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Month 4 for anxious teen

(22 Posts)
tree100 Tue 06-Nov-12 07:27:57

Well we are into the 4th month of our ds anxiety issues and stomach problems (constantly feeling sick). Didn't attend the first half term of school - only went in for counselling sessions. She's been having some basic CBT but am, as always, wondering what next. Does anyone have any advice on CBT or EFT, Timeline or anything else we could try? We've decided to try a new tactic this second half term and that is home schooling. Thought if we take out the stress of actually going to school it may help. So again, any advice, would be appreciated.

Goldmandra Tue 06-Nov-12 13:10:38

Has your GP or school nurse made a referral to CAMHS?

You really need to find out the root cause of the anxiety. Is it school based? What does she think is causing her to feel like this?

tree100 Tue 06-Nov-12 16:39:18

Had referral to CAMHS - they put us on waiting list (a few months) for group session. Must admit did not have rapport with assessor. However, d is seeing counsellor at school which does seem to be helping.

The anxiety is just about being where there are lots of people. Over the holiday I took her to single shops then a shopping centre. She was ok but wanted to hold the car keys - she said she felt better knowing she could go back to the car if she needed to. We stayed at shopping centre for abour 2 hours - so really good. She looked so pale and when we went into a larger, busier shop she started to panic but started the breathing techniques she had learnt which helped but she still felt she had to leave.

With the second half of term starting, my sister suggested home schooling, and after a lot of consideration, I thought maybe we should try it. If we take the stress out of the equation, d is doing the work at home. We do have back-up. Maybe it will give her some breathing space, and along with the counselling, hopefully she will feel better.

We have our first CAF meeting tomorrow so we shall see what that brings.

Goldmandra Tue 06-Nov-12 22:47:04

I can see that someone who finds crowded environments would find school very challenging and that her anxiety will be reduced by some home schooling.

What would worry me is getting her back into school after a break. It will probably a lot harder for her to return when she's used to being at home. I would also be concerned that she may end up like my DD did for a while and not even leave the safety of her bedroom.

What adjustments are the school making to help her feel safer in school? I think this should be the focus of the CAF unless you are willing to home educate in the long term.

tree100 Wed 07-Nov-12 07:39:18

It certainly does worry me about getting her back to school because that certainly is the objective but it just isn't working at the moment. I just feel as the weeks are going by she absolutely needs to keep up to date with the work. I'm hoping giving her this break will give her some breathing space and to concentrate on school work and the counselling. I am ensuring that she gets out of the house and I've told her that we must continue to do this as it is part of the healing process. It is hard as she still does not go out willingly. I have also asked her to contact her friends so that they come and see her. Her best buddy does contact her alot and does come to the house. She has asked D to come out - trick/treating, fireworks night etc but D just couldn't do it. I do wonder whether I should have a chat with buddy (D has confided in her and told her how she feels but I do wonder if she can really understand). I thought if I chatted with buddy I could say how upset D gets when shewants to go out but can't and feels she is letting buddy down.

School have offered alternative learning areas one being student reception office which is very good of them but D just gets so anxious going in at all.

I know some people along this journey think I am too soft with her but they haven't seen the transformation of calm to anxiousness, the tears, the stress. They don't and haven't been here day after day for 4 months - it's exhausting.

I was writing notes last night and this morning for CAF meeting today. I just hope we finally get a structured meeting - hopefully something will get done. D is a lovely, kind, funny person who should be enjoying life but at present she is not. I hate to say it but it just isn't fair.

Goldmandra Wed 07-Nov-12 08:44:45

I know exactly where you are coming from.

DD1 was quite close to being admitted to a CAMHS unit at one point and it was all down to undiagnosed AS causing her really big problems in school.

I think you need to focus really hard today on getting her seen by a psychologist regularly at CAMHS and planning a very, very gentle phased reintegration into school. This must be done very much in consultation with your DD and if the first step is just going in for five minutes that is fine.

School need to jump through some major hoops to make it work for her. "We don't/can't do that" is not an acceptable response. They need to adjust to fit her needs whatever resources they have to throw at it.

Good luck with the meeting. Remember you will be the only person in that room for whom your DD's needs are the first priority.

Goldmandra Wed 07-Nov-12 08:49:46

BTW don't let anyone tell you that you are being too soft. You can't make anxiety go away by pushing people to do things they can't cope with. They have to feel safe to take baby steps with your support.

Keep encouraging her to do as much as she can and to push herself out of her comfort zone when she feels able. She's old enough to understand the point of it and take some responsibility.

tree100 Wed 07-Nov-12 20:42:19

Thank you for your replies - it really helps to talk to someone who really understands. I should know but what is AS?

Went to CAMHS hoping that we would get some real help but all they offered was a group therapy session - which we will have to wait for (months). We need something now.

Had meeting today at school. Boy oh boy did I have to fight - shouldn't have to fight for an education. I know D can't manage to get into school but she still is entitled to an education. She can calmly and happily work at home all we need is the work. It's quite simple - well to me it is. I was asked if D came in for counselling, then was told by teacher she had to stay what would she do. I said, well she wouldn't trust us again and wouldn't even go in for counselling. No point is trying to force her into one big leap forwards if she's then going two big leaps back. Small steps in the right direction are better. I did say no-one can understand how D reacts until they see if for themselves, as I have, for four months. I think I got my point across!

Even now, I have people saying "do you think you are being too soft?" I get really frustrated - do they really think we are making this up? I would love to get D back to school and back to normal - wouldn't I have done this already?

I do keep telling D it's her life and she has to take some control back and that I can't do everything for her. She agrees but doesn't do much about it. I've said she needs to do something like dancing which she enjoys. There's a local table tennis starter course which she could attend but when it came to it she backed out.

Thanks.

Goldmandra Wed 07-Nov-12 23:54:21

I think you've done the right thing by standing up for her. I also think you're right that springing surprises on her is completely the wrong thing to do. How could she benefit from counselling if she was stressed about what might face her when it had finished even if she did come back?

Is there one person in school she trusts enough to have a conversation with in the hope of them finding a way to help her feel safe enough to start attending for a bit more than just the counselling. I think they need to start thinking a little more creatively.

I think if I were you I would get the GP to write to CAMHS and ask them for a higher level of support. You need some more professional advice as to help your DD. It isn't acceptable for her to be unable to attend school at all.

Was there an educational psychologist involved in the CAF today? If not you need to request that the school involve one ASAP. It is another route to some more professional support for her.

Keep trying to get her to go out, even if it's just to pop to the post box. The more she stays in the harder it will be to go out.

AS stands for Asperger's Syndrome. Sorry! It's been such a big part of our lives for the past three years or so that I forget others are less familiar with the term.

tree100 Thu 08-Nov-12 05:59:06

Thanks. I suppose it really is hard for some people to understand this - it's taken me a long time and a lot of research and talking to others who have been through it to even start to understand. The other day, someone asked if I was being too soft with her. It really hurts to think that someone who knows you thinks I would not be strong enough to get D to school if there was really nothing wrong. My own parents thought I was being too soft and she should just "get on with it". It actually started to put a distance between us which has never happened before so that was another stress. Since then, we have had a good chat and, whether they understand or not, they are being supportive.

Two people spring to mind straight away at school who D could talk to when we get to going to school. I think that's a really good idea - thanks.

I must admit with the GP, I'm so fed up of prescriptions - Diazapam, Beta blockers, anti-depressants, I feel quite uninspired to go in but at the same time can't give up that link. I think I'll speak to the counsellor D sees (today actually) and see if she can do anything on those lines.

I was surprised to find only the people from school and the counsellor at CAF - thought there would be someone from the authority - someone to actually set deadlines and call us all to order!

I will continue to get D out of the house. Thanks for all your help.

Goldmandra Thu 08-Nov-12 20:22:00

I think that if you want your DD back in school you are going to have to drive the changes that need to happen to get her there.

It is wrong, very wrong, that the system only provides for children whose parents are prepared and able to push on their behalf but that is what we have to work with.

Don't automatically expect any minutes from the CAF meeting. They may be sent out but IME that is quite rare. Write your own and email a copy to the school to confirm what was agreed. This paper trail could stand you in good stead in the future.

dikkertjedap Thu 08-Nov-12 21:22:09

Not sure if this applies to your dd but sometimes working with animals may help. Would she be interested in riding lessons and if so, would that be a viable option?

Alternatively, maybe volunteering in an animal rescue centre or fostering animals.

DoubleDoubleTwigletTrouble Thu 08-Nov-12 22:39:05

I have been through a little of what you're going through, Tree100. My DD was very anxious at school and this was starting to spill over into the rest of her life. We decided to do flexi-schooling (part school, part hom ed) and the difference and improvement in her was almost instant (though her problems were confined to school, unlike your DD). Anyway, we faced a barrage of "you're being too soft", "you're pandering to her", "you can't take her out of school or she will never go back" etc. It's upsetting and frustrating, so I really empathise with you. The thing we started telling people which really helped us was to point out that we had persevered with sending DD to in full-time school for 5 years and it didn't help. It's not like we didn't give it a good try! I alternate between getting very angry with these people and trying to ignore them because they don't know what they're talking about. Mostly I just get angry though smile

Goldmandra Thu 08-Nov-12 23:18:35

I agree about the animals if she likes them.

My DD spends a lot of time with horses and being around them was where she felt safe for much of the time she was out of school. When she stopped wanting to go to the stables was when we knew something was very wrong.

I also agree with the comments about people criticising. I have been contradicted and openly criticised for letting my DDs get away with refusing school, particularly DD1. What they constantly failed to realise was that she was desperate to get back to school. They just needed to make it possible. I wonder if the same applies to your DD.

tree100 Fri 09-Nov-12 06:48:52

Thank you for your comments - it's quite amazing the support I get from you all. D desperately wants to get back to school and get on with her life, she is so frustrated by this darkness that takes over. I find it so frustrating and bewildereing to fight for someone who WANTS to learn and just get on with her studies.

I did email my notes and expectations from the meeting. Haven't, as yet had a reply. I am not normally a motivated person but this has really got me "into top gear" now and I am not going to let this dribble on.

We both loves animals - we have two dogs. She used to do agility with one dog but that stopped when all this started up. She has said she would like to go back again. I did arrange it but the weather put a stop to it! I will sort that out.

It's funny you mention working with animals; I was only thinking the other day about volunteering myself. I talked with D about doing something like dance with friends - encouraging her to do something without me which I will continue to do, but maybe we could offer some time at a rescue place together also.

D had her counselling session at school yesterday and she went in her school uniform. Definately, now the stress of actually going to school for lessons has been taken out of the equation temporarily she is so much calmer. During this breathing space she can continue with counselling, work at home and the next step is more in-depth CBT. I will look into EFT also. I realise now that this recovery is at D's pace - no-one else can say you should be feeling better by now (well, they can but it will only be a negative thing).

I was so pleased D went to school for counselling. Unfortunately, the orthodontist appointment we didn't get to. D feeling very apprehensive, Ortho was kind enough, after I explained problem, to see D after hours. The entire journey (about half an hour) D upset but I talked calmly to her. Sat in car park for about 10 mins but D just completely lost it. It was awful. We came home. Not sure if I should have continued journey, I suppose I just didn't want to give up. It's so hard when you have these appointments, knowing D has to get to them but the power is really in her hands. These are the moments no-one else sees. A normal happy child totally frustrated by something she certainly didn't ask for, doesn't understand and doesn't deserve. I'm just the parent trying to do my best for her.

Goldmandra Fri 09-Nov-12 08:32:55

The fact that she wants to get back into education is a really positive thing. It will spur her on to take up challenges she might otherwise turn her back on.

It sounds like the counsellor is good and it's lovely to her that it is giving her a reason to feel positive about being in school. Maybe when she is ready to try being in school for another reason it can be done on the back of a counselling session so that she doesn't have to walk through the door just to be challenged straight away.

DD1's Ed Psych taught us a really useful strategy for that awful 'can't get out of the car' situation. We used to spend two or three hours a day sitting in the car park outside school with her wanting to go in but unable to.

One day the Ed Psych met us there and persuaded DD1 to open the car door and sit on the edge of the seat. She then asked her to walk around the car with her with assurances that the car door would stay open. After a few minutes this progressed to walking at quite a fast pace around the car park. Then they walked in through the door of school and out again. Eventually she was able to stay in school and I just sat in the car watching in awe!

This strategy continued to work for us. They were talking about horses as they marched around which helped get the anxiety levels down and being able to walk into school and out again took away the fear factor from crossing the threshold. The marching used up the adrenaline which was flooding her system too, which is why they walked so fast.

Maybe this could help your DD get into the orthodontist or school at some point if she struggles again.

cestlavielife Fri 09-Nov-12 23:34:55

what does the lea offer in terms of home tutor or other support? if you opt to home ed completely she may be taken off school roll?

i do get this it#s cr&p, my dd has some kind of post viral thing dizziness, and ? anxiety over school and the school not getting it at all ie "just bring her to school" but they not offering the support she needs...

Goldmandra Sat 10-Nov-12 00:52:03

What is it about so many members of the teaching profession? I have had the same with both my DDs when they were unable to attend. They seem to think all we have to do is lay the law down and all the problems will disappear!

Do they really think we haven't tried at all? hmm

tree100 Sat 10-Nov-12 08:44:57

Thought the home ed would just be a temporary solution but school have said if we opted to home ed she would be taken off school roll. Aaaaaaaaarrrrrrhhhh!!! She is not doing this on purpose, she is not doing it for attention, she wants to go to school and get on with her life but this horrible black cloud keeps appearing and stopping her. School have no idea what it's like to live like this. You can't just go out at the moment, every outing is analysed and escape routes planned.

They say "every child counts" well get on with it and put people in charge who understand and will actually get on with it, rather than messing around with bits of paper and wasting time. Going through this, I really think schools should have a proper policy in place, with the counsellors taking the lead; the ones who can really understand what action needs to be taken.

Goldmandra Sat 10-Nov-12 09:44:33

If you opt to home ed out of choice they are right. She will be taken off the school roll and they cease to be responsible for her.

HOWEVER, if your GP signs her off school they cannot take her off roll. You can speak to the Education Welfare officer to get advice and support. If CAMHS or a consultant are prepared to confirm that your DD is too anxious to attend school long term, she remains on the roll and is entitled to 5 to 15 hours of home tutoring a week at the expense of the LA.

Nobody will volunteer this information because it is a very expensive provision so you need to inform yourself and push them.

Have you spoken to your local Parent Partnership Service? If it is a good one they will tell you all the things the school will forget to mention and help you decide on your next move.

cestlavielife Sun 11-Nov-12 21:59:24

Ask if there is a separateerson called integration officer or some such in our lea this is dedicated person who deals with pupils who cannot attend school arranges home or small group tuition etc. there should be someone or it maybe the EWO

cestlavielife Sun 11-Nov-12 22:04:20

From another thread read and show to school
https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/DFES-0732-2001.pdf

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