Bobby was referred to Sage Day following 3 years of sporadic school attendance with one year having no attendance at all. In his early years Bobby was an academically gifted student, excelling in Math. Things seemed all good through sixth grade. Seventh grade started as normal but the nervous stomach that would sporadically keep him home in elementary school became more frequent. Absences began to mount and the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months. Before long the idea of leaving home was paralyzing. His parents, who were dealing with their own troubled relationship, tried to coax him to school, but the efforts were inconsistent as marital problems preoccupied the family. Bobby was basically left alone to deal with his problems.
Bobby’s case manager had heard about the success Sage Day has had with other children who were school avoidant and called to discuss his situation, sharing at length about Bobby and the progression of his problems. By the time the referral was made, Bobby’s mother had left home and he was very depressed and tremendously anxious. In addition, Bobby’s anxiety had progressed to agoraphobia, he had not left his house for several months. His world became very small and he felt like his world was falling apart. But like many students who come to Sage, there remained a hopeful part of him that believed life could get better.
Bobby could not make it in to the school for the interview, so initial communications were by phone. After several conversations he became more comfortable and agreed to come to the school to meet in person. The first attempt resulted in a meeting in the parking lot, sitting in the car and talking. He was too anxious to leave the car, but he agreed to try again the next day.
On the second visit and after spending 15 minutes in the car, he was able to enter the school and sit in the clinician’s office. He shared how much he wanted things to change but was losing hope that they ever could. He was assured that although things were currently bad, the Sage team had the confidence that together they could get things moving in the right direction over time and with some work. He spoke about what he missed about having a “normal” life and remembered what he used to be like – he loved computers and wanted to learn to play an instrument. When we discussed what Sage Day had to offer him in academics, extra curricular activities, and counseling, he felt that he wanted to give it a try. It was explained that all Sage Day can ask of him is that he try! A start date of 5 days from the meeting was set.
Bobby’s first week was spent in the clinician’s office and the front office. He slowly agreed to try attending class after first just walking down the hall for a few days and visualize being in class. He, his therapist and the teachers developed strategies to help Bobby get back into class and over time stay in class. Within a few weeks, Bobby was attending his tenth grade classes full-time and began to take guitar lessons in music class. Bobby excelled at guitar. The same young man who could not enter the building at one point, was after just a few months at Sage, up on a stage playing lead guitar in front of 200 people.
Bobby graduated from Sage Day and while his academic achievements got him acceptances to some prestigious schools, he (along with the help of his therapist) decided to choose a local school where he would feel more comfortable and provide a smooth transition from high school to college.