As a parent of a child with School Phobia, School Refusal and Separation Anxiety, I felt that it was very important to share my experience with other parents. When I first saw my 9 year old son Andrew in such an emotional state, I needed to find answers. The first thing I chose to do was look up phobias within the university library where I was studying. The only returned result in the library catalogue was School Phobia which was then formally diagnosed by my Son's GP. If you feel you are sharing this experience, then this website is for you !!
The condition School Phobia and School Refusal and too commonly misunderstood. School Phobia is the 'fear' which brings with it some very debilitating symptoms and to avoid this fear, School Refusal is the behaviour displayed to avoid feeling the fear. This condition is often mis-diagnosed as general truancy and you as a parent maybe fighting with your school over your child's depleting attendance levels. The school fails to recognise that the child has underlying issues which manifest themselves in their everyday life which for the child is within their schooling day. Their fear is not of the school itself but of the lack of security they sense during school and what happens on the outside whilst they are on the inside.
To explain this further, when my son was in school, he reported a sense of feeling trapped, wondering what was happening out of his control on the outside giving him a feeling of reduced safety and security. He felt cut off from people most important, no phone, no contact and a high secure perimeter ..... a prisoner. My son and your child have to deal with this on a daily basis and they should do so with every bit of support. My son's fear was worse just approaching the school, but once he overcomes this barrier, he can settle. Sound familiar! Sometimes this gives teaching staff the right to judge and force a child into school as they know they will settle but they must remember, they are forcing them into their fears at the same time. Baby Steps ....... that's the key. Step by step, baby steps and not 'flooding' which to a child is most severe.
The Separation Anxiety side of things again is a fear that something awful will happen to me and is part of irrational thinking styles. Its a fear of loss, abandonment and has been caused by several bad experiences in my son's case. It can be caused by death, separation, trauma such as an accident. You will know what has happened in your life or your child's life to figure out the event which may be the trigger to all of this. The way I have seen my son's experiences has been that children think that 'it'll never happen to them' and bad stuff happens to other people or on the TV. Somewhere or at some point, my thoughts are that the child has been touched by reality; realising it does not just happen to others or on the TV. My son has told me his biggest fear is ...Being left of his own, with no one!
My aim is to raise awareness. My son and I have now been on ITV Daybreak and hope to do more. I'm hearing from many of you out there who are struggling with courts, schools and truancy issues. I will push hard to get this out there. Children should not be suffering this way. Too many you people are on their own with this illness and shouldn't be. I'm here to do what I can. Please sign up and read on. ......
Image created by K Mawson