school refusers

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A slow road

Hi everyone

I haven't been on for over a week - just dealing with our own very slow road. I just keep wishing my son would somehow just start going to school every day. But it just doesn't happen and this term seems to have taken off to a shaky start. We haven't told his father when he has had days off as it just adds to the stress.
He panicked in the car yesterday and couldn't get out (we were outside the school).
Then today (when his father takes him) - he said he felt sick (he looked sick) and had a sore throat and felt ill. It is jus so hard to know what goes on. His dad of course just told him to put up with it and took him off to school.
But I wouldn't be surprised if the sick bay rings me up later and tells me he is in there.

I've said this before....I just can't always tell whether he is sick, anxiety sick, or depressed. They all meld into one.
He also has quite a few school projects due this week as the teachers are starting to write reports- and I can feel the pressure building up. But instead of just doing them (like yesterday when at home) his avoidance behaviour means he just never really gets it done. Procrastination at its worst. From my perspective - getting the work done would relieve me of the pressure. But he doesn't see it that way.
Oh well - just feeling a bit sorry for myself at the moment - but I shouldn't be - as at least he gets there on average about 2-3 days a week. But its a struggle and I'm kind of tired of it. Just have to hope something changes.
His psychiatrist says that maturity has to kick in at some point and then he will know he has to put in the effort to try and help himself - until then, she says we will just have much of what we have now.
Hope you are all hanging in there - managing the difficulties this all throws before us. Stay strong.
Take care

Re: A slow road

Hello Linda

So sorry to hear that things aren't going as well as you would like with your Son. It is certainly a marathon and not a sprint, but it sure is tough. I think also that our expectations increase, perhaps out of proportion with the difficulties. What I mean is that, your Son sounds like he's doing really well to go 2/3 days a week, perhaps in time he can attend more, but perhaps this is what he is capable of at the moment.

I think we are so worried that our sons/daughters might take a step backwards that this can create more difficulties, as we try so hard to make sure that doesn't happen.

Can I ask how old your Son is? Just wondered if he has pressures of final exams. or other pressures that are increasing his anxiety feelings?

Also, would it be worth taking him back to your doctor, just to reassure yourself that it is the anxiety and nothing else.

Are you able to talk to your Son (when he isn't anxious) to try and find out any extra information? I know this can be difficult as I know when I talk to my girl about it, she becomes quiet and withdrawn.

Anyway, just remember that this is just a difficult period for the moment, but it will get better.

Keep being strong and look after yourself.



Re: A slow road

Thanks Sharry

I hope medication can start to help your daughter.
My son is 14 - will be 15 later in the year (so only Year9 - no exams this year) Its hard when they get to this age - especially boys- I am told -as far as motivation goes. And just when I thought his teachers were kind of supportive - I have found a change of attitude. His science teacher has gone to the coordinators and Principals and come away with a totally different tone. He has just emailed me and said my son is now failing science - and that if he doesn't attend his whole education will be at risk (AS IF I DIDN"T KNOW!!). could have fooled me - fancy that! So we are back to the attitude of a couple of last year and before - they just don't get it. And here is what he said about my son sitting a test at home:

"Completing tests at home is not the same as sitting them under test conditions in class and it is not fair on the other students for x to receive a grade when he has not met the same requirements as they have."

So there is no ' this child is suffering' so we will make allowances or accommodate the issue or set up a different learning plan etc. Just that 'it isn't fair on the other students..' as if anxiety is fair!
So as you can probably tell - I am pretty annoyed that we have moved backwards with the teachers again. I have a feeling that this teacher was actually ok until he met the coordinators and principals and they just said ' hey - no home testing allowed'. Why else would he change his mind. And what is the point of him sitting a test at home under test conditions when he won't even receive a grade! Agghh...we battle on - don't we.
Hang in there Sharry - you are doing all you can. I got my son back to school today by arranging that his step sister take him. I knew that if it was me - he'd just break down again. He seemed fine when I picked him up after school - so we just don't know. If they are actually made to go - would it get better? I don't know the answer to that even as he doesn't go often enough although from a perspective of not going at all - it probably does seem much better and so I am grateful. Just have to get his motivation up somehow. We are expected to work miracles on our kids, aren't we.
Have a good weekend -

Re: A slow road

Hi Linda

Thank you for your support. Really had to laugh when you said ' could have fooled me - fancy that! Do they think we are idiots! Of course we know, otherwise why would we all be trying so hard to get our children to School.

With regard to your Son, is their anything else that motivates him, outside of School ie: Sport or any other activity? Perhaps the motivation from these may transfer to motivation at school. Is their anything that would increase his self-esteem? Perhaps something he is good at?

We have had quite a good week (it's been half-term) and my daughter has seen one of her friends and I managed to take them to a WaterPark and out for something to eat - I thought this was a real positive for my daughter. She was very worried beforehand, but I kept her busy so she didn't have too much time to think about it (and ensured her friend arrived a little bit earlier!)

We also had some friends around yesterday who had 2 younger children and that worked well.

However, I haven't mentioned School at all and I know tonight she will be getting worried and I will be absolutely amazed if she goes in the morning, as she has built it up into being such a huge mountain to climb. Even though in some areas we have moved on, the fundamental problem is still the same - she can't get out of the car to go into school. (Even thought about walking to school).

I feel as if we will just limp along until the Summer holidays in 7 weeks time.

Anyway, hope your week is manageable - do they give out medals for patience, understanding and walking on eggshells!


Sharry x

Re: A slow road

Hi Linda and Sharry

I think we've all dealt with teachers who say "you've just got to get him/her to do this" and "you can't have that because that's like an advantage" and we have to compose our faces while mentally screaming and wanting to tear their face off! It reminds me of my late mother's dehydration problems which lead to a few emergency admissions to hospital where junior doctors would say to me or my sister "you've got to get her to drink more" as though we'd never thought of it. And like the proverbial horse you can put as many drinks as you like in front of an elderly person but you cannot get them to swallow them if they really don't feel like it. I had similar problems with my late husband when having chemotherapy and vomiting so much that he couldn't keep water down and therefore could not take the anti-sickness medicine and I was asked "have you tried giving him it with food?" Aaarh!!!

Like you Linda, I've not managed to get my son in every day since starting his new school and he's had at least one day off each week. And at his recent parent-teacher evening I thought some teachers were getting a bit antsy about it. BUT.. at his previous school he couldn't get in every day even though his "days" were very reduced: 2 hour days at most, more frequently one hour and at times just half an hour. So if he'd still been there they'd have thought this was a tremendous improvement as when he is in he's in for the whole day. But of course he'd never have done it at his old school as they managed to stress him out completely. So I know he's doing very much better now even if he's not doing as well as everyone, including me, would like.

I've got over my fear that he'll end up with no qualifications, no job, no motivation and no future because this isn't what he's like. And I resolutely ignore people who tell me I'm too soft and he's just playing me because I know he isn't and I have tried the very tough approach and not only did it not work it drove a wedge between us as a family and my husband said he was just not prepared to continue. Now I'm on my own as a single parent I have to ignore people who think it would all be ok if he still had a dad.

It can be so hard to celebrate our children's success when others look cynically at us and say "well, whoopy doo, they've got into school today, something my child does every day without any bother." Well for our children it is something to celebrate and thank goodness for this forum where we can support each other and recognise the real effort and bravery they need to keep going in.

Schools are under so much pressure to get good results that they often scare parents silly with statistics. My oldest son, who had a number of physical health problems, was told in Yr 10 (first year of GCSE courses) that for every 5% drop in attendance children drop a grade in their GCSE. Well his attendance had been below 40% for 3 years and was only up to around 75% by Year 10 so by their calculations he should have failed everything. He passed all his subjects and did very well in the ones he liked and was able to go on to 6th form college and university. So much for statistics. But thinking of other children I know who got ill in GCSE or A level years and couldn't continue, those who had the ability were able to study in later years and still do well. So we shouldn't see getting to 16 and having few or no qualifications as being the end of the world.

Sorry this has turned into a bit of a ramble so I'd better stop. Best wishes to all SR children and families.

Re: A slow road

Hi Leah

Thank you for your kind and wise words.
And I can read so much of my story into yours - the reactions from others - the lack of understanding.
I guess before this happened to my son I did not understand anxiety - but I did understand depression. Perhaps if we told people it was anxiety/depression - which it often is - they might understand more?
And I know exactly what you were saying about schools and education and the statistics they throw at us. And I feel the pressure to pass - pass- pass - is incredibly forceful these days. I can feel the crescendo as report writing time emerges - and the pressure the teachers have to put back on the kids because they are pressured themselves into 'performing' at a level that is not healthy to everyone's overall education - which ideally should come within and outside institutions. We have to be creative ourselves and try and think of ways to give some enrichment to our children when they are bogged down in school requirements - but then I find that, for example, my son is becoming so turned off from learning - that he has no interest in furthering his skills in anything. He just kind of 'blobs' and listens to podcasts on the iPad.

You have done so well to cope under such difficulty circumstances. You probably don't always think that - but you are a tremendous support for your sons. Who supports you? OR do you have to just support yourself as best you can?
I thought of your story when I felt like I wanted to run away and give up on my son yesterday. I know its not good to think like this - but it just got to the point of me not seeing how things could improve. But I have to remember that my son has hung in there as much as he can - and him and I do get along despite falling out a lot lately.
So hard to step back though when I feel the world is knocking at my door asking me what on earth I/him am doing.

I was called in to see the school coordinators today and felt that old dread coming back. Haven't spoken to any coordinators since last year. Luckily I found these two really lovely and very different from the coordinator I had to deal with two years in a row before. They have suggested my son start back slow - with just the first two lessons of the day next week - and then the first three the week after and so forth. They'd like him to check in with the chaplain or the coordinator before going home after 2 lessons though - and decide if he wants to go home every day - but they are ok if he does. They also suggested that next semester they were happy to look at him dropping one of his electives so that he had some free time to go to the library - and hopefully do some of his school work. But we all agreed - that until he picks up in mood- he isn't going to have the motivation. So I feel a bit frustrated that the medication is not doing much - and he hasn't the maturity yet to know he has to put in effort to try and help his anxiety.

But the school have lost his file. So they have no information provided to them at the start of year 7 about his history. How can a school do this? And I don't like the idea that my son's information is floating around somewhere unknown.
My son says he is sick now - and he does seem to have a bit of a cold - but he is sleeping all day - and I think it is to avoid anything. And that is a sure sign of depression. So we are needing to move forward at some point soon or else he will slip further backwards.
The medication my son has been put on does not seem to be the same as anyone else is taking (Luvox) but I think that might be because he was only 13 when they decided he needed medication. Maybe they will offer him something else as he gets a bit older. And deep down I also know medication is not the answer - but had hoped it would make more of a difference. But had he not been on it - perhaps we would have struggled a lot harder than this.

Thanks again Leah and Sharry for your support. And Leah - I do hope you are able to get some time to give yourself strength as well. We have a lot to worry about sometimes - and yet we know worry only wears us down. But we are not super human!
Take care
Linda xx
PS I forgot to mention that my son's photography teacher sent a lovely email to me telling me how great it was that my son was ahead of the other students and had handed in all his work requirements and that he had a real talent in photography : ) I was very proud of him - as you say Leah - things that we find are achieved are small in comparison to other people's kids. But even this didn't bring a smile to my son's face....

Re: A slow road

Hi Linda - just reading your comments about medication. Can you go back to your son's doctor and request a change. I think I have mentioned before but we tried 4 or 5 different types of anti-depressant before finding one that worked for T. She was on Lovan (Prozac) when she was younger and her psychiatrist who was a child/adolescent specialist said this was the first drug of choice for children. It did help her then but when she relapsed as a teenager, we tried it again and it didn't help her depression. We then went through Zoloft, Luvox (which helps my sister with panic attacks but did nothing for T), Pristiq and I'm sure there were others. Finally when I had just about given up on medication, a friend of mine suggested Escitalopram which her daughter was taking with success. At that stage I was almost ready to admit T to a mental health ward she was so depressed. Within a week of starting the new tablet she was much improved and is still taking it. Of course it doesn't do a lot to help with school related anxiety but if they are depressed they can't even begin to think about school. The other important thing is dosage - psychiatrist said it has to be monitored closely as what can help initially can soon lose it's effectiveness and they might need an increase.