I'm not sure what you mean by "he is too big for me to drive." When my daughters refuse to get on the bus, I put them in the car and drive them to school. My son does not take a bus to school so when he refuses, my husband carries him to the car -- in whatever state of readiness he is in -- and drives him to school. He is 13 and weighs 120 pounds, by the way.
On the rare occasion that I'm responsible for getting difficult child 1 to school and he refuses, I make it as boring as possible at home -- no TV, no computer, no social contact, etc.
Do you have a truancy office in your SD that can help you out?
Is anything going on at school that is making Tigger reluctant to go? I saw your post in General about Strattera -- maybe it is having a negative effect all around . . .
I don't have any advice as far as the school goes, but my difficult child did this at least once. I made sure she didn't watch TV and didn't have any fun. One time, she decided to go to school after she calmed down several hours later so I took her.
I also told her that if she didn't go, I was going to call the school and ask what they did about kids skipping school. It's a private school so I'm not sure what they would do. I'm also not sure if I really would have done it. Luckily, her troubles at home never spilled over into school and she apparently didn't want them to so she went.
I know she did stay home at least one full day one time. I didn't write her a note but she told them she was sick. Our school doesn't require a note.
I'm not sure if this is helpful but I did want you to know that just because he did this today doesn't mean it will always be a problem. We all have days where we don't feel like doing what we need to do and he may have just needed a day away from school.
Now that I think about it, my difficult child just stayed home with a questionable stomach ache yesterday. Maybe this is a more sophisticated way of staying home than just pitching a fit and refusing like she used to.
If this is anxiety, (school phobia) punishment will not help. If it is more garden variety gfgness, then boring, boring, boring at home may help.
This was a chronic and very difficult problem with my ex-difficult child over the years, starting in 2nd grade. It ALWAYS signaled some new problem that he wasn't talking about but that would cause him to just refuse to go. Often it was very hard to find out what had happened. The school believing he was "spoiled" instead of anxious and bullied did not help.
Tigger DS#2 - age 8, difficult child gifted and strong-willed indigo child; Early Onset Bi-Polar (EOBP); Depakote 750mg, Stratera 40mg, Clonodine .2mg
I am going to assume the Early Onset Bi-Polar (EOBP) means bipolar. Strattera is a stimulant and can cause instability with bipolar. My son became very unstable with stimulants and I know that strattera is a little different but his psychiatrist said this medicine could make him unstable also. There is now a black box warning coming out for ritalin, concerta, and adderall amoung others. Most likely your child is having negative experiences and or anxiety at school. My daughter doesn't like to go to school or didn't as much last year. We are working on the IEP process now. Not sure where you are with the IEP process but I would get started and school refusal is a good way to show that the child's disabilty is affecting their education. My son had to try many medications before we found what worked but what we found was alot of therapy really was what he needed and now at 19(his choice) he is medication free(not my choice) and stable. It was the therapy that really held him together, he was able to get through most of high school due to his IEP and therapeutic school. Being strong willed can end up being a very good thing when you are an adult.
Tigger has an IEP. He is in a self-contained room most of the day. He is scheduled to have gym, lunch, recess and one class per day in the regular room but if he can't maintain he gets to stay in the Special Education room. He has a 1:1 aide and there are only 4 students in his room (and one of the others also has a 1:1). The staff at his school is great. They constantly reassure me that he is a great kid and that despite him injuring several of them, they all love to work with him because he is such a sweet loving child most of the time that it is easier to see his outbursts as illness because they are so out of character.
He is definitely school phobic, he has huge separation anxiety. I ended up letting him play his video game because he was so worked up it is the only thing that can bring him back to earth. After 45 minutes he was able to come sit on my lap and tell me that he was scared that I was going to disappear if he went to school :frown:
We are getting him off of the Strattera. This increase in aggressive school avoidance has definitely peaked and we are at 3 months on this dose of Strattera which seems to be a side-effect window.
Oh smallworld - I can still muscle him into the car but I can't drive and restrain him from jumping out at the same time. husband leaves for work 2 hours before I have to take him to school. That's what I meant by "too big"
Great you have the school situation. My daughter has Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and may have something else with it. Depression? Bipolar now sure yet. However her last 2 years of therapy has helped her. We are working on getting her and IEP. She used to be on buspar that helped her anxiety and my bipolar teen used to be on it also. Has the psychiatrist considered a medication for anxiety? You might consider this AFTER he is off the straterra to see how he responds after off this medication. We always did one medication adjustment at a time once we found a good psychiatrist so you know whats works and what doesn't.
Just a note. There is going to be a new black box warning for stimulants. Cardiac problems/death and mental health issues psychosis, mania ect... my son had the later due to stimulants. In Canada they put the warning out quite awhile ago, its horrible the USA sat on this for so long.
You need help from your school to GET him there. You should not be driving him at all under these circumstances. Not safe for anyone.
There are basically two schools of thought on school phobia:
Get them there no matter what--and no matter if they do nothing once there because the longer the phobic object is avoided, the more intense the phobia becomes.
Address the anxiety first and then the phobia will diminish because a phobia is anxiety really exaggerated.
I actually believe both of the above statements are true for some kids some of the time--which makes Tx decisions really hard. It is gut-wrenching to have a kid go to school in full-restraint on a bus and be dragged into the building. However, it does diminish the phobia after a while. Some children who are allowed to avoid for a long time, i.e., stay home, never make it back to school at all.
There is another issue that you raise that rings a bell with me: you indicate Tigger is liked by staff because his outbursts are out of character. I had the same situation but in middle school, ex-difficult child's problems were seen as willful and he was punished in many subtle and not so subtle ways (very different from el. school.) I firmly believe that his ODD emerged as his last ditch attempt to manage his own anxiety and depression. All he could say was, "NO!!!" At least that stopped the anxiety cycle for a while for him and got everyone else going.
The reason I say this is ex-difficult child was a very nice little boy and he is very nice now. He is not "basically" ODD, but pushed far enough, and despite medications and therapy, he really had no other options to try to save himself. It is one of the hardest behaviors for schools and parents to ignore--so it a sense, school phobia "works" for the child.
I do not have any specific suggestions but I thought I would share these thoughts with you. I know it isn't easy.
My difficult child had severe school anxiety with- seperation anxiety in first grade. If I had to do it all over again, there is one thing I would have done differently and that was to listen to what difficult child was telling me. He told me that school was scary. He told me that he could only handle half a day of school at the beginning of the year and it turned out he was right. Instead of listening to him I listened to the "experts" at school who told me to push him to be there for as much of the school day as possible. My pushing only increased his anxiety, worsened his overall emotional state, and made recovery a long, slow process. It DID keep him walking through the doors of the school though--I homeschooled whatever portion of the day he was gone. That didn't go over big with the school district and they were about ready to force homebound when he hit the point of full day (5 hours educational time in my state) attendance.
He's pulled out of it and is happy and functional at school but it took two full years. I personally would not use restraints to get my difficult child to school because it would have done far more damage emotionally than any good that could have come out of it. I did use an incentive program to keep him going--not sure that I'd do that again either though. I agree you must address the anxiety first--
Have you called an IEP meeting to discuss and work out a plan? Something may be very wrong with the setting for him. He may need a different arrangement or there might be a better arrangement--our district offered a homebound instructor to meet difficult child at school so he wouldn't have to deal with a full class setting.
Kanga goes back to school tomorrow. I have to drive her this week and busing kicks in next week. Guess it's time to focus on Tigger. I'm hoping I can get him through at least 2 more weeks of school so I have time to repair my house from Kanga's escapades!