School avoidance and refusal is a very real and terribly difficult issue for many kids with learning challenges. My son has had school avoidance and refusal for nearly 6 years now. It’s one of the toughest aspects of parenting him — law says kids must go to school, and refusal just looks like laziness. But, it’s anything but laziness. It’s due to events at school that are causing our kids discomfort, emotional pain, and/or anxiety.
Once I realized there was always something happening at school that was his reason for avoidance, and addressed each issue with his school, the refusal and avoidance improved a little. They key was that the school has to honor his experience and act accordingly. When they do, avoidance reduces… when they don’t, it’s bad again.
Reasons can be anything from being teased or bullied, to learning difficulties that make the work hard, to being misunderstood by one or more teachers, to the environment being too loud or chaotic, etc… Until each and every issue is addressed and remedied, the avoidance and refusal will continue.
A couple years ago I discovered Jerome Schultz’s book, Nowhere to Hide, which addresses the stress kids like ours are suffering at school and what it does to their cognitive functions and the like. Here’s an article excerpt from him as well as a replay of a webinar ADDitude did with him.
We chose to try medication with our son in 1st grade because he was really suffering, feeling sad and defeated all the time. It made a huge difference for him. Of course, he still struggles, because medication is only one tool in addressing life with ADHD, but it helps a great deal for most.
ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism