School phobia??

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TeDo, Mar 26, 2011.

  1. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    difficult child is still refusing to go to school because of his FEAR of being sent home again. He insist I home school him which is not an option since I work to feed us and keep us in a home. I tried to show him what homeschooling would be like by working with him on the classwork he has missed over the last week. Trouble is, at the meer mention of "homework" the kid freaks out. He yells that it's too hard (which was never an issue when I've helped him before).

    I really think his fear of returning to school has almost become a phobia. I might be wrong but in his different way of thinking, I am wondering if he's freaking out over the work because he thinks that if he does it without an issue I will make him go back to school.

    I don't know what to do. He needs to get back to school but I'm not sure how to get him there without him freaking out just to be sent home to escape the anxiety. I welcome any advice from my Wise Warrior "family" members. PLEASE!?!?!?
  2. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    I've seen the term "school aversion" a few times here, might be some info on those threads. Sorry I'm not much more help, hon. Mine does the same thing with "too hard homework" so I just shelve it and go the natural consequences route, but I don't think that's any help to you.
  3. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    At this point it doesn't. He is constantly yelling "I DON'T CARE!" He even yelled that when I tried to explain to him the very real ramifications if I don't work, like no food, no house, no vehicle, etc. He has always been one of those that needs to see it to believe it but I refuse to become a starving, homeless family just to prove I'm not making it up or exaggerating. easy child/difficult child and I deserve to at least keep what we have. He always says he doesn't care but then when something DOES happen, he more than cares, he gets mad at me for it happening.
  4. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Is there someone who can watch him during the day while you are at work? You could home school him in the evenings and on weekends if you want..bonus of homeschooling :)

    We were able to get Tigger over his school phobia by breaking it down into small steps. At first he just went to school for 2 hours, we picked the two hours that he had been the most successful at handling. No matter how great those two hours went, I picked him up at the end of them. After a week or two of being successful for two hours, we added an hour. We kept this up for two months until he was back at school full time. We had to do this in 4th grade and again in 6th grade. A key factor is to get the school on board -- they have to be focused on making those two hours successful. If they are intentionally or carelessly triggering him, forget it.
  5. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    By natural, I mean her grades. Like I said, not much help in your situation, and I've also had to explain several times that I don't want to end up living under a bridge because she refuses to hold it together at school and costs me hours and possibly my job. And (the one that gets her) is what would happen to the cat and the fish?
  6. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    It is really hard to walk back into the classroom after an absense. Not only the school work that may not yet be back on track but the social part of school. What are the kids going to say? They will be watching me! I just can't have all that attention on me.

    My difficult child was in the 5th grade when his anxiety peaked. He couldn't make it through a day of school even with me by his side. (that was before we knew what was going on - we knew something was wrong during the summer leading up to school but once school hit he spiraled deep and strong) He was hospitalized for two weeks the end of October so pretty much missed the 1st quarter of school and didn't "rebond" with his classmates. Going back was extremely hard for him. For him, we were able to get an anxiety medication to just take the edge off. After awhile, it caused disinhibitation in him - meaning he had no fear of authority what so ever so did become disrespectful toward the teachers but being it was helping his academics and we had the most supportive teachers around (they knew this was not his true self and had confidence that he would turn around), I kept him on it through the school year.

    Getting him to do homework was so hard that year. His math teacher offered to cut his assignments down to make them more manageable but I refused the offer. I felt for HIM he had to do the entire work - I don't think the work was that hard for him, his anxiety was just working overtime telling him that he had to be perfect or not do it at all. For HIM, I felt he needed to tackle the entire work load as part of HIS healing process. I was following my mommy instincts and looking back, it paid off. That is a very different approach than most kids. Many kids benefit from a reduced work load so if you can get the math teacher to cut his assignments down, or do only partial work in the other classes, it may help.

    How supportive are the teachers and school staff? Are they working "out of the box" to meet his needs?

    Have a conversation with him about how he feels walking back into the classroom after an absense. Let him know that he is stronger than his anxiety - that he can overcome it - that it will take time but hiding at home will make it even harder. See if there are any social fears to go along with the academic fears.
  7. rlsnights

    rlsnights New Member

    Given the whole situation with the antagonism of the school esp. principal, while you have right on your side, they have might. And time.

    Having been there done that I think you can push them all you want but they are not going to be warm and fuzzy even if you win in mediation or due process. And mediation or due process, should mediation fail, is going to take time. By the end of this you will be nearly to the end of the school year. And difficult child will have lost at least half of the year.

    Andy is right about how hard it is to go back after absences. To go back when the teachers and principal have labeled you a discipline problem is a lot worse for a kid who really doesn't get the social stuff and so doesn't necessarily really understand what makes everyone mad at him.

    The term you are looking for is "school refusal". I would know this because I am in the middle of the 4th month of school refusal from difficult child 2.

    I see a couple choices here.

    1. Put difficult child on home/hospital for the rest of the school year or until you can come to an agreement with the SD thanks to mediation or due process. This may not be so easy depending on the way that the SD runs it's home/hospital services. If they depend on a teacher from the school to come out every day for an hour after school it may be hard to find a teacher to do the job. No matter who gets the job the SD will require that an adult be present in the home at the same time. If you have someone who can do this for you then it may be the most practical solution. If not, then you have a problem unless the teacher is willing to come in the evening.

    The biggest argument against this approach is that H/H has the potential to worsen difficult child's school refusal - why go to school where it's scary when he can stay home with Mommy where it's safe and have a teacher come to him?

    2. It may be time to go elsewhere and let difficult child start fresh in a school where there is a commitment to all children - not just the ones that are easy to teach. I know there are a lot of reasons why you have tried to stay the course. But I think there are also some good reasons to go in a different direction too. Discuss this with your advocate and, if you decide to leave, be careful about how you proceed. Do your best to get as much as you can out of the SD and what you can get from them may depend on how you proceed. If transportation is going to be important, see if you can get that from them first.

    If there is a private or non-public school anywhere close that would offer difficult child a really good and appropriate education, I'd be talking to them and thinking seriously about what you are going to ask for in mediation. Because, if you end up on top in mediation, that is what they are going to say to you. What do you want? Hopefully your advocate has already discussed this with you. But it can be the most important thing you think about before mediation or even due process. What is your ideal outcome? What parts of that are necessary and what parts are negotiable?

    I think using medications to treat situational anxiety that is reality-based in a difficult child with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) doesn't necessarily make a lot of sense. But it's something to discuss with the psychiatrist and if difficult child doesn't yet have a therapist and you can manage that, then I think it is definitely time for one.

    Best wishes,

  8. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    If your son is anything like mine - and I suspect this kind of single-minded, driven determination is part of the territory - he will just dig in and insist on his position. In the school holidays and Wednesdays here in France activity centres are offered, very inexpensively, for parents who work. My little boy was going to the local one in the holidays and Wednesdays and he just hated it (all I have been able to get out of him is that older boys were not being nice to him and that some children said they didn't want to play with him because, they said, he is "naughty"). The point is that it became like a whole campaign on his part, that would start on the Tuesday with repeated crying and statements that he didn't want to go to "Wednesday school", as we called it, would continue with great intensity from the moment he woke up on the Wednesday, often refusing to go out of the door, me having to carry him, crying on and off in the car all the way there and then when we did actually get to the centre, he would cling onto me, screaming and in apparently real distress, refusing to let go, and each time I would have to physically tear him off me and leave feeling monstrous (obviously his unconscious or maybe even conscious aim)... Anyway, despite all the talking we did about it, his aversion just never lessened and the situation became more and more impossible. I began realising how unbearable things would be if he ever decided he didn't want to go to school...
    In the end, I decided I needed to listen to him. If he hated it that much and it was causing him (and me) so much stress and trauma, what was the point of insisting just for the sake of winning some battle - began to seem just cruel. So now on Wednesdays he goes to a childminder (I am largely reimbursed by the state - social assistance in France being so fantastic) whom he really likes with a small group of children that he plays very well with. And in the last school holiday he want to another activity centre, smaller and with more male assistants, where he was enormously happy and apparently was well liked and fitted in well.
    All of this to say... my personal take is to agree with rlsnights. Is there any way you can get him into another school where he will be happier and can make a fresh start? In a different setting with a different mix of elements, his "failure" and resistance could possibly be transformed.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Maybe he is seriously afraid of school. Sadly, I had such horrible anxiety all the time, but in school it was magnified. I was on "fight or flight" the entire time and often ran out of the classroom (the other children would laugh) because I thought I was going to pass out, then I'd go to the nurse's office, shaking. The other kids, of course, made fun of me for this, which only made it worse, and the teachers were not sympathetic. I was already eleven years old and considered too old to be acting this way, but I was terrified. I did not learn much. I could not concentrate on anything except my fear.

    If homeschooling had been an option, I probably would have done better, both academically and mental-healthwise, at home even if I had to do my curriculum evenings and weekends (many do). If you have family who can watch him during the day, or a sitter, that may be a temporary solution until he is mentally able to go back. It sounds like the school environment is hostile toward him and this is sad.

    I wish I had a unique suggestion, but I really don't.
  10. 1905

    1905 Well-Known Member

    Personally, tell him he doesn't have to do homework. In my school district, in NJ, kids do not HAVE to do homework. Only because some parents think it's "ok" for their child to not do it. So, these children are not allowed to be penalized in any way. For the first few months of this school year, these kids-there are quite a few of them-were staying in for recess. They were being punished. At a faculty meeting we were told that it's not the child's fault, but the parent's. And the child just didn't have to do it.
    At that point, it became fine for any kid not to do his homework. I'm not even joking.
    If it's going to cause this much anxiety and heartache for difficult child, tell him he doesn't have to do any homework. At least he'll get to school and hopefully stay there. It's just a start. Once he feels more comfortable, then he can do homework. Some pressure wil be off him, he'll feel better. He has to go, don't even get into a back and forth thing about why you need to work.
  11. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    His fear stems from being sent home most every day for the past 2 months by the principal. We now know the behavior was caused by a paradoxical reaction to the Risperdal AND the principal pushing too much for difficult child to follow HIS directions instead of following difficult child's behavior plan. That is why we are going to mediation. The principal does not allow deviations from the "school rules and discipline policy". He even insists that complying with this policy be written into the IEP.

    difficult child got ALL the work he's missed over the last 2 weeks caught up as of today. Just need to hand it in. I am SOOOO proud of him. He didn't even put up a stink today. Progress!

    difficult child is seriously considering trying it tomorrow since it will only be a half day (he's going with us to easy child/difficult child's orthodontist appointment in the morning) and he will be in the resource room the entire time per his new schedule. We'll see if he can conquer his fear for at least this. I am trying to keep up the positive talk to get him there. For him, it would be a huge step. Pretzeling!!!
  12. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Good luck!! I think a half-day in the resource room is a great way to start!!