school refusers

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School Refusal
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School refusal since March 18

Hi,my 14 year old son was fine through primary school apart from occasional worries.Although anxious to start Secondary 2 years ago he settled and made friends.Last year however(around choosing options time)he started getting OCD symptoms with washing hands,checking doors and rituals which took ages to do and made going out difficult as we were always late.It got so bad I went into school just to have a chat about it as he was having trouble getting to school on time.This was a mistake as school attendance officers came round and made my son worse.They came 3 times while I was home once when i was out.He managed the first time,locked himself in the bathroom the 2nd and ran out the 3rd time after they turned up when my sons friends were visiting and he was happy.I was so stressed with everything I let them in to his space which should have never happened.He managed to go back to school 2 days before Easter but the attendance pulled him out to talk and he just wanted to be left alone.He never went back after the holidays.After meetings with school we have got nowhere.My son wont see the gp and school have now given me details of home education which I don't want to do.CAMHS have spoken to me but my son wont talk to them either as he just keeps saying he is going back but each morning he then refuses.It leaves me feeling so confused now what to do and worried what is going to happen and how to get him back into school.

Re: School refusal since March 18

Hi Susir,

Sorry to hear how things are at your end. Its tough on you and pretty confusing for your son.
OCD is an anxiety issue so it is hard to know if anxiety brings it on or it was somehow triggered and is now difficult to manage.
I don't have the answers so I can only offer suggestions from my own expience or others on the forum. My son has some OCD tendencies but they came after he experienced a number of years of anxiety. He washes his hands and at times the skin has been raw. Now that he is not attending school or doing anything with pressures, he is much improved. The doctor believes if he can manage his anxiety, the OCD tendencies will diminish.

It sounds like your son does need to see the doctor and perhaps talk over possible medication. It can really make a difference if the anxiety or OCD combined is impeding on normal life. The problem your son is struggling with is acceptance. It is easier to pretend nothing is happening, hence the 'I'll go tomorrow' which my son also always said.
For me, my own acceptance that my son had a mental health issue made it easier for him to then accept that. I was after time able to talk with him and so he did see doctors and counsellors. Although he also often refused! If you can separate it from being like a behaviour issue, he might be more willing to talk or seek help.
Will the school send work home? They are still supposed to either do this or provide tutors if a child cannot attend due to physical or mental health.
It is great that your son has friends and hopefully if he can keep them, he will not loose out socially. Try if you can to step back from 'you have to go to school' for awhile and work on positive reinforcement at home to help build his self esteem. When they miss school and realise they are not quite like all the other kids, they loose self esteem and it can take some time to build it up.
Have you checked out the Red Ballloon organisation? I think the link is still in the resource section. They may be able to assist with some ideas regarding education.

I guess reassuring your son that he is ok and not going crazy, and that with management the rituals can subside or go away, he might come riound to accepting seeing a doctor. I'd aim for doctor first, then CAHMS if possible, and then if they can't provide help, if you can afford a psychologist to work on cognitive behaviour therapy or any support groups for teeangers with OCD?

Make sure you take time out for yourself, as it can as you know, be very draining,
Please don't hesitate to ask for help at any time or just let off steam! I pop by the forum fairly regularly.
Remember, you are not alone.
Take care and let me know how you go this week.

Re: School refusal since March 18

Hi - I am sorry that you are having a bad time, but it will pass. Linda has given you some sound advise, and I would like to add if your son won't go to the GP / CAMHS you go. I went to many appointments on my own and it helped me to try and understand. Keep a diary of everything !!

To give you a little background - my son refused the majority of senior school only attending very few days- always promising to go in the next day but it never happened. I spent years with psychologists doctors etc trying to find the answer. I was only when I started to understand how he felt that I could help him. He never wanted to be the way he was - living in isolation after being a fun happy go lucky boy in primary school. His anxieties were a real problem, and I feared for his future and what he would do. He took his GCSE's at home ( I never deregistered him ) and once he officially "left school" it took another 12 months before he started to go out and socialise like most other teenagers.

He is now 22 - and life is good ( albeit the anxieties never fully go away he copes ) he is a coach / teacher for teenagers on residential activity courses teaching them social and confidence skills - how bizzar is that - the students love him because he understands.

There is always light at the end of the tunnel I promise - just wish I knew that for the 5 years of refusing we went through !!

Good luck and take care xx

Re: School refusal since March 18

Hi Sarah,

Great to hear from you!! How good is that for your son! So pleased to hear and it makes me hopeful about my son who at 18 is now like your son was back then and so being patient is all I can be and hope this year is a time for him to gain confidence back. Can't believe I'm still on here!
You a so right about the need to understand. That also helped us on our journey! They need to learn to manage it but that takes time.
All the best and hope your son has given confidence to those other kids and in turn gained his own.
LInda xx

Re: School refusal since March 18

Hi Linda - WOW your son is now 18 where has that time gone.

Yes I am extremely proud of him he has come along way - I have to pinch myself at times.

Time and understanding - I am much older and wiser now - just wish I have the knowledge back then.

Take care xx