Over the years, my son’s anxiety has been triggered by various things, including strangers, shoes, bridges, and new foods, to name a few. He’s never been a big fan of school, and our family now has a diagnosis of school refusal disorder.
School refusal is categorized under the umbrella of anxiety. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), school refusal is defined as “refusal to go to school regularly or having problems staying in school.” My child has most of the symptoms: going to the nurse often, headaches, stomachaches, tantrums before school, separation anxiety and even defiance.
We already know that kids on the spectrum experience the world from a more sensitive perspective. This sensitivity, combined with ADHD, can create a perfect storm for a child who always needs to be in control of his experiences to know what to expect. School, with all its quick changes, is not necessarily a calm place.
Fortunately, the school staff is stepping up in so many ways to help. Taking breaks, leaving the classroom, shorter times of interaction. All are being added to his Individualized Education Program. Having a happy face greeting him at the beginning of the school day helps both of us!
As a parent, it’s hard to see our children struggle so much to learn and cope with what most people view as a typical childhood experience, like school. As parents, it’s our job to advocate for our kids and find the accommodations that will help them succeed.
Learn about school advocacy that may help your child.
When our kids start school, they might need to be assessed for special education services. Sometimes this isn't needed until they've been in school a few years. The school district must identify and evaluate all children with disabilities. Once identified, they must be provided a Free Appropriate Public Education or FAPE.
Categories: Education & Schools