I wanted to put a vote in for the "Ask Amanda" days - this occurred to me last night as I tossed and turned trying to work out how to help my daughter deal with anxiety. She has just started Year 1 and has had a number of wee accidents at school (none over the break) and she wakes up every night and insists on sleeping in our bed - both these behaviours have started with the new term hence I think they may be about her anxiety...would love any advice/tips or simply stories of similar experience...
You have just been invited to a new friend's home for dinner. It will be the first time you have been there.
First, you double check that you have the address right and you are given a description of the place. You might even get someone to drive you past just so you are confident you can get there.
Then you consult Google maps and get a set of written directions, a map and a street view of the place. You are getting even more confident.
On the night you have butterflies in your tummy, but that is expected. Another friend who knows the way offers to come with you. So now you barely worry at all.
With a little anxiety, you get in the car. But because you have someone you trust with you, and you have a written road map, and pictures representing the place, you manage to get there and enjoy the evening - and get home!
But then you don't get invited there for a while. Until one day, a few weeks down the track, you get invited again. Because you have been there before, you don't really worry. You just set off....
Getting there again
But last time you were driving at dusk, so now all the landmarks look different.
And while you thought you could remember all the turns, it turns out that you don't... and you forgot to bring the maps and instructions. And this time you are giving a lift to someone who "sort of" knows the way, but you don't know them well enough to trust them.
You do get there. But by the time you get there you are so anxious it is hard to relax and enjoy the company - all you can think of is having to drive home again.
But you don't really want to tell anyone because you feel like you should know what to do because you know you have done it before.
No, this isn't just a random story :). It is an analogy of how a child may feel as they transition back to school after the school holidays...
"Landmarks" change, "supports" are different or fewer. And the expectations are different. For children with developmental disabilities, add to this a difficulty with problem-solving and analysing your environment, and it is no wonder that the transition back to school after the holidays is a very anxious time.
So what can we do?
I will take a little time this month to talk about what can be done. But if anyone reading this blog has a story or some advice to offer, please post a comment here.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011