13 year old refusing to go to school. Any suggestions??

Kathy - posted on 04/29/2012 ( 22 moms have responded )

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My 13 year old grandson is refusing to go to school. He has pdd/asd & anxiety issues. He has been out for almost 3 weeks. My daughter in law is an excellant Mom & is at her wits end. She has spoken with the school, his pediatrician, councellor, mentor and no one seems to have answers for her. Looking for advice. He is a good kid and has never been in any trouble before. All suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Maybe someone else has gone through this before. Thanks in advance.

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Kim - posted on 05/01/2012

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As a mother of a child on the spectrum, my gut says there is something happening at school. Most pdd kiddos thrive on routine, so not wanting to follow that routine sends up red flags for me. Someone needs to be meeting (face to face) with his team members. Remember to look at the big picture and try to remember that his perceptions are very real to him even though they may not make sense to the adults around him. If he doesn't have a one on one para, maybe one added (even temporarily) will give a better idea of what may be going on. Even the best teacher can not see everything that is going on. Also, I would be talking to the truant officer/police liason. They may be able to offer assistance in a much less threatening way than you might immagine. I know the officer at our school really cares about the kids and can often get through to them about the importance of school attendence or good behavior choices when others can't. Be a squeeky wheel with the school if you have to. Be his voice and be determined to get to the bottom of whatever is going on. It can be a long road, but well worth the effort you will put into it.

Kate - posted on 05/03/2012

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My son is on the spectrum too and, as Kim Archibald said, this rings bells for me also. As it is difficult for ASD/ASC kids to express their feelings, it can sometimes come across as stubbornness but it's really just them trying to avoid an uncomfortable situation. For instance, we may be somewhere fun and my son will be enjoying himself and then he will suddenly request to go home. If we don't take him home straight away - he will become distressed and demanding to the point of near meltdown. This would happen time after time. However, we discovered that it was because he wanted to do a poo. Now, when he becomes distressed - we just talk him through it. Sometimes he will downright refuse to go on anyones toilet but his own - but at least we have identified the underlying reason for his distress.
I hope that you guys can discover something that makes sence with your grandson. It can be so frustrating sometimes - for mums, grandmas and especially our children. Good luck and thank you for being an involved grandma!

Claudette - posted on 04/30/2012

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if he had been going to school this long, and now he want, there has to be something going on. I would talk with his teachers and see how he was acting in school prior to him leaving school. I would then try to talk to him and see what is going on. Ask lots of questions. If he still refuses to go to school, then you may have to homeschool. There is so much info on homeschooling, and if he decides that he want to go back to school, you can always just enroll him. Good Luck.

Michelle - posted on 04/29/2012

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Talk with him make sure that the issue is school itself and not the kids at school. Kids this age can be cruel and especially to children who seem different from the norm. Make sure he is feeling safe there and plan from there. Let him have imput on how you plan to deal with whatever the situation is.

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Ec - posted on 05/08/2013

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Your grandson is trying to tell you something. The school system is not working for him. He needs another option. Listening to our children is key to their success. You should pull him out and try a homeschool option if at all possible. With a little more attention and patience, he can continue to learn and grow and perhaps at a greater rate. I am a homeschooling parent of one child who is now 12 and getting ready to start college. In a lot of ways, schools are failing to engage our children and just not capable of giving everyone the attention they so deserve. It is not your grandsons fault. Save him and support his choice but give him another option. Home schooling is much easier than you would think. Best Wishes!

Jasmine - posted on 02/26/2013

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My 13 year old sister is staying out late with random boys then in the mornings refusing to go to school my mum has no idea how to stop it we have tried everything if someone anyone has any information about this to help us please contact me asap!

Kim - posted on 05/13/2012

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Bless his heart, he may be a victim of a bully. It explains why he wouldn't want to go to school.Obviously something is going on to make him uncomfortable there. Maybe there is an online option for classes or he could be home schooled.Possibly a therapist could get to the root of the problem. Praying for him. I have a son on the Autism spectrum and thankfully we have not had to deal with anything like this,But my prayers are with him and his mother.

Laura - posted on 05/11/2012

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I actually have panic attacks so I understand how awful they are BUT I still went to school everyday and go to work Everyday now. If yall dont get a handle on this soon dpp is going to be at the door for truancy.

Teresa - posted on 05/11/2012

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Hi Kathy, I am sure as a grandparent it is very difficult to know exactly how much involvment to put in with your family, but as I have read your message I can see you are being very supportive to your family and that is really very crucial for all of them.

I am absoublutly postive that your grandson is a very intelligent young person and is confused and upset as much as the rest of the family, about not being able to cope with school.
Talking to all the proffesional staff who are involved in supporting your Grandson is also important, however overcoming his anxiety is not something that can be easily or quickly overcome, so patience and understanding may be put to the test for all of you.

In many cases to be prepared is sometimes easier than waiting for an anxiety attack to happen, for example your grandson may need 'talking through' his school day before he goes to school, walk him through his fears, talk to him about the worse case scenario's, talk through with his teacher how if he feels he is getting anxious what they can do to get him through, even if this means leaving the classroom for a while. I am sure there are other young people in his school who have been through something simular ,is there any way of finding out so your son could get some support , or even join a group outside of school where he can find some understandin ofhis concerns.

I know it is difficult but try not to get anxious on school mornings as this can be easily tranfered to your son, who will be awre that its also causing family problem, if he refuses to go to school, try not to be angry, maybe try negotiating with him, maybe go to school for half of the day or even a few hours and work on bulding the time he is attending. Make sure you reward and praise him for attending, maybe a day out to his favourite place with a friend if he can manage to attend a full week.
I am sure the staff are aware of his issue at school, spend time with his teacher and try to work on a schedule where maybe he works at home for part of the time and attends school until he feels safe and secure about being at school . All of this in time will I am sure inprove just keep listening to your grandson and family and try not to get to anxious and carry on the fantastic job that you are doing, supporting your grandson and family. Good Luck

Louise - posted on 05/08/2012

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I suffer from anxiety myself. I did not have my first panic attack until I was 21. I was in the middle of class, and WHAM it hit me. It is terrifying and embarrassing. You have no control over your mind what so ever its really hard for people who do not have a panic disorder to understand. Anxiety is fear, panic disorders are debilitating. He may have a panic disorder. My sister has this as well. She had her first episode at the age of 15. She did not want to go to school, or anywhere for that matter. My parents were not the most understanding people, and my sister had no one who she could turn to for advice. Anxiety is triggered by different things for different people. If he has social anxiety then it will be very hard for him to EVER function in school without anxiety. I started taking Celexa an anti depressant that controls the fight or flight response that is triggered during anxiety. It took me a long time before I would touch a vitamin let alone take a medication. The fear stemmed around anxiety has a lot to do with the fear of death. When you reach the point of panic in an anxiety attack you tell yourself your dying, and no amount of reassurance will change your mind. It is very scary to be around people when you feel like this. You can see them stare at you. It makes you very paranoid, and it is extremely hard to calm down. He is not wanting to be in school because he does not want to freak out in front of others. Being 13 and freaking out in front of your classmates marks you as weirdo. I would really get him into a group therapy session with other people who have anxiety. I would also check into home schooling, and I would allow him to learn how to overcome his anxiety at his own pace. I would also have him put on medication that will help reduce the chances of a panic attack, and have medication on stand by that stops it cold in case he has one. If you are concerned about him being on medication at 13 I would not. Antidepressants do not give any euphoric high feeling what so ever. It is as if you takes a Tylenol, but Valume, Xanax, colonopin, and others like it do. These Med's make someone feel calm relaxed, and can be abused. I would monitor these medications. I have been on Celexa and restoril for years now. I am in school for nursing, and these issues run in my family. If you get him all the coping skills now he will not be predisposed to drinking or coping with illegal drugs later on. If you have any other questions, or if your grandson has an questions or just wants to talk to someone who know what hes going through my Email is skiddles4me@aol.com I will be more than happy to help! Like I said it was very very hard for me. I am 29 now and I finally got my anxiety under control. It took me years. PS sorry about the spelling on the medications I don't know the proper spelling for them. Take care.
Sincerely,

Louise Beck

Kim - posted on 05/04/2012

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I am sorry, but I HAVE to say that all of you who are saying home school is the BEST option... You don't know that. Not every parent has the personality or ability to stay home and effectively teach their child, number one, and kids on the spectrum need the social interactions and many other things public or private school has to offer just as much as anyone else. We struggled with our school district for two years, but have worked WITH them and have helped my son to be successful and HAPPY at school. Each family needs to evaluate their own situation and decide that for themselves. Homeschool MAY be a good option for this child, but if he was successful previously, it doesn't do him justice to just run away from whatever is going on... it could even be something at home that has him not wanting to go to school anymore, and home schooling certainly won't resolve the underlying issue.

Jeannie - posted on 05/01/2012

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Is the child verbal? If so, I am assuming people have tried to talk to him about what is going on. I am also making an assumption that the kiddo is being treated for his mental health/medical issues. Medication can be a great help for some kids with anxiety issues.

Is the problem with school? With kids? With some of the staff? Just making a kid like this go won't help. Does the kid have an IEP or 405 plan? Does the school district have some alternative school systems in place? There's lots to explore here.

Connie - posted on 05/01/2012

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I homeschool mine through the public K12 program. The stress of school was just more than either of us wanted to deal with anymore. He still sees his friends daily, but he no longer has to deal with the mean boy down the street threatening him or absolute deadlines for school work that stressed him out to the point of being sick. It's made a world of difference in his attitude and anxiety and his school work hasn't suffered at all, it's actually improved since he doesn't have the pressure. He isn't trying to meet expectations, but instead just learn the material. He wasn't even stressed out for the state testing this year, since I didn't drill him endlessly, make a big deal out of it, or set him up for comparison to other students...and he did GREAT. There is SOMETHING going on. Kids don't SUDDENLY decide they don't want to go to school for no reason, even anxiety. I've been through this with both of my boys now, and there was always a reason.

Diane - posted on 05/01/2012

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Find out why he does not want to go....Is there something going on the bothers him?? There is always the homeschool option..

Angela - posted on 04/30/2012

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I feel for your daughter-in-law my sone who is 12 recently went through a similiar situation.

It started out as him not feeling good and taking him to the doctor several times over the course of a week. Suddenly he had missed two weeks and I no longer believed he was truly sick cwrtainly not sick enough to stay home. No matter how hard I tried he would not get up and go to school in the morning. After the 2nd week we started taking things away from his IPod to the TV remotes . I even unhooked the VCR/ DVD player so he didn't have anything to do at home. I know it is very frustrating and stressful . We even came to the point where we took the bedroom door off because he pushed his bed in front of the door to keep us from trying to get him out of bed. I am happy to say however that he has been going to school everyday for over a month now and did manage to get caught up in every class except band before the end of the quarter and is doing well this quarter. Tell your daughter-in-law to hang in there it will get better eventually. We are also taking him to see a counselor outside of school and hopefully that will keep him from slipping into that slump/depression again.

Janel - posted on 04/30/2012

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He sounds like a smart kid, if he's refusing to go to public school. :-) No dis to the teachers, it's just the 'system' is broken. Definitely, home school.



But for this anxiety, I'd try taking him to a nutritionist, or a naturopath to see what his body might need. Also, an old treatment for anxiety is niacin. It sometimes produces a flush, but it's harmless, just uncomfortable.

Jill - posted on 04/30/2012

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"He has pdd/asd & anxiety issues."



Then this isn't just about a teenager trying to be the boss of himself, and no good will come out of a "just make him" strategy. Your daughter needs to explore other options - homeschooling, tutors, online school, etc.



I'm assuming he's already getting psychological care on a regular basis. If not, that needs to happen too.

Edith - posted on 04/30/2012

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after making sure there is not a problem at school with teachers or other students picking on him call your local police and tell them what is going on. Please understand I am not trying to get your child in trouble for you and your child. Last year we had trouble getting my 17 year old with downs up and on the bus. My rule is he had to get up to ride the bus and he wanted to sleep then for me to take him to school. He called 911 when I refused to take him to school. The told me to call them when he did not want to get up and dress intime for school. They know how to talk to the children and will try to help find any problems. I know you do not want to worry them when there are things "more important" than my child not wanting to go to school. Most officers want to help us help our children be all they can be.

Medic - posted on 04/29/2012

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So then find something that works. Homeschool him. He has to get an education and if he is refusing going to school and it is more than a get your ass in the car and walk your ass to you class like you should then do something different.

Dove - posted on 04/29/2012

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As an outsider i want to say just have her make him go. Take him and see what is causing such anxiety and such.



Then again, I dropped out of school just before I turned 16 mostly due to extreme anxiety, so??



All I really have to offer is that I wish her luck figuring something out!!

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I have had students with severe anxiety over the past few years. Different tips worked for different kids. One girl did better in a half day setting. Another one did alternative school with very small class ratios. Another one did on-line virtual academy. Make sure the teachers and guidance counselor is in the loop as well as allow your grandson some input as to what setting he might thrive in. Good luck!

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