My daughter has panic attacks about school, especially when teachers speak in a condescending tone that is intended to imply encouragement but actually just lacks understanding of what my child is struggling with. Oftentimes, the teachers don’t have other solutions or approaches to a situation other than to say, “Well, just try your best!”, and when your child is already trying their best, this feels like failure. My child, too, can be stubborn to try different approaches; for example, she initially refused audiobooks because she had always been an avid reader until PANS caused her some kind of scrambled reading disorder similar to dyslexia that she never had before and never learned to cope with. She would just rather that certain criteria weren’t required, such as reading a book and then answering worksheets about what she has read. She loathes worksheets and homework, and flat-out refuses to do either, especially outside the classroom setting. She would rather read and take a test and be done. It’s also been our experience that anything different from the typical course is seen as “catering to” and an “easy pass” for my child; they’ll even sometimes SAY so, even when our ideas are just as educationally challenging – easy is not what we are going for – and that attitude, in fact, reinforces the whole doubt of why school is even important for her anyway, since there’s no challenge or new material, a question she often asks me, and at this point, with the attitude the school has given me, as if it is just a requirement of the law and they just need her to be a warm body there for a minimum number of hours a week, it’s hard to tell her that it matters. We go to these 504 meetings intending to bring new suggestions based on how my daughter learns best, such as being allowed to draw during lectures (it helps her retain the info she is hearing), or taking larger or more frequent tests on a subject, as opposed to homework and worksheets with redundant, and often subjective, questions that leave her panicking because she obsesses over what the teacher might have been thinking when she wrote the question rather than what she herself has learned from the material. Learning should be a part of life that is more individually encouraging, paced, and designed, especially for kids who aren’t neurotypical. The school has even denied us an actual 504 this year, saying all the accommodations she needs are met through their after-school tutoring program, but they’re not. The after-school tutoring program is designed for kids who can’t attend during the day because they have a variety of things going on, but almost all of those kids are neurotypical kids with life circumstance issues…my kid is not…and continuing to push that envelope makes her feel even more isolated and feel as if she doesn’t belong there but has to be there. My child isn’t intellectually delayed, but she is being passed along as such, as long as she shows up. Half the time she can’t even do that because her symptoms are unpredictable and unplanned, and stress makes them worse, and they make it seem like she is just lazy and slow, neither of which is her at all. She is actually quite gifted, and their school counsellor even stated so when she looked at my daughter’s test scores and educational history. It’s almost like they just don’t believe us, that this illness has seriously got her so far off the course of a normal life that school would be better off delayed altogether until we could at least begin treatments. They promised to “just pass her” if she shows up for her twice a week two-hour tutoring. Even they agree it isn’t fair to her…she deserves better, but they put that on her, like, “You deserve better and could do better, but you would have to try harder. If you’re not willing to try, then this is what we have to offer.” They don’t seem to realize how hard it is and how much it takes out of her just to TRY to leave the damn house. I’ve asked them if they’d treat her the same way if she had cancer or was in a coma, and they simply respond, “But she isn’t”, as if this isn’t as serious as either of those, and it is! My daughter’s own immune system attacks her brain every time she encounters a germ it doesn’t like…this means she doesn’t get normal symptoms; this means we don’t even know when she’s sick, sometimes until she’s suicidal. My daughter is as much at risk of dying from her illness as those kids, and her life right now is about surviving, not redundant math worksheets and character analyses of a work of fiction. Sometimes, even without the PANS challenges, I wonder if these educators have any idea how autism works and what concrete and objective thinking is. My daughter doesn’t give two hoots about character analysis; ask her about the facts, and she will nail that every single time. She’s not stupid she’s just not interested in the gobbledygook that comes with core model learning in an attempt to form critical thinking skills, which she already has quite naturally, thank you.