Saturday 17 March 2018

'We physically dragged him in' - Mum at a loss as son (14) who lives with anxiety refuses to attend school

Stock image PA
Stock image PA
Daire Courtney

Daire Courtney

A mother whose 14-year-old son refuses to attend school is at a loss for what to do to help him.

Rachel’s son Luke* began secondary school in September 2015, but refused to go back after the break. She tried everything to get him back there, but he has not been to school since.

“We were referred to a psychologist, and his advice was just to get him back into school because the longer it goes on, it just becomes like a mountain,” Rachel told RTÉ’s Liveline today.

“We physically dragged him in. We kept trying to drag him in and he’d lock himself in his bedroom.”

“We got the diagnosis which was social anxiety and anxiety disorder, and selective mutism, which is like a fear of talking,” she continued.

“He has loads of friends, he has a girlfriend, it’s just school. His friends seem to accept it; sometimes they would encourage him and say to him ‘I’ll meet you and we’ll go together’ but they just accept it.”

Rachel said that the school have been very supportive, but that she feels very alone as she does not know any other families dealing with the issue.

Several parents called into the programme to reassure Rachel that she was not alone, as well as adults who has suffered from the same issues as Luke in their childhood.

Kathleen’s daughter went through a similar problem: “I just want the lady to know that she is not alone; I went through something very similar about 8 years ago.”

Kathleen said that their psychologist did very little and blamed her for the problem.

“The school contacted the department of education, who sent a lady out to me and she said that if I didn’t get Aisling to school, I would go to prison.”

“Aisling* started in a new school and she’s now in her 3rd year in college, so I just want that lady to know there’s hope,” Kathleen finished.

Enya, who is now in her twenties, was nine when she started suffering from anxiety.

“I would literally be trembling at my desk and all I could think was ‘get me out of here’,” Enya told Liveline.

Enya suffered from this anxiety all the way through school, but she says that facing her fears was what got her through it.

“If you convince yourself to let that fear eat you alive, you won’t get over it. My dad went through it and he was able to tell me, ‘You just have to face your fears, it’s the only way you’re going to beat this.’”

“That’s the only advice I’d have for people suffering from anxiety: get up and fight, don’t let it eat you alive.”

*Names have been changed to protect the families' privacy

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