Parents of kids with social anxiety, whose kids are in school? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 09-09-2009, 10:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What kind of help have you sought for your child? What works for your child?

My nearly 6 year old just started kindergarten. She has been looking forward to kindy, she loves the activities and teachers, and I think she could really be absolutely thriving. BUT she is experiencing (again) social anxiety that is beyond what is typical for new kindergarteners, and it's interfering with her ability to enjoy kindy. It's also interfering with her ability to eat breakfast and dinner, and she's having trouble falling asleep. She will talk to the teachers, she will not (can't? sometimes I think she really *can't* bring herself to do it) talk to any kids. I should have sought professional help earlier, but I kind of thought she'd sort of mature out of it (denial, I guess). She had a great first two days of kindergarten, and even talked to a couple of kids (which is a big deal!), and I know it's still early. But I hate to see her like this, and based on the preschool experience, I'm really concerned. Pulling her out of school is not an option, in no small part because I think that avoiding the social contact is not the way to deal with this anxiety (but also b/c just in practical terms, homeschooling will not work for this family--and she *wants* to go to school).

I mean, yes I know I can find a psychologist. But I'm wondering, if you have a child with social anxiety do you do social skills groups? Individual therapy? Do you have any tips regarding how to help her through this until we find someone? I've let her teacher know, and she's giving her a buddy for recess today, and I'm sure she'll do what she can to help. I just feel completely incompetent in terms of helping her through this, I was just like her as a kid and still feel socially inept.

My little baby is alone at school right now, and she's scared and I feel so bad for her. I just wanted to take her home and tell her she doesn't have to ever being around anyone she doesn't know ever again.
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#2 of 9 Old 09-09-2009, 10:40 AM
 
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My daughter had social anxiety so bad she had selective mutism. We discovered it at the end of her first year of preschool (4.5). Well, we knew something was up at the beginning of preschool, we just didn't know there was a name for it.

So, we took her to a pediatric neuropsychologist to see what was going on. She had been tested pretty extensively, using fun "games" (developmental assessments). It was to find out what her strengths and weaknesses were.

We found out she was very advanced for her age (and subsequent assessments are indicating she's at least 2 years ahead of her age), and had retained primitive reflexes (the fight, flight or freeze mode) and was easily overwhelmed by certain sensory input. She's basically developing unevenly - her cognitive areas more developed than her emotional ones. We had to use her cognitive abilities to help her develop the emotional ones.

The neuropsych gave us a bunch of suggestions/professionals to see. After adding up a lot of the time and money it would cost us, we did many of the things at home and also enrolled her at the early intervention preschool, to work on social skills. Having the report from the neuropsych allowed us to get her an IEP to take with her into K.

The EI preschool was located at the elementary school, so we ended up getting her exposed a lot to the school the year before kindy. They sent her on lots of errands with the speech teacher around the school to get her familiar with the people and the location of the different areas of the school.

Specific things we did do ourselves -

Enrolled her in ballet class and got a YogaKids dvd to use at home - the gentle movement promotes body awareness and helps to re-integrate some of the reflexes that were retained.

Spent lots of time at the park at the elementary school after school hours.

It also helped that we had an older daughter at the school, so we made sure to do all the Fun Fairs, Potlucks etc, so that dd2 would associate fun things with the school.

I created and used an "problem solving binder" to help her articulate her feelings. There's a link to the CSEFL website with a booklist for using books for tools to help emotion coach.

The more exposure to her school, the more pleasant experiences your child can have, the better she will be.

Dd has had a wonderful two weeks at the school. She has made friends, has had some fun, has been more relaxed than ever. Although she comes home from half day kindy very hungry, because she's using up all her energy during the 2.5 hours at school.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#3 of 9 Old 09-09-2009, 12:10 PM
 
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Miss Information, I really like the problem solving binder. Is this your own creation?

OP, one of my kids tends to be very anxious socially, in large groups. One to one, or small groups, are not as taxing. The smaller groups also tend to be a better learning environment, so that is part of the IEP.
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#4 of 9 Old 09-09-2009, 02:27 PM
 
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I've got a social anxiety 9 year old who is in 4th grade. It's been a long....emotional.....road. We finally started medicating her this year and every day my jaw drops at the differences it has made! Her anxiety and OCD were getting bigger than the both of us and we needed help. Believe me, I'm not an advocate of medicating and I NEVER thought I'd go there but it seems to be working for her. (I guess that's a little aside). I think for years I didn't quite know how severe she was. I didn't quite know what was normal (I was an anxiety kid, outgrew it, so I thought some of it was normal) and what was not normal for her age.
From 4 year preschool through 3rd grade she managed to never speak to the teacher. Somehow she will muster an answer if directly asked a question but could never actually speak voluntarily.
Gosh, I'm trying to think of what we did to help before the medication came into play. We'd play "worst case scenario" and talk through what could possible happen for some of the things she feared. The worst-case was never really that bad once she thought about it.
We practiced things at home like how to open packages or get a new roll of toilet paper started. Things she might encounter or had encountered at school.
She brought her lunch for the first 3 years because the process of learning how to get up and buy a lunch was too much for her. After years she worked up her nerve to buy!
Routine. She hated when things changed, like going to the library, going to an activity, and such. She would cry at any change during the day. I'd try to find out the schedule and discuss it with her so she would know what to expect. Her 1st grade teacher, particulary, helped with giving her notice of what was about to happen so she could prepare.
I always talked to the teacher which helped sometimes and didn't some years.
Now I'm not afraid to put in a request for a particular teacher that will be "nicer". She's had evil teachers that are yellers or just gruff and she doesn't do well with them.
She made one really good friend, who happens to be a total extrovert ADHD kid, and that has helped. I try to get them together during the summer and holidays to help build the bond. She still doesn't care for groups of friends, though. I guess it's overwhelming. One at a time!
I never backed down on making her go to school. (sounds mean, I know) She cried every morning for years but I didn't let her "just stay home for today" which I'm glad of because I know it would turn into a daily struggle if I had. Now she happily goes!

Laura
Mom to three
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#5 of 9 Old 09-09-2009, 04:24 PM
 
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didelphus - If you don't mind me asking which medication did the doctor prescribe? Thanks.

Normal is just a setting on your dryer.
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#6 of 9 Old 09-09-2009, 06:22 PM
 
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Good ol' Prozac.
She had a combo of 3 things going on.
social anxiety disorder
generalized anxiety disorder and
obsessive compulsive disorder.

Laura
Mom to three
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#7 of 9 Old 09-09-2009, 08:02 PM
 
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Thanks for the information. I'm glad it's helping your daughter.

Normal is just a setting on your dryer.
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#8 of 9 Old 09-09-2009, 08:28 PM
 
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#9 of 9 Old 09-10-2009, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks karne, Miss I, and didelphus. I appreciate your help.

So I have a call into one place to start up some therapy (I wish I could just call the place we took our older dd, but they don't take our new insurance). I think that we can definitely use some outside help/resources here. While we wait we're working on relaxation at home, and I'm going wondering if a social story/script for something simple like saying "hi" to a child will help a little. I also need to dig out my copy of Freeing Your Child From Anxiety b/c I think there's a chapter in there on social anxiety. Dd is eager to see a "special person" who can help her learn to be less anxious (I didn't expect "eager" when I asked if she wanted to see someone who could help her). She kept asking, last night and this morning, if I was going to call "that person" today. I'm a little bummed that I have to wait for a call back (had to leave a message) to actually talk to someone, but a lot of places work like that around here. They promise a call back w/in 48 hours, for the intake (who knows when we'll get an appointment). I hate this part, when you've decided to make that call and get your kid help, but then end up waiting, sometimes for several weeks.

Anyway, thanks for sharing your information and experiences. It does help.
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