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

Welcome to F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum. This is a free service provided for parents of those suffering from eating disorders. It is moderated by kind, experienced, parent caregivers trained to guide you in how to use the forum and how to find resources to help you support your family member. This forum is for parents of patients with all eating disorder diagnoses, all ages, around the world.

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ed_newbie
Hello to all of my fellow warriors! 

It's been a while since I've visited the forum.  I am back and in need of some guidance. 

For those who don't know my story, d was diagnosed with AN (restrictive) just shy of her 13th birthday about 3 years ago.  We refed her at home and she was quickly weight restored in about 6 months.  She sped through puberty and I watched her body and mind transform.  About two years post diagnosis things were going pretty well.  She transitioned into a new high school and her ED behaviors all but disappeared.  However during that first year of high school she started hanging around with a fast crowd.  We started to see what I thought was typical teen behavior - partying and experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  But we also started to see signs of depression and anxiety, issues that began to emerge when she started puberty 3 years earlier prior to AN diagnosis.

Shortly after she started her second year about 4 months ago, her mental health started to decline and she was admitted to hospital for about 10 days (non-ED).  While hospitalized she was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  She admitted to using substances (Xanax included) to help her manage anxiety which she said was primarily school/social related.  She was discharged about two months ago into an intensive outpatient program 3x/week after school aimed at treating co-occurring disorders including substance use.  Although substance free since her hospitalization, she hasn't been to school more than a few days.  Her team believes that attending school is an important step in overcoming her social anxiety, and her dad is pushing for her to go back to school.  She tries every day but just can't do it.  D seems to have made up her mind that she wants to do on-line school.  She says school is too stressful and puts her at risk for substance use and/or ED relapse.  I have seen some ED behaviors creeping back here and there but overall she's continuing to eat well despite the stress.  

Does anyone have experience with on-line school?  Does risk of relapse outweigh the benefits of overcoming social anxiety right now?  My gut is telling me to enroll her in on-line school but I'd like to hear from others who may have some experience or thoughts on the matter.

Thank you! 

"Lineage, personality and environment may shape you, but they do not define your full potential."    Mollie Marti  

ed_newbie

15 yr old d diagnosed with AN late December 2015 at the age of 12 after a 23 lb weight loss during prior 3 months. Started FBT/Maudsley at home on Christmas Eve with support from amazing local nutritionist specializing in ED and trained in FBT. WR Feb 2016 and pushing our way through puberty and rapid growth.
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Kali
Dear Ed_newbie,

I remember you! I think we both had kids really struggling 3 years ago.

I have a friend who homeschooled her son and used a homeschooling website called K-12, I believe. He is on the spectrum although pretty high functioning, and it just worked better for him to study at home during high school and be on a self guided curriculum. He is in college now and doing well. You could speak with your daughter's school and guidance counselor and see if they have some recommendations. If it is too difficult for her to get herself to school at the moment and she feels safer at home, perhaps you could look into online schooling for the winter spring term and see how it goes. She can always transition back to the actual school building later on when she is feeling better. Is she on any medications which might help take the edge off this?

Are you or is someone else home during the day though? I might be reluctant to have a teen home alone all day, so just something to consider.

wishing you all the best,

Kali



Food=Love
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debra18
Does she have any interests or hobbies? It seems like she substituted one unhealthy coping tool for another one. I think you need to help her develop a healthy identify and interests ,like music, or pets. If she will be homeschooled, maybe you could help her overcome her social anxiety by engaging in a healthy extra activity, like a book club.
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ValentinaGermania
Many ED kids have anxiety disorders and problems to socialise, often combinated with giftedness, which makes it not better. That is part of their ED character.

If she is struggling so much with school at the moment online schooling can be a first aid solution I think.
But: I would try to keep her engaged in other social activities. She should see her peer group (or a bit older kids as the often find it easier to socialise with elder ones). A book club is a good idea, or some church groups? Can she do some job at the animal shelter or something like that? Do some babysitting?

Tina72
Keep feeding. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
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Torie
Thanks for the update, but sorry to hear of this trouble.

I don't know what would be best.  Just to throw out a few things that might be options:  Sometimes there are groups for homeschooled kids that teach science / math (because parents can't always teach those).  So that would provide some limited exposure to social situation in education.  Also, some places have combination cyberschool / bricks and mortar where they can go in as desired.

Please keep us posted. xx

-Torie
"We are angels of hope, of healing, and of light. Darkness flees from us." -YP 
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sunnyakela
My daughter was out of school for most of 9th grade, but was able to keep up with four classes homebound (half the normal load) and returned in the spring of that year. She took a full load in 10th grade. She has been in the hospital or RTC since June 2018, (her 11th grade year so far) and takes 4 classes from an online school this year.

Right now, she thinks that she would like to go back to her school for her senior year, but we feel that the stress is going to be too much for her. She is a perfectionist and has few friends since she has been in and out of school. She will have also fallen behind her peers in things like orchestra, which will be upsetting. The reason that we might let her go is that she is motivated to eat because she is not allowed to go if she doesn't.

There are many options for online school, and many classes can be added at any point in the year. I think the social anxiety can be dealt with at a slower pace. High school is a huge pressure cooker in the best of circumstances.
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Mamaroo
Hi ED_newbie

Sorry you had to find yourself back here. I don't have any experience of on-line schooling, but I'll just tell you our experience. My d hated school while sick, but the hospital insisted she went to school to keep her in the habit of going. I eventually moved her to a small (35 children in a year) Christian school. It suits her very well. Do you have other options apart from the school she went to? I can understand that she doesn't want to go back there and online schooling might be a good option for her.
D became obsessed with exercise at age 9 and started eating 'healthy' at age 9.5. Restricting couple of months later. IP for 2 weeks at age 10. Slowly refed for months on Ensures alone, followed by swap over with food at a snails pace. WR after a year at age 11 in March 2017. View my recipes on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKLW6A6sDO3ZDq8npNm8_ww
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deenl
HI ed_newbie,

Just throwing our experience into the pot. It is not something that would be desirable for most, I think, but was right for us.

My son was younger than your daughter but has always been cautious socially. All his life he has held back, often is a safe place or with a safe person, to observe. Then, when he feels comfortable has gone happily into the new situation. Any attempt to speed this process produced anxiety and extreme resistance.

When he was very ill there was no question of him going to school. Once not in danger of collapsing it was still easy for us to keep him home. For him, eating 6x per day was all the stress he could handle. And also, I did not have the emotional reserves to force him to school against his will everyday. With 2of3 kids there is a history of resistance to school at various points and I was just done with it. 

As ED son's brain came back online he did lots of crafts and maths on Khan Academy. In the end he was home for 2 full school years. He is a smart cookie and rejoined his old class and has been able to catch up without difficulty. He is expected to graduate on time.

Socially, his mentor said that he is better since he went back than he was before his illness (of course, he was probably slipping into the anxiety and withdrawal of ED at that time) Anyway, he still has some social arkwardness but is on the whole doing very well. I put this down to the delay in returning to school - he went when he was ready so had a very positive experience. This is in spite of the psychiatrists strong concerns that his adolescent and social development being stunted due to lack of experience. 

As I say, this is only our story. I believe different approaches are appropriate for different kids.

Best of luck,

D
2015 12yo son restricting but no body image issues, no fat phobia; lost weight IP! Oct 2015 home, no progress. Medical hosp to kick start recovery Feb 2016. Slowly gaining at home, seeing signs of our real kid.

May 2017 Hovering around WR. Mood great, mostly. Summer 2017 Happy, first trip away in years, food variety, begin socialising. Sept 2017, back to school FT first time in 2 years. 2018 growing so fast hard to keep pace with weight. 2020 Off to university, healthy and happy.
  • Swedish proverb: Love me when I least deserve it because that's when I need it most.
  • We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence Recovery, then, is not an act but a habit. Aristotle.
  • If the plan doesn't work, change the plan but never the goal.
  • We cannot control the wind but we can direct the sail.
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ed_newbie
Thank you all so much for responding.

Kali:  I remember you too!  We are working with her guidance counselor on a 504 plan for school accommodations and it looks like she will be eligible for tutoring services.  But I'm just not sure these measures will be enough for her at the moment. Counselor actually suggested on-line school may be what she needs right now and that she could come back later and graduate with her peers if she likes.  Her regular med (fluoxetine) dosage was increased by 10mg during her recent hospital stay, but she refuses to take the other medication prescribed for anxiety (hydroxyzine).  Her dad and I have some flexibility to work from home and support from grandma if she does go the on-line route.

Debra and Tina:  Agree that hobbies / interests are so important.  She just hasn't been well enough recently to engage socially.  At the moment she is focusing on make-up artistry and says she wants to make a career out of it but I am wary of this given the focus on appearance.  We do have pets at home but she needs to find something else to get her out of the house. Book club is a great idea.  

Torie so nice to hear from you! And Sunny I agree that high school is a pressure cooker, especially for kids with anxiety.  Mamaroo - I don't think there are many school options for really small class sizes nearby but I will investigate.

Deenl - as always, thank you for your insight.  You said your son "went when he was ready so had a very positive experience".  This really captured my attention.  What is the point of forcing a child to conform to social /school expectations when she isn't ready?  What would be the outcome? Possibly more trauma?  I'd rather see her continue to get well mentally and gradually return to normal teen life when she is feeling confident and ready.

"Lineage, personality and environment may shape you, but they do not define your full potential."    Mollie Marti  

ed_newbie

15 yr old d diagnosed with AN late December 2015 at the age of 12 after a 23 lb weight loss during prior 3 months. Started FBT/Maudsley at home on Christmas Eve with support from amazing local nutritionist specializing in ED and trained in FBT. WR Feb 2016 and pushing our way through puberty and rapid growth.
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Francie
Hi Ed_Newbie, There is also FlexSchool. I see they focus on 2E and Gifted, but maybe that is another option.  Best of luck! XO

Francie

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Alls_fair
Hi there!
Mother of two teens, boy and girl, both diagnosed with eating disorders at different times, one relapse each. I homeschooled at different times (3rd-7th and 9th grade for son, 4th grade daughter , have had one in private school this year, and one at the local high school. Right now, my freshman daughter is home pending entry into an outpatient eating disorder/depression program, and I’m working with the school to let her finish the semester from home. There are so many options for learning from home , including total on-line programs (many of them are dull, but get the job done) and a TON of different mix and match resources if you want to put something together yourself. I would also agree that learning from home (totally supervised) is a great option during recovering , and until they can feel safe going back. The education they get at home (no matter what they do) will be better than any they could get battling demons away from home. If you are worried because you have never done it before, there are ‘umbrella ‘ schools that will help you design the curriculum , and certify the credits. A lot of military families use that type of service when stationed abroad. Learning at home, all day, can get very boring, so I would suggest a homeschool group for addition classes. I actually wish all schools had classes like I have found through homeschool groups . My son had the best art, photography, history, and science classes through his homeschool groups. Just like with this forum, finding homeschool support sites will open up a whole new world. My kids have been in and out of homeschool/public school/online school depending on their recovery state, and the only problems they have ever had with education are when ED is present. I will warn you that it’s hard on the parent in charge....but not as hard as dealing with ED after they’ve been in his grips all day at school, and making poor teen decisions with less than helpful friends.
Good luck on you decision, and I’d encourage to go with your gut instinct
Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
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keeptrukin
Hi all,
After WR we made my son (just 13 then) return to school. We felt that it was important for him to get back to what was normal and we felt social stuff was key to that. He had lots of tough times and stress last year because of it, but maintained his eating and made social progress. This year we've let him do online school because he is involved in a ballet program during the day which is also a social outlet. Again he has maintained an ability to eat well and take care of himself. For an ED kid I would say that online school is very very low stress. His mood is great and he does his school work with little resistance. I'm still not 100% sure of this choice for us since I think it may make going back to school at some point hard for him, but this life is all one big experiment and right now he's very happy with this.
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rubiegirl8_USA

my dd was also diagnosed just shy of her 13th birthday, and re-fed at home.
it's now over 4 yrs post diagnosis.  she has been in and out of home schooling several times.

both of my girls suffer from major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety, with social anxiety being the biggest part of it.
my dd with ED went back and forth between home school and on-site schools.  she went back several times because she wanted to try to live like a "normal" kid.  each time her anxiety and depression got the best of her and she ended up in a severely depressive and suicidal state and we had to take her out and start home school again.
this is her senior year in HS.  she wanted to go back to school once again so she could be a senior like a "normal" kid and graduate with her class.  this is the first year i said no to it.  the other times she wanted to go back, i was very proud of her for pushing herself.  but each time became such a disaster, that i just didn't want her to go through that again.  i had zero faith that it would even remotely work and i knew she would be devastated going through that again.

my younger daughter, who does not have ED, is in 10th grade this year.  i have always forced her to stay in on-site school no matter how much her anxiety got to her and no matter how deeply depressed she became.  i believed with her it was much better for her to stay in a social environment.  so she was forced, daily, to go to school for three years.  i  really felt i was doing the right thing for her, and my husband was adamant we would be tougher on this one. 
well, she started 10th grade at school this year, and she became so despondent, depressed, suicidal, anxiety out of control.  we felt like if we continued to force her to go to school, she would be pushed too far, beyond repair.  we took her out about two months into the school year and she started home schooling.  she is so much better!

the best thing about my girls' school district is they have what is called "independent study."  they follow the exact same curriculum as all the other schools in our city (on line), and are able to return any time they want without missing a beat.  and i love that i don't have to be their teacher.  i did that for a couple years with my older daughter (through K-12 online school), and i'm so glad not to have to be responsible for their schooling any more.

it really is a personal decision.  you know your child best.  what does your gut tell you?  sometimes we have to put emotions aside and make the decision solely based on what's best for our kids.

dd 17yr old dx april 2013 at 12yrs old, W/R end of july 2013, phase 3, california
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Tali97
We did on-line high school for health reasons. His brothers did regular school.
The online school was semestered and there were kids who were taking all online and others who were taking some online classes and some regular classes.  The courses had online classes where the kids have communicated with the teacher and other students with text chat. All the classes were recorded so the kids could watch later if they missed a class or wanted more clarity.  The kids were sent in to break out groups together and expected to work together. Overall he had a good experience and did interact with classmates from all over the world. 
The teachers were accommodating and considerate. Send me a message if you have other questions. We worked with a Canadian school and I do know that the local school offers online classes for subjects that are not offered in particular schools or for kids that are missing school due to a sport or for other reasons.

18 year old boy (Gluten Free/Dairy Free 2005)
 IP - March/April 2014.  ARFID.
 2015 - Gastroparisis
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sk8r31
My d did a combination of online and in-person schooling for 5 years, from 7th through 12th grade.  We did home-school for about 6 months in 7th grade, after d begged to be taken out, and I had exhausted efforts with the school counselor and teachers to remediate a difficult school situation.  

The best balance seemed to be a combination of online and in-person schooling, dependent on subject matter.  English, health and social studies all were done online, with good success.  I think my d liked controlling her schedule for those classes and was very focused and organized with her time.  I think it has contributed to her success in post-secondary education and even now in graduate school, as she is quite disciplined with her study, though also able to balance time spent on classwork and time available for leisure activities.

Socially, it was good to have interaction with peers, but also best in some classes that were not as academic...ex. arts classes, language classes  Also, there was an element of service learning at school which was quite beneficial socially, as well as cultivating empathy for others and a feeling of being useful and valued as a person, not just for academic achievements.

I don't think there is a 'one size fits all' with regard to school/school setting.  It really is more individual and dependent on health and other things such as anxiety, depression etc.  As well as being connected to family circumstances, such as whether there is a parent available for homeschooling/monitoring online classes and potential driving to accommodate a flexible school schedule.  We all do the best we can, within what is available and accessible to us. But I certainly would encourage setting up a kid for success in the best possible situation for them.  And that may be schooling at home for the present.  

Sending warm support,
sk8r31
It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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