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Mentally ill teen - education advice

(8 Posts)
wannabestressfree Mon 10-Nov-14 15:16:16

Some of the long term peeps on here will remember me as the mum with the 14 year old sectioned for nearly two years away from home in a medium secure unit for violence and schizophrenia.
Well he did well 'outside' and completed his gcse's in record time and has a little job in a store. He is one of three and exhausting- I am in school regularly (6th form) which he changed too from college as he was unhappy and now he is unhappy there. His job is temporary and his manager thinks he struggles with people (ASD) and doesn't know if he will get a permanent contract. He is excellent when left alone but doesn't 'get' his co workers.
Today he has text to say he wants to leave 6th form and I am devastated. I have fought tooth and nail to keep him in there and I have no idea what he thinks he will do. He got a handful of gcse's due to hospital stay and has no real other skills. He hates college, he hates school, he moans about work. He complains he doesn't sleep (this is true and was always a symptom of declining mental health) and can be aggressive and unpleasant at home.
I just want him to be happy but it always feels out of his grasp.
Selfishly as I am a single mum I am really concerned of the ramifications of him leaving eg tax credits, housing benefit, dla etc. I know that shouldn't play a role but SS deemed we needed a MUCH bigger house to house him and his needs and I can just about afford it with all the help I get. What happens if it's stops?
I just don't know what to do? I want to say let's find something part time until you feel better but is that realistic? He has been ill for such a long time and it's physically making me ill with anxiety worrying how I can support him financially and emotionally.
I just feel spent. Any advice would be great

wannabestressfree Mon 10-Nov-14 16:04:27

Ended up bursting into tears when I collected him from school and trying to explain how I felt. He said I blame him for being ill (not true) and that he is an adult and at school he is treated like a baby. He hated college for the opposite reason.
He constantly goes on about wanting to be happy but has been 'unhappy' since he was 10. I don't know what to do anymore.

wannabestressfree Mon 10-Nov-14 18:11:39


anthropology Mon 10-Nov-14 19:11:53

Well done to both of you that after a such a difficult period,he has held down a job and done well in his gcses. My DD was in a psychiatric unit for nearly a year and getting back into the right education is a battle, but she found college much easier to settle into than school .

Sixth form is usually full time and we got through because college was easier just going in for lessons. Is he able to drop subjects and reduce the time he spends at school, so he still has some structure . Is there a subject he likes at all ? It sounds like he is bright so it would be a shame if he stopped completely and if he kept some sort of course going, it would help you with benefits etc. If he does the minimum he can cope with he can always top up later on. School puts a lot of pressure on full attendance, but for ASD teens,it can be too much stimulation and they need more quiet time.

He probably will know the pressure he has put on you (my DD does) so although its really hard for parents, he has to find a way to live with mental illness and I am not sure if he is on medication, but its important to find either work or study and a social life which helps him feel valuable and fulfilled. . He probably knows he should be more independent than he is, and this must frustrate you both. Is there an older teen who he can talk to about his worries?

Would he get involved with any mental health charities like young minds and even Camhs who work with young people to talk in schools about their experiences if they feel they can be open. Its a way to help others and gain confidence and also meet others who have had similar experiences.He will have been through so much compared to others his age. There is a really good community now of young mental health bloggers.

Is he on a prescribed sleep aid, like Melatonin ? His health is certainly more important than school and Camhs should help you understand if he is not coping.

We had a WISC4 ed psych report done through a charity for my DD, which helped her realise she was bright and should stay in education and also showed her strengths as well as ASD vulnerablities. Try to get Camhs to pay for one, as it might help give him some confidence too. Do seek some CBT for yourself via your GP, as it is so much to cope with and you need an outlet too. Showing him how vulnerable you are, might not help things,from my experience. Hope something here helps you both. Good luck.

wannabestressfree Mon 10-Nov-14 20:51:55

Thank you so much for replying, I really appreciate it. He is on medication, quitiapine(sp) and sertraline and I know the meds make him tired. He is doing health and social care extended course so 3 a level equivalent after dropping art (he was/ is gifted artist) but couldn't do the written work. It used to frustrate him
'But why is the door green- I don't know' variety.
He still attends cahms on a regular basis and has to see the psychiatrist monthly due to the level he was detained at.
I will definitely look into the ed psych report. He had a full statement for ads which just compounds matters. I will talk to him about looking at art again and see about his timetable.
I don't think he knows what he wants and part of me thinks let him get off the carousel - but it's the rest of his life and it's really affecting my mental health.
It's a minefield.

anthropology Thu 13-Nov-14 12:17:39

With art, if he puts together a fantastic portfolio , not even taking the A level, a foundation course may still take him, and its helpful if he can still see art as a passion. Please do something nice for you this week though. You are obviously a wonderful, caring mum and he does needyou to fight for him and find the little support/help there is for families and teens going through this. good luck.

Micsampip1 Mon 17-Nov-14 10:48:26


I'm new to the site but was interested in your discussion. I have worked with teenagers with a range of special educational needs for over 6 years, also have 3 teens myself and a degree in Education with Special and Inclusive focus.

I would say even without mental health problems this is a very trying time as there is so much pressure on them to perform and achieve. It is also a fact that part of their brain shuts down to allow other developments to take place which is why at around 16 they can completely change personality and take part in risky behaviours.

However, if it makes you feel better both my sons dropped out of 6th form and only one has decent GCSEs. The first is doing an apprenticeship in accountancy and is in his second year and the second has just been asked to leave 6th form due to poor attendance and has just started working with a solar panel company.

I know people with ASD find it difficult to work with others so at the moment I would be looking at helping him develop strategies that help him with this as he sounds quite capable in other areas. I think if he can continue his art as a hobby and perhaps build a portfolio in case he wants to take it further at a later stage this would be good for his anger issues. Most kids who have any kind of emotional difficulties seem to enjoy colouring/doodling etc.

If he decides to work instead of college this might help develop those social skills and he will probably be working with older people who are generally more tolerant of peoples differences. If for whatever reason he is laid off from work I would get him voluntary work in a charity shop or have a look at for other voluntary opportunities.

Usually, the local authority run Foundation Learning courses. These have a vocational element [construction, IT, hairdressing] Functional Skills [maths and English], Work Experience and Spiritual, cultural and moral elements [we did conservation and wildlife]. They are smaller groups and aimed at those with learning difficulties, those who have had a difficult upbringing or those who didn't thrive at school. I have taught on these courses and they usually have a large proportion of young people with autism or special educational needs. They are usually more nurturing and fun so it might be worth looking into.

I hope this helps


PS I am thinking of writing a package of 5 lessons to sell on the internet to guide teenagers with their career choice. Do you think as a parent you would buy something like this. It will consist of cv writing, career planning and making applications, work experience, interview skills etc. Just thought I might ask on this forum.


anthropology Mon 17-Nov-14 13:28:59

Lisa, your post is interesting and I'm glad your boys have found their way when school didnt work out. We were lucky to get my DD back into good education after depression and she is now at University as that is what she wanted.

With your qualifications and experience, I would suggest what is missing anywhere is informed guidance for teens from 14 onwards, when school is not working for whatever reason. I feel most of us are so locked into the gcse A level Uni route, that at first when something happens, its really hard to find advice or even believe that there are many other ways to move forward and schools are not equipped to give alternatives. I work with very successful people in the food industry who often couldn't cope with school, but when they found their passion, thrived. I think there are parents who would pay for that sort of guidance.

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