How to unpick my son's school anxiety? — Scope | Disability forum
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How to unpick my son's school anxiety?

Savlona Member Posts: 8 Connected
edited December 2019 in Autism and neurodiversity
Hi, my 9 year old son has recently been diagnosed with high functioning autism, but has been struggling with school related anxiety since year 2. He insists he is being bullied, but school ( who have been supportive in general) say that although there have been incidents, he also does things and that he assumes the worst in situations, which we have observed in other settings.He has a weekly one to one with a learning mentor to talk through things and teachers are watching closely. He is often reluctant to go to school and I have various strategies in place to get him over the threshold, but it is hard to see him so unhappy. I think other things, such as being sat for long periods and being in a busy environment must also be troubling him, but it's difficult to get him to articulate beyond dislike of the group of boys who bother him.
I'm at a bit of a loss on how to improve things. Academically he is bright, so it's definitely the social or sensory side that is bothering him. 


  • Hardcheese
    Hardcheese Member Posts: 4 Connected
    Does your son need some space to be alone at times? My son recently thought that when boys came up and said "How are you doing" to him, he didn't understand the phrase and called it bullying. At his previous primary school at  some break times, his mentor would take him off and he would bounce gently sitting on a large gym ball. It alleviated anxiety and he was not bothered by anyone whilst there. It worked for him.

    Good luck., I know how hard it is when you feel powerless.
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,872 Connected
    Hello @Savlona. Welcome to the forums!

    Have you contacted the National Autism Society? They may be able to help support you and him. Give them a call tomorrow or browse around on their site
    I am also tagging @SparkleSheffieldAutismAdvisors as they might be able to recommend techniques to try out at home with him as well. What does the teacher suggest? It may be a idea to request a quick meeting to discuss and brainstorm. Is he in a specialist school or not? 
  • Savlona
    Savlona Member Posts: 8 Connected
    Thank you both. He is in a large mainstream junior school. I have been in to meet the team around him to discuss this twice this year as well as regularly checking in with the form teacher. School agree he is anxious, but insist he is not being bullied as such, although there are a number of problem boys in class, but misreading situations. He is getting workshops in social skills as well as the one to one mentor sessions.
    It does make it difficult to do other things after school as he is stressed out by the end of the day, so I have to accompany him to cubs and dance, for example, in case he has a meltdown. No one else can collect him regularly as he reacts badly, so I restrict work hours even though a friend would happily collect him. He also is reluctant to separate from me to go into school, so on Monday he helps with assembly, Tuesday he has badminton club before school and the rest of the week I bring the dog so he accepts I can't go into the premises with him.
    Hopefully this gives a bit of a picture - sorry to go on.
  • Geoark
    Geoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,388 Disability Gamechanger
    @Savlona my daughter was about your son's age when we found the solution which worked for her. We discovered she liked writing things down. I spoke to the SENCO and suggested that next time something happened to give her a pencil and paper and write it down. She found it easier than trying to express verbally what was wrong. Might be worth a try.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,545 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @Savlona, my brother has Aspergers and he did find high school very stressful, and very similar to your son in a number of ways. Does he have an educational health and care plan (EHCP)?

    It sounds like you are trying lots of different things.

    I think @Geoark has a great idea and this something my brother found helpful. He keeps diaries to write down how he feels and can share these if needed.

    Also, I'm tagging @SparkleSheffieldAutismAdvisors and here is the National Autistic Society which also may have some information.

    Please do let us know how you get on. :)

  • Savlona
    Savlona Member Posts: 8 Connected
    He doesn't have an ECHP, but I'm planning to get advice as although school say he isn't having sufficient difficulty, I think that a lot is having to be put in to support him emotionally and he has struggled for a long time. I will definitely try the diary idea. It's good to hear he's not alone, it's difficult when academically he is doing well, but I know he isn't happy.
  • emmarenshaw
    emmarenshaw Member Posts: 711 Pioneering
    Hello @Savlona welcome to the community.
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,578 Scope online community team
    Hi @Savlona. There is a tendency when a child is performing well for the school just to leave them to it, but if you think your son needs more support, please keep pushing for it. Your son isn’t just a bunch of academic milestones, but a person who has as much right to be happy at school as any other child. 
    Geoark’s diary suggestion is a good one and I can vouch for its effectiveness in helping my daughter to find the right words rather than things always being just ‘annoying’.
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