Boy afraid of school has year off and writes book


A 12-year-old boy who suddenly became so afraid of school that he could not attend for a year has written a book about his experience in the hope it will help others facing the same ordeal.

Joseph Franklin said he loved going to The Academy School, in Hampstead, north London but one day, two years ago, he found he could not face going.

He said: "There was no reason why I didn't want to go. I wasn't being bullied or not liking my teachers. I just became so anxious about it, I was scared about getting out the car and I couldn't explain it to anyone. I found that so frustrating."

The family, who live in Hampstead Garden Suburb, found Joseph's refusal difficult to come to terms with. His mother, Melissa Franklin, said: "It was stressful. We couldn't believe it went on for so long. We had to be really careful not to lose our temper with him."

"We took him to the GP, took him to therapy and in the end it was the school's counsellor who helped us through it.

"She diagnosed him with 'school-phobia'. Just before it happened, his grandma became ill and he broke his arm and had a really bad experience. It could have been a trigger."

It is thought that one per cent of children experience the phobia during their school careers. It may be sparked by separation anxiety.

Joseph's recovery came after his counsellor would take him to the school gate every day and talk to him about going in.

He said: "At first I couldn't. But she was so kind and calm and she eventually persuaded me back into class. I was scared about the work I was missing."

Mrs Franklin said the book had been his idea. "He has been going to a dyslexia tutor and he told her he wanted to write a book about his experience coping with anxiety. She helped him and got it published."

Joseph is now back at The Academy, completing the year of school he missed.

"I'm fine now. I'm taking each day as it comes. I'm trying hard to catch up."

'You're Never Alone', published by Grosvenor House, is available on Amazon

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