Professional and personal perspectives on ASD, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) and school refusal.
By Morten Gantzler Oschlag/ Teacher, Therapist and Psychological Consultant.
These years I see an increasing focus on -and interest in school refusal amongst children –and young people with ADS.
Likewise, there is an increasing focus on - and interest in anxiety-related conditions, such as Pathological Demand Avoidance Syndrome.
Five years ago, I left my permanent position at CIS to become one of the co-founders of Søstjerneskolen, a highly specialized treatment school especially targeted children and young people with normal to high intelligence, ASD and complex, severe anxiety.
Back then, in 2014, I had already been working part time as a researcher and as a therapist, for a couple of years, at Psychological Ressource Center, a Copenhagen based consulting firm, on identifying and helping the group of kids and young people of whom, some were soon to become our first students, at Søstjerneskolen.
All of them came from good socioeconomic backgrounds had good -to excellent academic skills, as well as most of them had been attending ordinary schools, to begin with, without experiencing any particular challenges.
But gradually, and in silence, they had all been moving towards points of no return, where severe stress had turned into anxiety, dominated by a pathological resistance towards -and avoidance of demands, which in some cases had caused them to quit going to school school from one day to the other.
Some of them were later being moved between several schools for kids with special needs, before they finally came to us at Søstjerneskolen. Others had been spending two years or more at home, without being able to attend school or, in some rare cases, without being able to leave their own house or apartment.
During the day's workshop, I will tell a little about my work at the Søstjerneskolen, with this very special group of children and young people. In addition, I would like to offer my advice and answer questions about how you, as professionals, can become better at identifying and helping children and young people with ADS - as well as getting better at spotting pupils who are at risk of developing stress, anxiety and, in the long term, school refusal.
Parallel to my professional career, I am the father of two intelligent young people of 14 and 17 with ASD, ADHD and PDA. Despite of their great academic skills, and their father being an expert, they’ve both spend more than two years at home, due to severe anxiety and non-voluntary (my daughter's expression) school refusal.
Or in other words. The mother of our children and I have been forced to deal with virtually the same complex challenges - and problems that I have worked with as a professional throughout the years. This has offered me some perspectives - as well as some, experiences that would probably never have found their way to me, in any other way.
I can therefore guarantee that we will be getting around todays subject in a way that will be rounded by some of the many experiences that I as a teacher, therapist psychological consultant and as a parent, has dragged into this complex and deeply interesting field of research.