to share their insight into how their children are – not only does it help other parents, but you also provide a template to guide others to be able to write their own letters. You are setting the example and one day your child will have the tools to advocate for himself!

  6. Jason Nolan says:

    I’m not sure I agree that neurotypical’s don’t exist and that the term person with a disability would be more appropriate. The power of the term neurotypical is in that it shifts the discourse around from ‘person with a disability’ to one who has been disabled by a non-inclusive society designed to privledge the neuro-typical statistically normal. Whether there are a group of these neurotypical’s running amok is a different question. Our state institutions create the expectation of neurotypicality, and deviance from it is punished in one form or another even by well meaning educators. But that is more a response to the comment above.

    I really like this post you made, both as an educator, an educator trainer and as an Autistic. Luckily for me I figured out how to self-advocate from an early age and learned to disrupt expectations. Though I never passed, I never didn’t pass, and it was easier to be a somewhat likeable idiot within the system than who I was. Still, the life long struggle to communicate my needs, interests and goals is still with me after 50 years, and will never go. Hopefully your son will realize how to communicate in a language they can understand for his own benefit, while still keeping sufficiently in touch with how he engages with and sees the world, which is of primary importance for his own growth as a person. To me, how the Autistic person engages with the world is not only a source of making meaning for the individual, but a rare lens on our world that is a fragile and important location of insight.

    Thanks for the post and best of luck.

    • I love the way you express the importance of accepting and engaging with autistic perspectives Jason, thank you for sharing that, and thank you for your support and encouragement. I wish there were more autistic people in the education sector, I would love it if one of his support people within the education system was themselves autistic, it’s good to hear of and from people who have chosen this career path in life.

    • Matty Angel says:

      My concern of the word neurotypical is in the lack of people understanding it. If they google it, they may see it as a hate word- many use it as a hate word. Then any good being done can be lost. – It wasn’t that she should not use the word, but more that the word may have no meaning to those who may not be involved with the wider autism community.

      I Personally Do not believe that Neurotypical exist, that doesn’t mean that the word has no meaning for others, just that I personally think its a word that is wrong. I meet people everyday without autism who have sensory issues and sometimes other neurological differences. I even think the author of this post wrote that she does not believe the word neurotypical fits her.

      Now that is cleared up…. I find it very hurtful as someone with autism, that you said

      “The power of the term neurotypical is in that it shifts the discourse around from ‘person with a disability’ to one who has been disabled by a non-inclusive society designed to privileged the neuro-typical statistically normal.”

      This hurt me because without society on my own in my own home, as an adult. I can tell you right now that my autism does not go away, I need care to survive… I need help from society. Society enables me to survive. As an educator you should know this. Sure, being in society can be very hard and many people may not understand a lot of what I’m going through, or how I see things… or how I understand things. But also I’m disabled by autism… that’s the core problem. I… have Autism. None of us would be talking about this if people like me with autism did not exist. Its a disability.

      I had 3 people read this paragraph before I commented.

      —— A personal note ——

      I can tell you now from my personal experience as someone WITH Autism who requires support to be in the world, that the best way to get support and be in the world is to not group those without autism together and create an us(those with autism) against them scenario, even if just a feeling.

      The last thing you want to do is alienate yourself and make it harder for yourself to be in society, to make friends and to enjoy life. Most people with Autism like me who need support, they want to be in society, included, supported, helped and welcomed, to have disabilities and needs met so that they can live a fulfilling life.

      This might be why I hate the word neurotypical, I don’t just believe that people are not neurotypical (Even the writer of this post has mentioned she believes she is not neurotypical or something to that effect) but because it goes against everything I need. Inclusion.

      ((I really hope this makes sense, as my friend helped me write how I was feeling down, so I hope this does not come off wrong or badly. Sorry if it does. I hope no one is offended by my personal views.))

      • Matty Angel says:

        Oops my words REQUIRE SUPPORT after WITH are suppose to be capitals too, I don’t know if you need support but from your post it sounds like you do not need too much. Perhaps I am making a judgement, but if you are an educator you are more functioning than I am at this point in time, as I can only make short talks on subjects to people.

        Also I think I might have repeated myself, about the author of post saying at one point in an earlier post she does not think neurotypical fits her. I did not mean to repeat myself and this was an accident.

        I should have re-read it before I posted.

        I again, hope that my thoughts are understandable.

  7. grahamta says:

    Best of luck. As someone else already said, be very clear regarding what you want them to do and they just may do it. Maybe highlighted by bullet points. Also, say you are open for discussion face to face at the end maybe.

    • Good suggestions Grahamta. I was planning to present them with the letter as a lead up to why I want to have another IEP session, which would be a chance for me to talk to them further about this and other social communication issues that are also starting to impact on him more obviously of late. I was somewhat motivated to write the letter as a sort of “constructive complaint” over what my son told me when he came home on Friday, it is quite upsetting to have him treated like that when he was ill. The dental nurse issue was earlier in the year and did lead to me making a formal complaint to the Principal at the time – they shouldn’t ask for people to fill in consent / denial of consent forms, and then ignore them! Anyway, thanks for the comment and sharing your thoughts, I appreciate the awesome and thoughtful input from you and the other commenters 🙂

  8. goatr0n says:

    It is difficult to explain a different way of thinking/reasoning to someone, NT or otherwise. There is something profound in the idea that as your son is working hard to learn about how neurotypicals think and reason, his teacher is also learning about how autistics think and reason. I’m glad he has a teacher who is open to learning and trying new things. In my experience kiddos with autism are often working much harder to be fluent in NT communication than their adult NT supports are working to become fluent in autistic communication. If I expect a kiddo to learn how to communicate the way I understand, it is only fair that I work just as hard to communicate in a way he or she understands.

    Maybe they should implement and ABC data collection for Joe’s noncompliance to keep track of what situations might be triggering it, what it looks like, and how their responses are helping or hindering progress. Sometimes just having the teacher carry the chart helps increase their awareness throughout the day which can help prevent a miscommunication into snowballing into something more serious. The data would be useful in reviewing situations and different ways to react that can help teach Joe how to communicate in those tough situations.

    Another idea for home is to practice ways to respectfully be assertive with adults, through role play, social stories, etc. This is a SUPER hard topic that kids with anxiety find nearly impossible before they practice. Maybe having a social story that explains when it is okay and how to say it respectfully will help give him that script to pull up when he comes across situations. If the teacher reads it with him it might help him trust that she is on board too and that he isn’t going to get in trouble.

    Another kind of silly, but perhaps effective, idea is for the teacher and Joe to practice throughout the day with silly/benign requests that make saying “no” safe because the threat of disappointing her is taken off the table. When he says “No because____” she can give him a lot of praise and show that she is happy when he explains why. The way you do it depends on his sense of humor too, if he is very literal some jokes might not be obvious enough. With some kids I could say, “Joe, can you please turn into a chicken?” and they laugh and would say, “No because I don’t know how to turn into a chicken!” This joke isn’t funny if the child is trying to devise ways to become a chicken lest they disappoint their teacher. You know your kiddo’s sense of humor best, but an exercise or game like that can help ease anxiety and give practice saying “No, because____.” for situations that occur often or may occur.

  9. Tony says:

    Hi, I had issues like this in elementary school, although I had to deal with them on my own with teachers, perhaps in a more working-class school context which had its pluses and minuses, and at a time when drugging to get compliance was hardly done, thank God. As an adult, I’ve discovered that no one reads long letters, and that the huge anomaly of a long letter in contrast to almost none at all or one-on-one communications used by others presents a problem in itself, because a letter can be used in legal surroundings which possibility puts everyone on edge. Very short messages and face-to-face meetings are usually much better instruments than letters. I also have little doubt that the team of teachers believes it has expertise of its own, which one needs to recognize before criticizing and recommending. Ultimately, one has to praise a lot before suggesting improvements. Both a letter or face-to-face communication should start with that, and with expressed optimism. Realistically, I don’t see why the situation should get better, it will likely get worse, since the social development rate of your child (and me when I was that age) is slower so he will fall behind more. He alas has to take charge and realize there’s an issue and improve his communications to make it through. He’s always the person on the spot, and he always will be. It sounds like he’s made huge progress so far, as you recount, so it may be a big hill to climb, but he’s showing he can do it. Best wishes.

    • Thanks Tony. I can say that your expressed pessimism on how poorly this would go, thankfully hasn’t come to pass; the teachers have responded very positively and constructively and I’ve even been thanked for the letter; all just reaffirming for me how lucky I am to have the support team he does. I have to communicate in the best way I know how, and sometimes that’s long annoying letters! But the point got across and we will be discussing the situation further in the upcoming IEP, so I’m quite happy in my outlook at this point 🙂

  10. Uli says:

    Wow, on another day I will come back and read this all again, it’s a bright insight into what I will have to deal with, my son is only 5 and mainstreamed into Kindergarten, just getting used to that. I am scared every day that something happens to him that he won’t be able to tell me about, because he can’t. I’m amazed by everyone’s strength, and I will come back and find the strength to do the same, just like you all are fighting for your kids, I will continue to do the same – I’m so glad you’re all sharing all of your efforts! I’m just so tired today.

    • Hang in there Uli, you are not alone, and the fight is worth fighting. And keep pushing for the extra supports your child needs to help give him a voice and to give you the confidence that he will be treated with respect and care when he’s away from you. Wishing you and your son the very best xxx

  11. LilaTovCocktail says:

    This is an awesome post. Thanks so much for putting this into words, and so eloquently.

  12. Marilynn says:

    This is beautiful. My son has been diagnosed as ADHD/ODD/SPD. I suspect he may have Asperger’s. We have an appointment tomorrow with his Psychologist and I plan to ask his opinion on that subject. From the things that I have read it seems that it is hard to diagnose, which is why I question if he has it, or if it is jut his SPD. The school he attends knows nothing about sensory disorders. They simply think my son is a “problem” child and feel they have to put up with him. They don’t understand that he needs extra help understanding them and what is expected of him. They don’t understand that everything around him affects him in ways they cannot imagine. I have met with his teacher and principal many times, but I do not think they care or want to go the extra mile for my special needs kid. I am looking in to getting him an IEP or 504 plan. His grades are wonderful, like many children with Asperger’s he is highly intelligent and has a vocabulary that rivals most adults. I am worried that if he does not end up with the Asperger’s diagnosis that his high academic performance will prevent us from getting the extra services he needs to function better in school. If we are able to get the extra help for him I can see how some of what you have written here would be beneficial for my son. Thank you for posting this. As a mom who is new to this world of the ASD umbrella there is so much information and I’m not sure where to turn, finding this has been very helpful. It gives me a lot to think about and ideas of how to try and get his teacher and principal on board. Thank you so very much.

  13. Great advocacy you are doing for your son, as well as teaching him how to advocate for himself. I think it’s a great letter and I’ve done a similar thing for my own son. It’s important to hand off bits of the instruction manuals to our teachers or caregivers, so they can better understand how we operate 🙂

  14. lizzyj3 says:

    Reblogged this on threewishesforme and commented:
    We are struggling to be respected, heard and dealt with fairly at our local public school. Our seven year old boy with autism is the pawn in a struggle between what we want for him ( calm , safe , familiar environment with known people) and the school’s desire to use his funding in any way they feel like and push us out if we ask to help ( as we have done for years, both as teachers and volunteers).
    This article rang very true to us – when teachers don’t recognise the struggle and the courage of these beautiful children trying to fit into life and give them extra time or a helping hand, behaviour that is fully explainable can be misconstrued.

    • Thank you for sharing my post with your readers in this way lizzyj3, and I wish you all the best with your boy too.

      • lizzyj3 says:

        It was great writing and a very good message! We are having real daily trouble getting our son to be treated fairly in our local school. It is the same school my mother and I were teaching in last year and we understand the system to a large extent! We wonder how confusing and terrifying the school system is for people with learning difficulties, language difficulties or who were treated badly in the system themselves!

      • lizzyj3 says:

        You are doing a great job! Well done! Good luck and thanks for the good wishes for our beautiful boy!

  15. Mark kent says:

    hello, i get your blog. WE HAD LOT TROUBLE WITH OUR SON SCHOOL,BULLYING,PEOPLE. i am married 13 yearswe have 3 children.2,boys and 1 girl. our youngest son age 10 has aspergers LIKE I DO, i take part in a lot lot researchfrom universities. if you would like too chat please do my e.mail is ..mkentdad12@outlook.com mark

    Date: Sat, 26 Oct 2013 02:01:11 +0000 To: mkentdad12@outlook.com

  16. I can’t imagine all the struggles and challenges you have been through at are looking at in the future. Your letter is well written and straight to the point as to who Joe is, how he reacts, the best way to approach and teach him. Most importantly you address him as a kid – like any other kid. He’s isn’t a label and there are expectations from him. He is fortunate to have such an advocate in his life. I hope things improve for you.

  17. Tan says:

    Thank you so much for this fantastic post, it is a very interesting topic for me as our family approaches ORS application time for our son and starting school next year. The ‘passing’ issue is one that I think is not understand at all by most people, and as such they have no idea the energy and demands it takes for our children to get through the day. Also the full impact of how communication is so different for our kids is particularly revealed in episodes like you describe where they do not understand how to explain they are sick. My son is unable to say when he feels sick, or is hurt etc despite having some language, so this is a critical issue for me and one I will also be highlighting for his future teachers. I am very thankful for your frank, detailed and informative posts, especially in a NZ context, it really means a lot to read about your own experiences, trials and achievements. I hope you know the great service you are doing in sharing your journey with us. Thanks again 🙂

  18. Pingback: Example Of A Letter Of Non Compliance | News Latest Update

  19. may says:

    Hello, Thanks for your post, I was looking into non-compliance issues with autistic kids and found your blog locates me in a similar situation as yours. My son is 6 1/2yrs and verbal but still limited in language. He has recently been saying NO and not complying to his teacher in classroom for many transitions, eg. snack time and especially home time, recently he has refused to pack and go home. Since he has limited words to expressive language and he is not able to explain me why he has been saying NO to home time all of sudden. How can I get the reasons out of his recent non-compliant behavior? All I can do is trying to figure out this puzzle under the circumstance, it’s really frustrating. Any suggestions and comments from your valuable experience would be greatly appreciated.

  20. sparkles60 says:

    Hello. I would like to thank you all for sharing your stories. I am a middle-class math teacher with a student who has autism and is in an advanced class. I have no additional help for him, and have been unable to reach his parents. He appears capable, but is not willing/able to do any work unless I am next to him, coaching him step by step. This prevents me from assisting any of my twenty one other students. I am online looking for anything I can learn to help him, me and the rest of the class have the best experience we can. Your stories have helped me to set aside my frustration and continue looking for strategies/solutions to support him and help him become more confident and independent.

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