chronic illness and school anxiety - FamilyEducation
chronic illness and school anxiety
10/02/2007 at 06:19 AM

our child has had asthma all his life.  he is 11.  he got the RSV virus that started his asthma at four months of age,now he had a repeat exposure to the virus and had 103.6 for 13 days.  we sent him back to school week before last for three days and found that he was still sick with high fever and 77 pulse ox.  After three weeks and loads of steriods he is getting back to normal and now has developed a phobia about walking from class to class and doesnt want to return to school.  he has had makeup work all his school years as he is always sick.  the school has informed us that he will just be retained in 5th grade no exceptions.  they are not working with us to help him get caught up and frankly treat us as if we are faking.  I even had to listen to the assistant principle tell me if she were me she would " FIND A WAY TO MAKE HIM WELL" that was a direct quote.  I almost fell out of my chair.


We love our child and want the best for him but feel at a loss as to help him overcome is anxiety regarding his school and I cant say I blame him for his fears as his school has really disappointed me.


any suggestions, we are at a loss

Hey charleecrat,


I think I would go above the assistant principal's head and complain about his insensitivity to you and to your child.  I would also go all the way up the chain to see if there is any way for your child to catch up instead of being held back, I find it hard to believe that this early in the school year they can make that decision.


As far as his anxiety goes I would talk to him about that and possibly even get him counseling to help deal with his anxieties.


Anyone else have any ideas?





i know just how you feel, i know im older but when my daughter was at school, she was only able to do three days a week due to the fact she suffered with migrain  at least every week, at one point it was only twice a week she attended school. i must say the school was very good about it. and we had a bit of help. but when she went to the senior school thing got much worse. in the end  like your child she became fearfull of even walking into the school. this was due to many reasons .one lack of confidence, two pressure from friends, because there was no continuety, and three, her illness had then become a phobia to her. and i was dealing with two things. at this time in her life i thought in her best interest that i should at least take control of the situation. so i took her out of school and with the help of the county council I  taught her myself at home. we did the curiculim and they would check up at differant times to see how she was doing, this way she was happy and was learning again. i would not recomend it to everyone but it worked for her. she came out with high levels in exams. and i feel very proud of both of us. of course she had to get her confidence back but being able to control her own illness without the added trauma of going to school at that time helped a great deal. its not for everyone but it is another way forward for those whose lives are affected by a long term illness. the child begins to feel worthless as if there making a fuss. we need to take control of this as regards teachers etc. remember they are our   servants we pay for them, they should treat us likewise. eventually she was able to have the confidence to go to college and did not look back but you need help to face the situation head on because the situation will not get better on its own. dont worry to much about the opions of others your child will follow you and your ways. good luck, hope this helps.


I agree with the mother who said she eventually home schooled her child. I know this is not possible for everyone, but if you can do it I'd consider it as an option. My friend's daughter also suffers from "stomach migraines" which sometimes put her out of school for days at a time. The school treated my friend as if they were faking it also. I mean why in the world would someone fake this? Then on top of that the teacher's would make comments in class to the other kids like, "Well Ashlynn's not hear AGAIN today, big surprise." She is very smart and has had very little trouble making her work up, but the treatment they receive from the school is awful. Now there are treatments she can receive intravenously if she goes to the hospital that get rid of the headache faster so she doesn't suffer as much. 


It may be time to exercise your right to putting him in a differnet school which will be more sensitve to his situation.

I would also compalin to the administration, school board etc... people get sick it's, not on purpose, they should be treated with dignity no matter what age.

Where is the school counselor, he/she should be helping him with his feeling about walking the hallways, being out sick, getting caught up.....


1st- Complain to the higher ups because they are being absolute jerks and shouldn't be treating you or him this way. 2nd- Change schools. 3rd- The only way to get a kids over school anxiety is to make them go! It hurts sometimes to watch them go into a place they're scared of, but he can't hide forever. He should get over this with time and exposure. He could also be becoming clingy because he's a sick child, and with kids you want to stamp that out as early as you can, especially at 11. Good luck! :)

I noticed you posted this about a year ago. Are things any better? I'm online searching for clues for something very similar. We have two kids who suffer from chronic sinusitis. Our son has asthma as well. Our school has a zero tolerance policy for abscenses and most teachers have zero understanding and treat our children like they just don't want to be at school, like they are faking it. My daughter, who is 12, has always had straight A's and has been in the talented and gifted program, despite the fact she misses about 20 days each school year. We've been to countless doctors and nothing seems to help. Thus, the teachers think I'm crazy. If I were a bad mom and she were a bad kid, she wouldn't be keeping her grades up despite her illness. Same with my son. Here's the thing.... asthma and chronic illness are disabilities under the eyes of the law. Asthma is specifically listed as a disability. A school is legally obligated to accomodate your son! If he is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which is another disability, then they are definitely legally bound to provide exceptions or special care for your son. (I could help in documenting the law for you if you would like to contact me as I am a legal assistant.) If your principal and superintendant fail to recognize your son's special needs, then you should contact your state's board of education officials. If they won't help you, contact your attorney or your state's bar association to request assistance. I would love to hear how it goes. Hang in there!

After reading the message that you had wrote I felt like I was reading the past 10 years of my sons life. he got RSV at 9 months old and has had asmtha ever since. every october through the begining of april he's sick. my husband & i feel helpless he keeps getting sick and we can't do anything to stop it now our 7 yr old is doing the same thing and has been his whole life trying to deal with the schools is a night mare. right now we're considering home schooling both of them for even if they can't be at school the building they won't have to miss any more. i wish there was a magic wand that i could wave over all the kids in the world that would make it so none of them would ever get sick again. i've been doing a lot of research on homeschooling and has of right now there are so many addvantages that i never knew about.

To momto2- I read your response for the family that is having problems with their 11 yr old child and in that you said that you were a legal assistant. I was wondering if you have the laws that state chronic illness is a disablility. Right now my husband and I are going through the same thing with both of our sons. I've been trying to work with the school systems and come up short every time. At this point in time I've dealt with social services and being threatened again with them. Like the other family our eldest son had RSV when he was 9 months old and have had problems ever since. He has asthma and a lot of other health issues. I can't figure out why he keeps getting sick and can't find a doctor that can help with that also. He's been in and out of the hospital his whole life. I'm at a loss for everything right now and strongly considering home schooling him so he won't miss any more school. If you have any idaes on what I could do please let me know thank you for any help that I can get.

my daughter has severe anxiety its been a problem for about 3 yrs now she is now in high school she gets sick quite often and as her mother i feel that i do not have the support from the school i feel they are thinking i am not a good parent but what am i supposed to do when my child is ill for what ever reason i feel really alone on this .

I am mom to a 12 year old. I am in the same boat. She has missed nearly half of the days so far this year, and there is no way she can make up all the in class work and tests. She is heroically trying to keep doing the homework, but it seems like a never ending hill to climb. The school is making noises like they will retain her for 7th grade. Do I insist on an in home tutor, or just go homeschool? I am a single working mom, and the option isn't good, however, my daughter is home so much sick already, I wonder how much worse of an education she can get. I work with her in the evenings, but that's all I can do. She hasn't been diagnosed, but we are testing her. She has frequent headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Who was it said "Stomach migraines"? I want to know more...

I don't know if someone else had spoke of stomach migraines, but I think I have mentioned them on here. First of all when you say testing please tell me they have done an MRI. If not, insist on one with and without contrast. An ENT DR.should be looking for possible inner ear infection. These can go on for years undiagnosed and result in similar symptoms. Ask your daughter to sit and listen, does she hear ringing in her ears? When she chews or swallows does she hear "popping and clicking"? My son has suffered from stomach migraines. I would get calls at work and be told that he had a headache and was vomiting. Our best guess at what triggers them is not enough sleep, and too much sun. He also had some issues with vertigo, but this was unrelated as we later found out that he had an allergy to grass. The vertigo was allergy related, and is not an issue now. The migraines start off as a typical migraine headache, but after a little while he starts to feel nauseated and will eventually vomit. We now have a new prescription to stop the nausea. The headaches are controlled with Motrin. Good luck to you and your daughter. I hope this info helps in some way. Please keep us informed as to her progress.

Thanks for the post. I am pursuing an MRI. She has complained of earaches and dizziness, but the last check didn't show an inner ear infection. Maybe they need to look again. I keep hoping it's something simple. Meanwhile, I am somewhat confusedly doing a diet test by eliminating wheat and dairy, and hoping she's allergic to one of them, so we can have a simple cause to this perplexing situation. Thanks for the advice on the tests. She doesn't get so sick she vomits, like your son, but she is nauseous most mornings and after dinner. Sleep is a factor, as she seems to have trouble falling asleep from her stomach aches. I will keep on trying to figure it out. Meanwhile, I made the executive decision to homeschool her so academically she doesn't have to repeat seventh grade.

This one turned out good. My 6th grader was complaining of stomach aches every day after lunch. Math Right. But I have learned in the last 25 years that if my kid says "stomach hurts" and I ignore it, I will be cleaning up vomit. So I took her to the doctor, who ordered an X-ray. Turns out her descending colon was full of poop. If I had just ignored it, it is possible that the condition could have worsened and developed into life-changing, perhaps life-threatening problems. The Dr. gave a prescription for a new kind of laxative, which I did not fill. I told her to drink more water (the doctor's recommendation) and if she wasn't better by Monday, we'd buy the pills. She's well. But it wasn't anxiety, it was an unrelated medical problem. Don't dismiss your kid's complaints. Whether it is medical or social, the problem needs to be discovered and addressed.

CVS (Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome) aka - migraines of the stomach. My son is 14 and in his first year of high school. It's November and he's already missed 20 days of school. We have been dealing with this for years, but now it's even worse in High school to make up all the assignments. What do other parents do with their kids who have a chronic illness? Home school? Online school? I hate to socially isolate him but since he's already doing so much school work on his own when he has to "catch up" and still feeling behind or getting penalized by the teachers, is it worth keeping him in? Is it better to take him out and at least get his self-confidence and self-esteem back?

If things are really that bad, I wld consider homeschooling your son or getting him a private tutor. Obviously he won't be comfortable in school if he's sick. When your son is feeling good, get him involved in social activies in your town, through your church or through another social organization or homeschool group. Good luck.

My son has an illness called Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome...or CVS. It is "Childhood Migraine," and was diagnosed when he was 5. He vomits profusely & his head hurts so bad he feels like he wants to die. He takes medication as needed and has never missed a day of school because of it as he usually has his episodes in the evening. See a pediatric gastrointerologist. Look up CVS there is a huge nationwide society. My 15 year-old daughter has recently been diagnosed with genetic neurological migraine. She has missed over 50 days of school. The school refused to take my doctors note back in Feb. again in April. I am seeking legal advice.