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Is it possible recognize anxiety disorders in toddlers?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I've debated whether I should post this or not but I decided I really would love to hear from anybody who has had similar experiences.  I should explain there's a lot of family history of anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and bipolar disorder on both sides of our family.  I'm pretty sure FIL has SPD too but I doubt he'd ever get a diagnosis here (but he gets extremely crazy about smells, will scream when people cook and throw up, he also is very particular about clothes and apparently went nude for a number of years at home... thankfully I didn't know him them!).  So with all that in mind it's just hard for me to know if I'm nervous about DD inheriting something or if I'm really seeing some signs so I'm appreciate some thoughts on our situation!

DD has had separation anxiety since she was 4.5 months old and I first went back to work (at this time MIL was watching her).  At that time she would refuse to take many bottles of pumped breastmilk and slept little while I was gone. She's two and her separation anxiety is still pretty horrible.  Even on days that I'm home all day she fears that I'm going to leave and stuff like me taking a shower or just putting my shoes on will freak her out and cause tantrums.  Actually, whenever I take showers she stands at the door screaming at me to stop taking a shower and will pound on the door the entire time (DH and MIL try and distract her but nothing works).  Mornings she never lets me sleep in even when someone else is there willing to play with her and giving her their full attention.  Also whenever I'm home her behavior is drastically different.  When I'm not there she's a rather peaceful child, will play by herself, doesn't hardly act out etc.  I know that's normal for her age but the differently is just so startling because when I'm home she'll scream if someone even mentions the word "take" because she fears someone will take her away from me and will never, ever willing leave the house with DH or MIL without me (I actually have to pretend to go to work and hide down the hall so she'll leave with either one of them just to go on a walk or whatever).  

At night she has nightmares about me not being there and will scream out things that reference me working or her staying at home with DH or MIL.  She used to do the same with her babysitter and at that time we couldn't even say the babysitter's name without a massive tantrum.  

So the answer I always get is spend more time with her.  But here's the thing, I'm with her ALL THE TIME.  For most of her life I've only worked part time (about 10 hours a week) and the rest of work got done at night after she went to bed.  Now due to some complications with DH starting his new job both DH and I are at home with her even more and yet it's still the same thing!!!!  We already co-sleep, she's still nursing, she gets as many hugs and kisses as she could possibly need and we have long chats at night before bed.  She's definitely NOT lacking in quality time.  She also has her grandparents here AND great-grandparents and tons of extended family that love her a lot too.

I know it's also not something to do with MIL/DH/babysitter because she really misses them like crazy when they are gone too.  We've even started having the same tantrums when DH/MIL leave and she's constantly asking if her old babysitter will come and live with us.  She adores DH but will say really spiteful things to both him and MIL when she gets the idea in her head that I might leave (even if it's not the case at all!).  

I don't know... I wonder sometimes if it's something more than just normal separation anxiety.  We've had an ongoing discussion with our pediatrician about sensory issues over the last year and last time we met with her she basically thought DD has some mild sensory issues (mostly in crowds she gets overwhelmed but she also is funny about clothes, food, sleeping etc) but that it hasn't affected her development (she did mention that since DD will be starting preschool soon that it is something to keep an eye on).  We also plan to get her checked out for allergies (although this could be a sensory issue too, not sure) because she compulsively scratches herself.  Lately it's been to the point that she has scratches all over her body and the pediatrician was worried that they might get infected (her skin looks completely normal otherwise, well, she does have keratosis pilaris on her face and legs).  She's always scratched, her hair mostly, since a newborn whenever she was the slightest bit stressed out.  Both FIL and grandmother-in-law have some weird hair issues and FIL (the bipolar one, probably with SPD) used to pull out his eyebrows/beard and eat it.  Grandmother-in-law (and she's just not normal, it's hard to explain here) used to pull out her hair so much she had a bald spot on the back of her head.  So we're going to get her tested for allergies (DH has severe allergies and asthma and has been hospitalized 3x this year because of it) and that's definitely a possibility but I wonder too if it's some sort of reaction that is common in the family to deal with stress?  

I think part of the fear of the word "take" is because our babysitter took our cat when we moved abroad recently and DD fears the same will happen to her (we have reassured he many, many times that that is not the case).  But she's always had this separation anxiety for much longer than that so that's not the whole explanation.  Actually, when we first started with her babysitter DD would get so upset that she would make herself throw up (she was around 1 at the time).  She actually used to do that fairly regularly until the last few months, when that's thankfully gone away.  

Does this sound at all familiar to anybody?  We're going to see an allergist no matter what but I don't even know where to go from there if she doesn't have allergies.  We don't live in the US anymore and haven't found a local pediatrician yet so I don't even know where to start...

post #2 of 15

When I started leaving dd home to go grocery shopping at 2.5 (we crammed a house full of stuff into a 2 bedroom apartment while our house was being built and I needed some time alone) she would cry the entire time I was gone. She also needed to be in whatever room I was in. By 3yo she was ok staying home but she needed to say goodbye and close the door, if she didn't she'd be upset the whole time I was gone. She still doesn't like being alone and if her dvd ends while I'm still in the shower she will play outside the door until I come out--that's the extent of it, she is otherwise extroverted and will drop me like a hot potato to play with other children...so it does seem like "more" with your dd.


I've seen moms post about children who manage while they work, but become extremely clinging when they are home. When we talk about what is "normal" and what is a "problem" here, the guideline is that normal/typical interventions don't work and the level, the issue is disrupting home or school, and the degree to which the issue is distressing the child.


I don't know what is available where you are but I'd looked into occupational therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy.


SPD Symptom Checklist For Infants And Toddlers - Sensory ...

post #3 of 15
I do recognize a lot of DS in your post -- right down to the scratching!!! I worry about the hereditary thing too... my mom, grandma, & sisters all have various anxiety issues, I suspect my dad has OCD & auditory processing disorder, my MIL has depression, etc. and I myself have pretty much all of those plus other issues.

I have an anxiety disorder & remember dealing with it from a very young age -- I don't remember very much of my childhood and I have no clue how old this started but I remember standing at the window in tears because I was absolutely convinced my mom had gotten in a car accident and that's why she hadn't come home yet... this was anytime she left... and I was very similar to my DS as a baby/toddler, my parents couldn't leave me anywhere (even with my grandparents) because I would cry the ENTIRE time they were gone. I have yet to leave DS with anyone besides DH... but as far as that goes, the only way I can possibly get out of the house alone is to just DO it. The more I do it, the easier it seems to get for both DS & DH... but I won't even try leaving him with anyone else at this point, he's just not ready, even though he's 2. (I'm so lucky I'm able to work from home!) When I'm home, DS says things like he doesn't want Daddy, or he doesn't want Daddy to pick him up, and the only way I've been able to 'counteract' that is by closing myself off in another room, and he has finally come to accept after over a year of that, that if I'm in the other room then Daddy is in charge & I'm 'off-limits' barring an emergency. If we tried to all hang out together in the same room, chaos ensued (though it's starting to get better.... I have noticed HUGE improvements in him since we stopped eating gluten, but I'm still testing it out, could still be coincidence!) I've been trying to show DS a lot of self-calming techniques -- taking deep breaths, simple yoga poses, muscle exercises such as pushing his hands against mine, etc. -- and that seems to help a lot... I do suspect DS has some mild sensory issues -- I say 'mild' because they haven't affected his development, but they still seem to have a significant effect on him, especially socially/emotionally...

Sorry my response is all over the place & I'm not sure it's very helpful but I do share your concerns... I don't think anyone would officially diagnose an anxiety disorder in a toddler since so much of that can be "normal" toddler behavior, but I don't doubt that symptoms could be apparent this early... And definitely look into food intolerances and SPD...
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Emmeline- Thanks for sharing your experience with your DD.  DD is also very social and when other kids are around (especially ones that her age or older and are also social, younger ones are a whole different playing field) she also plays just fine.  It's really something about other adults, though. For some reason she does really well with my blood relatives (my mom, my dad and my sister) but other relatives she likes but wouldn't necessarily interact with them at the same level if I was in the same room.  

Part of my problem is that I just don't know any other working moms that share my parenting philosophy so it's really hard to compare kids and see if it's normal or a problem.  All my AP mom friends are pretty much all SAHM's and my friends that work are all pretty mainstream (i.e. formula fed and CIO so the kids tend to be more attached to the dad too it seems).  

I would say, though, that it really seems to be distressing DD.  We had multiple nightmares again last night.  We've been trying to talk her through and before we go to bed we remind her how much myself and DH love her and if she starts having something bad happen in a dream she should tell it to stop and remember that we love her.  Within this conversation it turns out that she's been scared of fish that we saw in an aquarium over Christmas so I guess that's been added to her list of fears (along with spiders, T-rex, dogs, being tickled, and water).

As for SPD, I've seen those lists before (and read a good chunk of the Out-of-Sync Child before my Kindle broke) and there's a lot that fits with DD. For instance, as a newborn she'd refuse to go in plastic diapers and even hold it until we removed the diaper (she was a lot better with cloth, though) and it did make her easier to potty train at least.  She also screamed the first two days straight after she was born.  She also isn't the most cuddly kid unless it's on her own terms, freaks out about her hair (washing, brushing etc), freaks out when her hands are the slightest bit dirty, is obsessed with "booboos", is extremely ticklish (but hates it), freaks out about her fingernails being cut (although she's getting better), hates toothbrushing, and wants to wear shoes at all times.  She also hand flaps and toe walks. She has a lot more quirks too but I'll spare you the whole long list.   ;)

One thing I'm really concerned about is that she'll be starting school soon.  In many ways I think she'll love it.  She's really into academic stuff (puzzles, letters, songs, helping out etc) and we're sending her to a Montessori school in the hopes that it will be a calmer environment so she won't freak out as much (I have a feeling a play-based preschool would be a nightmare for her).  We'll see how it goes, we're visiting next week and I'm really, really hoping this will be a good fit since it's a small school and goes up to 9th grade so if it does workout she could be there for awhile.  

crunchy_mommy- in many ways are kids have a lot of similarities.  I'll let you know what we find out.  The family history in and of itself has made me look into these things.  Especially since we're staying with the in-laws until the end of the month and FIL is so severely depressed he can barely make it out of the bedroom all day.  I do think his childhood and his parents really influenced how he's handling his issues (and I don't mean in a good way).  That's one reason that if DD does have any issues I would like her to get help as soon as possible so that we can deal with this early on.  

It's funny, I do see a lot of myself in DD too.  I always had horrible nightmares growing up (I actually even just had one last night thanks to these wonderful pregnancy hormones) and have struggled with insomnia myself so I can definitely relate to DD's problems.  I'm just not sure how to deal with it.  My parents basically ignored them and told me to go back to sleep instead of really helping me through them (I don't think they really knew what to do).  But I also had a lot of issues in my childhood that I hope DD will never have to deal with so it's hard to say how much they came from that.  

My original plan was always to work at home with DD but we gave up after a month.  We hired a babysitter who was supposed to play with DD while I worked.  Well, what happened instead was DD flipped out and would cry and vomit in front of the door while I was trying to work.  We eventually gave up on that plan and I worked at DH's office instead and DD handled it much better.  She really is not good with me not being available for her the entire time when I'm at home (even if it's something as simple as me cooking or going to the bathroom).  

FWIW, it's not that I need an official Dx or anything, I really just want to know how to handle it.  DH and I both feel completely like this is over our heads.  We're constantly hearing from the in-laws about how "bad" she is and how we're not disciplining her enough (which is NOT the case since we consistently tell her no when she acts out, constantly try to distract her etc but it just doesn't work at all).  My parents are convinced that it's because of extended nursing and co-sleeping.  Sigh... DH thinks she needs more attention but when I ask him how that's even possible he's just as baffled as I am. 

One thing we do plan on doing once we move (beginning of March!!!joy.gif) is to set up some sort of sensory room for her (although we might have to wait until we buy a place depending on what we find next week for apts). I definitely want a swing in the room since swings REALLY calm her down and she could stay in one for hours. Also something to climb and I'd love to set up other things with textures. That's another reason I'm hoping Montessori works out for her because I have a feeling hands on materials could help her (and her fine motor skills always seem to lag a bit behind her other skills so maybe she'll get more chances to practice those).

post #5 of 15

My DS is similar to yours in many ways too.  I also have the family history stuff you do, on both sides as well.  I have an older DS with classic autism and I think his behaviors contribute to DS2's issues as well.


I still struggle quite a bit, but Early Intervention Occupational Therapy and Child Development helped IMMENSELY.  Now that DS is over three, he gets OT through the school district.  It was a huge relief for a professional to understand and give me some concrete skills as well as some perspective.   Is getting an evaluation something you would consider? It is free in most states from what I understand, and the therapy is also free. 


I wish you the best, I know how exhausting and scary it can be.  It is hard for other people to understand.

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

Kath-  I'm sorry you're dealing with something similar and I hope you find some answers!  I also wonder too if DD is more affected here because we're living with the in-laws and FIL's problems are affecting her too.  I really don't know. 


As for Early Intervention, we don't live in the states anymore so it's not an option.  I've actually been looking into find OT for her but I'm not even sure if that's available here!  It doesn't look like SPD is something well known here (I keep trying to get DH to call FIL's doctor and ask about it but he doesn't want to).  We really should've done it when we were living in the states but we kept wanting to wait and see and she never had any developmental delays (besides sleep and eating, but eating is no longer an issue) so we figured we probably wouldn't qualify.  But I really would like a professional to get her checked out (beyond just the allergies) to see if I'm completely crazy about this or if there's anything I should be looking out for.  I just wish I knew where to go locally (DH really needs to look because my language skills definitely don't include medical terminology at this point winky.gif).

post #7 of 15

I would encourage you to pursue the possibility of sensory issues, as PP suggested.  There may be something making DD uncomfortable that you can address.


I don't know where you live but the network we work with has therapists in different countries (link below).  Some of these folks have extensive training, others have done CEU type courses. Even if no one here is a good fit, s/he may be able to point you to local resources.  It sounds like DH is reluctant to approach his connections, and it'd help to at least talk to someone about what you're seeing. 



FWIW, from what I understand there's a chicken/egg problem in figuring out whether a child's anxiety is fueled by sensory issues, or if there's a separate anxiety issue.  Treatment at the toddler stage--OT, maybe speech, family therapy (learning how to help your little individual regulate emotions, relate, and communicate) lots of floor-time--is probably the same regardless. 


You might also look at Stanley Greenspan's books.  Building Healthy Minds is aimed at a general audience but discusses sensitive kids. The Child with Special Needs is huge, but might be helpful (especially to someone who's not intimidated by big books).  Greenspan's work is very focused on helping kids develop their emotional capacities.  There's a chapter in there on floor-time that's been useful to us.  His model was developed by working with kids with severe delays,but the approach is applicable to kids with mild issues. All kids actually.  


GL mama. 



post #8 of 15

My DS, now 6 years old, has both sensory integration disorder and anxiety - diagnosed by an occupational therapist and a child psychologist.  The sensory issues were apparent from birth (although I didn't know what it was at that point, but I knew something wasn't quite right) and the anxiety showed up at age 2.  Both were officially diagnosed at age 4.  Getting that diagnosis was actually really helpful for me because it finally gave me a name for what was going on, gave me a specific thing to research and then made it easier to choose approaches for dealing with it all.  Anxiety also runs in my family, and DS's therapist says that it is common to see that.  What you are describing in your daughter is not normal - and, don't worry - it has nothing to do with your AP parenting choices (I went through that doubt, too!).  Like another poster said, anxiety and sensory stuff often goes together and it is sort of a chicken or the egg thing - one effects the other.  When DS is going through a time when his anxiety is elevated, his sensory stuff gets elevated too.  And when he is going through a time of elevated sensory stuff, it's so disorganizing, he gets more anxious.    



I totally have been where you are in terms of feeling like this is over your head.  So, what has helped us - working with a wonderful, very experienced child psychologist was the main thing.  She did cognitive behavioral therapy to address the anxiety with DS and worked with DH and I to learn how to help DS.  OT was somewhat helpful for the sensory stuff.  The OT gave us some strategies for helping DS with the sensory stuff.  I feel like I learned a lot about the sensory stuff by reading, too.  But the psychologist really made the big difference.  


Finally, Montessori was great for DS.  He first went to a play based preschool, which was wonderful in many ways, but totally overwhelming to my kiddo.  DS went to a wonderful Montessori last year, and was so much calmer, never displayed anxiety symptoms at school (and a lot less in other areas of his life as well) and LOVED going.  The difference in him was striking - and he did so much better in Montessori.  My only disclaimer - not all Montessori schools are created equally.  We moved over the summer, and he started this year at a new Montessori school and it was awful.  But, when he was in an authentic Montessori environment, we both loved it.  


I am sorry you are struggling with this.  I remember how it felt to be overwhelmed like that - but it can get better!  

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

marge- thanks so much for that link!  There's actually someone in our country (Brazil) although they are nowhere nearby.  But we could at least send them an email or call and hopefully they can point us in the right direction.   I'll also look into those book suggestions, long books don't tend to scare me away. winky.gif

mamadebug- Thanks for sharing your experience, I really appreciate that.  We talked more about everything this morning and know we need to pursue something because the more I think about it the more I really want to talk to someone in person who really gets it and can give us effective strategies for DD in particular. 

That's also really great to hear that you had a good Montessori experience!  I've done a lot of reading on Montessori and we've talked to the school over the phone and have a really good feeling about it because of that.  We're going on Weds to see it in person and I really hope it lives up to its hype.  It's actually been in the news a number of times here for sort of pioneering Montessori education in this country so I'm really hoping that it's a true Montessori!!!  We're planning our whole living situation around the school for the time being since it's not very close to our work so hopefully it works out. fingersx.gif

Thanks, and I really hope it gets better soon, DH and I are so confused and tired! sleepytime.gif The nightmares were really bad last night and I even got beat up at one point by DD.  Cosleeping with her is dangerous! 

post #10 of 15

How long ago is your move? And how many beloved persons/animals/things ahs she had to leave behind? DS has alwys been very anxious and occasionally rigid and explosive, but his behaviour really spiralled downward about two months after DD came home, and MDCers here made me realize that this must be a major stressor in his life, paritculraly as it took me away from him for two hospital stays and did disrupt routines for awhile. We had bouts of nightly nightmares (DS screaming about bugs/cats/plants etc. in his bed, and hardly to be talked out of their existence, even with the lights on) two hours of drama before falling asleep, major rigidity, inflexibility, tantrums and meltdowns, clingy behaviour (yelling from the next room to please come in bevcause he's scared) ADHDish behaviour during the day and in preschool.  Structures and routines, more attention, sensory play and cutting down on activities etc have helped immensely. He is now hardly stressed at home I think, falls asleep within 30 min. 45 min max (the relief!), only occasionally waking up scared, focused again. He used to always yank my hair, even insisted on *needing* to in order to fall asleep, we used to keep fighting all the time because he hurt me so badly. He will also push his head into the body next to him, which can really hurt depending on where he happens to connect...I finally used a reward to make him stop (made it a condition before I gave him the nightly backrub he craves) and he actually leaves my hair alone a lot more, but now twirls and pulls his own hair, continually giving a surprised "ouch"! (I have to admit I have to bite my tongue not to say "see!?"


He has a number of sensory quirks (oral, touch, motor, auditory) and is currently being evaluated for ASD (IQ testing in two days - fingers crossed he'll participate properly so we'll get a somewhat accurate reading for a 4yo) because the preschool issues have NOT let up, he appears to be getting more and more aggressive. It is obvious that something is really stressing him out in preschool but whether he is overly stressed by the social interaction or the noise or by not being challenged or not havign anyone to talk to about his interests or whatever I hope we may find out.


There is a  history of anxiety, depression, histrionic and maybe borderliner traits in our family, but no ASD that I am aware of, though DH and I had major social problems until middle/high school so I wouldn't rule out some Asperger traits, but it may all be about giftedness, sensory quirks and social awkwardness coupled with high anxiety.


Edited to add that he is ina Montessori class one afternoon a week at the local elementary - I wish I could have put him in an M preschool but the local option *sucks* and his teacher there sees no issues whatsoever.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 


How long ago is your move? And how many beloved persons/animals/things ahs she had to leave behind? DS has alwys been very anxious and occasionally rigid and explosive, but his behaviour really spiralled downward about two months after DD came home, and MDCers here made me realize that this must be a major stressor in his life, paritculraly as it took me away from him for two hospital stays and did disrupt routines for awhile. We had bouts of nightly nightmares (DS screaming about bugs/cats/plants etc. in his bed, and hardly to be talked out of their existence, even with the lights on) two hours of drama before falling asleep, major rigidity, inflexibility, tantrums and meltdowns, clingy behaviour (yelling from the next room to please come in bevcause he's scared) ADHDish behaviour during the day and in preschool.  Structures and routines, more attention, sensory play and cutting down on activities etc have helped immensely. He is now hardly stressed at home I think, falls asleep within 30 min. 45 min max (the relief!), only occasionally waking up scared, focused again. He used to always yank my hair, even insisted on *needing* to in order to fall asleep, we used to keep fighting all the time because he hurt me so badly. He will also push his head into the body next to him, which can really hurt depending on where he happens to connect...I finally used a reward to make him stop (made it a condition before I gave him the nightly backrub he craves) and he actually leaves my hair alone a lot more, but now twirls and pulls his own hair, continually giving a surprised "ouch"! (I have to admit I have to bite my tongue not to say "see!?"


We moved in the middle of Jan but we've basically been traveling non-stop since the end of Nov (visiting family before we left and also I had my Ph.D defense) so DD has had A LOT of upheaval in her life.  She also had to say goodbye to two close friends who she asks about a lot, her babysitter and our cat mecry.gif.   When we first got here she definitely was in the clingy/too many changes stage since before we had been traveling about every two week (so she was expecting that in about two weeks after coming here we'd get on another airplane and leave again... ironically that was the original plan but we've been delayed due to DH's work).  We actually still have the move to our real apt (and away from the city that the in/laws live in) to make, which will happen at the beginning of next month so still more changes to follow AND she is currently spending her first two nights away from DH and myself since we're currently looking at apts/schools etc for her.  greensad.gif AND I actually have to travel to the states again next week for a conference so, yeah, waaaaayyy too many changes for this poor kid. 


I'm definitely not discounting all those changes! Her behavior is certainly worse now but, unfortunately, the nightmares were happening even before all of that and things really settled down here a lot since we were with the in-laws for about a month and she had stop acting out during the day, which she had been doing initially.  We're definitely expecting some pretty extreme clinginess after these trips and the move but that's totally to be expected. 


We're actually sure we're sending her to that Montessori school now.  We visited today and it really seemed like a dream come true for her.  We even talked to the school about some of the things going on with her and they really seemed supportive and sort of reconfirmed what you said also that adding more structure and routine could help her (we definitely agree but it just hasn't been possible with everything going on and a number of things that were entirely out of our control).  So we're working towards that. 


I've seen other threads you're written about your son and I can really relate to much of what you've said.  I'm so sorry that he's stressed out at preschool. :(  I hope you figure out what works for him.  For us we didn't even consider play based schools because we were worried about the noise and commotion with DD and thought it would exasperate her aggressive behavior (she's been hitting A LOT for a few months now but it got worse after all the travel). 


I hope either way you're able to find some answers.  FWIW, DH and I both had a lot of social awkwardness until about high school.  For me high school changed a lot since they had ability grouping so I could find friends with more similar interests to my own. DH, on the other hand, who we sometimes suspect might have some Asperger tendencies reinvented an entirely new persona for himself in order to make friends (as in he sat down and thought about how to act to make himself have friends and then consciously tweaked his personality). 


I'm sorry that your local Montessori choice didn't work out. I always hate hearing about how some schools put the name there aren't true Montessori schools. greensad.gif

post #12 of 15

Wow!  That is a ton of stress for an anxious child!  What I generally do for my little guys in similar (stress-inducing) situations is to establish a daily routine, and then stick to it like holy writ.  I talk about the schedule, answer questions about the schedule, and quiz the boys on the schedule.  I also make up little social stories about their present perseverations.  We 'practice' doing difficult things together.  If bedtime becomes hugely stressful, we use melatonin to ease into sleep.  When the anxiety bugs kick in full-tilt, I cook more fish dinners, add epsom salt to their bathwater, ensure they eat a good amount of protein at every meal, and avoid sensory-stimulating environments (this includes turning off tv/radio/etc.).  Oh, and I sing until I'm blue in the face-- every toddler tune there is.  I sing in a cheerful, yet calming voice (perfected over the years) that seems to work like ativan for them.  (ROTFLMAO.gifMy voice is like a benzodiazepine... don't know if that's a good or bad thing!biglaugh.gif)

post #13 of 15

My DD is very anxious and has been all her life. Severe separation anxiety from birth that hasn't abated yet. She's 5 now. She's better at separating from me for therapy, school and other regular activities. She also has a good bond now with both my DH and his mum, so that's helped me tremendously as it was getting to be a very heavy emotional piece to carry alone by the time she was 3. I've found that for her routines are insanely important. She must be kept physically and mentally busy from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to bed. She has lots of jobs around the house and helps me do things like food prep, laundry, sweeping (with a Swiffer), etc. It all keeps her busy. Giving her too much time to think is bad. If we have a new activity coming up, I'll let her know a week or two in advance but only mention it once a day or so. Then the day we have the new thing, I keep her very occupied until it's time or she will start to dwell and then the anxiety will seed a tantrum. We have a person who comes once a week to take her out for some respite and she gets anxious every time that day comes even though she's been doing it since last fall and really loves this woman to bits. She gets anxious before going to school almost every morning.


We cosleep with her - not out of our desire anymore but because she absolutely MUST come to our bed halfway through every night. I've managed to get her to start sleeping in her own room but that's been a LONG process. Used to be she'd need me to lie down with her, then I slowly weaned her to holding my hand and now she lets me just sit at the head of the bed. But she still wakes up 2-3 times a night before I'm ready for bed. Then joins me in bed. The poor DH sleeps downstairs in the spare room because he's tired of being kicked in sensitive places. She sleeps liek a windmill but with just her and me in teh bed there's more room so it's not as bad. Though I don't sleep well - haven't for a long time.


I've also had to learn to be very careful to moderate my own moods and feelings. I can't speak too loudly or in a harsh or abrupt tone or she'll pick up on it and start the anxiety loop. I have to be very even keel all the time which presents it's own challenges for me!

post #14 of 15

It really sounds like she has an awful lot on her plate - and so do you! Living with the inlaws - not easy even with the best of inlaws (and yours appear to have their own share of issues, to put it mildly), in a country where you're still learning the language, looking for an apartment, giving up all your certainties, unexpectedly pregnant...how stressed are you yourself? I know my stress very much feeds into my kids' stress, too. What (apart from the obvious, I mean) are the reasons you want to pursue this exactly *now*? Stress on your health, her health, your marriage, the inlaw situation, upcoming school entry...do any or all of these mean you cannot wait until you have your own apartment and life has settled down somewhat so you can pry the intrinsic issues apart from the extrinsic issues, as it were? You write that the issues have always been there, but it must be hard to tell apart what's actually an understandable reaction to all the upheaval and what needs to be addressed with therapy. I think I started posting in mid-December, but when people pointed out to me what seemed to be stress related about DS behaviour I tried to first institute calm and routines into our life, and started pursuing an evaluation only after  Christmas, with our first psych appointment in late January. DS's issues are so much better I was wondering whether the psych was going to tell me I was One of Those Moms, stop worrying about my totally nromal 4yo and laugh me out of the office. Instead, we're looking at an Asperger evaluation, and i do not feel I have been to precipitate, or over-reacting or anything.


What is this preschool's protocol for acclimatization? I think that's crucial too - how much time will they give you to ease your DD gently into the transition?

post #15 of 15

Hi!  Hope things have settled down for you and that your DD is doing well. I just stumbled upon your post and would love to hear an update as I have a DS (3.5 yr) who is very similar to what you've described of your DD..


My DS is currently in OT and Speech Therapy (although not for speech, therapist states he could "teach" her other patients), but rather for food aversion (mostly texture) and for incorrectly chewing (doesn't use tongue properly to push food back to throat before swallowing).  He also has had acid reflux since birth and I'm now being told may have a milk and egg allergy (will have tests done later this month to find out).


My DS has always had severe separation anxiety to the extreme of throwing up or at best crying the entire time I am gone (which is only to go to the store for 20 minutes.  He will not stay with any other family member (on occasion he will stay with my mother, whom we live with, but only if he agrees on his own....and again, this is only for me to run to the store; and the occasional times I am ill and need to go to the doctor).  I can't even take a shower without DS coming in to the bathroom and then peaking in the shower every few seconds.  


I tried going back to work and DS going to daycare when DS was 2 yrs (enrolled him in a Goddard school).  That lasted 4 days and then I resigned.  The entire week was horrific.  DS threw up there every day 3 times a day...they didn't know how to handle this type of child at all.  I witnessed some pretty harsh treatment of other "normal" children that were crying while I peaked in on my DS unannounced during my lunch hour....which also confirmed what I was suspecting and also saw that my DS was withdrawn and completely shut down while he was there (broke my heart), but he never could handle noise or overstimulation, etc....so I guess his only defense was to shut-down.  He cried hysterical when I dropped him off, the entire ride to and from, etc., and it would take me 2 hours once we got home to calm him down.  I would feed him, bath him and then was lucky if he actually ate a few bites of food and kept it down before he would start hysterically crying again that he didn't want to go back the next day and "Mommy please please please I no go back there"  "I stay with you", etc; he would eventually pass out from exhaustion but would wake throughout the night with night terrors of "school".  


At that time, no one I knew understood what I was going through.  Got a lot of "DS has to suck it up and stick it out.  He will eventually get used to it and be fine".  I finally reconnected with an old friend and lucky for me, she has a child just like mine and it was finally nice to hear someone say, I know what your saying b/c I've been there too!  And unless you live it, you can't understand it.  It isn't bad parenting or over emblishing, spoiling, etc.


My DS's gastronologist ordered an eating evaluation.  Those panelist diagnosed Anxiety and SPD (food aversions/fine motor skill delays) and recommended Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and Psychology Therapy.  We haven't started the psych therapy yet, but I'm soooo looking forward to it and praying I'll get some answers on how to make life a little better/easier for myself and my DS! ;)


I hope you've found some answers too!  Please updated me if possible.


PS.  As is the case for your DD, my DS too has had a lot of changes as well (I was seperated from ex-husband when DS was 6 months, chich led to moving 2 x's and DS goes to his father's house every other weekend (I'm sure having 2 households isn't easy for any 3 year old, especially one with SPD).

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