Reply To: Help! My ADHD teen refuses to go to school

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Adults ADHD Success Stories Help! My ADHD teen refuses to go to school Reply To: Help! My ADHD teen refuses to go to school


Hi Torontomama,

Siiiiigh. I feel your pain and understand what you are going through.

My questions for you are are:

1. I hear that he was diagonosed with ADHD, but is there a comorbid diagnosis? Is he also suffering from depression or anxiety?

2. If he is suffering from a comorbid condition, has he been treated for it?

I ask these questions because when my ADHD daughter was in first grade, she got to the point where she no longer wanted to go to school. Her dad literally had to attend school with her for a month and they agreed to shorten her day so she got out at 12:00 p.m. rather than 2:30 p.m.

During this time, she was treated for anxiety (no meds) by a child psychologist, which helped to lessen her anxiety. Fast forward to third grade (she had no issues in second grade, except the regular ADHD stuff, but she had no problems going to school because she had a caring, firm, loving teacher who “got it” and knew how to deal with her) and “it” shows up….again. She started acting out and walking out of class. Kicked and punched her principal when he tried to keep her inside the school gates. And then eventually refused to go back to school one morning. *My world came crashing down around me*

I wasted no time getting her to a child psychiatrist who understood that she needed to go to school, otherwise she’d fall behind, lose what confidence she had and continue on a downward spiral. The psychiatrist decided to quickly treat her with meds for anxiety and prescribed a half-dose of Clonidine. Now, it sounds like you’ve tried pretty much everything, but my girl was back in school the very next day. We kept her on it for 3 months, and when the anxiety seemed to be gone, we took her off of it.

It can still be difficult for her to transition into new environments, but we haven’t had the issue of her refusing to go to school. Some days she may wake up and refuse to go, but I give her space and room to process into it, and then she’s okay. She’s late for school of course, but hey, its something.

Could your son be suffering from anxiety as well as ADHD? If so, the anxiety will stop him dead in his tracks if not dealt with.

Also, getting child services involved in your city can help tremendously! They can be a negative force when used the wrong way, but I promise you that they can help you if you reach out to them yourself. Sometimes, Torontomama, you’ve got to let everything fall a part, you’ve got to stop trying so hard and long (I know, they are our kids, so that’s easier said than done) and let them fall. Your son is so used to you trying to figure it all out for him, that he doesn’t have to move a muscle because you will do all the lifting. STOP. STOP lifting. Tell him that its up to him now whether or not he goes to school and let the chips fall where they may. Then pick up the phone and ask for help. Call Children and Family Services in your city and explain to them what’s happening and they can help devise a plan for you. He may nee to attend a different kind of school for kids with emotional disabilities, such as ADHD/Autism, etc.

Sending you my prayers and heart felt concern!