Published on 12, July, 2020
Can I ask everyone’s opinion on the issue of permanently leaving education? And if anyone can share their experience of this?
my son is temporarily out of college due to mental health problems. He is autistic and he has Selective Mutism in educational settings. The stress of the pandemic, the lockdowns meaning he was out of college for a long time and other life events have meant that when he returned to college he found it more difficult to cope with than ever (and he has always seriously struggled with school and college). His social anxiety was extreme and he found going back to having Selective Mutism in the college environment virtually unbearable. We asked for more help and support from the college but they weren’t able to offer much more - certainly no specialist support of any kind. So he stopped going in - and then they said he couldn’t return this year as he’d already missed too much of his course. He was relieved really because he couldn’t face going back at this point anyway.
the idea is that he will start again at the same college in September. But today he has said that he doesn’t want to go back at all. The problem is he doesn’t know what else to do instead of going back to college. I don’t really know how to advise him or where to go for advice to try to help him.
I’m not sure of what other educational options there are (or where to find out about them, and I also don’t know how he would get on out of education altogether. Could it be a case of ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’? He’d certainly lose his EHCP - and that worries me as it seems to be the only protection he has in terms of using it to get help or support.
I feel so confused - and so does he. Part of me worries that he’s just withdrawing from the world to avoid anxiety - and I know from my own experience (I’m autistic too) that the more you withdraw from the world the more frightened and isolated you become. I don’t want him to end up hiding from everything as I know he won’t be happy doing that because he’s told me that he really wants friends, a girlfriend, a life.
Has anyone else had experience of this sort of situation? What did you do?
How old is your son?
I'm wondering two things: might there be a distance learning option for him? A course online, where maybe he can correspond rather than talk to a tutor or class mates
Meanwhile, he does need to poke his nose out doors sometimes. You can't supply everything forever. Maybe your GP could get him a social prescriber to put him in touch with or get him involved with some social a activity he won't find too overwhelming...easy does it to coax him out. That might also improve his mental well being.
Thanks Dawn. He’s 20. we could look at a course online - but it’s very hard to get him to engage with academic work of any kind at the moment. His course at college was part practical and part academic - and he liked the practical aspects much more than the academic aspects. We do get out for walks most days. I’ve never heard of a ‘social prescriber’ - what is that exactly? Volunteering seems like a good idea but when I suggest anything like that he says he doesn’t want to. It’s very difficult - everything I suggest that involves meeting people on any level makes him really anxious and he won’t consider it. Which I understand (because he has so much social anxiety) but it’s a vicious circle isn’t it? I worry that such a reclusive life is going to become a habit for him that will be very hard to get out of. At the moment I’m just trying to make sure that we get out of the house and go to places so that he has some variety in his environment and is around some people - even if he’s not talking to them.