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Ingela Åhslund


Although school attendance in Sweden is mandatory, there are numerous absentee students. Research studies have recognized that several of the absentee students have neuropsychiatric disabilities. However, few studies have focused on the voices of these specific students. Therefore, this study focused on their experiences of being out of school. In-depth interviews was performed with an interpretive phenomenology approach. Three themes emerged. The first was a need for supportive structures and relationships; all of the students had long histories of problematic schooling and described supportive structures and relationships with to teachers and peers as important to them. The second theme was a gendered understanding of the school absences; there were gender differences in the students’ understanding, and the students described their self-image and confidence as having been harmed by their failures in school, which caused the boys especially to develop defence strategies. The third theme was a need to have only a few secure relationships and to be taught in a smaller context. The study also illustrates the value of listening to students, partly because they know themselves best but mostly to show them respect and give them power over their own lives (i.e., empower them). The results are important for researchers and practitioners since the study provides in-depth knowledge on which areas the students felt were important and increased understanding of how the students experienced their situations.

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