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OrangeSprout

16 Year Old Won't go to school

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OrangeSprout

My son is 16. The youngest of 7. He has ADHD. And a high IQ.
Yes he likes his gaming and screen time but he is not "hard core"..
I can and do limit his internet access.
He was at the same school for 7 years and did ok.. school refusal never happened.
This year to do year 11 he had to move to a new school as his other one finished at year 10.

He does not handle change very well and never has done.
So along comes year 11 ... different school.. different location... different teachers... different peers.. and a co-ed school - previously he was at a boys only school.
We had trouble getting him settled in to attending but once we did we were going well.
Until COVID19 struck...
Learning online was a no go for him.
We get back to some kind of rythmn and he is attending and then it's school holidays for term 2 break.
Get him back for 1 day and then it's exams and has he had no exams he had a further 10 days off school!!

And now I just cannot get him there.. some weekes he will go for 3 days but at the monet he has not been since August 20th..
He says he cannot be bothered, or he's tired or he feels sick.
He makes promises to go but never fulfills them.
We try and barter/bribe him with things he wants and him going to school....
But at the moment that is failing too.

He wont leave the house so attending appoiontments to see GP/Pyschologist/Counseller won't work...
His last peadiatrician appointment was a telehealth one as he refused to go... and then would not take part in the phone call.

I am lost. I am struggling. I cry.
I have considered calling the Police to come talk to him about the importance and the law around school attendance.

I. Do. Not. Know. What.To.Do anymore.

 

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Freddie'sMum

Contact the school and ask for their help.  He will not be the only 16 year old who has done school refusual and he won't be the last :(

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Astrocyte

Does the school have a counsellor/psychologist? They might have some strategies to help him. You could also contact his year level coordinator to discuss the issue. 

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71Cath

Orange Sprout I am having the same issue with my DD - 16, Year 11, new school.

She actually coped very well with remote learning, the problem started when they said remote learning had finished and everyone had to return to school.  We had school refusal,  threats of self harm etc.

I met with the year 11 coordinator and the school career officer and we have nutted out a transition pathway to leaving school.  Hopefully to stop her just "dropping out" with no ongoing support.  She is only doing 3 subjects at school (and she only attends the double lessons not the single lessons), we are engaging with Employment Plus (a youth employment service) and she is doing a week's work experience in carpentry this week.

In the ACT you have up to 5 years to complete year 12, so don't panic just yet.  I understand the stress you must be feeling, its awful.  I have found the school to be very proactive and helpful - they recognise that not every kid is cut out for school, and have given us lots of options for other avenues to explore.  I've cried as well - why is my kid the one that wont go to school???  Everyone else's kid goes to school.

I guess I've had to let go of my thoughts of what her future would look like (school, uni etc) and that I'm a failure because my kid doesn't finish school.  Its not about me apparently!  I'm just trying to focus on getting her a job.

If you need a chat, send me a message

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PuddingPlease

I agree that contacting the school is a good idea but I would probably start with chat to his regular GP too, just by yourself if he won't participate.

It sounds a bit like the school refusal might be a symptom of broader social withdrawal since I gather he isn't leaving the house for any other reason either. A GP should be able to discuss what options might be available to treat or manage this or provide a referral to someone who can help. 

I wouldn't worry about the police at this point, whatever is going on for your boy I doubt it's anything that will be helped by threatening legal penalties. If he is struggling to manage anxiety that might actually make it worse.  

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OrangeSprout

I have contacted the school.
They have support available for him BUT he needs to go to school to access it.
He will not ask for help.
We have already reduced his study load by one subject..
He has told the Aboriginal Student Success teacher that there is nothing wrong.
he has no firm friendships :( and that make me really sad...

I have mentioned to the GP numerous times about him not leaving the house... but I don't get anywhere - yes I think a new GP is on the cards.. BUT then it's the whole start over thing..

We are in Tas...

 

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71Cath

Orange Sprout will the teacher/coordinator call him?  DD had a couple of phone calls with the teacher helping her (on speaker with me next to her), and that was a good transition to a face to face meeting for her.

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OrangeSprout

The support group have tried calling him/emailing him .. but no luck
I have an email from the school on who does what in regards to support for him.
It's all there but I need to get him there.
 

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71Cath

That's the hardest part!  

I'm sorry Orange Sprout, it really is tough.

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kerilyntaryn

Sometimes various staff can come to the home to talk/help.  Some psychologist, social worker, counsellors may come to the house too.  School refusing is tough, hugs, hang in there

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71Cath

I also called the coordinator - I told DD I was going to do it, and while I was chatting she came and sat next to me - she didn't want me talking about her, and not knowing what was going on!  So that was a bit sneaky of me, but it seemed to ease her into the idea of engaging with the school.

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OrangeSprout
27 minutes ago, kerilyntaryn said:

Sometimes various staff can come to the home to talk/help.  Some psychologist, social worker, counsellors may come to the house too.  School refusing is tough, hugs, hang in there

I thought that there were some that could do that too.. BUT now we have COVID19 changes have been made.
I will follow that up.
It is very tough.
Thank you

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TigerQueenofSheeba

It is so tough when they are that age. You can't physically make them do anything! 

I agree that trying to get some of psychologist or counsellor or someone from the school to come to your house, if you can. 

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Crombek

Which area of Tas? Pm me if you like, I may be able to point you in the right direction. Ultimately it's tricky if they won't engage with services though. 

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XieXie

What does he do all day at home @OrangeSprout? If he is on screens at all during the school day I would completely take them away. If being home is no fun and completely boring he may just decide school is the lesser of the two evils...?

 

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Prancer is coming

I think I know where you are OP.  Has his high school started doing year 11 this year (with limited subjects)?  Just wondering if it is an option to look into that or what they are running next year.  I know it may not be the best option academically, but at least it gets him doing something and engaging.

 

Is his mental health at the point where he will not leave the house?  It is hard when they don’t engage, but I would not let that stop me trying.  Does the paed have any ideas?  ADHD meds could need adjusting, or is treatment needed for anxiety?  Headspace offer support for young people, I would try and pull out any screens at home until he saw someone.  My kid has the same profile as yours and I so worry about this stuff in the future.   

 

 

 

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OrangeSprout
7 hours ago, Crombek said:

Which area of Tas? Pm me if you like, I may be able to point you in the right direction. Ultimately it's tricky if they won't engage with services though. 

 @CrombekWe are in the south.. yes it is very hard if they won't engage...

6 hours ago, Prancer is coming said:

I think I know where you are OP.  Has his high school started doing year 11 this year (with limited subjects)?  Just wondering if it is an option to look into that or what they are running next year.  I know it may not be the best option academically, but at least it gets him doing something and engaging.

 

Is his mental health at the point where he will not leave the house?  It is hard when they don’t engage, but I would not let that stop me trying.  Does the paed have any ideas?  ADHD meds could need adjusting, or is treatment needed for anxiety?  Headspace offer support for young people, I would try and pull out any screens at home until he saw someone.  My kid has the same profile as yours and I so worry about this stuff in the future.   

 

 

 

@prancer No he goes to a long established college.. 
His old high school will be starting years 11 & 12 in the next year or two... I was disappointed he'd miss doing college there BUT then I was worried I'd done the wrong thing by keeping him in a single sex school.

He's not been keen to leave the house for a few years. But would go to family functions with us if we took our small dog.
He's not taking his daytime ADHD med.. he refuse it, as the paed has him on a long lasting one that makes him feel sick... and he actually seems to be ok at school without it.. apparently one third of those with ADHD can learn to control themselves a bit better at this age - according to his paed...I also get the feeling the paed is not sure what else they can offer..

The paed has advised us to not remove his PC/screens from his room as we are using them as a tactic to get him to school .. ie: go to school for X amount of days and you can get that game..
He wanted a new table in his room.. I told him to go to school for 3 days in a row at least and he could have one... it worked.. and I fulfilled my end of the deal.

@XieXie I can and do turn his internet access off to his pc/PS4 ... he then only has his phone or iPad... and he will watch shows on his iPad...
I do not turn his internet on until a time I see fit...

 

Edited by OrangeSprout

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BusbyWilkes
6 hours ago, XieXie said:

What does he do all day at home @OrangeSprout? If he is on screens at all during the school day I would completely take them away. If being home is no fun and completely boring he may just decide school is the lesser of the two evils...?

 

Not sure if you have had a 16 year old boy - they are not so easy to take things from! 
Switching off wifi can work, except if they have a phone plan with data included.

so sorry you are finding yourself in this position OP. School refusal  (not just “wagging” for fun) is a way more common problem than most people realise. I would see if you could do a Telehealth apt with a GP (with your son involved too, if he will). They will be able to make recommendations re referrals, as well as screen for mental health issues. It is not uncommon for the mix of high IQ (so high expectations) and ADHD to also coexist with anxiety. Is he medicated for his ADHD (and If so, is he taking his medication)?

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Tinky Winky Woo

I think in his circumstance there needs to be some firm expectations in place that need to be non-negotiable.  I have a kid who is ADHD and even being slightly younger can understand that there are the non-negotiable expectations around school.  AHDH is a reason but NOT an excuse in this home.

Tell him that you expect him to go to school OR get a full time job.  He won't be able to sit at home and game during the day.  If he chooses to do neither option than he will need to be able to support himself somehow to afford to pay for the internet, food, utilities and other expenses.  Explain to him that you are happy to continue to support him financially (if you are) provided he attends school.  

I know how difficult it is and how easy it is to give in because it really is exhausting but clear, concise, non-negotiable expectations and boundaries are generally what ADHD kids will thrive on.  

The school can also ring to speak to him or ask for a zoom meeting, he does not need to be at the school for this.  

 

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Meepy

Is there anyone at the school he has made a connection with?  There is often one person who they respect and connect with.  
In Vic they have mentors from the community for Koori students - I’m not sure if that’s the person you referred to earlier.  Positive role models really help with boys and also having a goal.   It’s often hard to work out their goals - they will start off with having no idea and I always avoid using the word goal, or asking what they want to do after school.  Talking to them about successful people in the areas they admire and how they got there without appearing to be talking about their future is challenging but well worth it.

Another tactic we use is pointing out the type of jobs you are likely to get, if any, with a Year 10 education and how much they don’t get paid.  Money tends to motivate.  
Are there any alternatives like TAFE (vocational education) available?  Much more hands on and engaging for some kids.  
A change of school may help but is not guaranteed to - one with girls in it may be more interesting.

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OrangeSprout
51 minutes ago, BusbyWilkes said:

Not sure if you have had a 16 year old boy - they are not so easy to take things from! 
Switching off wifi can work, except if they have a phone plan with data included.

so sorry you are finding yourself in this position OP. School refusal  (not just “wagging” for fun) is a way more common problem than most people realise. I would see if you could do a Telehealth apt with a GP (with your son involved too, if he will). They will be able to make recommendations re referrals, as well as screen for mental health issues. It is not uncommon for the mix of high IQ (so high expectations) and ADHD to also coexist with anxiety. Is he medicated for his ADHD (and If so, is he taking his medication)?

@BusbyWilkes not taking his ADHD meds as it makes him feel sick and he seems to be coping ok at school when he is there. His IQ is 119.. so he is most definitely capable of doing well.
GP is the next call I will be sorting - probs telehealth .. might be easy to get referrals but still need to get him out to the appointments.

 

40 minutes ago, Tinky Winky Woo said:

I think in his circumstance there needs to be some firm expectations in place that need to be non-negotiable.  I have a kid who is ADHD and even being slightly younger can understand that there are the non-negotiable expectations around school.  AHDH is a reason but NOT an excuse in this home.

Tell him that you expect him to go to school OR get a full time job.  He won't be able to sit at home and game during the day.  If he chooses to do neither option than he will need to be able to support himself somehow to afford to pay for the internet, food, utilities and other expenses.  Explain to him that you are happy to continue to support him financially (if you are) provided he attends school.  

I know how difficult it is and how easy it is to give in because it really is exhausting but clear, concise, non-negotiable expectations and boundaries are generally what ADHD kids will thrive on.  

The school can also ring to speak to him or ask for a zoom meeting, he does not need to be at the school for this.  

 

@Tinky Winky Woo he has been told he needs to attend school fulltime, TAFE or get a job..
The school have tried to call him but he will not answer his phone .. :( 

35 minutes ago, Meepy said:

Is there anyone at the school he has made a connection with?  There is often one person who they respect and connect with.  
In Vic they have mentors from the community for Koori students - I’m not sure if that’s the person you referred to earlier.  Positive role models really help with boys and also having a goal.   It’s often hard to work out their goals - they will start off with having no idea and I always avoid using the word goal, or asking what they want to do after school.  Talking to them about successful people in the areas they admire and how they got there without appearing to be talking about their future is challenging but well worth it.

Another tactic we use is pointing out the type of jobs you are likely to get, if any, with a Year 10 education and how much they don’t get paid.  Money tends to motivate.  
Are there any alternatives like TAFE (vocational education) available?  Much more hands on and engaging for some kids.  
A change of school may help but is not guaranteed to - one with girls in it may be more interesting.

 @Meepy There is an Aboriginal Student Success teacher that has been in contact with my son and also myself...I wish that I could get them to be more involved but it seems COVID19 has made this difficult.

He is now at one with girls and it does not seem to make any difference..
Doesn't seem to have any one firm connection.


I thank everyone for their input... there are a few things I will look into...
I just feel like I am banging my head against the wall most days.
Beginning to loathe school mornings..
Not to mention the fact it is affecting my work and starting time.

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DQMission

I have been through similar with my older child who is now 19, but his trouble started at 16/17 in year 11. I also know loads of people whose children had similar challenges at that age/stage. I think a lot of it comes down to the social side of things. Year 10 is a big year socially and then year 11 has the added senior education pressures on top of the social side can make school seem untenable for you adults who already feel like outsiders. 

I know lots of people will tell you to toughen your stance and push and persist. I think if there is a mental health aspect then that wont help. Has your child had an autism assessment? Lots of kids with less pervasive atuistic traits can be diagnosed with autism and if they have a high IQ a lot of other behaviours can be explained away. I know of several families whose intelligent and quirky kids didnt meet diagnostic criteria until their teen years. 

If there is also mental illness such as anxiety and/or depression in play, then its unlikely your child will be in a position to respond well to any help put in place by the school until that has been addressed properly. I know that was true for my child, and from your posts it might be true for yours. All the supports in the world cant help a student re-engage with their education when their mental health is poor. 

As for the school possibly giving your child some more assistance and support, have you considered suggesting some team meetings via Zoom so that everyone can be kept informed and have the same kind of plan to support your child?

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EsmeLennox
8 hours ago, OrangeSprout said:

I have contacted the school.
They have support available for him BUT he needs to go to school to access it.
He will not ask for help.
We have already reduced his study load by one subject..
He has told the Aboriginal Student Success teacher that there is nothing wrong.
he has no firm friendships :( and that make me really sad...

I have mentioned to the GP numerous times about him not leaving the house... but I don't get anywhere - yes I think a new GP is on the cards.. BUT then it's the whole start over thing..

We are in Tas...

I’d not be happy with the school’s response... haven’t they heard of the phone/home visits?

They need to be implementing a plan with you to support his attendance. This might be attending half days etc. They should also be involving their psych and potentially connecting you with external services who can help.

Edited by EsmeLennox
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Dianalynch

My ds is gifted / adhd, first refused school due to anxiety at 6 years 1 month. So common with that profile. 
 

like PPs I would limit access to internet more, ie no screens at all during the day, no watching shows or flicking through social media, it just wreaks havoc with the adhd brain (I have adhd I get it) 

 

does your ds have any idea of what he wants to do? Would some career counseling help him make further plans? Does he see himself at school or in another setting, such as an apprenticeship or tafe program where he can be more of an adult? 
 

But yeah first step get him off all screens during the day, it’s catnip to adhd 

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DQMission

sorry to hijack, OP, but @Dianalynch do you have any good resources I could share with my older child about screens and ADHD? I will go have a google now, but thought I'd ask on the off chance you had anything to hand.

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