Edit concept Question Editor Create issue ticket

School Phobia

Phobias School

School phobia (also known as didaskaleinophobia or school refusal) is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by irrational fear of attending school. It usually affects sensitive and insecure children and causes physical symptoms which the child uses to prevent school exposure.


Presentation

School phobia affects 5 to 28% of children (boys and girls alike, more often between the age of 10-13 years) at some point during their education [1]. The symptoms consist of headaches, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, asthenia, excessive perspiration, muscle aches and bone pain, palpitations, dizziness, trembling or accelerated intestinal transit. The presentation commonly occurs just before going to the school or during school hours. The child repeatedly asks to leave the classroom and visit the school nurse. He or she may also exhibit psychiatrical symptoms like anxiety, avoidance coping, noncompliance, inflexibility or a tendency to defy authority. Temper tantrums may also start if his or her requests are not met. All these problems quickly disappear once the child is reassured that he or she can remain at home. School phobia may be a sign of a deeper psychiatrical abnormality, such as depression, pathologic anxiety or personality disorder [2].

Symptoms may happen gradually when it progressively becomes more difficult to convince the child to attend school or can take place abruptly, after a stressful event. Patients do not refuse to learn or do their homework, they only feel panic about going to school and fear may be so deep, some may cry throughout the previous night.

If the problem is not quickly addressed, it can lead to academic decline, school dropout, social isolation, and lack of success in the later stages of life, affecting the family life and causing economic problems.

Physical examination usually reveals no pathologic elements. However, an organic support for the child’s complaints may be suspected after clinical examination. Diseases to be looked out for include thyroid disorders, asthma, mitral valve prolapse, and gastrointestinal diseases, especially Crohn’s disease and dyspepsia.

Limb Pain
  • Roger Hollister , Limb Pain in Childhood , Pediatric Clinics of North America , 31 , 5 , (1053) , (1984) . David Trueman , What are the Characteristics of School Phobic Children? , Psychological Reports , 54 , 1 , (191) , (1984) .[dx.doi.org]
  • Roger Hollister, Limb Pain in Childhood, Pediatric Clinics of North America, 31, 5, (1053), (1984). David Trueman, What are the Characteristics of School Phobic Children?, Psychological Reports, 54, 1, (191), (1984).[doi.org]
Anemia
  • Complete blood cell count is needed in order to rule out anemia, a cause of abdominal pain. The same symptom can be caused by heavy metal intoxication, that also needs to be excluded.[symptoma.com]
Underweight
  • […] activities, difficulty in doing homework, changing schools or teachers, illness in the family, difficulty in adapting to classmates and friends in school, being mocked, harmed or bullied at school, having bodily imperfections such as being overweight or underweight[dailysabah.com]
Sighing
  • But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force. Click here for the full article...[myaspergerschild.com]
Recurrent Abdominal Pain
  • abdominal pain or other pain Head louse infestation Shaking or trembling Influenza Sleep problems Orodental disease Finding a reason for school refusal If a child has somatic complaints, you can expect to find that the child is: suffering from a true[currentpsychiatry.com]
Constipation
  • “But I became massively constipated with a constant tummy ache, which meant no need to lie. I ended up being hospitalised, it got so bad. My parents were really worried about me, but they thought I was ill, not mental.[inews.co.uk]
Mitral Valve Prolapse
  • Diseases to be looked out for include thyroid disorders, asthma, mitral valve prolapse, and gastrointestinal diseases, especially Crohn’s disease and dyspepsia.[symptoma.com]
Bone Pain
  • The symptoms consist of headaches, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, asthenia, excessive perspiration, muscle aches and bone pain, palpitations, dizziness, trembling or accelerated intestinal transit.[symptoma.com]
Suicidal Ideation
  • The child should also be interviewed regarding suicidal ideation.[symptoma.com]
Headache
  • BACKGROUND: Children and adolescents with school phobia sometimes complain of severe and persistent headaches that are diagnosed as chronic daily headache (CDH).[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • There were few drug-related side-effects as only one patient had mild headache at the beginning of the treatment. Our very preliminary results suggest that citalopram may be effective in school phobia related to PD.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Hiding behind such common physical symptoms as headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue, school phobia evades diagnosis with ease.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • The most common symptoms that children experience are nausea, upset stomach, and headache. These complaints obviously mask the anxiety the child experiences, which tends to rise dramatically when the parent tries to get their child to go to school.[appliedlearningcenter.com]
  • The symptoms consist of headaches, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, asthenia, excessive perspiration, muscle aches and bone pain, palpitations, dizziness, trembling or accelerated intestinal transit.[symptoma.com]

Workup

If a somatic disease is suspected after clinical evaluation, thorough blood and imaging workup should be ordered. Complete blood cell count is needed in order to rule out anemia, a cause of abdominal pain. The same symptom can be caused by heavy metal intoxication, that also needs to be excluded. Thyroid and thyroid-stimulating hormones can be ordered if the clinical aspect suggests glandular pathology. Type I or II diabetes or decreased insulin tolerance are diagnosed using glycemia or urine glucose elimination.

If history or clinical evaluation point to an expansive intracranial process, computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging or positron emission tomography are in order. If a cardiac problem is suspected, the first steps towards diagnosis are an electrocardiogram and echocardiography. A sleep disorder can also induce anxiety, therefore sleep studies may be useful [3].

If no physical cause for symptoms is found, causes of school refusal must be explored: fear of separation, fear that something may happen to his or her parents, avoiding teacher criticism, avoid being bullied [4], feeling unsafe in class [5] or the urge to pursue hobbies during school hours [6].

The clinician may apply the 'School Refusal Assessment Scale-Revised,' a useful instrument when trying to assess the cause of school phobia [7]. Other interview scales, such as 'Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents-Revised,' 'Social Anxiety Scale for Children,' 'Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children or Child Behavior Checklist' also exist. Furthermore, observation of the whole family is indicated. The child should also be interviewed regarding suicidal ideation.

Treatment

  • In this report we describe the results of 8 to 15-month citalopram treatment on three young patients with school phobia associated with PD.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Kelly , School phobia: A review of theory and treatment , Psychology in the Schools , 10 , 1 , (33-42) , (2006) .[dx.doi.org]
  • Kelly, School phobia: A review of theory and treatment, Psychology in the Schools, 10, 1, (33-42), (2006).[doi.org]
  • Investing in treatment for social anxiety and related problems is a huge topic that has a ton of angles.[social-anxiety.com]

Prognosis

  • The prognosis is relatively good in preadolescent children and relatively poor in older children.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • Prognosis The combination of cognitive and behavioral therapy appears to produce the most successful treatment results.[healthofchildren.com]
  • Many education professionals tend to underestimate the long-term prognosis for these children.[senmagazine.co.uk]
  • Prognosis Separation anxiety disorder may wax and wane over a period of years. Approximately 30-40% of affected individuals have continued psychiatric symptoms into adulthood.[emedicine.medscape.com]

Etiology

  • The authors discuss the etiological significance of the almost universal parental pathology and family malfunction for both groups of children.[ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  • […] also found that full-term and very preterm infants (VPT) had changes in the amygdala: positive correlations with subcortical and limbic structures and negative correlations with cortical regions, although magnitudes were decreased in VPT infants. [11] Etiology[emedicine.medscape.com]

Epidemiology

  • Epidemiology Approximately 1 to 5 percent of all school-aged children have school refusal. 3 The rate is similar between boys and girls. 4, 5 Although school refusal occurs at all ages, it is more common in children five, six, 10, and 11 years of age.[aafp.org]
  • Most epidemiological studies have come from mental health literature. These study findings, extrapolated from referrals to clinics, suggest that school refusal occurs in approximately five per cent of all school-age children (Last & Strauss, 1990).[senmagazine.co.uk]
Sex distribution
Age distribution

Pathophysiology

  • […] school attendance, underscoring the long-term nature of school refusal, thus a chronic care approach to school refusal is needed even through combined treatment – augmentation of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) with fluoxetine improved outcomes. [9] Pathophysiology[emedicine.medscape.com]

Prevention

  • It usually affects sensitive and insecure children and causes physical symptoms which the child uses to prevent school exposure.[symptoma.com]
  • Prevention Little can be done to prevent school refusal.[healthofchildren.com]
  • Click here to read the full article… How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children Meltdowns are not a pretty sight.[myaspergerschild.com]
  • So how can you as a parent prevent school phobia from interfering with school attendance? The best therapy for school phobia is to make sure your child is in school every day. Fears are overcome by facing them as soon as possible.[healthcare.utah.edu]
  • The behavior is differentiated from parents who deliberately withdraw their child from school and from youths with significant exigent circumstances such as homelessness that prevent adequate school attendance.[doi.org]

References

Article

  1. Kearney CA, Silverman WK. The evolution and reconciliation of taxonomic strategies for school refusal behavior. Clin Psychol: Sci Prac. 1996;3:339-354.
  2. Kearney CA. Bridging the gap among professionals who address youth with school absenteeism: overview and suggestions for consensus. Prof Psychol Res Prac. 2003;34:57-65.
  3. Mindell J, Leichman E, DuMond C, et al. Sleep and Social-Emotional Development in Infants and Toddlers. J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2017;46(2):236-246.
  4. Glew G, Fan M, Katon W, et al. Bullying, psychosocial adjustment, and academic performance in elementary school. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159:1026-1031.
  5. Swahn M, Bossarte R. The associations between victimization, feeling unsafe, and asthma episodes among US high-school students. Am J Public Health. 2006;96:802-804.
  6. King N, Heyne D, Tonge B, et al. School refusal: categorical diagnoses, functional analysis and treatment planning. Clin Psychol Psychother. 2001;8:352-360.
  7. Kearney CA. Identifying the function of school refusal behavior: a revision of the School Refusal Assessment Scale. J Psychopathol Behav Assess 2002;24:235-245.

Ask Question

5000 Characters left Format the text using: # Heading, **bold**, _italic_. HTML code is not allowed.
By publishing this question you agree to the TOS and Privacy policy.
• Use a precise title for your question.
• Ask a specific question and provide age, sex, symptoms, type and duration of treatment.
• Respect your own and other people's privacy, never post full names or contact information.
• Inappropriate questions will be deleted.
• In urgent cases contact a physician, visit a hospital or call an emergency service!
Last updated: 2019-07-11 22:16