I know that Elizabeth has it in direct relation to her Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia.
When she is overloaded or afraid of something, her anxiety kicks in.
And when it kicks in other things occur.
I am very experienced in this kind of anxiety for Elizabeth.
I am also aware that new things or experiences can create anxiety for her as well.
We have learned that talking about the “new” thing and helping her learn what it will be like, what to expect and if possible, watching a video of it all work to help lessen the anxiety.
So imagine my surprise, for lack of a better word, when she was showing some serious anxiety around the time we were starting to get ready for her second year at her college program. Think early August.
And by anxiety…..I mean ANXIETY!
And it showed itself throughout most of August.
And it had me very perplexed as it happened quite a while before school was scheduled to start and this anxiety showed itself in a pretty different way than I was used to. This anxiety was so different than the typical anxiety that I had grown accustomed to helping Elizabeth through.
Instead of her hands being in “high guard” that is typical of SPD, she would ask a question about her health, like “Am I sick?” “Will I be sick?”
Instead of wanting to leave a situation when she was nervous, with this anxiety she would just look distracted.
Instead of being her “old self” when the offending thing was removed, she simply continued to ask the questions and look distracted.
The usual things we did to help her, did not help her. I know now, that it was because she was experiencing anxiety separate from any that was SPD related.
I would like to say that I thought of this on my own or that I reacted well to these changes. But I did not.
I would like to say that I went through all the things that could cause the anxiety and came up with her returning to school as the source. But sadly, I did not.
And since I did not really consider it as an option, I did not bring it up to talk about.
I think this was because last year was pretty darn good. So in my mind, I simply did not see it as a potential source of stress.
What I will say is that I am on this journey with Elizabeth that has some seriously uncharted territory on it and this was one of them. And even though we are 21 years into this journey, I am learning. But once we did determine where this anxiety was coming from, we were able to really talk with her about her feelings.
We talked about why she felt the way she did, what we could do to help her and what she could do to help herself.
She had a session or two with her CranioSacral Therapist, a talk with our beloved therapist Mary and many talks with us. She slowly became less anxious. She stopped asking the health questions and started looking less distracted.
We kept up the talks and things got better and better. And we still do them each day.
I think it has been a tough month or so with Elizabeth but as we have all learned on our journeys with our special needs children, the road twists and turns. But it was this one that taught me that even with their special needs, they can and do share the stresses and anxiety that their typical developing peers have.
I know it seems like such a simple thought but for me, it was something we had seen but not at this level in her life. I learned this past month.
I wish everyone a peaceful month.
Michele Gianetti is a mom of three, registered nurse, and published author ("I Believe in You: A Mother and Daughter's Special Journey," "Emily's Sister"). She writes for TalkTools Blog every month about her experience caring for Elizabeth, her daughter with Sensory Processing Disorder and Dyspraxia. Follow her story since the beginning here.