I fought, with my son, against his school phobia

What to do when, overnight, your child refuses to get up to go to school? What to think, what to believe, who to talk to? Three years ago, Marie discovered this anxiety disorder with one of her sons. She tells.

Anne-Laure Gannac

"He could not get up any more in the morning"

"Looking back, I would say that the first signs appeared in primary school, Pierre was a gifted child in class and very sociable, but he came home in the evening complaining of violent headaches.We consulted a pediatrician, who did not diagnose anything and just advised him a little rest.I reduced his extracurricular activities. at the college, the same as the one where his eldest sister, who was very famous, was schooled, the sixth went well, Pierre was driven by the energy of finally being "in college"! In the fifth, he finished his first trimester exhausted, and the holidays were not enough to put him back on his feet, he could not get up in the morning in January, I could shake him, pull his sheets, he was like a brick in his bed. had no choice but to go to work, leaving him there with the nanny.

At first I thought to a serious illness, a brain tumor. We consulted several doctors, took blood tests, an MRI, an electroencephalogram ... Nothing. Then we made an appointment with a psychiatrist. On the way, Pierre made a terrible fit, crying in the car, running off the street as soon as we parked. We had to carry him to the cabinet. There, we were greeted by a psychologist in a very bad mood who swayed us: "But he is phobic, your son! "And that made me tilt in my head. I had never heard of school phobia , but I understood that Pierre's burnout was not due to a physical problem, rather to a rejection of school. On my way home, I searched the Internet for information and found an association, School Phobia, to which I sent a message. The same evening, one of its members called me and explained to me what this disease was, what to do ... That reassured me.

"In the meantime, life must go on, and make you feel guilty."

It's not a recognized disease, you can not get a medical certificate to justify a child's absences. So we had to manage the relationship at school alone: ​​"Sorry, he's tired, he's not doing well today", same thing the next day ... The college knew us and trusted us. But many parents live alone with their child, far from school, and do not have the time or the words to talk with school leaders. However, after a few weeks of absence, the school sends an alert to social services and an infernal cycle can begin.

The members of the association told me about the various possible causes of school phobia. First, harassment of comrades or a teacher. I conducted the investigation at the college, I interviewed my son, I did not find anything. Another possibility: learning difficulties. This has never been his case. An emotional shock? There had been the death of his great-grandmother shortly before, but it seemed unlikely that it had reached him with such violence. Finally, there is the case of children with high potential. I always thought he was very smart, but how many parents have that feeling?

While waiting to find the causes, life must continue. But going to the office knowing that his child is in the bottom of his bed like a stone, it breaks your legs for the whole day. And you feel guilty: what did I do? Or not done? Why did not I pay more attention to the first signs? And having a child who does not go to school is very socially ostracizing. Family, friends, nobody understands: "Finally, it must be forced! It's a whim! "

" His psychiatrist prescribed antidepressants. "

We consulted several child psychiatrists. My son had a terrible crisis before the first two appointments, to avoid going there. Then, in the third, without knowing why, the specialist pleased him. He agreed to start a weekly follow-up with her. We must know that we had a hard time talking about all this with him. He was so overwhelmed by anxiety that he could explain what he was feeling. Sometimes I teased him by asking him what he was talking about with his shrink, I never knew anything. But it was reassuring to think that there was someone to whom he could tell what he was going through.

At the same time, we gave him an IQ test that revealed a dysharmonic profile: Pierre has some items well above average and other means. I hung up on this assessment, which I gave to the college, explaining that it was followed by a psychiatrist. We have been able to accept that it only goes for two or three hours a week. At the same time, his psychiatrist prescribed antidepressants. I was not very favorable, but it must be admitted that it quickly appeased him.

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