Monday 27 May 2019

Dear David Coleman: Our teenage son has no interest in school and is really disorganised. Have you any advice?

Photo posed
Photo posed

Q We are worried about our 15-year-old son's lack of interest in schoolwork and his lack of organisational skills. He takes no responsibility for stuff he messes up. I have felt that our son may have Asperger's Syndrome since he was little. However, I am reluctant to seek an assessment for him because I am afraid that a diagnosis might affect his already low self-esteem. Have you any advice?

David replies: There are any number of possible factors that could explain your son's lack of interest in school. Struggling with the organisational aspects of school may have been disheartening for him. These challenges may have contributed to his under-performing academically. That in turn may have reduced his ambition and drive. However, if you have a genuine and long-standing concern that he may have a high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), then that too could be central to his school experience.

For many youngsters with high functioning ASD, it can be reassuring to finally find out that something explains the struggles they may have had over years in school, or other social settings. I think an assessment might be more beneficial for him than harmful, and it would also put your mind to rest and would either rule in, or out, your hypothesis about him.

Knowing if he has a high functioning ASD will also mean that you can target support for him in school that might really transform his experience of it, perhaps rekindling some interest in it.

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