Out of the FOG

Coping with Personality Disorders => Parents' Discussion => Topic started by: Latchkey on July 12, 2019, 04:18:44 PM

Title: Recovery from extreme school refusal?
Post by: Latchkey on July 12, 2019, 04:18:44 PM
Iím wondering if anyone here has any insight into extreme school refusal?  Anyone have older or teen kids that came out the other side successfully?

My former SS15 pretty much refused school most of second semester.
Got into a PHP in May and dropped out.
Got into summer school last week and again dropped out.
Yet still wants to go to the same HS apparently?

Any advice I could pass through to his NPD Dad, my ex, would be good. He listens to me but heís not doing enough or anything that seems to work and itís his usual smirk and shrug approach to raising kids. Says home schooling is not possible because he canít oversee it blah blah.

Iím going to have lunch or dinner with former SS15 soon and heartbroken that heís going to have to repeat most of freshman year.
Title: Re: Recovery from extreme school refusal?
Post by: hhaw on July 12, 2019, 08:42:40 PM
My DD18 just graduated in June, and I have to tell you.... it was a very long journey getting her there.

She stopped going to school in 10th grade, and chose Wilderness Program then a Therapeutic Boarding School.... lost the year she'd gained skipping 4th grade.  I took it harder than DD did, honestly.   I don't know why it's so hard to make peace with, but it is. 

DD could have finished that year,  as she'd caught herself up,  but asked for help she felt was more important.  I was lucky enough to be able to make that happen for her.  She benefitted tremendously from her time in the woods, and time with the great T at boarding school.

DD's SEnior year was going OK until we visited cousins out of the Country over Christmas.  At that point, DD came to grips with her inability to control her eating habits, and asked for help again.  She'd begun the familiar pattern of not going to school a day or two a week, then 3 then finally wouldn't go at all.  She asked for help when she was missing 3 days a week.  She stopped going at all after engaging with the T,  so things didn't get better real quick.

The T attended school meetings with us.  School meetings were around dd attending limited classes since she had so much anxiety around attending school.

I think DD didn't like friends and classmates coming up to her and saying things like... "You're alive!"  "Where have you been?" 

DD had anxiety around falling behind in classes she should have been acing, and I think that was mostly her being bored, and more interested in her very rich online life, and social circle of friends who enjoy writing together.  DD didn't have friends at school, bc her best friends graduated ahead of her, bc she lost that year.

I'd say it would help if you knew why ss was refusing school.  If it's anxiety, or a social situation he's avoiding, or has he fallen behind in work, and started feeling hopeless?

If it's anxiety, and falling behind then the school can come up with a limited class schedule to help him make it through.  He has to meet certain criteria for that.... a doctor has to give him a dx.... I think DD's was fragile child syndrome, or something like that.  Our school had already been through the at home schooling, with one after school day attendance with a teacher who oversaw progress, and checked dd's work, which was stellar at that point.  The schools want to help the kids succeed, iME.   DD always had someone in her corner from the school, advocating for her.  I think that's something the dad needs to help his son put in place. 

I have to say that I wish I'd have worried less about her missing school, and more about her mental health.  The truth is, most of the adults in her life were focused on her "just getting through school."  That wasn't the answer,  and it was important that dd advocated for herself, and found a way to feel better.   Relaxing into alternative plans more quickly would have been helpful, IME.

If ss is hanging out with the wrong crowd, doing drugs, or convinced a hs diploma isn't for him, I don't know what to tell you.  That wasn't what I was dealing with.

DD18 has taken a job since graduating.   She's joined a work out center, and used her grad money to pay for private trainer sessions, which she's committed to happily, even through the pain.  She's happy, and active, and engaged in life again, which happened like magic after school ended.  I know she's thinking about college, and I expect she'll come up with a plan soon for that.  She can't wait to get into dorm life again.  She really enjoyed living in a dorm at boarding school. 

Sometimes it's difficult for teens to SEE their world's going to open up, really open up, after they graduate hs.  My dd is so much happier now that she's out..... she was so miserable.  She couldn't see the forest for the trees, as they say.

I'm surprised ss isn't attending summer school, bc what I know about it, it's a lot less time and work than regular school for the same credits.

I hope his dad will get him to a good T, if he hasn't already. 

If there's a learning disability, or struggle... that's another issue, IME.  Some kids are ruined by early school struggles, and emotionally beaten down, and defeated. 

If that's the case,  there's some amazing neurofeedback programs available to improve comprehension, and deficits.   My youngest dd17 just completed 3 weeks of neuro feedback, and experienced 77% improvement in 3 very important areas of comprehension,and focus... she went from 1% to 77%!  In three weeks!  That's amazing, and it's a miracle she's as happy, and well adjusted as she is.   Most kids with that level of deficit are miserable in school.

Don't worry about ss missing a year.  Focus on why he's struggling, IME.  In the end, that's what's going to be important, IME.

Good luck,

Title: Re: Recovery from extreme school refusal?
Post by: Latchkey on July 21, 2019, 09:06:55 PM
Thank you for this hhaw. I am glad to hear you DD is doing well and managed to recover and thrive.
You hit the nail on the head with getting to the why of it all. I also see wisdom in your not focusing on the lost school time so much as getting him to focus on what is stopping him from going to school and learning.

My former SS15 is in with a weird crowd but not really a bad crowd and isn't into street drugs as yet that I know of though he seems headed in that direction. My DD20 who has acted on his behalf does not see a rosy picture ahead for him in the short term just based on what her experience of how he is acting in high school. He's highly intelligent and clever and I guess I see as he gets older and older more ASPD traits coming out and this is scary to me.

He's got dx depression anxiety and  udx anorexia and won't take the psych drugs for fear of gaining weight. He's also likely developing bipolar. His mother has bipolar and BPD and his Dad is NPD.
It sounds like he will get an IEP or they will try in the fall to get him one. Not for learning deficits but for his mental health issues and his behavior. I really think he needs a DBT program either out west or inpatient here or something to reset him but of course I am not making his health care decisions for him as a former step mom.

I need to get over my sadness and fear for him and talk to him. It's just this feeling of walking through molasses because I get everything second hand from his NDad or I get the charming victim from him.

Anyway, thank you hhaw, you've given me some hope.

Title: Re: Recovery from extreme school refusal?
Post by: hhaw on July 22, 2019, 06:52:43 PM

You didn't create your ss' problems, and you can't solve them.   He'll have to do that for himself.

He's lucky to have your input, if he'll accept it.


Title: Re: Recovery from extreme school refusal?
Post by: Penny Lane on July 22, 2019, 07:20:59 PM
Ditto what hhaw says. You can't fix this. You can give your ex advice but at the end of the day your former SS probably needs more from his parents than what they can give. It's so sad to watch, I know. My point is, be there for him in the way that you can, but don't take on the guilt if it doesn't work out the way you'd like.

I have a family member who just ... wouldn't go to school in hs. For a variety of reasons and his parents tried everything including sending him to alternative schools and programs. I wish, like both of you said, his parents would've focused more on the why and less on forcing him to go to school.

Anyway, now he's a happy, productive and most importantly mentally healthy young adult. He hasn't made all the decisions his parents would like. But I see his story as a great success. Frankly by the time he graduated from high school (and he did) I think what he needed most was to get out of the house - there was just so much tension over the school stuff that he and his parents weren't very good for each other at that time. In their case absence made the heart grow fonder (as they say) and it seems like they generally have a good relationship.

Although he had way less obstacles to overcome than your former SS does, I do think there is hope for him!
Title: Re: Recovery from extreme school refusal?
Post by: Latchkey on July 25, 2019, 12:20:02 AM
Thank you hhaw, I appreciate this. My DS8 is his half brother, I'm trying to also preserve peace for my DS's sake for the time he spends there. DS8 only spends limited overnights over there and not school nights usually but when I have to go out of town on business my DS8 has issues in school if it goes on for more than one school day. It's hard to get to the bottom of it but I know part of it is that SS15 gives his Ndad a hard time and there is fighting over there. Ironically when we were married my exNH was great at getting all 5 kids to school on time so it's definitely not been easy to wrap my brain around how bad it got since we divorced.

Penny Lane, Thank you for this as well. I do see glimmers of hope in your story as well. I know if I was in the picture SS15 would already have an IEP and this would not be moving at glacial pace that it is. It is a particular trait of my exN to deflect and charm and delay. When we were married it was me running around getting neuropsych evals for my SS because everything had been blamed on their BPD mother. Like seriously, his extended family with medical and psych professionals all told themselves that ALL the behaviors were the fault of their BPD mom. I am still livid that my SS21 was not dx with PDD and later Autism until he was entering HS. My SS21 had a major break down when he was 13 and because of the way his Ndad answered the psych evals everything was treated as depression and well, let's just say my SS21 has a laundry list of dx and is doing much better and attending college but it took a whole lot of intervention by me and my family and of course the schools and doctors and basically a whole bunch of people that cared a lot about him to help him.

I do think one angle I can take is that the sooner he gets through high school the sooner he can move on. It sounds like both of the kids you two are speaking of are doing better as young adults.