Dealing with Truancy...an 8 yr old

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Alisonlg, Mar 14, 2007.

  1. Alisonlg

    Alisonlg New Member

    This is one of our biggest battles recently...I want to say it started about 2 months or so ago and it's getting worse and worse every week that passes. My 8 yr old REFUSES to go to school. (and quite frankly- thinking about it...I think this might be the schools fault! I think it picked up in frequency dramatically when they started sending him home from school...I bet in his head he figures if he's just going to misbehave and get sent home, why even bother going?)

    I just don't know what to do. At first instance, I called the school Social Worker...because way back when he first started kindergarten, I remembered them saying in Orientation that "if your child won't come to school, we'll come to your house and get them!" So, I called, she came, he went to school. Next time, I called, she and the Youth Officer came, he went to school. Next time I called, she said, "I can't keep doing this," but she came anyway with the Youth Officer, and my son DID NOT go to school with them...though a couple hours later he eventually decided to go to school. Monday, he missed an entire day and we spent an entire day listening to his screaming and spent the entire day physically bringing him back up the stairs to his room and baracading him in his room...I'm still sore.

    Today is Wednesday and I give up. In the past I've battled him...I've dragged him out of bed...I've physically undressed him...I've physically dressed him...I've forced him in the car...driven him to school...but, he's just too strong now and I'm just too tired...and I really don't think it would work anyway. If it were the begining of the school year...and I got him to the school...he would have gotten out of the car and gone to class...today...he wouldn't. He's different. He's worse.

    So, today I give up. He wants to stay in bed, then so be it. He's being quiet and I don't have to physically restrain or move him...I don't have to listen to his repetitive chanting (which grates on my sanity more than anything else in the world!!!) then so be it. I offered him a reward if he would go to school (which worked to get him to school yesterday) and I told him that by not going to school he *IS* breaking the law (which he does not care) and that he will not earn any of his reward coupons for getting his work done at school...and I left and shut his door.

    Do you have any suggestions on anything I could be doing differently? Should I just be letting him "win" this battle? Gosh, I can't stand ODD...I really can't. I truly envy parents who's kids just do what they're requested to do...and every :censored2: day he pulls this crap, I am reminded of why I can NEVER hold a FT day job and why I am so thankful that I own my own business! What a godsend!
     
  2. Alisonlg

    Alisonlg New Member

    I spoke too soon....the repetitive chanting has begun...lord help me. He's up in his room screaming, "I WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL" yet refuses to go to school. Why, pray-tell? Because he'll be late and there's a consequence. What's the consequence? He doesn't even know...but he purposely waited until 8:50 when school officially starts to start chanting.

    Do they make a drug that makes you deaf to repetitive chanting? Because if so, sign me up...it's the one thing that makes me insane.

    It's going to be another LONG day.
     
  3. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    I have a son who has had major school refusal over the years, and while it can look like ODD, there's likely something else that's fueling your son's school refusal. A probable candidate is anxiety, although other disorders and circumstances can cause school refusal.

    Have you talked to the teachers and school administration about what's going on at school? Do they have any idea what's triggering his school refusal? Does your son have an IEP?

    I seem to remember you're having him evaluated at this time. What kind of professional is doing the evaluation?

    There are a couple of different thoughts about dealing with school refusal. First, figure out the root cause of the refusal, address it and the school refusal will disappear. Or second, the child must go to school regardless. That is the tack our psychiatrist recommended for our son because he has longterm anxiety and depression that is taking quite a while to resolve. If he had refused school throughout his illness, he would have missed a couple of years. And by law, that is not allowed. A child must go to school or receive an appropriate educational substitute privately or at home. Because my son is bigger than I, it required my husband to carry him to the car day after day last year (sometimes in his underwear, with clothes brought along in a bag) to get him to school. At the same time, he was seeing a psychiatrist weekly for medication management and psychotherapy. The good news is that our interventions are paying off. While my son still may not like to go to school, he now gets into the car on his own power. It's not perfect, but we are making progress.

    I wish you luck in figuring out what's going on with your son.
     
  4. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

  5. Kjs

    Kjs Guest

    Same here. ODD as early as 2.5 years old. Imagine a 4 year old having his mother in tears by 10am.
    School..Now after fighting with school for many years (difficult child also bright) He advanced a grade in elementary school.
    Second year at middle school. Started calling me at work. Called 5 times from 8:30 to noon. They told me to come get him. I said no. They threatened to call the police. I asked what it is he is doing. They replied. "nothing". so, I said go ahead and call the police. I am not comint to get him.
    vice Principal things he is sincere. I told him he is doing exactly what he wants. He even said "I'll do something so I get Kicked out". I told school recently, with the support from the experts on this board..That he is NOT to sit in a room by himself. He is NOT to call me unless he has a fever or is throwing up. He is to be in class. Our goal has been to get him to sit through a class without yelling out. He has done that, so NOW they remove him from the class even if he is sitting quietly. Now it is because he isn't doing his work. Refuses to do work. BUT he will cram it all in by the end of the quarter and pass the class.
     
  6. Alisonlg

    Alisonlg New Member

    Kjs- Oh, I've been there. difficult child #1 has had me in tears since the begining! I remember picking him up from day care when he was 2.5 yrs old and him refusing to get his coat on and he was so full of adreniline that I couldn't catch him. Chased him for a good 1/2 hr, finally caught him, strapped him into the car seat wihtout a coat on and cried. Ah, those were the days.

    Smallworld- he has a 504 Plan and we recently had a meeting last week to update that. He has some behavior mods in place at school and they just restarted him in group sessions with the Social Worker (whom he sees very frequently for his behavior issues in class) and we just recently involved the Youth Officer from the local PD because of the truancy. We just requested a PPT meeting to start Special Education testing because one of his biggest triggers is writting, so we want to be sure there are no Learning Disability (LD)'s there. We've never used the term IEP, so I'd have to say he doesn't have one at this time? They are talking of outplacement at a special school if he keeps getting sent home or refusing to attend school. And, I must say that at the 504 Meeting, they painted a pretty darn good picture and my husband and I wanted to say, "Where do we sign?!" LOL I don't know how serious they were and what the timeframe or conditions would be...they seem to say things, and then when it comes time to do them, it's "oh well, that takes time...yadda, yadda, yadda"

    His evaluation is being done at a local Behavioral Center by a Social Worker...NO, I'm not happy about that and if it turns out she is the sole decision maker on this one, I am going to INSIST on some visits with their staff psychiatrist. Her initial impressions were the ODD and potentially some Depression (which I don't see). Quite frankly, I think we've got a LOT more going on than that.

    Been trying to figure out the root of the school refusal...he won't tell anyone and I'm not even sure if he really knows. Like I said, today he purposely waited until school started so he could say the reason was because he'd be "late" which to him was worse than not going at all. If it were Friday, I would guess it were his Friday Folder writting project he was trying to avoid...but it's Wednesday...I don't recall him trying to avoid going to school on a Wednesday before. And, as I mentioned before, I honestly believe the dramatic increase in his refusal stems from when they started the experiment of sending him home from school when they couldn't control him at school. So, if he has any anxiety, it's probably over the fact that if he goes, he might get sent home. Purely a guess, but it's the only connection I can make and the only thing that makes sense to me. I firmly believe he should be in school no matter what, but when we got him dressed, forced him in the car, and drove him to school on Monday, the wouldn't take him...they made us take him back home. :frown: They let the ODD child be in control. And now he's controlling all of us. It's not fair that an 8 yr old get to control my life.
     
  7. kris

    kris New Member

    <span style='font-size: 14pt'> <span style='font-family: Georgia'> <span style="color: #663366"> i agree with-smallworld that this is not just ODD....there is something else going on.

    anxiety comes to mind...in various forms. you've got your garden variety school anxiety, school phobia, separation anxiety. does any of this ring a bell for you as possible?

    he really does need a neuropsychologist evaluation. you need to find out what is fueling his ODD & whatever is going on with-school.

    i had to deal with-this with-my son, but he was 12 when things got aweful. the principal...very experienced man....told me he'd never seen a kid with-such extreme school phobia. i decided to with-draw him from school. homeschooling didn't work, but we did in~home counselling & he went back to school the following fall.

    kris
    </span> </span> </span>
     
  8. kris

    kris New Member

    <span style='font-size: 14pt'> <span style='font-family: Georgia'> <span style="color: #993399"> oh & i doubt he really understands about *breaking the law*. it's probably not a concept they can grasp at 8.

    kris
    </span> </span> </span>
     
  9. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Alison,

    How much of this could be school anxiety? Or anxiety in general? We had it written in kt's IEP that she could check in with the school nurse once a day.

    She also had her "safe" place, if you will, when her anxiety level was maxed out. All she needed to do was raise her hand with a red card in it for the teacher to excuse her to take a break.

    Many of our difficult children need a break during the day from the intensity of school demands. After we implemented these interventions for kt I got far fewer school calls & kt stayed in class more knowing that she had her safe place.

    Just something to consider.
     
  10. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Anxiety and depression are on the same spectrum, so to speak, and frequently go hand-in-hand Emotional shutdown caused by anxiety/depression can look like ODD. Furthermore, depression looks different in a child. Symptoms can include irritability, emotional reactivity, emotional shutdown and withdrawal from activities like school. The social worker could be right that your son is depressed, but he will need an evaluation by a board-certified child psychiatrist to diagnose it.
     
  11. Alisonlg

    Alisonlg New Member

    I just don't know...he doesn't seem anxious to me. I read the link Sheila posted and none of it seemed to ring true and he and I did the anxiety assessment the Behavioral Center had given us and he came out with flying colors with only a few "extremes" (worries about things happening to his parents, worries about the future and the past). I mean, I'm no DR and I could be way off, but I don't see it.

    It's 10:22 am...2 hours into the screaming fit. Just 5 more hours to go. There's about a 6" pile of crud at the bottom of the stairs that he's throw down from his room. His room is trashed. I swear if he hits me with ONE object, I'm calling 911 for a medical transport. I can't keep living like this and I can not take another 5+ weeks of this while the evaluation crawls at a snails pace being performed by an incompetent Social Worker.

    My 3 yr old will be home from preschool in about an hour. I don't know what I'm going to do. It's REALLY bad. I seriously think today will be the day I'm going to have to call 911.
     
  12. SueC

    SueC New Member

    Hi I am brand new to this and just found the sight a few days ago , so please bare with me
    I have been there done that this year with my then 8 now 9 year old son. Every day a battle before school, same thing the yelling, screaming, crying refusal to go to school. difficult child even tried jumping out o the car window as we were backing out of the drive way. He is in the 3rd grade and had never before acted out to this extreme. Looking back we had ODD symptoms for quite sometime and just "adjusted" our lives accordingly. But now...there was no adjusting. It was affecting everyone in the family to the point that his 2 sisters and my husband and I could not function normally. difficult child had over time gained control over the entire family with his behavior. It was not untill the school refusal thing started that we seeked out help. difficult child was now threatning suicide and this could no longer continue. He was put on Zoloft for anxiety, which was something my husband DID NOT want. difficult child is very bright and otherwise a very caring sensitive kid who would never hurt anyone. But ANXIETY took over all of our lives and I truely do not believe that we could NOT have done it without the medications. We still are dealing with the ODD and we are as a family working through that. But his anxiety was more than anyone should have to handle, he is so much happier on medications. I hope this helps....
     
  13. Janna

    Janna New Member

    I really don't know much about anxiety. BUT, your difficult child sounds alot like my son, Dylan.

    He did the exact same things your child did. I call it manipulation. "I don't want toooooooooooooooooooooo" - screams, fits, rages, cries, bunch of bs, then, when you finally give up and say fine, he says "I want to" :grrr:

    He did this with everything from getting up in the AM to brushing teeth. The thing with Dylan was, once you set the consequence and said "Okay, you lose xyz for not doing it", he'd run and do it.

    I made him lose the consequence anyway for the grief.

    The rages, yes, dealt with those too. That was our lovely gift from the Bipolar Disorder illness. Luckily, medications have taken care of that.

    I have no real advice, but I would strongly urge you to see a board certified MD PSYCHIATRIST. Not counselor. Not social worker. Not psychologist.

    Sending hugs. I have truly been right where you are, and was stuck there a long time.

    Janna
     
  14. Janna

    Janna New Member

    Oh one other thing - if the school calls me, I DO NOT pick up my children unless they have done something against school policy (i.e. hitting, cursing - something severe landing them an out of school suspension).

    That, truly makes the kid figure if they do something it's their ticket home. I would stand firm and let them know you are NOT picking him up.

    Janna
     
  15. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Alison,

    If you call 911 inform the operator that your difficult child has a mental illness & needs safe transport. Before I learned to do this, it was labeled as a "tantrum" & when I hit the hospital with a violent wm, things were not taken seriously.

    On the other hand, now I call 911 & the police come into my home before they will let EMTs in - domestic disturbance. Sometimes, you just can't win.

    I don't care anymore - it gets the help that is needed.

    Keeping you in my thoughts.
     
  16. SueC

    SueC New Member

    I Agree

    If I could get my difficult child into school, HE STAYED. After a time, sometimes 20 minutes sometimes 1-2 hours of staying with the school counselor in a corner or under a table he would finally WANT to go to class and most of the time was perfectly fine, like nothing had ever happened.
    But it was the getting him physicaly into the school that became an everyday fight. Very emotional as well as physical. I was afraid to wake up in the morning because I did not know if I could go through it again.
    We saw an MD at a Childrens Hopsital and it was the BEST decision we could have made. We thought we could handle it.....Yea right..........
     
  17. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    I'm going to read all the responses later but I wanted to let you know you are not alone. My 8-year old is home today too. He refused to go to school as well.
     
  18. Alisonlg

    Alisonlg New Member

    Update: At 10:40 am, he decided he was going to go to school! He got dressed (however easily frustrated by the process), got his coat on, grabbed his backpack, and stood by the door. I have no idea WHY he decided 10:40 was the time to go (there must be something going on at school between 9-10:30 am that he's avoiding), but he was ready. I called the school to give them the heads up and I found out what triggered him...HIS TEACHER IS OUT OF SCHOOL TODAY AND HE KNEW IT! Would have been nice if I at least had the heads up! Not to say it would have changed anything, but at least I would have known! I guess the principal was in his classroom when it was announced that his teacher would be out today and she saw his body language change.

    So, my morning is shot, I've got a migraine from hell, and a pile of work that isn't getting done as well as groceries that aren't getting bought (thank goodness for online grocery shopping!). But, at least the kid is in school and out of my house!
     
  19. Alisonlg

    Alisonlg New Member

    11:37 am...got a "warning" call from the school telling me he's already had a major meltdown and I should "stay close to home" in case they call me to come pick him up.
     
  20. Hanging-On

    Hanging-On New Member

    Morning Alison,

    I'm going to throw a different twist in here. Doesn't mean it's true, but... When I was in 4th Grade, I refused to go to school, and would lock myself in my room. I also had horrible nightmares. I don't remember my mom's reaction, but I remember this year from my perspective. Anyway, the reason I didn't want to go to school is because the teacher physically abused us. At the beginning of the day she gave us all sheets of work to do, and told us to not leave our seats. She didn't teach class, but would sit at her desk reading magazines, and drinking Coke, and eating Peanut Butter Cheese Crackers. Anyone who left their seat was physically punished. Kids went home with bruises, finger nail scratches, etc. Now this was in the 70's, and at that time no one believed a bunch of kids. UNTIL one day when I was at the store with my mom, and saw a kid from my class and we started taking about school. My mom and her mom heard us and finally realized that the kids were telling the truth. They contacted all the parents, and the teacher was fired. Anyway, I am always listening to my kids when their talking about school or daycare or the kid's house down the road. I know I'm touchy on the subject, but I'd rather be safe then sorry. Something to consider.
     
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