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school refusal

(78 Posts)
rainsuncloud Fri 13-Jan-12 22:57:46

My DS started secondary school in September, was ok for first term, but then they changed some classes around and he wasn't with anyone he knew, he has as and found the change very hard to deal with. Since then his anxiety has become very bad and he doesn't trust the Teachers as they keep saying things to help him, but arn't totally true, or doesn't happen. He is now petrified of school and feels he doesn't have any friends and that no one likes him, he has been off a lot, due to not being able to phsicially get him into school. He gets hysterical and has panic attacks and gets himself in such a state and is shaking all over. He has been forced into school and the Sen teachers were helping, but have now been told not to help force him in, as they literally had to help me get him out of the car. I have seen a doctor and he has been referred to Camhs. DS wants to be home schooled, but I am unsure and nearly everyone I speak to is against it. Any one got any suggestions to help please. The Teachers do say that he is ok once he is in school, but he says he is still petrified, but just has to put up with it and shakes through some of the lessons.

LynetteScavo Fri 13-Jan-12 23:21:07

rainsuncloud, I've PMed you.

Saracen Sat 14-Jan-12 01:50:00

(Hugs) What an awful situation for you and your son.

I don't have any experience of your situation, but have met a number of people who home educate who are glad they removed their school refusing children from school. The people you've spoken to who are against home ed - do they have any actual experience of home education, or any research to back up the idea that it's wrong in this situation? Or are they just speculating?

Mike Fortune-Wood wrote a very interesting book called "Can't Go Won't Go: An Alternative Approach to School Refusal" http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cant-Go-Wont-Alternative-Approach/dp/1905614497/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326505253&sr=8-1 Fortune-Wood questions the common wisdom that school refusing children need to be made to persist with school because they will withdraw socially if they are home educated. He claims that although this notion is widespread in education circles, there is not actually any scientific evidence whatsoever that this is the case. The anecdotal evidence he gathered, based on a fairly small sample of several dozen children, suggests the opposite. All of the children's parents felt that home education - even if only for a short period - was helpful to their children's social development.

There is a forum here http://www.home-education.org.uk/forum-school-refusal.htm for parents of school refusing children. Not all members are home educating but apparently the forum is fairly pro-HE.

I hope you find a good way forward. It sounds heartbreaking.

rainsuncloud Sat 14-Jan-12 15:13:00

Hi Thank you for your message. I will need to look into home schooling more and my husband is worrying about, what shall we teach him and working and especially about the Social side, as he does have some friends outside of school, but is to anxious to go around their houses when he gets invited. He is ok when they come round to ours and he would go down the town with them. But very nervous about adults he doesn't know really well. And it could be very hard to get him into any clubs. I would try and go to a home education group but that could be hard to get him to go as well. But may be better than what we are all going through at the moment. I'm hoping Monday will be better.

arabhorsesarethebest Sun 15-Jan-12 11:32:50

I work with children and occasionally see something similar to that which you describe. I don't think you should force him into school something is so obviously causing him a problem and few children learn if they are as anxious as your son is. Why dont you home educate him in some shape or form until you've seen CAMHS and received some advise/help from them. Perhaps you could get some work from the school why don't you concentrate on subjects he enjoys. I think it would be beneficial for him to carry on seeing his friends but only at home if this is where he is happiest. I would leave the clubs etc for the moment just concentrate on the things he is happy doing.
The children I have seen with similar problems do get better nothing happens overnight but with the right help it is perfectly possible to eventually fully reintegrate into school so please don't despair.

Selks Sun 15-Jan-12 11:35:50

The other thing to consider is whether a different type of school environment would suit him better e.g. Montessori or Steiner. In some cases I think the local authority will fund it.

arabhorsesarethebest Sun 15-Jan-12 11:38:20

Steiner can sometimes work but its delivery is exceedingly variable. In my experience with the right help this can be resolved and the he can rejoin "normal" education.

c0rnsilllk Sun 15-Jan-12 11:40:43

who exactly is against home schooling? My ds is a school refuser - it's a nightmare ((hugs))

c0rnsilllk Sun 15-Jan-12 11:41:06

<waves to Lynette>

arabhorsesarethebest Sun 15-Jan-12 12:03:37

There is nothing wrong with home ed. but this child obviously has a problem which he needs help with. Once he has overcome the problem he may continue in home ed. or alternatively go back to school or maybe a combination of the two but most importantly he needs to overcome this problem.

rainsuncloud Sun 15-Jan-12 17:58:15

Hi Thank you everyone for your messages and support. He is already worrying about tomorrow morning and its so hard to know whats best to do. Im going to call Camhs tomorrow to see what they think and how long will we have to wait to see them. I think he is mostly worrying about a SEN teacher who may be meeting him in the morning, which is what the School have arranged. I do like the sound of Home Schooling, but I wouldn't want it to effect my other son who is a year older. The people who seem against home schooling are friends who really don't know anything about it, but just seem to think that he should go to school, mainly because of the social side. See how it goes tomorrow.

LynetteScavo Mon 16-Jan-12 17:20:15

How was your day, rainsuncloud?

rainsuncloud Mon 16-Jan-12 19:13:41

Hi Couldn't get him in today, he was hysterical again, he is like a different child when it comes to going to school, he gets himself in such a state. We got him to do work at home today. I rang Camhs and waiting for someone to call me tomorrow to see if they have any suggestions. They said our first appointment should take about 4 weeks to come through. I asked about E-Learning at School, but they School said they don't use E-Learning, but did suggest some sites on the internet to use. They also said that his time off would be unauthorised soon if this carries on. I may have to go higher at school. I think.

Wolfiefan Mon 16-Jan-12 19:24:09

Is there anyone he trusts at school. Could he work in their room? Could he be gradually weaned back in to school? Start with doing half an hour even. Could he be paired up with a buddy?
Just trying to be helpful!
Being useless here but is as autistic spectrum. Is he statemented? Could he have a TA with him at all? Is there a space in SEN dept he could work in until he feels a bit less anxious. Has the school suggested any of this? My heart goes out to you both.

JuliaScurr Mon 16-Jan-12 19:44:00

Had similar with dd, she doesn't have AS or SEN, 'just' anxiety. Refuser at 2 schools, home ed for 9 months and then found fantastic local Head who had a great system where we went with dd (even into the class room - poor teacher), gradually sitting further away, corridor, hall, reception, car park... for gradually reducing time. Dd could leave the class room and go to the Head's office by showing a card, no questions asked. It totally took the pressure off, she knew we'd get her out if she couldn't bear the anxiety She was attending normally and loving it within 5 months. Result. Try to find a Head like that. I can't praise that brilliant woman enough!

JuliaScurr Mon 16-Jan-12 19:45:32

I'm pretty sure thatschool used the same method with AS kids

rainsuncloud Mon 16-Jan-12 20:39:00

Hi Wollfiefan, thankyou for your message and I totally agree with you, there is someone he can trust, but as he isn't statemented, they say they havn't got enough staff to enable him to have help like this. They did keep him in the SEN department for the first 2 lessons last week, but I think they got in trouble for that, as this wasn't allowed again. He was told he could go to the SEN Unit anytime, but then found out is not always unlocked, it is at breaktimes but not all the time, so he finds it hard to trust anyone as he keeps getting told the incorrect information. I just feel that once he is in they think he is ok as he doesn't show his anxiety once he is in school and calmed down, and they just leave him to it. If it was primary school I think things would be different.
Thankyou JuliaScurr for your message, your school sounds great, perhaps we may need to look into other schools or home schooling. Im worrying about the GCSE side of things when he gets older as you have to pay with Home Schooling and I don't know where you can actuallly take the exams. Trouble is all the schools around here are very large and the school he is at is supposed to be very good for Special Needs.

LynetteScavo Mon 16-Jan-12 20:51:34

rainsuncloud, the school my son was at when he started to school refuse marked him down as a medical absence if we phoned to say we had tried to get him in. At one point I phoned to say I was going to give him a week off, just so we could all have a bit of a breather, and that was marked as a medical absence. The thing that made Home Ed an option in DH's mind was the possibility of fines or worse if we didn't get DS in.
Having and exit card, JuliaScurr's DD has, has really helped my DS. In Junior school he didn't actually use it, bit it helped his anxiety. Now he's in secondary school he does use it when he feels he needs to. Knowing there is a safe place in school they can go to if necessary is important for anxious children, I think.

JuliaScurr Tue 17-Jan-12 12:45:35

My friend has 2 kids like this (1 each ADD & AS) currently with chronic fatigue. The AS ds is at college after school did not help him and gets lots of support and leaway, hence is OK; the ADD dd is constantly buggered about and let down by her school, hence is struggling. Reliable safe places and people to provide escape routes are vital imo
Good luck, it's a really tough time smile

rainsuncloud Wed 18-Jan-12 14:31:10

Hi Thank you for your messages. Good advice abougt the 'exit card', which they have put on my sons pass which he has for going home early, which would help if I could get him into school. We did try this morning as the school is letting him go for just 2 lessons this week and next now, but still I couldn't get him out of the car. As I was on my own, he is holding down the lock and so I can't open the door, and then the SEN staff in the unit got fed up with waiting, and didn't look very happy with me and locked up and went, so I had to take him home again. They have been told not to come out and help me. I don't know why. He has 2 lessons he likes tomorrow morning, so we will try again. A man from Camhs is coming round to see me and DS on Friday, will have to see what he says that can help. he was very against home schooling when I mentioned it and said it wasn't an option, especially for children who have major anxiety. DS keeps saying he is going to run away as he can't stand much more of this and trying to get him to school everyday and he says, we wouldn't get into trouble for him not being in school then. I don't think he would, but it is worrying, as you never know.

joencaitlinsmum Wed 18-Jan-12 14:40:34

My DS has ASD and suffers very badly with anxiety (he also started secondary school in sept). We have been very lucky in that the school he is at has a exceptional pastorial care system and have bent over backwards to support DS (thats why we chose it had to appeal etc) or else I'm afraid I could have been writing the same post as you.

We did see a small result from CBT which was started at an anxiety clinic but CAHMS unfortunetly didnt offer any alternative.

Would you consider moving him to another school before going down the HE route? I had made up my mind that I would give my DS a term to settle then move him if his school wasnt suitable.

Hugs x

rainsuncloud Wed 18-Jan-12 18:34:56

Has your son got a Statement? My DS hasn't and I wondered if that is why he isn't getting much help. I am going to try and get him statemented, but I know it is a long process and the school told me it would take about a year.

rainsuncloud Wed 18-Jan-12 23:40:59

We may look into another school, but at the moment his anxiety is so bad, i don't think we could get him into a different school, as not knowing where the classes are and not knowing the Children, would make him worse. I am looking into smaller Secondary schools, but mostly they are all very large in East Sussex. If anyone knows of any small Secondary schools in the area, please let me know. DS quite likes the 2 lessons he has got tomorrow morning, so I am hoping he will go in. Still keeps going on about running away.

Its just so hard, really don't know what to do for the best. My other son doesn't want to go to school tomorrow now.

LynetteScavo Thu 19-Jan-12 19:01:47

I think the way the school is organised is as important, if not more so, than the size of the school.

One of the reasons I chase DS1's school was that they are not set in Y7, so his tutor group went to every lesson together. This meant they hardly ever got lost (and if they did the whole class was lost grin) and he didn't have to deal with new people each lesson. It seems to have worked well for him.

Hope it goes well with the man from CAHMS tomorrow. smile

rainsuncloud Fri 20-Jan-12 18:46:12

DS went to school Thursday, amazing, no problems at all, only had to stay for 2 lessons. Then today back to normal again and the lessons he really liked today, so I really don't understand why and he doesn't seem to know himself either. Seen Cahms today and very positive, he thinks we need to go down the Statement route and thinks the School should be doing a lot more for him, which he should be talking to the school to see if they can help in anyway.

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