March 14, 2019 at 8:37 am #111590
Mine 20 year old, diagnosed at 8 with ADHD, anxiety also has ODD; is not going to school. Grade 8. He’s always hated school, always always always. Has no friends bc nobody ever gets him (his social skills need work…) he burns bridges and kids are so judged at this age; it’s heartbreaking. He’s very in touch with his feelings so he tells me he is just trying to be happy. He’s at home, doesn’t run around, so it’s a school refusal issue, not really a truancy issue. He keeps himself busy at home, always learning new things etc but on his terms in his way, test free of course. Lots of building and designing type video games too, that would be tops. However he is on the violent/controlling side so implementing consequences ( ie shutting off internet) for not going to school blows up in my face – like calls me nonstop at work, leaves horrifying messages if I don’t pick up, etc. He can be quite verbally abusive; it’s so draining. Yes he is taking meds, sees a psychiatrist regularly, and the school is soooo accommodating. Why is he throwing all the opportunity away? He insists he doesn’t want to be a dropout. ??? I’m so tired, feel so defeated, and so stressed. Is there any light at the end of this tunnel?
March 14, 2019 at 9:40 am #111616
This is school avoidance and school refusal. We’ve been living it for 6 years (started in 4th grade). What I learned is that it’s a toxic level of stress for the child at school. It feels so bad at school that they will accept anything to not go. Before we understood it, we’d threaten to take away all screens for a month… and he still didn’t go to school.
Your next step is to determine what is provoking such anxiety at school. And that can change from day to day. Addressing these triggers is the ONLY way to improve avoidance behavior. And I learned that having conversations about what’s troubling him at school were exponentially more helpful if I wrote his concerns down right then and we talked through a plan of action of how I was going to work with the school to resolve the issues.
School avoidance has gotten a ton better for us, finally. But, it’s because we transitioned to a half-day of school in-person/on campus, and a half day of virtual public school at home. Now, when he’s super stressed or anxious at school, he’s able to tell himself he only has to be there a little while longer (he’s only there 3 hours a day) and then he will be able to leave. That has ended the daily emails begging me to pick him up and then hiding in the bathroom when I didn’t. Plus, because I go through his online classes with him to keep him on track and accountable, he has A’s in two difficult classes that he’d probably barely have a C or D in if he took them at school. He currently has straight A’s for the first time in his entire life (10 th grade) — two pretty easy electives at school and Civics and French online. His self-confidence and self-esteem have shot up.
Your son wants to do well. He wants to succeed. He just can’t under current conditions.
(I recommend all of Jerome Schultz’s articles and his book, Nowhere to Hide —only material I could find that really explained school avoidance and helped tremendously.)
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
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