Parent-Teacher Cooperation

When Your Teen Wants to Disappear from School — Right This Instant

In the struggle against school avoidance, a mom finds an ally in her teen’s special-ed teacher, who helps to calm his ADHD anxieties.

Graphic illustration of text messages between parent and teacher

When I hear the alert tone I set for my son’s texts during school hours, my stomach drops out. We’ve battled over school avoidance since my son was in fourth grade, which is now going on six years.

He texts me from school: “Mom, I can’t take it anymore. Pick me up.” “Mom, you need to get me before I rip someone’s head off.” “If you won’t get me, I’ll hide in the bathroom.”

That last one was yesterday’s text du jour. I couldn’t pick him up because I had to work, and he was going to be dismissed in an hour anyway.

My fingers started typing furiously. I reminded him that there are people at school he can turn to. I urged him to go chill in guidance. I pointed out that he was about to have class with his special-ed teacher, whom he likes.

But he was in emotional quicksand. He was being picked on in class. He didn’t want to fight, but feared he was being pushed to that point. Freezing in place will prolong it, so he wanted to flee. I texted his special-ed teacher and recruited his help.

[Quiz: How Well Do You Know Special-Ed Law?]

An hour later, my son got in my car. He was smiling, which doesn’t happen after I refuse to pick him up early.

“How’s it going, Buddy?” I asked.

“Good!” he replied. “I hung out with the assistant principal and the counselor. They helped me to calm down.”

“So Mom’s suggestion wasn’t so dumb after all?”

He gave me the side-eye. “No. You were right, Mom.”

Now he has people he knows he can trust the next time stress hijacks his brain during school.

[Free Download: Evaluate Your Teen’s Emotional Control]