Teens on the Spectrum and School Phobia

Home School Refusal Teens on the Spectrum and School Phobia

Teens on the autism spectrum often face anxiety. Social settings can easily become overwhelming for them. The development of school phobia can occur as a result of this anxiety. School phobia is exactly how it sounds, an extreme fear of going to school. Teens often fear going to school, not because of separation anxiety, but because they are anxious about the pressure they may feel. Participating in group activities, reading out loud, or answering questions are examples of anxiety inducing events in the classroom.

Some signs and symptoms that your teen may be experiencing school phobia include the following:

  • Racing heart
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Stomachaches

A Lesson on the Phobia

For teens, returning from school after long holiday breaks can be traumatic. Changing teachers, being away from parents again, and experiencing changes in friendships can become stressful for teens. It is important that school phobias are addressed immediately. The longer the phobia persists, the harder it is to treat. Here are some possible triggers that could spark school phobia:

  • Being bullied
  • Being off school for a long time through illness or because of a holiday
  • Being unpopular, being chosen last for teams and feeling a physical failure (in games and gymnastics)
  • Bereavement (of a person or pet)
  • Fearing panic attacks when traveling to school or while in school
  • Feeling an academic failure
  • Feeling threatened by the arrival of a new baby
  • Having a traumatic experience such as being abused, being raped, having witnessed a tragic event
  • Moving to a new area and having to start at a new school and make new friends or just changing schools
  • Not having good friends (or any friends at all)
  • Problems at home such as a member of the family being very ill
  • Problems at home such as marital rows, separation and divorce
  • Starting school for the first time
  • Violence in the home or any kind of abuse

7 Ways to Make School Easier

Here are 7 tips you should implement at home to help inspire a positive attitude about going to school:

  1. Keep a normal daily routine. Remember change can be overwhelming.
  2. Reassure your teen that they are brave and courageous for getting up and going to school.
  3. Explain to your teen that the things they fear could just be in their head.
  4. Help them find things they enjoy at school.
  5. Focus on the good things that happen daily.
  6. Allow your teen to talk to you about their fears or anxieties.
  7. Prepare them for any new changes at school.

New Focus Academy can help

New Focus Academy is a residential treatment center for boys ages 12-18 who struggle with autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders. The mission of the program is to use positive reinforcement to increase the student’s self-esteem and independence. The skills they learn at New Focus will help them learn to have positive social interaction, organization, and a clear sense of judgement. Students are given the opportunity to gain the confidence they need to foster and maintain healthy relationships and lifestyle habits. We can help your family today!

Contact us at (844) 313-6749.


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