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School refusing dd(12)

(39 Posts)
KrinklyBottom Tue 17-Nov-20 15:03:38

Sorry, I didnt know where to put this and I just don't know where to turn anymore. This is going to be long sorry, and I'll still probably not get everything in.

TL:DR dd refusing school, possible autism, has a meltdown every morning, dont know how to get her there.

Dd hated year 7 and would try to stay off whenever she could, which I obviously discouraged, but then lockdown happened and come September she has been refusing to go in most days. It started off with a girl threatening to "fight" dd. She stopped going and didnt tell me about this for a few weeks, but she finally did and school sorted it. Then it was the noise in class hurts her ears/everybody hates her/friends had fallen out with each other etc... Sadly not much can be done about this, though the school has tried as best they can (time out pass, spot checks on classes etc)

We're currently having cahms interviews via video chat, but it's only our 2nd one this week.

School keeps ringing me and telling me "dd has to come in" "you need to get her here" etc, but cant tell me how to. I've tried being nice, compromising, talking through it, getting her outside help, I've got shouty (not proud) I've punished, I've tried bribery...nothing works. Her attendance is under 50% now and pretty sure they've now referred me to the LA, so no doubt a fine is forthcoming.

I believe she has mild autism, and possibly bipolar and maybe even paranoia-she thinks everyone hates her at school. But things are moving so slowly with covid. I'm unsure whether this is intended behaviour or something to do with autism, or what. She did self harm last year for a bit (very superficial though). She can struggle with empathy sometimes. She gets irrational fears.

I'm honestly at the end of my tether and I've never suffered with my mental health luckily, but this is starting to crack me.

Does anyone have any advice or information or even just words of wisdom to help? I'm in England (NE) if that helps.

[Post edited at OPs request]

OP’s posts: |
HuntedForest Tue 17-Nov-20 15:07:42

and possibly bipolar and maybe even paranoia-she thinks everyone hates her at school.
Does she have her periods yet? This could be PMDD.

KrinklyBottom Tue 17-Nov-20 15:10:41

Yes, she gets periods. I've not heard of that, I'll have to google. Is it constant? She did have precocious puberty and started when she was a few weeks off her 8th birthday, and had injections to stop them for a few years.

OP’s posts: |
KrinklyBottom Tue 17-Nov-20 15:13:21

Google says 1-2 weeks before period, but she had her period last week and yesterday and today have been bad too. Shes always been very volatile. Can change mood in 0.1 seconds. Feel like we have to walk on eggshells all the time.

OP’s posts: |
zippityzip Tue 17-Nov-20 15:13:32

You can write off bipolar she will not get an assessment for that before she's 18.

If you suspect autism, ask CAMHS and your GP if they can refer to a community paediatrician for a global assessment. The school will also need to complete Social Communication Questionnaires to support that referral. It's a long road but get the ball rolling to evidence you're actively seeking support.

If you're happy to share location I can signpost to early intervention services in your LA.

Ask the school for a face to face meeting around your concerns, her neurological differences, strategies attempted to improve attendance etc. If they refer you to an education welfare officer then ENGAGE with them and not fight against it, they aren't the enemy.

Get your DD to work with the school during the meetings and take ownership of her reintegration back to school - whether that be a reduced timetable, anxiety strategies, coping mechanisms, in house support/counselling. Speak with the SENCo who is best placed to advice this.

AtlasPine Tue 17-Nov-20 15:14:03

Poor her and poor you. It sounds massively stressful. Is there any way you could home educate for a year or two? Or even a term to reflect and feel supported and then a fresh start at a new school? I realise this may be impossible.

zippityzip Tue 17-Nov-20 15:14:29

Also loads of ESBA (emotionally based school avoidance) literature online which may be helpful.

notapizzaeater Tue 17-Nov-20 15:16:05

Good article here --->>>>

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/nov/14/it-was-damaging-him-the-spiralling-number-of-children-refusing-to-go-to-school?CMP=sharebtnn_fb&fbclid=IwAR0kotjra23Po5hNOFFvKg4YHLLbknw3LMTZXCn49BSOdpDt0Lee_XO3Lvg

HuntedForest Tue 17-Nov-20 15:18:55

Yes, it can be pretty much. Depends on cycle length and ovulation time. I used to have 3 "normal" days a cycle.

KrinklyBottom Tue 17-Nov-20 15:23:05

zippityzip

You can write off bipolar she will not get an assessment for that before she's 18.

If you suspect autism, ask CAMHS and your GP if they can refer to a community paediatrician for a global assessment. The school will also need to complete Social Communication Questionnaires to support that referral. It's a long road but get the ball rolling to evidence you're actively seeking support.

If you're happy to share location I can signpost to early intervention services in your LA.

Ask the school for a face to face meeting around your concerns, her neurological differences, strategies attempted to improve attendance etc. If they refer you to an education welfare officer then ENGAGE with them and not fight against it, they aren't the enemy.

Get your DD to work with the school during the meetings and take ownership of her reintegration back to school - whether that be a reduced timetable, anxiety strategies, coping mechanisms, in house support/counselling. Speak with the SENCo who is best placed to advice this.

Thank you for this. CAHMS has meant to have referred her for autism assessment (sorry I dont know the correct terms) I'll chase that up tomorrow when we have the video chat.

We've has the meeting with school, they said they're not doing reduced timetables atm (due to covid 🙄) but I'm thinking of pushing for this now. I've worked with the school all the way. They've seen how she gets. She will (or at least would-shes stopped the last few days) get dressed, totally happy, get in the car but as soon as we pull up at school a switch flips and she has a meltdown. I've actually had one of the teachers come down to the car to witness what I'm working with. Sometimes I'll sit outside school with her for 20-30 minutes trying to persuade her to go in. She gets all upset, I drive home and she'll just sit in the car for an hour or more. Or one time she sat on the stairs for over an hour (attendance officer came out and witnessed this too)

My LA is Sunderland, if that helps.

OP’s posts: |
RatherBeRiding Tue 17-Nov-20 15:23:14

Are you in a position to take her off the school roll and home educate? She doesn't have to be in school if she can be home educated. I realise this may not be an option.

GintyMarlow2 Tue 17-Nov-20 15:23:25

If she's just started her periods, then her hormones may be playing up and making the situation worse. I would suspect this might be the case, given that she started her periods just before her 8th birthday.
I suppose you have already been to your GP, as your daughter has been referred to cahms.
At that age children often exaggerate, so saying 'everyone hates her' is probably an exaggeration. Also normal for girls to fall out with each other.
If she is finding the classes too noisy, then I'm afraid that's down to the school.
Have you thought of changing schools? Or home schooling, if that's a possibility.

cantdothisnow1 Tue 17-Nov-20 15:27:17

Parent of two refusers here, both had undiagnosed ASD and SEN needs at the time.

Forcing in can cause trauma, school attendance measures have made refusal issues worse as parents can be criminalised for mental health or unmet needs.

You need to tell school that it is anxiety that means that she is struggling to attend and ask for a meeting to see what support they can put in place for your daughter. Can she verbalise what is actually wrong?

There is loads of information on this on the Not Fine At School Facebook page.

You are not alone with this, there are loads of children who struggle with formal schooling.
I would not advise deregistering just yet. The onus is on the local authority to provide alternative education if school cannot meet needs.

cantdothisnow1 Tue 17-Nov-20 15:32:05

Just seen that you have had meeting.

They can't refuse to make adjustments or to do reduced time tables then punish her / and or you if she can't manage full time.

I would ask for an EHC Needs assessment to take place. You can do a parental referral , there is information here - www.ipsea.org.uk/ehc-needs-assessments

If she is struggling to attend then they can't really refuse to assess.

At the same time if you feel she can't attend for mental health reasons you can ask the local authority to provide alternative provision if this is likely to last more than 15 days,.

Be clear that she is not refusing to attend but that she is too anxious to attend and that she is awaiting a CAMHS assessment.

Give her space, it's really challenging for you and she must be in a state to be refusing, no child wants to refuse. It isn't a choice.

KrinklyBottom Tue 17-Nov-20 15:32:47

Homeschooling would be an absolute last resort. During the 1st lockdown she wouldnt do any work that was set for her and in the end I gave up trying. I think if I went for HE she would be the same. Plus cost wise it's not really possible.

She is adamant she does not want to change school because she will miss her friends (she places massive emphasis on friends). Pointing out she doesnt see them anyhow because she doesnt go to school falls on deaf ears. And what's to say if I changed school, it wouldn't be exactly the same.

Shes had periods properly for around 3 years now.

OP’s posts: |
Bsmirched Tue 17-Nov-20 15:35:09

Do you know about this website, OP?
notfineinschool.co.uk/families?fbclid=IwAR01kjbveNyK1NonfGACLDGld8fejmVdmhM4NdaU7NCzjiX0rEI6Km8ZbmE

KrinklyBottom Tue 17-Nov-20 15:37:18

Bsmirched, I've just asked to join on FB. Someone above mentioned it, thanks

OP’s posts: |
KrinklyBottom Tue 17-Nov-20 15:42:10

cantdothisnow1

Just seen that you have had meeting.

They can't refuse to make adjustments or to do reduced time tables then punish her / and or you if she can't manage full time.

I would ask for an EHC Needs assessment to take place. You can do a parental referral , there is information here - www.ipsea.org.uk/ehc-needs-assessments

If she is struggling to attend then they can't really refuse to assess.

At the same time if you feel she can't attend for mental health reasons you can ask the local authority to provide alternative provision if this is likely to last more than 15 days,.

Be clear that she is not refusing to attend but that she is too anxious to attend and that she is awaiting a CAMHS assessment.

Give her space, it's really challenging for you and she must be in a state to be refusing, no child wants to refuse. It isn't a choice.

That last paragraph resonates. I'll say to her, you have to go and she will say back "I know I do, but my head wont let me" sad Its heartbreaking and I've broke down more than once these past few months.

I'm going to look into the EHC, can I just put in a referral or do I need to inform school?

OP’s posts: |
cantdothisnow1 Tue 17-Nov-20 16:08:23

You can put in a parental request directly to the local authority, when I did this I just copied the school senco out of courtesy.

cantdothisnow1 Tue 17-Nov-20 16:11:05

It is heartbreaking to have to go through this OP, you feel that all eyes are on you and it feels like you are failing when your child can't go to school. You will probably find the facebook group really helpful. At the time that I went through this with my first I thought I was the only parent in this position, I didn't have any sense of how commonplace the problem is.

Remember self care is important too, them talking about attendance and fines is massively unhelpful. flowers

Prestel Tue 17-Nov-20 16:30:59

My DS has ASD and I have to say all this sounds very familiar, especially:

School keeps ringing me and telling me "dd has to come in" "you need to get her here" etc, but cant tell me how to

There is so little understanding of developmental issues like ASD in schools and it's so very difficult to get guidance and help. It's good that you've been seen by CAHMs and have been referred for an ASD assessment as it does sound like a possibility. I can't promise life will get any easier if she's diagnosed with ASD but at least you'll have an explanation for why she's struggling to cope and why you can't "just get her in" as school demands, like it's oh so easy.

There are people on the SN boards on mumsnet who will understand what you're going through and will hopefully be able to offer some good advice. I just wanted you to know that I've also sat in the car outside school with a child who wants to but just can't go in, so I know exactly how you feel. Unfortunately the whole school attendance system is based on an assumption of deliberate and wilful truancy, rather than addressing the barriers to attending due to unsupported special needs even though the vast majority of persistent absentees have some kind of SEN.

Applying for an EHC is probably a good idea, but it's a long and difficult process, so in the meantime I would try to speak to the SENCo, explain about the assessment referral and request a meeting to come up with a support plan to try to help her reintegrate into school. This may help get the attendance team off your back, though it might not. It depends on the school.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Tue 17-Nov-20 16:43:53

In normal times, I’d suggest a reduced timetable to start the reintegration process, giving her some choice over lessons she feels she can cope with, but I see the school is saying no to that. I do think it would be worth pursuing with them though, because it’s better than her not attending at all, which is where you are just now.

I’d talk to the school about applying for an EHCP too. It’s courteous to do so and they will be asked for information and you’d want to keep them inside for that.

I agree about not changing school. As well as moving her away from the friends she values, even if she isn’t with them at the moment, it’s very likely that you’ll be transferring the problem from one setting to another. Finding a way of helping her to cope where she is, has to be the first step.

KrinklyBottom Tue 17-Nov-20 17:07:24

School have just rang me and I asked about reduced timetables and she said it can be a possibility only in blocks like lesson 1,2,3 not lessons 1,3,5. So she might have to do some things she doesnt like. But I think we could work with that. Dd has said she is going in tomorrow, but then she says that every night. I've had some fantastic advice from here so thank you all, just need to wrap my head around it all and put it into practise.

Btw school has done a lot for dd, I cant really fault them, but think things need to be taken up a notch now.

OP’s posts: |
HollowTalk Tue 17-Nov-20 17:11:46

Is there even one girl in school that she's happy to see? I can see how a pupil who's not in all the time will find it harder to make friends - other pupils won't want to be left friendless for half of the week.

SkepticalCat Tue 17-Nov-20 17:49:20

Hi @KrinklyBottom, I really feel for you as I have also been in this situation with my ASD diagnosed child.

Lots of great advice here, especially the Not Fine in School Facebook page and website, which I think you said you have requested to join. There is also SquarePeg which I think is more of a campaign group to change the way school absences are recorded, in cases where SEN needs are not being met/bullying etc @Prestel is spot on with what they said:

Unfortunately the whole school attendance system is based on an assumption of deliberate and wilful truancy, rather than addressing the barriers to attending due to unsupported special needs even though the vast majority of persistent absentees have some kind of SEN.

I also agree with applying for an EHCP assessment. As others have said you can put the request in yourself, but as a courtesy, inform the school.

One other thing, which is what I did when I was worried that the absences might lead to fines, was to contact the Education Welfare Officers at my local authority. I was worried about doing so, as it felt as though I was drawing attention to my child's absences, but I knew the head teacher was going to be discussing my child with them the following term, so we'd be on their radar sooner or later anyway.

I found the name of the EWO for my childs school on the LA website and told them all about my childs difficulties, their diagnoses, who was currently involved (ie CAMHS) and that we were in the process of being assessed for an EHCP.

We got a very supportive reply, saying that they could see we were doing everything to support our child and they would not pursue any fines/prosecution. That took the pressure off and it meant i felt i no longer had to force my child to school.

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