My 16yo DS is going into grade 11 and has had school refusal issues now for about 6 years though he has enrolled and completed (barely) every year.

We have tried a few things - one was an alternative school (he hated it), and a mix of online and in person school. It seems to hit hardest in the Spring when it just gets too hard to cope with.

He had a bad bout of GERD last year and missed about a third of the school year but they allowed him to squeak through. Stomach issues ongoing.

We took him to counselling for needle phobia (he needed a number of tests for his stomach diagnosis) and it quickly turned to school anxiety counselling. It kept seeming like it was helping and then it would revert back to the same level.

This was all last year - grade 10. The next two years are very critical for admission to higher ed. He is, right out of the gate, saying he's not going to the local high school and wants to do online school full time. I know from past experience that cajoling, forcing, threatening etc. will only fail and damage our relationship.

We have had many conversations on the topic and had a big one yesterday. For some reason he is refusing to admit/acknowledge that the issue is social anxiety. The counselling he did recently focused on those issues. He is insisting that's not it and that he just hates the learning environment. I think the social aspect of school, even just in the classroom, creates an environment that makes it harder for him to focus on learning.

Another interesting aspect of what's happening with him is he seems to think the emotional issues he's facing - and always has - are not a part of him being gifted and he seems to think the whole "gifted" thing is just a silly label and doesn't mean anything. It's quite irritating. I just said, well, look it up yourself and see what you find.

So, I'm not against online school. I think it could be fine. He has done some courses online and his marks were good. I'm just concerned that he is withdrawing from the world and won't be able to face it when it comes time to launch. He could mature and gain confidence and face it with more strength given time. Or we could feel like horribly negligent parents if he's socially stuck and not able to be out in the world.

Some context, he has an older brother and socializes well with him and his (brother's) friends. He's great with his same age cousin and other friends of the family kids.

We are trying to discuss doing counselling again to help him with this while he does online school. He is, so far, refusing. And, again, refusing to acknowledge that anxiety is the problem.

Sorry this is so long. I'm too close to see this clearly. Any advice is welcome. My instinct tells me to: focus on him enjoying learning so online is fine with me, and to help him feel safe so his stomach issues can be cared for and so that he's not stressed.

DH is facing this with more anger/fear (I realize men deal with things differently and completely appreciate his perspective and what he brings to the table as a parenting style). It does create stress between us though as he sees my easy capitulation as weak (hasn't exactly said so but has implied). Of course it also creates stress between him and DS. He's not out of control angry just more confrontational and ultimatum forcing.

I've gone on even longer now. I'll stop. Advice please.