A level disaffection

hi everyone.  My son was highly successful at GCSEs but is completely disaffected and tuned out of A level.  Finals next week.  Won’t revise.  Frequent staffing changes at college and no TA support.   No ability to discuss future.   Games all day.  Is happy and fulfilled in his on line life.  Have contacted NAS for advice but am reaching out to you to.  Best.  PP

  • Have you spoken with your son about why he isn’t revising for his exams and appears ‘tuned out’? For example: he may not see the point of the A Levels, he may not enjoy the subject matter, he may not enjoy the study environment, he may have a fear of failure so rather not try etc. You know him best, so think about if the issue is laziness of anxiety and then that will help you to consider how to address it.

    It’s important to find out what the issues are and what your son wants for his future before you can work on moving forwards. If you know the goal then it’s often easier to find a path to it. Try to encourage career paths from your son’s interests. His exams are very close, yes, but even if he was to fail them due to his lack of interest then all is not lost - they can be retaken or alternative routes to employment can be taken. And if he passes, he still needs to know what he is going to do next.

    Transition into adulthood is hard for all of us, but can be particularly challenging for those with added difficulties such as ASD. Perhaps it is the pressure of all this that is leading your son to retreat to something he finds enjoyable/comforting i.e. his gaming. I can only recommend keeping communication open and offering your support with moving forwards in his life, but do make your expectations clear too (such as he must take further education or make some attempt to get employment - whatever you expect of him). After all, no matter how hard the transition into adulthood is, it’s rarely acceptable for a young adult to remain living at home with their parents playing games all day long and making no attempt to progress their life (which is why my mother forced my brother out of our house when he was 17. It did him good though in the end - he soon got a job and has lived independently ever since - sometimes tough love is needed).

  • "Is happy and fulfilled in his on line life."

    And there is the key. He knows what makes his happy, and don't we all want happiness for our children?

    I couldn't care less what grades my daughter gets or what she does with her future, as long as it makes her happy.

    But the point is that his interests could lead to a lot of exciting careers if he channels them properly. And I'm willing to bet that A Levels aren't channelling his own interests in any way, let alone properly. They're for certain types of learners, and they're often quite generic and not tailored towards an individual's specific interests.

    Frankly if this were my daughter, I'd just let the A Levels pass without further input. Let her get them out of the way. Then, sit with her and see if we can find a better qualification that actually works for her. Or, let her have a year or two doing what she wants and then go back to it. Truth is, we have a lifetime to learn and qualify - adult colleges ensure that you can find your path at any age.

    I know very few people that, in adulthood, are actually happy that they made the right choices at college or even university. Many are retraining years later, myself included. That's a choice we all have when the education system hasn't worked for us.

    If you don't want him at home and would like him to earn money to move out, that's fine. But he can do that in many jobs without formal qualifications, until he's ready to earn more by finding a qualification that he actually wants to do.