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"School Refusal"

Have you ever heard of it?

Supposedly it's different from the out and out "truancy" insofar as it is a psychological disorder.  A psychological disorder that affects about 5 to 28 percent of all children at one time or another.  A psychological disorder for which "pharmacological" treatments and psychotherapies are available.  That's right.  Drug your kids and let them talk it out, but for Heaven's sake, send them back to school as soon as possible.

"Well-meaning parents can make things worse, psychologists say, by allowing an anxious child to miss school, attending school with them as, for example, a classroom volunteer—or home-schooling. Such accommodations send the message that school is too scary for the child to handle alone and the fear is justified."

Yep.   Interesting buncha hooey, especially since about 3/4 of the time, it's the school that wants you to do its work and make their day easier.  At least that's how it's working out around here of late.

Right now, I'm dealing with some umm... interesting school "refusal" tactics from my 15-year-old.  Though I wouldn't call his "school refusal" some sort of gibberishy medical term.  I'd call it "autism," and despite some good efforts from some good teachers, he has trouble in class.  He makes trouble in class, too, let's face it. 

But lately he's figured out that he can use his "breaks" as a way to get out of work, and that if he's really naughty, his mom will have to come and get him.  Under ordinary circumstances, I'd make home a place he doesn't really want to be sent when he does that... but for reasons I'm not blogging today, it isn't possible right now.  Just trust me on this, but it is a situation we have autism specialists assisting us with and I am obligated to go with their advice for this present moment for various reasons.

So... I kept telling the school that I'm sorry he did (whatever) or said (whatever), but if we keep calling Mom to pick him up and get him out all the time, this will only reinforce the bad behaviour and make it worse.  So guess what's happening?  Instead of learning that like it or not some hours, school is overall where we need to be right now, Mom is the get-out-of-jail free card he plays every trip around the board. 

What the school really needs to do is get its crap together and find a different class or a specialized aide, because you know what?  I do think SOME (not all!) the teachers are genuinely doing what they can but are either overwhelmed (G not being the only kid in class, ya know) or have not handled autistic children before in a high school setting.  This whole situation isn't fair to G, the teachers, or the other students.  I keep hearing that it's a new school, it's a small school, and they don't have the "resources."  Dang, but I've seen the district budget and they can hire "resources."

G is a nice guy, mind you.  But what started out as a "you can leave the room and walk for a bit if you are very overwhelmed" has morphed over time into an idea in his head that he is allowed to wander out during all tests and instruction time. 

And I love the guy, but he's not terribly realistic.  He can't read well at all.  We're talking first or second grade level here.  But now he says he wants to be homeschooled.  And why? Because homeschoolers go on to college at the age of 15.  Plus, he sees Emperor and Elf have most of the afternoon off.

Yeah.  Emperor and Elf are AT WORK before 6 a.m. and continue work until about 1 p.m. with a break for lunch.  And they read for a good part of the time at night.  I don't think G could hack it... I really don't.  And college at 15? I don't want to get all paranoid... but I think the school is feeding this mindset.

I get calls from the counsellor about "maybe G doesn't have to go all day."  I WANT to respond that "maybe" he wants to find G a job with no diploma, but I'm ohhh so diplomatic and just say that really isn't an option; he must graduate on time.  Or the very DAY AFTER I inform the counsellor about this potential heart condition, I get a call saying, "G is in the office with me.  We both think it's a great idea for him to join the basketball team!"

I mean... I know that the heart specialist people are not putting restrictions on him before the cardiology appointment, but at our last doctor visit (regular MD), they DID HEAR A MURMUR.  G is off at the park right now (that's regular activity), but I'm not letting him join the team.  I guess I just hear "rules" that way, even if it's the same amount of exercise, yk?

Speaking of rules, I was telling Emperor to stay out of the cashier's "space" because this area is her space.  "And see that invisible line?" I said as I gestured.  "Stay back from it."

"I can't see an invisible line!!"  Arg.  He was being serious, too.  Then when I told him he needed to use his imagination and just stay back from where the line WOULD be, he seemed exasperated that the ENTIRE WORLD had a set of unwritten but somehow clearly-defined-to-everyone-else set of rules that we all must follow.

I sorta feel like that today.  I am having difficulty communicating that I AM supportive of a good school environment and the other students learning, but that in the LONG RUN my picking him up from school constantly will be counterproductive.  Hoping that the situation resolves for G and for EVERYONE at that school.  I'm going to do my part, to be sure, but "waving a magic wand and curing" is not on the horizon this week.  Sorry.  We're going to have to work something else out together, the school peeps and I.


  1. No, I have never heard of that before.

    I am just stupefied by this whole, your young man 'G' has been taught by the school that if he really doesn't 'want' to be there, and his actions show that, they will call the Mom-wagon to collect him. And, this has become a bit of a cycle, and they expect you to do what exactly to stop it?? I am floored, honestly.

    I side with 'G' in all of this. If I could act up and get my Mom to come and pick me up most days, I would do it, too. And, I am not saying that he doesn't have true moments of needing to step back and take a breather from class, teacher, other kids ,etc...but he's a kid!! Kids are smart, and why would he not figure out the reward here?? Even if Mom isn't being 'nice' it's still home!

    Again, this just blows my mind.

    Can I ask, who came up with this policy, and how much tdo they get paid? May I PLEASE apply for that job?

    Hang in there. :/

  2. Goodness. I have been through all of this with schools. People wondered why I homeschooled. I'm not some smart person who decided school wasn't doing good enough. Nope. I've always bought curriculums that were laid out for me. I did a GREAT job at guiding him and they still read better than the kids at school. The ONLY reason I had to keep pulling Chaz out was because of the problems you mention. They kept calling me. I recently suggested they do in school suspension so Chaz won't be so happy about coming home. They have to do positive rewards with him. It works wonders for him. I finally found another school that is working with me. Yay!

  3. Um yeah. School refusal. Had two ~ as oppossed to the outright waggers. Believe it or not Liddy was one. She hated the place. We had to bring her home for all our sanity. It was the environment, not the learning. Oh, & my aspie ~ he worked out if he could get picked up by mum he was home & hosed c'cause they never sent work home with him. Smart kid.

    And the youngest boy ~ only way to keep him in school when he started was if I stayed too ~ & he was on a whole different island. They were mad thinking I'd just dump him & run for the hills.

    I know it's hard. Hang in there. This too shall pass.

  4. I am so sorry, Mrs. C. I wish I had insights to offer... but I don't. Will keep praying for ya, though. Hang in there!


  5. That is so true and sad. School rules, I mean the sanctions just make things even worse. I was called to the office once in high school because I always came to school late. I was shocked to see that my mom was also called. Because I was mad that they called my mom, and because I was a bad kid in that year of high school (LOL), I staged a rebellion by not going to school for a few days! And even came to school late for the next coming days!

    I was really bad then.

    I made things worse.

    I know your kid G is a good guy, but if those things keep on repeating, I don't think it's gonna turn out good for anyone. He may continue to lose his interest on school. I don't know what needs to be done, but I think and hope you can talk him into it. The mom always does it best. =]

  6. Oh dear. I do hope you all can work something out and soon. Sounds daft to carry on like this.

  7. I know two young men who the schools were happy to suggest the parents homeschool. It is called pushing out... and is just as much of the schools fault as your son's. He's extra work and they would just as soon let you deal with it so they won't have to.

    You may need to demand private specialized schooling for your boys on the school's dime.


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