school refusers

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School Refusal
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It does get better...

Hi everyone - just a quick update as we start the new year here in Australia. My DD who has been a school refuser since the age of 7 has just commenced Year 11, something neither of us thought would ever be possible. Our journey has been long and hard and treatment options have had varied amounts of success but at the end of last year we began seeing an amazing therapist who counsels with a combination of both hypnotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. She found a way to get DD to open up which none of the numerous people we have seen in the past were able to do. She using drawing to assist with this and I was blown away with how she was able to get DD to put all the pieces of her jigsaw together. I am not saying she is "cured" but in her words she feels 'normal'. At the end of last year we had a meeting with her school to find a way forward with subject choice for her HSC years and she was able to drop all the subjects that caused her significant anxiety and focus on her strengths. Her timetable is very light and she only has one early start per fortnight with quite a few "free" sessions during the day. She is happy and excited about the year and our only struggle is now on getting her sleeping patterns in a better state as she still finds it difficult to wake up in the morning. I have done a fair bit of research and we are trying some 'natural' remedies one of which is Inositol which I found by accident when googling.... we have both started taking it and I woke up feeling fantastic this morning :-) it doesn't react with any other medications which is great and we have also began to taper her off her anti-depressant medication which I feel contributes to her sleepiness. Early days I know but I am rejoicing with her and enjoying every day we do not have to struggle. Prayers are with everyone who is still walking this journey.

Re: It does get better...

Hi Sandy

All the best for the start to the year! ITs good to hear your story and how things have improved over time.
I was interested to hear you mention Inositol. For anyone wanting to find out more in the UK - there is lots of information here:

I have not heard of this before. Is it in pill form?
We are trying melatonin for the sleep at the moment. Not sure if it helps or not - early days yet.
My son started Year 9 this year and first day went really well - but its been rocky since then. I just had the phone call from school nurse - could I come and pick him up. I managed to get onto the school Chaplain (the welfare coordinator is always too busy) and he was wonderful and popped down to the First Aid and took my son out and got him back into class somehow.

They have put him in new class with no-one he knows! We do not know how he fell through the system. I had made specific requests that he had to be with at least one friend or some familir faces. So they did the complete opposite. He genuinely had never met any of these kids before!! The good thing is - they run things completely different at Year 9 and the class is very small - only 14 kids! So I think at last he will get the attention he needs. Non of his information had been passed on to teachers or the new coordinators. So I took it upon myself to just email all his teachers and let them know his history and what I would like them to do to support him. Its disappointing but I have learnt that you just have to find your own way through all of this - not many schools know what to do. They also easily dismiss this as a child behaviour issue or a neurotic parent!! So they hope you just go away...

Anyway - fingers crossed for your daughter and I hope she feels a lot stronger than she has been in the past.
Keep posting and letting us know how she gets along.
It's so hot down here these past few weeks and continuing into next week - hard to think straight and easy for my son to cave in. Is it hot where you are?
Take care
Linda xx

Re: It does get better...

Hi Sandy,
Great news from you and it sounds like managing to find the right therapist has made a massive difference so there's hope for my family yet! Nor do I not want to minimise the effort your daughter has made. Sometimes a few different aspects come together at once and make change possible when it wasn't before.

The experience of making arrangements and then the child getting to school and having no-one know about them is so familiar. I think it's sometimes the size of the secondary schools which cause the problems. Someone central knows what is going on and thinks they have informed everyone, and possibly they have but the "info" is lurking in someone's pigeon hole, email inbox, or they've skim read it but haven't taken it in etc. When my son was in school, I had a laminated letter from me confirming some of the "day to day" issues which had been agreed, with a note on it saying that the Inclusion Manager knows all about it and please take it up with him if you need more info. This meant my son didn't need to keep explaining himself or get into discussions about why he needed certain things. He could just hand the letter over for the teacher to read. It worked well for the little things although for the big issues you cannot avoid the phone call, letter or meeting. Hope your son has a good year.

Re: It does get better...

Hi Sandy
that;s such a great start to the new school year, i'm so happy for your daughter.

it really is nice when things work out, as the whole SR thing is such a stressful time for anyone going through it.

so jealous of you and Linda and the heat down under. here it's so cold, so wet and so stormy. roll on summer

Re: It does get better...

Hi Leah

That sounds like a good idea with the note your son can just produce. How is he going these days?

I'm hoping all my emailing will get some information across. Turns out yesterday that he walked past the class he was supposed to attend (an elective) and recognised no-one, so panicked and went to the school nurse.
I am now trying to get him into another elective with his friend - I think the school owes him one!
Luckily the chaplain took him out of the First Aid

WOuld love to send some of the heat your way! We have 41ºC coming up on Saturday. A couple of weeks ago we had two days 44ºC in a row and a week above 35. This is a new record...we usually only get to around 42 or 43...about time I got an air conditioner I think...

All the best

Re: It does get better...

Thanks everyone - as is the nature of SR, we had our first refusal yesterday. Monday she went off to school well and had TAFE in the afternoon. I was waiting in the car park to pick her up and saw her looking very distressed going through her bag. I ended up going to her and she had managed to lose her IPhone. It is only a 2nd hand one but of course like most teenagers it is her lifeline and we can't easily afford to replace it which she knows. We retraced all her steps and she believed she had taken it out of her pocket in the ladies (due to a previous situation where her phone fell in the toilet lol) and left it there but when she returned it was gone. We checked at the office - by this time she was shaking, sweating and hyperventilating and my immediate thought was "she won't go to school tomorrow". She was so upset all night, we cancelled the sim but she was worried about people accessing her private stuff of course. Thankfully she did have the phone pin locked but apparently there are ways around that too. So of course it was very late when she went to bed and I heard her get up a few times, and when morning came she just refused to get up due to "tiredness" While I would normally go into a major stress out, I found myself very calm (don't know whether it is the inositol but I do feel really good) and after a few attempts to get her to change her mind, I just walked away and went to work. Later in the day I received this message from her: "this is NEVER happening again. I am strong. Mum I am sorry I let you down. It is not happening again I can assure you. After everything you are trying your hardest to do for me, I will not let this into our lives again. I need you to know that you can trust me now. Because now I know my strength. I'm so sorry mum for putting you through the stress again no one should have to go through that. I'm really hoping you will forgive me, when you get home I will apologise properly. Please don't let me ruin your day, you are strong enough to fight it too. I love you and I'm so sorry. Never again, I guarantee it.
I really wanted to share this even though it is personal because I know this is in the heart of every child going through this. She was fine again this morning but I told her not to hold such high expectations for herself. She will have days like yesterday, we all do and when she does, we will get through them.
Linda I am so sorry they have made things more difficult for your son and I hope he adjusts quickly in the smaller class setting and finds some friends. When my daughter first began to suffer in high school, they quickly put us in touch with another family whose daughter was going through the same thing. We became friends, they invited us to pony club and let my daughter ride one of their horses and are the reason we now have horses. We had an arrangement to meet in the front office and the girls would go together to class or assembly. They were still terrified but gave one another courage and us mums were so grateful for one another too. I think there are probably a lot more families going through this everywhere and all feeling like they are the "only ones" Would be great if the schools could be a bit more proactive and let families know about one another as support is such an important thing.
Late yesterday afternoon, the TAFE rang me to say they had a phone handed in :-) and it was DD's. She was over the moon and went off to school this morning happily. Such a roller coaster ride.

Re: It does get better...

Hi Sandy

I can just imagine what you went through! Such a thing you just don't want to happen -and yet you handled it so well. IT probably made your daughter see that her behaviour was over reactive. When they get like that though, they can only get out of it in their own time. I bet you were glad the phone turned up though! Phew!

I wish our school would put us in touch with someone else. I know there are others out there- the statistics say so. But they just try to keep this privacy around everyone. I luckily am in contact with another mum with her son at another school - but it would be helpful for my son to know another child at the school. They must feel so isolated sometimes.

Take care and I hope your daughter settles in well. What is she doing at TAFE?

Re: It does get better...

Thanks Linda - our school got around the privacy issue by asking both parties if they wanted to get in touch and when we agreed they gave us phone numbers to organise ourselves.
She is doing her second year of Animal Care to get a certificate II. She isn't sure what she wants to do but loves working with animals :-)

Re: It does get better...

Hi Sandy

I remember now - that your daughter loved animals. And lovely that she was introduced to the horses via the other family. They say Equine therapy too is excellent for all kinds of conditions - so there must be something about horses.
I hope she keeps on moving forward - she has put in a lot of effort to keep going. You are probably still sitting on the edge sometimes...but you must also be somewhat relieved?

For us - lots of phone calls and emails - seem to have things going our way. The coordinator is now working well with us and said to call any time with any concerns. He has just managed to shift my son out of an elective where he knew no-one to an elective where he has a friend. He starts his new elective tomorrow. We were desperate to get on top of things straight away and have learnt that you can never sit back and wait - you ahve to keep phoning up and leaving messages until they do talk with you. They are often too busy to follow everything up and they also have too many kids to deal with so forget which kid needs the attention.
At least if we can get a base happening that is more comfortable for my son - then he might start to improve. The assumption that kids will just pull their socks up and get on with it - is crazy - but that is how most kids are expected to 'fit in' to the school environment. SOme do....others fall by the wayside as we know.

ALl the best for your daughter -

Re: It does get better...

Hi Sandy
so glad your daughter's phone was found. it really is an extension of their hand

my daughter is animal mad also. she did ride for year and had a beautiful pony but as he was in a yard and it was so expensive, she agreed to sell him to a wonderful family when she grew too tall to ride him competitively. it almost broke my heart to part with him, he meant so much to her.

that was a lovely messageyour daughter sent you. i agree though, they can be so hard on themselves, and there's no need as we know.
wishing you all the best in the coming days.
telling myself tomorrowis another day always kept me going.

take care.