It was February 2009 and the beginning of the week before half-term when my 10-year old son complained of tummy ache. As he was prone to occasional stomach/bowel upsets, I did not worry too much and just assumed that he had contracted a stomach bug or had eaten something that had disagreed with him. I therefore kept him at home with me so that he could rest and recover. Normally he would have returned to school after a couple of days or so but this time things were different. Though he was physically better, whenever I mentioned about returning to school he reacted in an unusually tearful and anxious manner. At first I wondered whether he had become too comfortable being at home and had lost confidence in returning to school, but it soon became obvious that something else was going on. Not only did he appear fearful and shaky at the slightest mention of school but he soon became unable to leave the house without having a panic attack. Consequently he started to withdraw from life outside our home and to spend his days either in his bed or curled up on the settee watching the TV. Trying to get him out of the front door became almost impossible. On top of this, he also could not cope with visitors to our home, not even his loving grandparents, and would cling to me physically whenever anyone visited. I found it difficult to leave his side without causing considerable distress to him.
I was shocked and upset about the sudden deterioration in my son so I arranged to see the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator) at his school to explain the situation and ask for help. To give her credit, the SENCO responded rapidly and put a request to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Unfortunately we had to wait nearly three months before we got an appointment with a psychiatrist so whilst we were waiting we tried to help our son as much as we could. Part of this involved asking yet again for a statement of SEN.
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