School Refuser - The Blog

Monday, 14 June 2010

Anxiety disorder, school phobia, or refusal - what's in a name?

I have been following an interesting debate in the Forum about how we refer to our children who find it difficult to attend school. This comes, in part, from the lack of understanding that we parents receive when we mention to other parents the difficulties we face - or even when talking to school management.

One parent writes: I get a completely different reaction from people when I talk about my son's anxiety disorder stopping him going to school to 'he is a school refuser' or he has 'school phobia'.

And another says: Originally I used to say he had 'School Refusal' which was usually met with blank looks or blame. I think we have all met that response at one time or another. My initial reaction was that it is an interesting line of thought, but are we in danger of disguising the issue if we give 'school refusal' or 'school phobia' a more generalist name? We could go one stage further and say 'she's nae weil' - or 'feeling sick'.

However, she goes on to say: I don't mean that we in any way water down what School Refusal is - the general public and education sector (and support professionals) need to be educated on how real and devastating it is for the child and us.

And that remains our key problem - how to get the message across. The public's reaction to the recent Daily Mail and BBC articles demonstrates that we have a long way to go.

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