Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.
Migraines and school attendance(9 Posts)
DS2 is 12, in Y7 and suffers from migraines. Sometimes he can go months without one and then have several in one month. When he has one, he needs to lie down in a dark room, can't bear light and will sometimes be sick. It takes him about two and a half days to completely recover. This has obviously meant some time off school. Last year our GP referred him to a neurologist, who has prescribed him some tablets which ease the symptoms but don't stop or prevent them. We have noticed links between certain foods and have stopped him eating those now.
Recently, he has also had time off for sickness bugs going around the school which also affected his brother and his friends. The attendance officers have started ringing me up after I've rang in to say he won't be in. Although quite pleasant, their attitude seems to be that DS is somehow avoiding going to school and we should be encouraging him back. When I explain what migraines involve and that DS is not unhappy at school, just wouldn't be able to function there that day, they seem surprised - every time!
I have now received a letter from one of the two attendance officers "expressing her concern" at DS's level of attendance and to invite me to a meeting to discuss how working together could "enable his attendance to improve." They have also started DS at a lunchtime weekly attendance group where the children have been warned that their parents may have to pay hundreds of pounds in fines if their attendance doesn't improve. He is a quiet, sensible boy who doesn't mind school and would certainly rather be well at school than suffering at home, and this has worried him.
All of DS's non-attendance is due to ill health. I have never taken either of my children out of school for any other reason.
I will, of course, be attending the meeting and plan to bring the form from the consultant with me but would appreciate any help on how to deal with either/both the migraines and the school!
Oh dear, what a worry. I suspect the letter from the attendance officer was just a form letter automatically sent out when a child's attendance reaches a certain level, not directly aimed at your son.
Many children at this age are not keen on school and will do anything to avoid it, and although this doesn't apply to your DS, it is probably the standard way to get these children back on track.
It does seem very unfair on you and your DS when you have had to seek medical help from a consultant neurologist, that the school is so unwilling to listen to you. A migraine is not simply a 'headache', it can be seriously debilitating.
If I were you I would make copies of all the letters from the consultant to take to the meeting. Once they realise the seriousness of your DS's migraine, I hope they will be sympathetic.
Good luck, hope that helps a little.
Ds1 (6) has suffered with migraines since age 2.
His attedence is just 76% (has other health issues too) and we had to provide letters about every condition, appt etc from every consultant and gp.
I would write back and say "I am very excited to learn that a meeting with you will enable DS's attendance to improve. Which neurologist will be attending? So far DS's own consultant neurologist, John Smith, who has X years of experience, has only managed to reduce the severity of his symptoms slightly through carefully-controlled medication, so it's marvellous that you've found someone else who will be able to prevent the migraines completely."
But that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do, of course.
I suffered terribly with migraines as a teen too (thankfully, they seemed to disappear when I was about 18/19, so your DS could grow out of them too). I was also under a consultant for many years and spent an awful lot of time off school. I vividly remember how horrible and debilitating they were, they used to have me in bed for days at a time.
I was fortunate in a way that school didn't give a monkeys (unfortunately, that was because I went to a rubbish school who didn't give a stuff) but I managed to keep my grades up by doing more work at home when I could. If your DS's school are concerned about him missing too much, could you meet with them to discuss extra homework and sending home textbooks etc to catch up evenings and weekends he's well?
As for the attendance officers, I would attend the meeting armed with copies of consultant's letters/prescriptions etc as evidence that it is a medical issue and there's nothing you or your son can do to improve the situation just now. Hopefully, they will be understanding and the meeting is only a mandatory thing.
Thank you for your supportive messages. I have spoken to the attendance officer and she was lovely and really understanding.
I haven't got any experience of things like this. Obviously you realize you need to attend and anything you have from the doctor or consultant that can proves his migraines are bad enough to warrant being checked out by a consultant is worth taking.
As said before, it's probably a bog standard letter that gets sent out. When you go to the meeting, I'm sure they will realize they are dealing with someone who does care about her son's education. You could ask them to check with tutors if he's missed out on anything vital or is struggling in a particular subject, and if that is the case would that tutor be good enough to set him a little work for the holidays or recommend a book or website he can look at. The parents of my daughter's friend have asked for extra work in the holidays in some subjects and the school are being fully supportive.
Hope it all goes okay.
Thanks Madmog. Sorry not to have made it clear in my last post but I have had the meeting and it went really well. The attendance officer was lovely and definitely seemed to understand that I wanted Ds2 at school as much as she did but that are times when that isn't possible?
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