10-27-2020 12:52 PM - last edited on 10-27-2020 02:49 PM by Janine-RO
I am new here. I have a 15 year old son Max who has had anxiety since he was in year 8. Probably earlier, only we didn't notice it then.
Max began school refusing at the beginning of year 8, he has always been quite a popular and sporty kid, but the transition to high school seemed to unsettle him. What began as a few days off here and there grew to many days, weeks, months, till we couldn't get him out of the car.
His anxiety around school was so bad that he attempted suicide.
He was admitted to an inpatient adolescent psych unit and from there began medication and therapy.
We tried the public system but it was not very helpful. We tried moving schools, but it did not work.
I sought out a private psychologist who has been quite helpful. Max has commenced medication, which has been good but not really good enough.
Max now attends a private non-mainstream school. However hates it as there are a lot of kids there on the spectrum who are loud and disruptive to the class which causes max's anxiety to heighten.
(He understands that they cant help it but he just doesn't fit in there).
There just aren't many options for kids such as Max who want to complete VCE. All the schools are huge or really $$$
Currently he spends most of his time in his room, barely interacts with the family, will not go to any family outings or parties.
I feel he is just existing. I am burnt out. I wish there was a foster program or a boarding school for kids like Max as I just feel like I am getting no where.
I just needed to vent.
10-27-2020 04:40 PM - edited 10-27-2020 05:04 PM
Hi @Lenny80 ,
Welcome to the ReachOut Parents forums, we're so glad that you've found this space and hope it's helped a bit to vent about what he, and you, have been going through. I just wanted to let you know that I made a small edit to your post to remove the medication name and dosage just to keep the post in line with our community guidelines.
It sounds like you and your son have been through a lot in the last couple of years- we do hear quite a lot from parents whose kids are experiencing anxiety and school refusal, and it must have been incredibly distressing as a parent to see your son wanting to take his own life. It sounds like you've been really proactive in helping to look for different supports for him, it can take awhile to find the right combination of health care professionals/ treatment approaches and/or medication, and that process can be really exhausting. From what you've said, it sounds like he's done really well to remain in schooling especially after trying a few different schools, that cycle of anxiety and avoidance can be such a hard one to address. The fact that he has such a supportive parent and has been accessing different support services is hugely positive though, even if it does take time to find the right combination of approaches for him.
Apologies if you've already tried these services, but I just thought I'd share some resources in case they are helpful -
Monash University have a list of different mental health professionals who specialise in school refusal, as well as some other options that exist for alternative schooling.
School refusal support services through CatholicCare
(these are available to students at any school, not just Catholic schools, and fees are charged on a sliding scale)
have a lot of information on their website and also provide specialised support to help keep kids in education, apologies if you're already aware of this service.
You've mentioned that your son wants to complete his VCE, does he have any idea of what he would like to do after school?
I also just thought I'd share this ReachOut resource on school refusal, it includes a video from a mum who went through similar things with her teenage daughter, and I'll also come back tomorrow and tag in some other parents on the forums here who've trodden a similar path with their kids. It can feel incredibly lonely and isolating as a parent when your child is experiencing these kinds of challenges, but you're definitely not alone.
It sounds like things have been pretty exhausting for you, do you have any support for yourself? If you think it would be helpful we do also offer a one to one parents support service, where you can chat to a family professional here - it's a free service that's available over the phone or online. Often as parents our needs can end up at the bottom of the list, but it's so important to also take care of yourself.