a resource for parents
Thank you for replying so quickly and in such detail. My son is 16 and has left compulsory education, despite still being within the age range for participation. I have met with the Assessment and Reviewing Officer for the LA because my son has an EHCP and my son's social worker, because my son is on a Child in Need Plan (having recently come off a Child Protection Plan due to a complex situation).
It is the Assessment and Reviewing Officer and the social worker who have told me that there is 'nothing the LA can do' if my son will not (cannot) attend college. The college have said that since my son has not engaged when he attended college, then stopped attending during the second week of term and told curriculum staff that he did not like the course and did not wish to continue. there is nothing more they can do. He was asked to leave the course, hand in his badge and we were advised that there was no alternative course available for him.
I have made enquiries at another college (some distance away) and there is a late start course available, but transport will be a problem . I do not drive and my son is not confident to travel on public transport. The LA will provide transport, but I do not think my son would travel alone.
I know the local authority have an obligation to help and support individuals like my son, especially when they have an EHCP which states the need for transition and small groups, but they really do not do it and tend to write the young person off as a medical case. This happened for two years with my eldest.
CAMHS on the other side, say they cannot force treatment on a young person who chooses not to engage.
It is all intensely frustrating and I am tired of complaining.
My son does not play online games. He is obsessed with fitness and works out several times a day in his room. He is obsessed with healthy eating and he goes to the gym every day. The course that I have made enquiries about is based in a gym, but he will need support to get there and support to stay there and he is convinced that colleges now have given up on him.
His brother and his father have ASD and he has a working diagnosis along with a diagnosis of GAD. However, he refuses to go for a formal assessment for ASD.
I really do think that the answer may be to 'forget' formal education for the moment. Yet, perhaps due to my son's perception of his brother's experience, he is very reluctant to engage with mental health services.
I am buying him magazines, about fitness and cars (his other interest) and trying to talk to him about articles. He also goes to car shows with his father. However, these shows occur infrequently and a lot of time is spent in solitary activity in the house.
I apologise for producing another mini-essay
Don't apologise for long posts....I thought I was the Queen of long posts : )
I can hear your frustration. So much time is spent trying to find the right support and then when you sometimes do - our kids won't engage.
How did your son find the school work - difficult - easy - hard to comprehend? Is there any learning difficulty?
I am just asking because this can lead to a turn off from education even without an ASD diagnosis.
It sounds like forgetting formal education is probably the only way forward at the moment.
The fact that your son is going to the gym is good. At least it is a healthy obsession and he must at least see other people even if he doesn't interact? Getting out of the house is good.
Schools are just not the right place for so many reasons when you suffer from anxiety, ASD, or any other slightly off centre condition. No where else in life are you surrounded by so many peers.
Your son might need time to re-gain his confidence and then slowly make steps out into the world.
My son is now 18 and didn't make the final year - well - like your son - he made two weeks of it...but then said he just couldn't do it any more. His father made things worse by constantly pushing and pushing for him to go back or go to another college or get a job. My son became even more isolated and angry and guilty and not a happy person.
Since my ex has been asked to step back and not mention 'the future' - my son has become a different person.
It took 6 months before my son agreed to see a new psychologist and under the condition that it would not be about 'school'. For the first time of visiting psychologists and psychiatrists, my son does actually go (never on time...as avoidance has become second nature! but at least always there). So although he is not studying or working, he seems to be gaining confidence in himself.
The psychologist also pointed out that because of the anxiety (and your son will be the same) they feel they have little control over what they do and everyone else therefore keeps stepping in and telling them what to do. So they tend to refuse to do anything. Avoidance and not doing anything becomes a life style. The psychologist believes that as the self esteem and feelings of control start to increase, then the motivation to engage outside of the home will increase. He explained that my son felt he was not worthy of friendships because every time he did turn up to school - they had kind of moved on -and he felt left out and with all the guilt about attending - it just snowballed into not feeling good enough. So each situation, disorder or home or school situation feeds into the other but at the base of it - is the self esteem.
So any encouragement you are already giving sounds great and keep on with the praise, the encouragement and making your son feel like he is actually ok...
Go make yourself a cuppa and do something nice for yourself today or tomorrow. You are a good mum and doing the best you can in what sounds like pretty difficult circumstances.
Take care - and don't worry about long posts....
Thank you again. I think one of the problems is that for two years both our sons were on Child Protection Plans and perhaps I felt that I had to show how proactive I was as a parent, particularly because actions to further my children's progress were listed on the Child Protection Plans.
Now, however, I am beginning to see that perhaps both boys need time to recover properly and to gain sufficient self esteem before they can access mainstream activities on a regular basis.
My eldest is in a residential setting, so I will support him at a distance and provide him with the emotional support that is not available in an institutional environment. Perhaps, the challenge for me is how I can support my youngest.
He knows an awful lot about fitness and cars, so maybe if he wrote a blog or review, this could be a start...
Anyway, thank you. It has been enormously helpful to hear from someone who has been through this situation.
No worries. Come on here any time when you need support.
Whatever has happened in the past - things can move forward and self esteem plays a big role.
A blog sounds good. Whilst technology can have drawbacks sometimes - when kids get isolated, I think it is their window to the world.
Take care and let us know how things go -
Our social worker has just been. She told us that the college have said they would be willing for my son to return to the course. However, my son is adamant he will not return. We discussed what he may find acceptable and he has agreed to meet someone from the 'Prevention' team with a view to perhaps thinking about voluntary work or doing something to build up his skills. He is considering doing some voluntary work with animals. I think this would be fantastic. His older brother visits a horse sanctuary once a week and he gets so much out of it.
As we talked, my son seemed a bit more positive and smiled once or twice. He is also reading books on fitness I really think this very gentle, personalised approach is the way forward now.
That sounds very positive and a really good idea.
They use horses quite a bit for therapy these days, so I would imagine it is quite helpful for your other son.
Good luck and hope you find something so your son can build skills and self esteem. Slow roads but that's the nature of these things. Lots of people do lots of things outside of a school education. No road has to be a straight one 😊
Take care and all the best,