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School refusal

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School refusal

Hi all, New poster. 
So my daughter is 12 and we are dealing with school refusal. 
It started about half way through grade 2. She used to go to school and kindy great prior to this. Im not sure if i can really pinpoint what changed. I was working nights, i also got pancreatitis twice and regardless of telling her i would be ok she worried alot. after that i noticed when i would go to work she would stress that i wouldnt come home and then id take her to school and she would scream for me, saying she needed to be near me and we all put it down to extreme seperation anxiety.  

She would make threats about punching everyone until i came to get her. Try jumping fences, etc Teachers would tell me to hard love it because if i cave and take her home she would do it everytime. It was an extremely stressful time and i would end in tears most mornings as i just wasnt sure what to do. My quiet sweet girl would become aggressive and swear and scream. we were told this was her extreme anxiety causing a fight or flight, with her it was fight and adrenaline. 
We started seeing a child psychologist who did equine and pet therapy and eventually a pead who diagnosed her with lvl 2 autism and inattentive adhd. 

She is now in year 7 and is no longer worried about being away from me, in fact the complete opposite. she couldnt care less. 
She seems to hate me, cant talk to her about anything without her talking to me like im the biggest moron alive. and after fighting with her for 5 years every single school day we have made no progress. 

We have changed schools, to ones that have better SEP programs etc. we finally got it right and found a amazing school , unfortunately that was through grade 6 and then along came high school. We tried and got 3 weeks in she refused for the rest of the term. we tried everything, rewarding her. taking away electronics. doing half days. you name it.  she just wouldnt get out of the car. 

We are trying home school again for the second time and i cant even get her to do this. try taking it to the park with a milkshake and doing some - NOPE, Try doing 10 mins here and 10 mins there - NOPE. all she wants to do is sleep, talk to her old school friends on the phone or read Anime comics. 

I am so lost as to what to do here. In the last 3 years i think there prob isnt very many days that go past where i dont hide in the room and cry from frustration. 

The schools are hounding me for her results and i have to keep making excuses and promising them that im trying to get her work uploaded but when she just refuses i dont know what to do. 

Part of me wishes i could just tell her fine, be done with school, and wait a year or two until she has matured a little and is more willing to open up to people and talk and find something she is passionate about to pursue. and then pickup the schooling then. Because right now i feel like we are both banging out head against a brick wall and the more i try to get her to do anything the more she digs in her heels. 

Please tell me i am no alone in this? 

I also have a 10 year with hyperactive adhd and autism.  he is great with school most days but his temper goes from 0 to 100 in seconds and the screaming, swearing, punching kicking is crazy. 

Prolific scribe

Re: School refusal

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Hi @Vestaria , were are so glad that you've reached out for some support Heart


I'm so sorry to hear that you've been struggling with your daughter's school refusal. I can completely understand why you're feeling frustrated and unsure of what to do next - it sounds like you've been doing everything in your power to support your daughter to get to school, but she just isn't responding. Is she still seeing her child psychologist?


You're definitely not alone in this. If you feel like taking a look, here is a link to our community thread on school refusal where other parents have shared their challenging experiences with getting their teens to go to school. There's also an article on helping your teen who refuses to go to school if you're interested, it has a few tips on what to do when you feel like you've tried everything. 


It sounds like you've been managing your daughter's challenging behaviour around going to school for quite some time. Do you have any support in place to help you cope with this? 


Re: School refusal

Hi Vestaria,


New poster as well.

My daughter is 14 in year 9 and sounds like we have similar issues. When she hit year 7 things became trickier with friends and relationships. Also, she was diagnosed with ADHD, possible ASD as her dad has recently been diagnosed. She had always been pretty ok at school and excelled in some areas but once the workload became more she struggled to process and keep up. She finds it hard in the class to process what the teachers are saying and has said her head feels like wet concrete and the information takes a while to get from the teacher speaking to her being able to do what is asked. I thought this was a great description to explain how she feels in class and some of the reason she is anxious at school. 


She also refuses to get out of the car and covid hasn't helped at all. She hasn't been to school at all this term and only had 30% attendance last semester but most of that was in the first term, second term shes hardly been and I can see its just going downhill. I have a meeting tomorrow with the school. They have been good at introducing measures to get her there such as only 2 periods a day and coming in when she can. But still isn't helping her now as she just doesn't want to go. She is doing no school work and has missed most of this year now. In regards to the school, I have told them everything and send emails on a regular basis to the year 9 coordinator just so they are in the loop with how things are going and then I feel more supported and less guilty. 


She spends most days in her room in the dark but she does go out with friends when they ask her. Unfortunately, the lack of attendance is now impacting her friendships as they are less likely to ask her to go out and she has anxiety around asking people to go so its a tough situation. 


For me, I have stood back and made the choice that her mental health comes first so I don't push her anymore. Its too hard on parents and child and can be really detrimental to the relationship. Plus pushing doesn't get her to school, in fact in my experience it does the opposite. I have prioritised our relationship over school, I wonder if taking the pressure off you and her completely and giving her a break would help for her to talk to you again? Would the school officially allow you to take the pressure off for a bit? I have been working with the navigator program which is a school refusal program in Victoria, they assign a case manager who then has been providing me support and she will visit the school if necessary to advocate for my daughter. Her latest advice to me was to just take everything off the table as while they are in flight and fight they will never learn or be open to learning anyway. That includes appointments for us as well, as my daughter got sick of always seeing people about her issues. The navigator lady said this is something a lot of families do and can be quite beneficial to just focus on your relationship and bring some joy back in if possible. I understand this can be hard with a shutdown teen though. 


We are going to try for the rest of this year to get her back to school slowly working with the school, but as a back up I am also looking at an online school for next year that is designed for kids like ours, not sure if she will do the work. Its less pressure than homeschooling for the parent as well, they still have teacher support but its really flexible.  


I belong to an Aussie facebook group for school refusal and I find there is a lot of help and support there. It certainly helps you to realise you are not alone if nothing else and there are some positive stories about kiddos like ours that go down a different path but still get there in the end. 


In regards to the crying daily, I hear you! Its heartbreaking to see our loved ones go down this road. Recently I have tried to distance myself a bit emotionally from the situation and put myself first and see that she may be on a less conventional path and for me to be ok with that. I am doing meditation which is really helpful if you're that way inclined, its good for emotional regulation and not taking things so personally or taking on board everything because I just don't think its our job to do that.


I hope this helps in some way, at least to let you know you are defiantley not alone. So many kids out there with this issue. Even my daughters school have confirmed this, which made me feel better! Look after yourself and take the pressure off if and where you can Smiley Happy


Re: School refusal

Hello @Teenagemum11 , I am sorry to hear about what you have been going through lately. It sounds like things have been quite difficult, so it is awesome that you have been engaged in various supports that have been helping you through. It's lovely to see the support that you have been giving today, I am sure it is appreciated Smiley Happy. Hope that you are also able to take the pressure off when possible!