I would love to hear from anyone who has had a child with anxiety that has improved and what you found helpful.
My DD is 6 and has been struggling with moderate to severe anxiety for the past year. Right now her diagnoses are GAD, possible OCD, and Sensory Integration Disorder. She does fine at school, but has extreme difficulty with transitions of any kind, so getting ready to go anywhere is very difficult as is getting ready to leave a place to go back home. When her anxiety is high, weekends, mornings before school, and evenings can be extremely turbulent. Currently, she is taking a very low-dose of Zoloft (we are trying to figure out the dose and/or decide whether to switch to a different med because it seems to increase her hyperactive, out of control behavior) and we are working with a child psychologist.
I am getting discouraged as it doesn't seem to be getting any better. She will have periods where she seems better, but this latest episode has lasted for a few months. She did begin kindergarten last fall, which was a major transition and has been very stressful for her. What worries me is that both of my friends who have had children with similar issues ended up homeschooling and found that that made a big improvement. I really don't want to homeschool. I have nothing against it philosophically, I just feel like it isn't a good fit for me. I like my job and I like leaving the house every day and going to work. I was a SAHM for 6 years and am much happier not staying home.
Any success stories or experiences you could share would be greatly appreciated!
Hello, I'm sorry no one has responded to your post.
I really don't thank that medications and therapy are right for a child as young as 6 years. Unless your child has had trauma, such as sexual abuse, abduction, witnessed violence, etc.
If she does have a sensory integration issue, you can learn a lot from the work and support that is available for autism,because that is a significant problem in autism. Loosely speaking, the approach for trouble such as your describe with your daughter is to help with integration and order in the body-mind connection. It seems to me that attempting to control her behavior with medication and forced compliance such as therapy appointments is only addressing the troublesome symptoms. It's likely that your daughter is already feeling angry and over-controlled by having to go to school and comply with household rules. The goal is to integrate her into the school and the home as a fully accepted and participating member rather than manage her disruption.
It's possible that she may need more help in finding a way to participate in a way that is meaningful to her. How much independence does she have in selecting her own clothing, deciding what she will eat for lunch, that sort of thing? Does she have responsibilities in the house, do you ask for her help in doing things like selecting groceries? She needs to want to go to school, to want to be in the family. With the medication and the therapy it's likely that she is getting the message that she really doesn't belong. A lot of her behavior could be acting out against that combined with the frustration of having to work harder at accomplishing tasks.
Massage and physical touch is very important with sensory integration, and with childhood psychological development in general. Touch helps the growing mind create a map of its body. Hug and massage your daughter and ask her to do the same ("I will rub this foot and you rub that one, then we will switch!" That sort of thing)
Maturity, therapy, and meds is what honestly has made the biggest difference. DD1 is 10 now. She has also had moderate to severe anxiety since age 5 as well SPD and severe dyslexia. Looking back, the anxiety was present prior to that, it was always there, but at 5, it spiraled out of control. We did homeschool for K when she was 5/6. It was needed then because she was only sleeping 4 hours a night for months on end and refusing to leave the house most days so yeah... not many other options. Getting her finally into a school that was the right fit for her, was critical.
We've done all sorts of therapy for years. We have a good therapist now that we all love and at this point, DD1 only sees her infrequently. It used to be weekly for a very long time. Her child psych supplies us with her zoloft which is very much needed. I doubt few parents on here would jump to zoloft for their child if it wasn't truly needed so I'm sorry you are getting flack about it. Sometimes meds are needed with these kids.
DD1 needs the predictability of a regular school the school provides. School breaks just about do me in. She can not handle being home. I didn't start realizing this until about 2nd grade I think. In the summer I have to sign her up for one day summer camp after another, the entire summer. She can NOT just stay at home. She will harm things or siblings, have explosive meltdowns. She also can not handle large class sizes, we've been paying for private school for years now to get around the 28 kids in each class in our public school and the many transitions. At her old private school she stayed with the same teacher for 2 years and there very few "extra" teachers, just 1-2 for PE or art. She currently is in public school for the rest of this year because of a bully problem at the private school and it has been an epic failure. It is better then getting bullied every day and then having her cry hysterically for 2 hours at night or attempt to run down the middle of the street in the dark while I am trying to tackle her but it is a very poor fit and she will not be returning next year. The only way it is semi working right now is because she has a very good friend there and the school counselor is keeping a very close eye on her.
Anxiety is something that DD1 will always have to deal with. She has always been a difficult child, the anxiety has just compounded that. Out of my 4 children including one on the autism spectrum, she is still my most challenging child. The rapid mood swings are better with the meds but she can go from happy to hysterical in about 5 seconds and once she gets worked up, I can't always calm her down still. It is MUCH better then it used to be. At one point we were afraid she was going to harm herself because she kept saying she didn't want to live anymore, this would of been at age 6.
From my experience, there will always be rough patches. And when you are in the middle of it, it can be difficult to see if it is getting better or not. You also can develop a warped sense of normal. I almost don't now what a "normal" child should be like anymore. Between the SPD and the anxiety, DD1 has to be kept busy. An idle DD1 is trouble, now that she is getting older, down time (in small amounts) is something that she can handle here and there. Lucky for me, she loves sports and thrives at competing where she is shocking free of anxiety! So she does a lot of sports. I think it has been a lifesaver for her. She gets the self esteem boost, knowing she CAN do things, it keeps her body and mind active. Sleep is still very difficult for her. She has struggled with anxiety induced insomnia for over half her life now along with night terrors and sleep walking. She is not capable of sleeping anyway but at home, sleep overs are completely out of the questions. She actually just finally is sleeping in a room with her younger sister, she was still in my bed up until thanksgiving. We have an entire routine that has to be done perfectly and if I miss a step, then it will throw the entire night's sleep off. We have heavy duty meds for an as need basis to help her sleep. She does still miss quite a bit of school because she had a rough night and either is super grumpy or is late because I am letting her sleep in. I don't know when that will change.
That is our success story. A lot of people probably wouldn't call it a success story but I do believe it is. To come from where she once was to where she is now, is a success. She does have her demons that she fights on a daily basis, but so do many adults, her's just came early. my goal is to help her learn how to manage herself and we are getting there. The older she gets, the more she can articulate exactly her feelings and what does work and what does not. I'm be lying if I didn't say that I am terrified of the teem years with her, but we'll get there it. We always seem to.