For children with anxiety-fueled school refusal, preparation for school of children from 7 fear is real and can take time to overcome. Families may struggle for months to help an Aspergers youngster get back into the classroom.
Ignoring the problem or failing to deal with it completely can lead to more-serious problems later on. Alcohol, drug use: A study of kids ages 9 to 13 with an anxiety disorder showed that those who still had the disorder seven years after treatment drank alcohol more often and were more likely to use marijuana than those whose disorders had resolved. Depression: Teens and young adults ages 14 to 24 that had social anxiety were almost three times as likely to develop depression later on than those without the anxiety disorder. Different life choices: Psychologists say they’ve seen young people with persistent anxiety make fear-fueled choices that can have long term effects, such as selecting a less-rigorous college or a less challenging career. Psychiatric treatment: A study of school-refusing kids showed that about 20 to 29 years later they received more psychiatric treatment than the general population. School refusal affects the entire family. If a child doesn’t go to school, it may be hard for a parent to keep her job.
Children are at heightened risk when starting a new school, and especially when entering middle school. It is the perfect storm with the onset of puberty, a huge transition and a chaotic academic environment. Well-meaning moms and dads can make things worse by allowing an anxious Aspergers youngster to miss school. Such an accommodation sends the message that school is too scary for the youngster to handle and the fear is justified. Overprotective moms and dads rush in way too quickly to shield their Aspie from any experience that creates distress. Untreated, an Aspergers youngster with school-refusal behavior is likely to fall behind academically, which can then lead to more anxiety. And there may be longer-term consequences.
Twenty years later they were found to have had more psychiatric treatment and to have lived with their parents more often than a comparison group. Some Aspergers teens with unresolved anxiety may go on to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. A 2004 study followed 9- to 13-year-olds who were treated for an anxiety disorder. Seven years after treatment, those who still had the disorder drank alcohol more days per month and were more likely to use marijuana than those whose disorder had resolved.
Other kids are depressed, in some cases unable to get out of bed. Because many children complain of headaches, stomachaches or other physical symptoms, it can be difficult to tell whether anxiety, or a physical illness, is to blame. Note: Anxiety-fueled ailments tend to disappear magically on weekends. Aspergers kids with school refusal may complain of physical symptoms shortly before it is time to leave for school or repeatedly ask to visit the school nurse. If the youngster is allowed to stay home, the symptoms quickly disappear, only to reappear the next morning. In some case, an Aspergers youngster may refuse to leave the house. Common physical symptoms include headaches, stomachaches, nausea, or diarrhea.