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Success with CBT for Separation Anxiety/ADHD & no meds?? - Page 2

post #21 of 31

Oh, hey, something you said Peony lit a little spark in my synapses. DD1's troubles often seemed to be seasonal. For years she's had a harder time in winter and been much better in summer (even in school in the warm months). We see this pattern both at home and at school, but more so at school because she's generally happier and given more freedom at home. Anyway, a few years ago I started researching Vitamin D and subsequently started all of us on vitamin D supplements. I do think it has helped and I think fish oil helps, too. I also take both of those and I think it definitely helps with my mood. I am self-diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Basically I'm solar powered and if the sun isn't shining I'm on half-power. I'm in the South so you'd think I'd get plenty of D, but my levels were low at the dr a few years ago and I'm a big proponent of it. Rainbow Light makes a couple of great-tasting gumdrop type supplements (lemon and orange). There's very little risk with it and it could help so you might give it a try. Most kids love them. We do Nordic Naturals chewable fish oil supplements, too (strawberry flavored). 

 

Neither one are a cure-all, but I do think they might help dd1's mood/anxiety and they don't hurt. Plus they're good for brain function and the immune system and bone health and lots of other stuff.

post #22 of 31
Thread Starter 

He does still struggle mainly with focus/attention with his homeschooling. One on one he is ok but it still takes effort to keep him with me and focused. He does learn when he wants to and despite his anxiety at school he did learn to read and progress just not as fast as everyone else. His anxiety is also still there but he is not frantic and sick looking with it like he was while in school. I think it is still on the more severe side though.

 

We are also looking at a Montessori School nearby which is still an option. We just thought we will see what the public school system has to offer. I believe if he is in a self contained small class then it will be in another school which is what I want.  He is scared of his old school. But, if we are not comfortable with the IEP then we will send him to Montessori or try to at least.  

 

You are right that if he has the right teacher in the right environment I think it will really help. His Kindergarten teacher was not a right fit at all and sadly made it worse IMO.

post #23 of 31

My DS was diagnosed with anxiety at age 4.  He does not have ADHD, but does have sensory issues and some other OT issues.  

 

He was already going to OT to deal with the sensory stuff, fine motor skills, etc.  For the anxiety, we took him to a child psychologist who did CBT with him, and it made all the difference.  His anxiety related behaviors were really ramping up to the point of him not wanting to participate in activities he had done since he was really little and previously been totally comfortable with, having panic attacks at school, etc.  I wasn't willing to let him slip away from the life I knew he had enjoyed because of the anxiety.  So, we began a lot of work with the therapist - sometimes just my son, sometimes just me and my husband and sometimes all three of us together.  It actually did not take very long to start seeing a significant change in him (although the work during that time was pretty intense for us).  He was so much happier, able to participate, relax and not worry as much.  

 

A few things we learned from our therapist (and I know this is just one person's professional opinion, and others may have a different take, but it rang true for us) -

 

- genuine anxiety is generally not something a person outgrows - it is kind of a life long thing that you need to learn to manage.  My son still has anxiety.  We all now know how to deal with it much better so it doesn't impact his life the way it used to.

 

- we have to be careful about the kind of school setting we choose for our son.  He went to an alternative public school for 1st grade and went backwards in a lot of ways.  It was too big, too chaotic and the teachers weren't willing to implement any suggestions we had or even really recognize that the anxiety was causing the behaviors.  We never even got as far an an IEP.  He is back in a small private Montessori this year (second grade) and doing great again. 

 

- someone else mentioned the anxiety getting worse in certain seasons.  This has certainly been a pattern for us.  My son's anxiety was triggered by my cancer diagnosis when he was 2.5 yo - and it was spring time.  Our lives were turned upside down pretty quickly as we dealt with it.  So, spring time is when we see the anxiety really flare.  Our therapist said that young children who don't have as many verbal skills to process traumatic events, often really take in their surroundings at the time of the event - which, when they experience them later, can become triggers for anxious times.  

 

- Anxiety in kids is often misdiagnosed because a lot of the behaviors associated with anxiety can also be associated with other things.  For some reason, many professionals are quicker to label a child as having ADHD or even autism than anxiety.  

 

We were pretty opposed to medication for our son, and wanted to try everything else before we went down that road.  Luckily, we were able to avoid it with the help of a great therapist.  

 

I hope you are your little guy are able to get some good help.  I remember feeling so sad for my son as I watched him struggle.  I also remember feeling like I had no idea what to do to help him.  Things are so much better now - but we had to make some changes for sure.  

post #24 of 31

mamadebug, if you feel like sharing some of the CBT techniques you used I'd love to hear them. 

 

When we had dd1 evaluated at the school's request we mentioned the anxiety to the psychologist and she did evaluate for that as well, but because dd1 doesn't carry her anxiety around with her — she's just anxious when confronted with a situation — she answered the eval in such a way that it did not indicate that she had anxiety. I really liked the pyschologist and dd1 did too, but I thought that kind of missed the mark. She was not objective enough about herself at that age (9) to see herself as anxious. However when confronted with an anxiety-provoking situation (say, being asked to read by the teacher, or going by herself to the fridge in the garage, or going down a slide when she was little) she would have a huge anxiety reaction.

 

She is 11 now, reading easily and above grade level, and seems to be coping much better in general. I do think she will always have an anxious personality. She will never be a huge risk taker.

 

I feel like we've done pretty well by her. I'm sure there are things we could have done differently and better, but with age and maturity she seems to be coping fairly well. I read a lot of books about anxiety, too. I never found one that matched up with her type of situational anxiety (and there are many, many situations which cause her anxiety) because most were oriented toward the always worried/anxious. I have some anxious tendencies as does my mom, but ours is more the low-level worry that you carry around with you all the time (especially my mom — I'm usually able to tamp mine down or bulldoze my way through it). Dd1 seems to be totally carefree and happy but can go from 0 to freakout in nothing flat. I think she takes more after MIL who seems to have more of that almost panic-attack anxiety. She is much better than she used to be, though, according to DH. She discovered yoga in her 30s/40s and went on to be a yoga teacher and I think that must have helped her. 

 

Anyway, I'd be interested in reading about any CBT type tips and techniques that have worked for y'all.

 

Best of luck to everyone!

post #25 of 31
Quote:

Originally Posted by beanma View Post

 

I'm sure there are things we could have done differently and better, but with age and maturity she seems to be coping fairly well. I read a lot of books about anxiety, too. I never found one that matched up with her type of situational anxiety (and there are many, many situations which cause her anxiety) because most were oriented toward the always worried/anxious. ...

 

Anyway, I'd be interested in reading about any CBT type tips and techniques that have worked for y'all.

 

 

 

Not to sound overly negative, but it may be that your DD's anxiety will go through the roof at some point in the next few years. Puberty is rough for most girls, but for girls with anxiety to start with the hormonal swings of puberty can cause massive, massive upheaval. I think it's too early in the game for you to say "with age and maturity."  It's possible you are in a calm before the storm.

 

I highly recommend working with a therapist. My DD's worked on teaching her specific skills, and then when they meet they reviewed how they week had gone and which kind of techniques were appropriate for which situations she was experiencing anxiety in. They talked through what happened when she tried different techniques, how to switch from one to a different one. There's really no way from reading books or talking to other parents that I could have provided that level of help to my DD. 

 

Some of my DD's stresses are around social situations, and she also did a social skills class. Although they mostly worked on skills like carrying on a conversation, they also worked on dealing with social stress. This was also helpful for my DD.

 

I'm a yoga teacher -- some of what I do in a yoga class is similar to CBT techniques to relieve stress. But it really wasn't much help in getting my DD through this.

 

For her, 12 was the worst. 13 was still rough. By 14 she was doing OK. She's now 15 1/2 and doing really, really well.

post #26 of 31

Well she's 11 and has improved so much from when she was little. I think her track and her issues may be more unique than is typical with anxiety. Her trajectory is oh so much better than it was. She is able to do fairly well this year in public school. She's had some issues, but overall is much better than 2 years ago when she was in private school (and that year would have been a disaster in public school).

 

As I mentioned the psychologist could not give her an anxiety diagnosis based on her evaluation although that's clear to DH and I that she has had anxiety issues since birth. My sister is also a psychologist and I've spoken to her about dd1 a bit and she has offered some resources. She indicated that dd1 might be termed emotionally over-reactive. 

 

I appreciate the intent in offering the advice and I didn't mean to imply that she was out of the woods yet. I did say that I think she will always have an anxious personality. However, based on my knowledge of my kid and my experience with her I can say with age and maturity she is doing much better than she was as a young child when she hid in the corner and meowed like a cat. She can integrate into a classroom and enjoy participating at this point. I don't see her backtracking to the "cat"-atonic (ha!) stage of earlier years. She may have more rough times ahead. Personally 13 was the worst for me — I hated 8th grade — but I think she will do okay. It won't all be golden for her, but I think she will do all right. 

post #27 of 31

i haven't read all the replies, but i just want to let you know i am in a similar boat. my son who is 9.5 has been dx with SPD, OCD, anxiety and ADHD. he refuses any meds (we tried one). he says he doesn't want his "brain edited."  okay, i have to respect that. but holy *&^% he is sometimes hard to deal with... whew! anyway, we are still searching for a CBT who can take him. seems all the good T's in the area have no space in their schedules. meanwhile, i deal with him as best i can... i've been dealing with him since he was born... he's always had special/high needs. so i have a pretty good idea of what he needs. problem is, he refuses to do a lot of what might be helpful to him. shrug.gif and now that he is almost 10, he's coming into his own. he's growing up and the pre-teen hormones are starting to appear. so, he changes sometimes from day to day! duck.gif

 

he's a good kid, but he's gonna need lots of coaching to be a successful adult! he;s got one AS parent and one ADHD parent, so he was behind the 8 ball to begin with!

 

i take ADHD meds as an adult, but i don't think all kids need them if agree they can do other things to help themselves. (have you read "disconnected kids?" or "last child in the woods?")

post #28 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by umami_mommy View Post

i haven't read all the replies, but i just want to let you know i am in a similar boat. my son who is 9.5 has been dx with SPD, OCD, anxiety and ADHD. he refuses any meds (we tried one). he says he doesn't want his "brain edited."  okay, i have to respect that. but holy *&^% he is sometimes hard to deal with... whew! anyway, we are still searching for a CBT who can take him. seems all the good T's in the area have no space in their schedules. meanwhile, i deal with him as best i can... i've been dealing with him since he was born... he's always had special/high needs. so i have a pretty good idea of what he needs. problem is, he refuses to do a lot of what might be helpful to him. shrug.gif and now that he is almost 10, he's coming into his own. he's growing up and the pre-teen hormones are starting to appear. so, he changes sometimes from day to day! duck.gif

 

he's a good kid, but he's gonna need lots of coaching to be a successful adult! he;s got one AS parent and one ADHD parent, so he was behind the 8 ball to begin with!

 

i take ADHD meds as an adult, but i don't think all kids need them if agree they can do other things to help themselves. (have you read "disconnected kids?" or "last child in the woods?")

No, I haven't read those books but I will add it to my list. I have a stack next to my bed I need to get through. Sounds like my son also although we didn't try meds. as of yet.  Is anyone else's child almost constantly negative, grumpy, complaining, bored? He is happiest and seems like he has no issues when he is running free with friends outdoors - with a parent nearby though. We can now be inside but he will come in to check every now and then. 

post #29 of 31

Hi so sorry to hear about your son. The effectiveness of an IEP really does depend on what is put in the plan. Some of my sons teachers basically use a generic type one just to fill up space and didn't really address the main issues. They tended to put down more academic stuff and not behavioural stuff which is where the main problem was. You really need an input to the IEP and ask for regular feedback of what is accomplished and where they currently are! As for meds, we suffered worse side effects with some meds whcih were cumulative and didn't really start initially so we didnt realise it was the meds causing a problem. Now it wasn't for ADHD, it was for another medical condition but if you go down that road, monitor, monitor and monitor!

post #30 of 31
Thread Starter 

Just wanted to update here that we got an IEP and we are going to try it out.  This summer my son has made leaps and bounds with his anxiety. I can't pinpoint exactly what it is or a combination of everything but he is a happy child now for the most part with much reduced anxiety.  Some things we have done are: continued with a new therapist one-on-one, started a small social skills group once a week, elimated food dyes and cut out many processed foods, buy more organic food, upped his omega-3 dose and the big one.....he did his first extra-curriclar activity! He managed to separate and accomplish approx 10 swim lessons. It was a small group and we were in view but that is big for him! I think swimming really helped and it was a great starter activity which he will continue.  

 

So, now with his IEP in place we are hoping things won't spiral down again since he is going back to the same school as last year. It seems good though since they have him 48% of the time in a small class setting (3 kids) which will take care of all his academics since the rest of the time is pretty much recess, lunch, music, PE, etc. But, when he is in his general ed. class they will give him preferential seating and be aware that things like fire alarms, tornado drills etc. could throw him into a tizzy. We will visit the school a few times before day 1 and his special ed. teacher is even meeting us there with her new puppy for him to play with and to get comfortable with the school. So, fingers crossed all continues to go well!

post #31 of 31

That sounds great Cleo! Congrats and hope he continues on this positive trajectory.

 

My dd1 who is a bright kid with some ADD (inattentive) behaviors and a lot of anxiety issues is really excited about going to the small charter school. I have my fingers crossed that it will be a good fit for her. There will be about 8-10 girls in her grade so I'm hoping she can find someone to click with, but so glad that she's excited about it. The idea of traditional middle school was just overwhelming for her. 

 

I'm a big proponent of pushing a little bit with anxiety issues. It's a tightrope though because both pushing too much and letting the kids completely avoid the situation cause the anxiety level to increase and they will be more anxious about that situation and similar situations in the future. They need to be in situations (like the small class you describe) where they can stretch a little bit past their comfort zone and have success (like the swimming lessons). Then they start to build up confidence. Works that way for the rest of us, too, but if we don't usually suffer from anxiety we don't encounter so many situations where we have to stretch that little bit. IMO, it's that doing a teeny bit more than you're comfortable with that allows you to grow. Definitely don't want to throw them in the deep end before they know how to swim, though. Just a gentle nudge and working through. As a parent we have to be able to read the situation and our child's anxiety about it well enough to know when it's worth pushing that little bit and when to back off completely. If my kid is anxious about going free climbing up a sheer cliff, I don't need to push her to do that. That's a fine situation to avoid completely, but if she's anxious about going to middle school, finding an alternative (charter school or IEP, etc) is a great way to make the situation work w/o throwing her in the deep end. 

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