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Our Story ....
My Son started to show there was something wrong in 2009 when his Granddad reported problems taking him to school. My son got so far into the school and then gripped his granddad tightly saying he was too scared. He cried and was genuinely terrified. The next episode was about a week later when I witnessed something similar for myself. I had seen my son off to school and then took my daughter to her part of the school. When I returned back up to Andrew's yard to exit the grounds, Andrew ran out of school towards me and flung his arms around my waste, gripping me so tightly. He was terrified and sobbing inconsolably with distress and fear.
My first impression was that he was being bullied and I went straight to the head teacher?s office with him clinging on. Unfortunately, my son displayed a visible resistance to school due to the severe fear, so in most people's eyes, he appeared to simply be 'playing the wag' as it's called in my area - doing what he could for a day off from 'boring' school, so it was never seen by his mainstream school as a genuine condition when this all began to unravel. The only thing I kept telling everyone is my son never found school a problem and never struggled with his work and in addition to this; he always got ready in his school uniform pretty early. My feelings were that a child who wanted time off school would present themselves to you, still in their night clothes looking pretty worse for wear with a somewhat pretend cough or spluttering, which was never the case !!! With the school being unconvinced of what was truly happening, the pressure built against us as we ourselves were trying to understand 'school phobia', where it had came from and why it chose Andrew. And so, the battle commenced!
The fear in him grew worse with the days that followed and I began to notice Andrew was developing physical symptoms associated with the fear and anxiety. He stopped going to bed and was forcing himself to stay awake to prevent the next day coming; the next morning he would wake with a start really early and then would suffer chronic episodes of diarrhea and begin to shake and tremble with the extremity of nerves. It lead to me having to escort him to his classroom where he would stand in the corridor, sobbing and shaking for almost 40 minutes, begging me not to leave him, saying he was too scared. I would try to reason with him and talk him through different things, but as I later found out from Marianna Csoti?s book, this is a failed avenue before you even start. Reasoning just is out of the question as the fear is so intense, the child refuses to listen. Fear is a powerful thing.
After a number of days I went to see a GP who prescribed Andrew a antihistamine which resulted in my son being unbelievably drowsy which in turn resulted in a heightened emotional state ( I since found out that GPs cannot prescribe the drugs that Psychiatrists can ).
We tried again to enter the school in a 'sedative' state and the disruption in the corridor became very distressing for both me and my son and in addition to this, the lack of understanding from his mainstream school added pressure to both him and me. We re-visited the Drs.
This time we saw a different doctor; a lady who was very nicely spoken and understanding. She spoke to Andrew and in a way that he was comfortable and able to talk back to her. He opened up which meant that the Dr managed to gather enough information to diagnose Andrew with School Phobia (refusal) and Separation Anxiety. It was then quite understandable why he felt so scared going into school and also a reason why he would never let me leave school and would cling to me like an infant. The doctor felt it was time to involve a psychiatrist and asked that we re-visit her before the end of the Easter Holidays. She also made a point of ringing the school to advise them of his condition and to relieve the pressure both my son and I were feeling.
The Easter Holidays brought my son some respite but in week two of the break, he began to worry and his spell of respite ended. He became more focused on watching his time dwindle away as the start of the school term got closer. Even though school hadn?t started back, he began with severe diarrhea and nightmares and would constantly tell me of this extreme fear he felt. I contacted the Doctor for an appointment and she decided to chase up the Psychiatrist.
The day that my son was due to return back to school from the holidays was the worst that I had seen him. He was that debilitated by his symptoms he could not return which resulted in me personally tutoring him from home. The reason for the tutoring was that the head mistress of the school had threatened my son with a low attendance level and consequences of mum facing court and prison for consequences of truancy. I therefore looked into this further and learned that I could support my decision to keep him home as-long as I was supporting his educational needs. During this week and a visit to his teachers, an idea for me to be present in school with my son might just work at getting him back in school until psychiatric interventions help teach him the relevant skills and methods to overcome his disorders. We returned to school on the 27th April 2009.
My daily routine with my son and his younger sister is (at this point in time) to get them ready and try to keep my son calmed down. He still has symptoms regardless of me being in school but his fear levels have reduced. I arrive at school 8:40-45 and take my son to his class where we both set up for the day. I sit with something to do and my son sits ready to work. He manages to participate in most classroom activities for half a day a week. We then leave school during lunchtime and then we return home where I then give my son tasks in accordance with his school timetable. The school were happy with the efforts made by myself and my son and I have since been in touch with the Educational Welfare Officer who too is happy with our efforts. My son now has a psychiatrist appointment on 11th May which I will keep you posted with, on here !!
November 2014: I felt it necessary to continue on this page rather than add to the blog as I felt it was important to 'unveil' what I feel is starting to become clearer in my eyes and is possibly a growing opportunity for future research.
It seems from my years talking to parents of children suffering like my son did, that School Phobia, Refusal, Anxieties and so on "may" be co-morbities to something else. I say this as my son has suffered with Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures - a part of the Tourettes Syndrome and has now been diagnosed formally with Tourettes Syndrome after developing severe tics and tremors with minor vocals. Having read about Tourettes Syndrome, it was interesting to learn that Anxiety, mood disorders, OCDs, aggression, anger and more, were comorbid to TS. It seems that my son was pre-disposed to his many problems as he was born with TS. We just didn't have things in the right order to solve the puzzle faster.
"Those that judge, don't help. Those that don't help aren't helpful.
Those that aren't helpful, you don't need .... you just need to find
the right choice of words to tell them so".