F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

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Hi, we have only just started on this awful journey with our d (8). She's currently still at school most days, although I'm not sure for how much longer. We're in the U.K. School are saying the dinner ladies won't feel comfortable making sure she eats all her lunch, and that they can't possibly supervise her at break to make sure she does no exercise.

I can tell that she's not as unwell at the moment as many of your loved ones. However, I wondered though whether anyone's had similar experience and has any tips on how to get school fully on board? Or am I living in cloud-cuckoo land?

Thanks x
Dear meadow,

I think there is a lot of variation between schools and the support they are able and willing to give our kids. You might get lucky.

My d's deputy principal supervised her meals, but he has a recovered daughter and knew just what was needed. That man was heaven sent.

But it would be a rare school that would understand the level of supervision that they require during meals. If kids are hiding food they can be extremely sneaky, and I think a parent is usually the best option. Would they be able to facilitate parent meal support?

D in and out of EDNOS since age 8. dx RAN 2013. WR Aug '14. Graduated FBT June 2015 at 18 yrs old. [thumb]
I have seen people find success with a few different approaches to dealing with the school:

1.  Find an ally.  Perhaps her teacher will be sympathetic or the school nurse if you have one or the counselor.  They may be able to give you good advice to get the help you need.  Forum member YogurtParfait found that her d's teacher was very helpful.

2. Escalate to a higher level.  First the principal, and, if that doesn't work, whoever the principal reports to.

3. I think someone here hired a local college student to go in and supervise.

4.  Find out your legal rights and approach it as a legal issue.  

5.  As OTM notes, they might not be up to the job of supervising even if they wanted to/tried.  That's what my decision was about my d's school so I didn't try too hard to get them to help.

Maybe this post by U.S. doctor and ED expert Rebekka Peebles will help provide some talking points:

Best of luck and please keep us posted. xx


"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
We took my son out of school in the end. This allowed me to supervise all of his meals and exercising. We were fortunate in that the school went out of their way to help. He was able to study at home, take work in to be marked and so on - even take his exams in private. I was fortunate in that the school had an excellent school nurse who was able to help and bring other staff on board. My H and I also made an appointment to see the Head / Principal to explain what was going on.
Bev Mattocks, mother of 24-year old male DX with RAN 2009, now recovered. Joined this forum in 2010 - it was a lifesaver.
We were actually told that it is best to keep our d in school from a social aspect and that it really was a last resort to take her out.  However, eventually her anxiety was just so crippling we couldn't actually get her to school.  She spent the last two terms of her GCSE year at home.  Perhaps you could find a member of staff who is willing to keep an eye on your d at meal times and break.  Or can you go in at lunch time perhaps. I would book an appointment with the Head to discuss the situation thoroughly as many just do not understand ED. 
We had my D help the art teacher during recess/gym.

And we ate lunch and snack with her at school for the last 4 months of fifth grade. For the majority of 6th and 7th grade we went and ate lunch with her daily in an empty room and we had an Americore worker who ate with her a few times a week the last year to give us a break.

Persistent, consistent vigilance!
Hi, thanks for these ideas.  I think I have found an ally with the Deputy Head, and she is in regular contact giving me updates. She's also checking on my d and communicating with other staff who need to know. The class teacher hasn't been at all helpful but hopefully now that someone senior is taking charge a bit this will help.  A proper meeting with school is a good idea, though, and perhaps we can even get one of the CAMHS clinicians to come along too.

I think that socially it would be a terrible shame if she missed a lot of school (she's already become very anxious, withdrawn and down since having AN - I guess this is fairly usual?). However, I realise now the severity of the illness and the fact that we can't compromise on her health. I couldn't care less about her grades. 

I'm seriously considering giving up work so that I can go and support her at school as necessary. A month ago I would never have dreamt I'd be thinking about this.

Really useful to hear your thoughts, thank you x 
Hi. My D (16)'s school have insisted all along that they cannot supervise meals. Initially my husband and I went every lunchtime and sat with her in the car, but this year I begged the school to at least give us a room and we now have a dedicated classroom. Also we have someone from the CAMHS eating disorder community team supervise lunch once a week which is a big help. They didn't offer it - I think you have to know to ask for the support. Like many others my D is struggling badly with anxiety, not helped by impending GCSE mocks, and it's not looking very likely that she'll manage to stay at school and complete the year. We're hanging on for now as it will be sad for her to have to stay down a year and not go to the 6th form with her friends
Hi hertsmum, really sad to hear your d is struggling with anxiety and I hope she'll manage the year. Must be a big worry for you all. I hadn't thought of asking CAMHS whether they could help supervise lunch. Think we have a slightly different system here but there might be scope. Will look into it anyway.

You are a big step ahead of me by the sounds of it having your husband so involved. Mine is I think still in the denial stage.
hertsmum - my d missed most of the final year of her GCSE's but still came out in the top five in her year so it is still possible to do well.  The school provided a tutor three  times a week for three hours (I think there may be some legal requirement  to provide an education but  don't quote me).  This was provided on the grounds that she was considered not mentally well enough to be in school.  This meant that the teachers could give her the work to do at home and she kept up with her coursework.  She sat her actual exams at our kitchen table with somebody from school invigilating.  She was exhausted after each tutoring session and exam but she did amazingly.  You need to talk to your d's school asap as they need to get the ball rolling if this sort of thing is to work.  As a result of this, my d was able to take her exams relatively anxiety free and focus on recovery.  She is now enjoying her first year at sixth form college.  We are not out of the woods and there are various triggers which we have to watch out for but she is running up the road to recovery!
Hi toothfairy, the school nurse is hardly ever around and is shared with a large number of other schools so sadly not really an option. I'm preparing myself for going in at lunchtimes and possibly breaks too. My d will hate it as it will be 'different', but going by other people's experience that's what she'll need. This is such a helpful forum.
My d will hate it as it will be 'different', but going by other people's experience that's what she'll need. This is such a helpful forum.

Actually different is an 8 year old not eating. You are just making it "normal" by being there to make sure she does what is expected.
Dear meadow,

mjkz is right eating is normal.

I often remember our childrens primary school days when my wife would make the girls lunch just before midday & then walk the about 250 metres to give the girls freshly made (at times cooked) lunch to school every day. This was well before our eldest D got sick.

ED Dad