Worried about the kid

The kid’s migraine started back at the end of September. He hasn’t gone to school essentially at all since then. An hour here and there, mostly for Japanese (his favorite class, which is in the middle of the day).

He mostly sits on the couch and watches videos, or sketches. He visits with a friend occasionally – they’ll play video games for a bit, or just “hang out.” We have excused him from all his chores – he used to do all the laundry for the family, but that’s down a flight of stairs, and he really can’t handle stairs.

We’ve withdrawn him from most of his classes, and signed him up for online classes. But he doesn’t work on those. He says he’s too tired, or can’t think straight.

He’s 15. His classes were challenging – Japanese, AP history, honors English, precalculus, chemistry. First semester is, I think, a total loss.

I’m wondering whether we ought to be pushing him to do more schoolwork. The thing is, if he goes to school for a period or two, he usually comes home and takes a nap. It seems to wear him out. But it seems like he ought to be able to log on to the online class and work on his math or his history.

So sometimes I wonder if he’s taking advantage of the situation to just have a long holiday. Do you know what I mean? And then when i think that, I think it’s totally unfair. He has never been a slacker. On the other hand, when you’ve been out a while, it must be awfully hard to go back.

Those of you who have MAV – how much can you do while you’re in the middle of an episode? How much is it reasonable to expect of a kid? If we just write off this semester, should we expect him to be able to get started back to school next semester? Or should we just not expect anything until this episode is under control?


Maybe it would help to not view his schoolwork as an “all or nothing” involvement. I know that I often do quite a bit with dizziness, but I also cannot do nearly as much as I’d like to or would be able to do without dizziness when not in full MAV. And, sometimes I have to throw in the towel. So, if your son can play video games, it seem reasonable that he may be able to do some online classwork, or even work at a table on assignments for short periods of time. However, going back to school for more than 2-4 hours at a time may be too much until you are able to medicate him or assess his condition back into better functionality. Just chipping away at his classes may be better than doing none is my point. Just my thoughts.

Not quite the same thing, but… my husband used to work in workers comp (in Australia the HR department that manages workplace injury claims and getting people back at work) and they would always encourage managers to make contact with workers and get them in for social things eg a morning tea if possible to keep them connected because if they were able to do this there’s a better change of the person actually coming back when it’s a longer term issue than if they just “ignore” them - the longer a person stays away hte harder it is to go back.

I know it’s not the same thing, but if he can manage a class or two in school each week that might help him keep “in touch”?

Playing video games may be keeping your son from getting better. Many of us get dizzy using the computer plus the flashing lights and movement may make things worse so it may be keeping him from getting better. I know with myself, I always feel better if I move around and not just sit on the couch.
Good luck.

I think if he can manage the video games he can manage some schoolwork instead! It may take a long time to get this MAV under control, I have had it for over 20 years so you dont want him falling too far behind.

Teenagers will always take advantage of a situation given the chance! I have worked through many things with this illness.
Obviously, when he is really bad, let him rest but in my opinion, I would definitely encourage him to do more of the schoolwork and let him have the nap he needs afterwoulds.


Lorcalon, what you said about worker’s comp was really, really helpful. The idea that it gets harder and harder to go back makes sense to me. That’s what I’ve been worried about, but I hadn’t been able to quite put my finger on it. He’s gotten a text here or there from a classmate, and it’s definitely made him feel better, and it has seemed to encourage him to want to get himself back to school. But it doesn’t happen often, and I don’t know how to encourage more of it from the school’s side. That’s definitely something to think about, though.

Right now, the video games are very, very occasional – that’s what his best friend likes to do, so when they get together (which only happens when he’s having a good day and his friend is available, so maybe about every other week), they do it for a little while. But he can’t tolerate it for very long, and it’s no longer something he chooses to do when he’s by himself. He’s got an Xbox and a Wii, but he hasn’t touched them, except when his friend is over, since all this started.

To keep himself from dying of boredom, he watches old movies or TV shows (which are getting boring, too, since he’s already seen most anything that interests him over and over). He can’t tolerate anything with fast cuts or 'jiggly" camerawork. He also prefers to watch on the smallest screen available – usually his laptop, and not in full-screen mode. Does that make sense from a MAV point of view? Is that likely to still be too much? It didn’t occur to me that TV would be a problem, other than the things that made him feel dizzy or unsteady while watching it, and he doesn’t watch anything that makes him feel that way.

I’ve suggested to him that, if he can watch movies, he should be able to do a bit of schoolwork, but he says that when he’s watching a movie, he doesn’t have to think. For schoolwork, he has to think. I’m not sure that’s always a problem, but I knwo that, shortly after this whole thing started, and he was expecting to be back at school soon, he sat down one afternoon while dh and I were out, to do some math. And it terrified him, because he couldn’t think well enough to do it. He couldn’t get himself from the first step in a problem all the way to the answer at the end. It was something that should have been easy enough for him to do, and he was afraid that whatever was making him dizzy was causing him to have something like dementia. I think, maybe, he’s afraid to work on schoolwork, in case that happens again.

Nevertheless, dh and I were thinking about starting to enforce an hour of schoolwork a day except on the very worst days – I just wasn’t sure whether that was too much to expect. We’ve never dealt with anything like this, and it’s just hard to figure out what he needs and what helps and what makes things harder. From what y’all are saying, though, I think we’ll let him know that he gets his Christmas break, just like everyone else, and then he can plan on having a limited school schedule after the holidays.

Thanks so much for your advice and compassion.


Mamabear, just wanted to say what an ace mum you are! I’m like your son and struggle to watch programmes with any flashes,shaky cameras etc and it’s easier to watch on a small portable TV for some reason? I can understand where your son is coming from, it’s really hard for me to concentrate on anything and I struggle sometimes to remember names etc. I would have thought to do maths etc is really difficult because it requires such hard concentration. Is there anyway a teacher could do 1/2 hour on webcam or something with him? I’m sure if someone was talking it through with him it would help and require less concentration? Sorry can’t help more, but you are great to support your son in such a positive way. Tracey

Hi Mamabear,
My hubby and I worked in China for a year, My daughter did her studies with me, (home Schooled) “not good” as I’m dyslexic (slow learner) then we hired a Chineses tudor for about 3 months.
She only worked on her long distance education programe for a short time, even so , she was above the other studens when we came home.
you/ he can fit in more study in and less messing around this way.
So dont panic, he’l be fine, just think? he has less distraction, (girls other influences) this way.
As far as(online “computers”, I’m not sure if he’s effected by them , I am.
Ps up wrapping , sectrete santa pressies.
Fun! shhhhhh