When Teachers Deflect Your Concerns: A Mini-blog

Have you found that raising concerns mysteriously becomes the cause for concern?

Tonight, my children were discussing small scars and yet another memory flashes back into my head.

Peter talks about the time he used a blunt pencil to make a hole in the back of his hand whilst at school.  He did it so that the pain would distract him from the intense anxiety he was trying to hide from his peers and teachers.  He was diagnosed with Asperger’s and had been treated by a CAMHS clinical psychologist for anxiety for more than 2 years.

Still, school ‘knew’ that he was ‘fine’.

Anyway, tonight Peter makes makes a comment about how I went to talk to the Head Teacher about it this self inflicted wound and I remember just how skilfully that Head Teacher made it all my fault.

Seamlessly and without effort, the fact that I had raised it as a concern (so that the staff could see the wound before he went home….) became the cause for concern.  Skilfully and without any effort at all he had deflected the blame onto me and rewritten the story to blend in with all the others.

Interestingly (but probably only to me) recounting this story has left me with the same feelings of ‘incredulous to the point of paralysis’ and I can’t for the life of me think of a single constructive comment.

Thankfully I have recruited the help from Helen and Jack’s mum (see guest blogs) who is able to be far more constructive on the matter.  She suggests that those in this situation consider the following:

  • follow conversations up in writing,
  • keep a diary of SEN conversations,
  • be aware of strategies used to deflect: changing the subject, denial, blaming you
  • don’t have conversations when you are emotional (only professionals are allowed to do this it seems) or when staff seem to be preoccupied / busy,
  • identify staff who want to listen,
  • keep breathing: use your breathe as time to reflect before responding,
  • paraphrase and reflect back what they are saying before you make you point. Eg “so you are concerned that his behaviour is related to home ….. my concern is that his behaviour is related to school”.  This stops it becoming an argument and slows pace of discussion.

Perhaps the most tricky, is to recognise when relationships have broken down and consider a change of school.  In the case I have described, their beliefs were impenetrable.

Someone very helpfully sent me this recently, I need to read more about it but you may like it: The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which low-ability individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability as much higher than it really is.

If this story resonates then you may find these helpful as they centre on the same dynamic:  “Dyslexia – A Pathway to Diagnosis” and “Unable to Attend School – What next“.  If you are interested in issues of “Masking and Blending In” (camouflaging) or the situation of “What does ‘fine’ mean?” links to these are attached.

Please click here to see a linky blog hop that bring peoples’ posts together: on SEN & labels, difficulties with getting diagnosed, pushy parents, private assessments, and other challenges in getting SEN support for children in schools.

For a list of all our posts click here.



2 thoughts on “When Teachers Deflect Your Concerns: A Mini-blog

  1. From Anonymous

    Have read your blog, about teachers deflecting concerns. I feel there is another element, which has consistently happened with my children. “Professionals”, have highlighted difficulty for instance the key worker at G’s nursery with his speech – then when the autism team were underway in assessing him – she suddenly backpaddled somewhat and conveniently “forgot” about some meltdowns which she said she would never forget because of their intensity.

    I have recently seen similar with my daughter. The nurseries invited us in with concerns, which they still have, but when I sent minutes which are very acccurate seem somewhat annoyed. I can sense the back peddling happening already, to an extent. I suggested that she may not like the dining room as she is crying about going in there, so it was made clear in her home – nursery diary she was OKAY in there, but not about the pressure of eating lunch 😕

    The exact same story with my youngest son – SLT worried about his attention , listening and concentration DH asked for a report with her concerns, she lied and said that he needed to do it in school because he needed a break from the clinic. Where the reason she had stated was that he didnt have the attention to continue in clinic.

    Then with D far, far too many to list. It has happpened at every school he has been to and to a lesser extent his MS primary school.

    I think the blogs are pwerful, they are helping peple to realise it is not just them.


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