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Old 03-09-2012, 07:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Dd 9 is frequently complaining of tummy aches and headaches that vanish as soon as the school bus leaves (or as soon as I pick her up).  We've got plans to deal with her anxiety (cognitive behavioral therapy) but it doesn't start for another month.  In the mean time I need a strategy that's more predictable than my current plan, which is basically try and figure out what's going on, try and talk her into going, when that doesn't work let her stay home if I don't have other plans that she can't join me on, and insist she stay quietly in her room & no screen time for the day.  What do you or would you do if you had a kid who's playing sick because they don't want to go to school?  I kind of feel like I should be making her go anyways, but that usually results in her calling home for me to get her.

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Old 03-18-2012, 08:18 PM
 
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Do you know what else is going on for her? Some kids feel this way when there is a particular challenge that they feel unable to cope with--- hard math material, bullying, lunchroom problems, feeling left out? Has she been able to share any of this type of insight with you?  Perhaps if it is too hard to talk about she can draw a picture or write a note about it?


 
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She says it's too noisy at school.  She's always been a little sensitive to noise, but I think it gets worse when she's stressed at all.  She's got a learning difference + dyslexia too, so that's not helping - spelling tests are really bugging her.  She just can't face the noise some days tho, she says. 

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Old 03-18-2012, 08:34 PM
 
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Is she the kind of child that would use accommodations if they were offered? Stuff like headphones, or ear plugs, or other sensory type strategies?  Is she receiving special ed at all? It sounds like she's got a lot that she is trying to cope with.


 
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Old 03-18-2012, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We've got a little spec ed support; maybe an hour a week or so, and some accomodations for less work and stuff that are supposed to be in use but aren't really.  Her teacher is a bit overwhelmed I think, she's not very on the ball, altho with a split class and 6 kids on IEPs I guess anyone would be a bit scattered.  Dds grades are pretty good tho in spite of all this so no one is too worried except me, because she falls apart at home after she's been struggling to keep it together all day.  I suggested headphones, but she doesn't want to be different, and earplugs bug her ears.  Also, I'm concerned that if she was wearing earplugs alot, she'd miss a bunch of stuff that was going on in the class.  She's already kind of confused about what she's supposed to be doing, I think in part because she isn't always aware of when it's her grade or the other  grade that is being addressed,  so that might not be good.

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Old 03-19-2012, 04:16 AM
 
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I wonder if they can also have an occupational therapist consult with your daughter (OT) as part of the team. They specialize in sensory strategies and since the sound/noise issue is part of what's gettting in the way of your daughter's functioning, there might be a suggestion related to the sensory experience that the OT could make. I understand about your daughter not wanting to look different. That is a tough one. It sounds like going to school is just sensory overload, but maybe if she had more positive going on in the peer dept. it would make it worthwhile to tough out the noise everyday?


 
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:14 PM
 
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My dd tried this in second grade so I got a doctors note for them to administer ibuprofen after having her drink water, I made sure she had ibuprofen there, and I asked them not to let her call me unless she was actually sick. I also stopped letting her have movies and books in tape when she was sick, all she could do is lay in before with the light off. She did this for one half day and after that made it through.

I do think it is also important to address underlying issues. For my dd the issue was transitioning from home schooling to school. Once she couldn't just come home to a movie day she adjusted quickly. If the issue has been more serious I would have looked to the school for help finding a solution.
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:39 PM
 
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...  and I asked them not to let her call me unless she was actually sick. I also stopped letting her have movies and books in tape when she was sick, all she could do is lay in before with the light off. She did this for one half day and after that made it through.


I realize you made the point about addressing underlying issues. I just wanted to affirm that Jen's situation sounds very different from being a transitional one, with multiple underlying problems: dyslexia, learning differences, anxiety, sensory overload problems. There are multiple complications going on with this kid, all of which need to be thoroughly addressed both diagnostically and therapeutically before taking a "punitive" approach to her difficulties. 

 

Kids often feel their stress by way of tummy aches, and when the stress goes away the pain goes away. That doesn't mean the pain isn't real when it's happening. Adults who are under stress can get crashing headaches and no one would have the audacity to assume that the pain is just a convenient way to get out of something. I believe that we need to afford kids the same respect benefit of the doubt when they get physical symptoms.

 

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Old 03-22-2012, 03:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I think she legitimately has a stomache ache  or at least develops one fairly quickly - if she wanted to and had the skills, she could probably think her way out of it but she only knows how to feel better by missing the test or whatever she's anxious about.  We just got her psych-ed report back today, and she's showing a pretty severe reading disorder (auditory dyslexia) but is covering well as some of her other scores (especially visual and problem solving) are very high.  She literally has scores at the 2%mark and others at the 99th% over the WISC test.  It's no wonder that she's freaking out, it's actually pretty amazing that she's motivated to read and work at all.  I still don't know how I should handle the anxiety in the meanwhile, but hopefully changing schools to a small LD focussed school will help her.  She's pretty excited about it (see my other threads for more info if you want).  Thx for the comments!

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Old 03-22-2012, 10:29 PM
 
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I realize you made

the point about addressing underlying issues. I just wanted to affirm that Jen's situation sounds very different from being a transitional one, with multiple underlying problems: dyslexia, learning differences, anxiety, sensory overload problems. There are multiple complications going on with this kid, all of which need to be thoroughly addressed both diagnostically and therapeutically before taking a "punitive" approach to her difficulties. 

 

Kids often feel their stress by way of tummy aches, and when the stress goes away the pain goes away. That doesn't mean the pain isn't real when it's happening. Adults who are under stress can get crashing headaches and no one would have the audacity to assume that the pain is just a convenient way to get out of something. I believe that we need to afford kids the same respect benefit of the doubt when they get physical symptoms.

 

Miranda


That is true to some extent, though I have heard a lot of questioning the truth of a persons iness claim and it is standard to require a doctors note for frequent illness or iness lasting more thsn a day or so. I have found that as an adult I also do have to just cope with my stress because even very understanding supervisors expect that for the most part you will be at work doi.g youe job unless you are vomiting or contagious. You don't just get to go home because your head hurts or your stomach is in knots.

With a child you also have truancy rules to consider. Even with medical excuses some schools will hold a child back.

Op if you truly see no way out except to take her out when she calls you then I suggest you pull her out for the rest of the year and homeschooling her. It will probably help the anxiety now and you can work on breaking the faking sick habit once she is in a setting where you feel she better suited and cared for.
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Old 03-22-2012, 11:39 PM
 
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You don't just get to go home because your head hurts or your stomach is in knots.


Not always, but as an adult you free to quit your job if it's unrelentingly stressful and harming your health and sense of well-being. So toughing out the stress is a choice, one being made by an adult who has autonomy over his or her life, and presumably maturity and adult-level coping skills. Kids are much more helpless and vulnerable.

 

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Old 03-23-2012, 12:27 AM
 
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Not always, but as an adult you free to quit your job if it's unrelentingly stressful and harming your health and sense of well-being. So toughing out the stress is a choice, one being made by an adult who has autonomy over his or her life, and presumably maturity and adult-level coping skills. Kids are much more helpless and vulnerable.

 

Miranda


 

 

I agree. Completely. I have a child with special needs who needs cannot be meet at home, and who found traditional school extremely stressful. The solution for her was an alternative school. She is happy and thriving now.

 

If an adult has a job that makes their stomach ache and their head hurt, they need to look for a different job. That's no way to go through life.

 

"Listen to yourself" is one of the best things we can teach our children. When our body hurts, it is trying to communicate with us.

 

In spite of having been in a similar situation, I don't have any easy answers for the OPer. It was tough for us, and finding a school that better suited my DD was the answer for her. Yet I know that isn't an option for every one.

 

But telling a special needs child to suck it up while they are suffering is just cruel.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 03-26-2012, 12:40 PM
 
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Not always, but as an adult you free to quit your job if it's unrelentingly stressful and harming your health and sense of well-being. So toughing out the stress is a choice, one being made by an adult who has autonomy over his or her life, and presumably maturity and adult-level coping skills. Kids are much more helpless and vulnerable.

 

Miranda


If I just quit because of my stress level at work we would be homeless and starving, my stress level would shoot through the roof.  In this economy there are not jobs galore, you pretty much have to have a degree to have even a low level job that doesn't give you anywhere near a livable wage.  Hopefully things will change once our children are grown though.  Just quitting is really not a healthy way to deal with stress though because you are going to keep running into stressful situations and you do have to learn to deal with them.  I think childhood is a better time to learn that than adulthood when there is so much more riding on your shoulders and quitting your job truly isn't always an option. 

 

Having said that though, I just noticed that the op has posted several threads lately about her child and I do think at this point it is time to let go of teaching a life lesson and to look for other options.  This doesn't sound like a situation where you have a healthy child faking sick because they have a small amount of stress, it sounds like an ongoing miserable situation with a child who is struggling more and more to cope.  Even if her needs can't be met at home it may be better to let her have some time to mature and destress while she unschools a bit before putting her back into a school setting.  Hopefully the other school meets her needs.  Three more months of headaches, stomach aches, and being miserable doesn't seem like a good option.  These same things were a large part of the reason I chose to homeschool my dd when she was younger even though I didn't meet her academic needs in the same way her school could.  If this was the beginning of the year then I would think she just needed a little extra time and encouragement to get used to the situation.  This is almost the end of the year though and it sounds like things are just continuing to spiral downhill.  I do agree that it is cruel to leave a child in that kind of situation to tough it out on their own.

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Old 03-28-2012, 11:32 AM
 
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OP - I just want to say that it is awesome you are seeking treatment for her anxiety. I have anxiety disorder and I can remember it as far back as elementary school. It almost always manifested as a very real stomachache (still does).

 

I hope you find some good solutions.

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Old 03-28-2012, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thx hoopin'!  I suspect I've had an anxiety disorder for pretty much ever as well - dd is very much like me, and I can remember at a very young age worrying about things like how I would earn a living, whether I would get into the right school, what if, what if what if...  I hope we can get things sorted for her before it gets too big to manage.  Getting on top of her learning differences, getting CBT  and giving her a safe space to exist in will hopefully go a long way towards managing it.  She's home today, as she started getting 'sick' last night because of a test that she has to do tomorrow and refused to go today- even though she's well prepared for it.  Only one more week and then we change schools... hope it helps.

 

@One_girl - if you were stressed to the point that you were in tears at the thought of going to work at least once a week, you could take stress leave, look for another job, change careers etc.  Obviously we all have to deal with some level of incidental stress in our day to day lives, but as grown ups we not only mitigate that by choosing to be in situations that are less stressful (ie, choosing a career path that features our strengths), but we are also able to assess when the stress is too much and take steps to change that.  Kids not only don't have any control over their situation, they are forced to focus on areas that may be their greatest weakness and have little or no opportunity to find alternatives.  I think its important to remember that we, as the adults, have created this stress by insisting that the children go to school, so we need to act to relieve the stress too. 

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Old 03-28-2012, 03:43 PM
 
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yeahthat.gif  I think the OP is very right in this.  Nobody should have to deal with a situation that makes them miserable for a third of their life (which is close to what school and work amount to).  Getting evaluation and help for the anxiety and sensory issues and finding the best fit at school is so important.  I think it's great that you re trying an alternative setting for school and seeking therapy for the anxiety.  Sucking it up doesn't work for adults, either, it's a great way to get mentally or physically sick.  I've been in that situation, and it just got me losing 20 pounds I couldn't afford to lose and catching pneumonia all year.  We all have to deal with stress or "tough it out" at times, but day in and day out stress means that you either need help learning to deal with the situation or find a new one.  Kids haven't the experience to know how to find this help for themselves, yet, so the adults need to step in to do it.


Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!

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Old 03-29-2012, 11:06 AM
 
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@One_girl - if you were stressed to the point that you were in tears at the thought of going to work at least once a week, you could take stress leave, look for another job, change careers etc. 
 

I'd say yes and no on this.  My current job makes me miserable to the point of tears not infrequently.  None the less, I've stuck it out for years b/c we need the money and benefits and I can't find anything that fits better and pays enough to work for my family (or the hours are much less conducive to my children's needs). 

 

I do think that there is something about being an adult that makes it more bearable, though.  My oldest did go through a period of stomach aches and coming home from school shaking in 3rd grade.  I have friends and acquaintances whose children have had psychosomatic illnesses related to stress and school as well.  Psychosomatic issues are, as others mention, real pain.  The child isn't simply making it up.

 

However, I have generally had better outcomes acknowledging with my dds that the source of their physical issues is psychological, which again doesn't mean "not real."  Comforting the child and acknowledging that she is hurting emotionally and that is making her body hurt isn't the same as telling the child to suck it up.  Especially having a gifted child, as it sounds like you do from prior posts, that emotional intensity can be greater as well.

 

Having seen kids whose parents have removed them from school over and over whenever problems arise or whose parents allow the physical problems to be treated as something completely separate from stress, those outcomes aren't as positive.  The research regarding "school refusal" also tends to point toward long-term negative outcomes if parents allow the child to stay home when psychosomatic problems occur rather than finding a way to make the school work well enough that the child is able to attend.  That may require a change of school (I know that you were looking at that), change of classroom, or other interventions, but simply not attending on days when anxiety is high probably isn't one of the better options to be considered.

 

FWIW, the two kiddos I know more closely who have dealt with this have wound up in the following spots: one has never managed to complete a year of school without being removed to homeschool.  I feel terrible about it, but I know that I wound up hurting her mother's feelings when I finally suggested that they look at what was going on with the child (not just the school) such that she was having such a poor fit in school every time.  Their child got to the point where other kids were suggesting that she had an autism spectrum disorder (I really don't think that the child does) and really had such social anxiety that I'm not sure that reintegration into a typical school would work well.  A lot of bullying and other problems had been experienced.  Any suggestions of a problem were rejected by the family to the point that, when I tried as gently as I knew how (I guess I didn't do well) to suggest some changes, they cut me out and stopped speaking to me.  The other child spent a few years with such severe psychosomatic symptoms that medical bills were likely huge and a lot of school was missed.  I'm not sure what changed, but eventually the symptoms abated and the child is now successfully attending school and doing well.

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