Son still won't attend school...need help

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Well,very frustrated parents now,we finally got our boy to leave the house for short car rides but still afraid to go back to school.

We are debating home schooling but then what?How will he go out and get a job one day?I neve thought in a million years this sort of thing would happen to us.A perfectly normal 13 year old very social and involved in sports hits puberty and his life falls apart.Wife is supposed to talk to our nurse to see about going from 5mg/day to 10mg.She says it's less risky than sitching med types at this stage.We want our boy back.Any thoughts or suggestions are more than welcomed and appreciated.

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  • Posted

    From a fellow parent who also watched my son fall part last year after succumbing to depression and anxiety.  I suffered with this illness myself 36 years ago, so knew what he was going through.

    My son was 20 and couldn't work for 4 months.  Watching him broke my heart.

    He was put onto Fluoxetine, another type of SSRI which is suitable for young people, and though he went through hell, he eventually started to recover after about 5 months.  He's now turned 21, back working, going out and has a girlfriend :-)

    I also never thought in a million years I'd see my own child suffering the way he did.  I actually restarted Citalopram myself because of the stress I was feeling and didn't want to get ill - I needed to stay strong.

    Is your son missing school because he feels too ill to attend, or is he skipping school because he has agoraphobia, social phobia or similar?  Is it just school, or going out in general?

    Some people find dealing with emotions throughout puberty quite difficult, and being a teenager is a difficult time for most anyway.

    How long has he been like this?

    There are some good books to read which helped me many years ago when I first became ill.  It doesn't stop you feeling poorly, but it helped me understand what was happening in simple terms.  There's a series of books by Dr Claire Weeks and the first one is Self a Help for your Nerves.  It focuses a lot on Agoraphobia.

    Is he able to talk to you openly?  That really helped my son - I told him he could me anything, and we did talk about a lot of weird stuff, but it didn't bother me at all.

    Is he seeing a Counsellor?  Is he comfortable seeing friends at home?

    Exercise is a great way to ease excess anxiety, so maybe if he's not comfortable leaving home too much, do some activities in the garden?  Swingball, trampoline, skipping even.  Have a routine to work out maybe?

    When our son was ill, he didn't go out, lost contact with the few friends he had, my husband and I took him out on daily cycle rides and walks.  He just trudged along, not looking at anything, but he got fresh air and exercise.  As he got through some of the worst I got him signed up to guitar lessons and took him to African drumming which i did and he also joined a badminton group.  He's now recovered and still continues with these activites and has become quite a good drummer!

    I know your son isn't keen to venture out, but maybe something musical at home?  Home tuition in something like guitar?  Music is good for the soul, and is used a lot in the recovery for some people for various illnesses.

    Does he play Xbox or Playstaion a lot?  This was one of my sons downfalls and he stopped playing for a long time as I explained they're not good, especially some of the violent games.  He does play again now as has friends on Xbox he connects with, but they play football on it.

    Yes home tuition is good, but as you say he does need to go out.  Is there something at school that particularly bothers him?  Bullying?  I'd continue to encourage him out and explain to him fresh air and exercise is part of treatment.  Maybe walking out when it's dark might help him feel more comfortable.

    Sorry for the long reply ... 

    K x

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    • Posted

      Hello and thank you so much for your in depth response,you strike me as someone who really genuinely cares for others.That's amazing.

      Anyway,getting back to my son,yes he does get out for short ventures and we believe it's not the school itself he is afraid of,it's the length of time being away from the house.He was diagnosed with OCD when he was 4,he was never placed on medication,at that time he refused to eat for 6 weeks,then went through a period of wearing a certain color,straightening out objects perfectly for hours before he could leave the house,panicking about running out of time,trouble sleeping etc.Although in between these periods he also had very normal lapses,until last December when he decided never to leave the house even to go to school,and mentioned that he wishes he would die. Between 9 and 13 years old,he was actively involved with travel soccer which we believe helped him tremendously,then as puberty set in and being off for Christmas break,he never returned to school and refused to leave the house until this summer for short drives.I then finally convinced my wife to get him on meds so we were able to get a nurse to come to the house and 2 months or so later,here we are.Yes he does play his Xbox quite often because he is not really musically inclined(like his big brother)his passion was soccer.Thanks so much for your help,it was greatly appreciated.

      If you have any more questions,fire away.And I wish only the best to you and your family.

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    • Posted

      Hi Doofus

      Thank you - I've been on this site since my son became ill, and having had it myself understand a lot about it.  I've chatted to quite a few people on here who are suffering too.

      Oh your poor little lad - I really do feel for him.  My son also wanted to die as he couldn't handle the feelings anymore.  He once phoned me from the top of a bridge, sobbing and hardly able to speak, so I phoned the police and together we found him.  He was even immediately seen by the Psyche team, had counselling and more support through his journey on medication.

      Has he ever been tested for autism or similar - sometimes it can go unnoticed as it doesn't always show itself if its mild.  Children have a hard time connecting, and see the world differently to others.  They can have tendencies towards OCD, collecting, sorting etc and develop many fears too.  Worth looking into as it can require different treatment.   Anyway ... just a thought x

      Being separated from home can cause anxiety, and maybe as he's going through puberty it's puzzling for him.  It's good he's able to go out for short periods - encouraging this more is good.  Maybe taking something with him from home could make him feel safe when he's out, and as soon as he feels uncomfortable return straight away.

      My son played his Xbox too much and isolated himself a lot, then he got ill and stopped playing (being ill wasn't because of the Xbox mind).  Now he's better he does play it again, but he connects to friends on it which is important for him.  Playing football in it seems the favourite thing.

      Does your son still like sport?  Does he watch it on TV - maybe encouraging sport and exercise back into his life will help.  Just a small thing - something he can do in the garden?

      Its really tough isn't it - we'd like to just take our children's fears away and suffer them ourselves instead.

      K x

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    • Posted

      Hi.No he has never been tested for anything else,because we can't get him to a doctor,unless they come and do blood work at home which may be an option.We hada horrible weekend,he was supposed to go to soccer tryouts for next season and was able to make it as far as the parking lot of the field,then fear overtook him once again.This is putting a huge strain on my marriage,buecause my wife is beyond frustrated and at her end.I did get him to play catch in the yard yesterday for a short while,so that was nice.Going to try again for school this morning and see what happens.Fingers crossed!
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    • Posted

      It may well be worth trying to get him tested.  It's just when you said he was diagnosed for OCD as young as 4, it got me wondering.  Try Googling it and see if it bears resemblance.  I believe it's different treatment for autism ...... of course it may not be that at all, but worth investigating.

      He might have agoraphobia though - again different treatment for that.

      Oh bless him - must be awful, wanting to go to soccer then being overcome with fear.  Does he say what it is he's actually afraid that will happen?  I know you said he's not happy away from home.  

      Im not surprised it's putting a huge strain on your marriage - you must both be stressed and worried by it all.

      You said he's been on meds for 2 months now?  During the first 6 weeks or so the meds can make you worse before you start to get better, and it can be a very unpleasant and scary journey on them.  Maybe he's suffering with these side effects at the moment ...... this does wear off in time.  Remember if the dose is upped he will get side effects again - just be aware of him during these times.  Eventually the meds kick in and you start to feel really happy.  It can take 3-4 months for that to happen sometimes.

      You may find in time that he'll start to be ok going out ...... worth persevering with the meds for a while to come yet.

      Hope he was able to go to school.  Maybe see how far you can get.  If it's only the school gate or the bottom of the road, if you're in the car maybe just sit there for a while, tell him it's ok he doesn't have to go any further and see if his anxiety lessens a little.  Then return home after a while.  That might help him to feel that he has a choice of returning home without any stress being put on him.  Best to stay calm too ;-)  Repeat this every day and see if he's able to go any further gradually day by day, allowing his anxiety to abate.

      No doubt you do this anyway .... but just a thought if you haven't tried it.

      Does he have support from the school?

      Playing catch outside is good - exercise, fresh air, feeling good doing it ...... bonus is it makes you fit too! biggrin

      Hope the school run went ok today.

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  • Posted

    I can only suggest getting him help now while he's young like you are doing

    I didnt recieve any help as a child (hid things well etc) and now aged 34 im unemployed on sickness benefit and depressed all the time

    I hated going to school and work, not sure why, nervous all the time, never relaxed and now i think its caught up with me

    Dreading getting a new job when it should be a normal thing

    Keep on at the doctors for help

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