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  1. #1
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    Default Managing sudden irrational fears for 7yo

    Sorry, it's a long one after a pretty stressful morning.

    DS (almost 7) has always been a bit anxious about some things. He saw a psych for some assessments early this year and the checklists didn't flag anxiety specifically. The psych has diagnosed emotional dysregulation (he has BIG emotional overreactions including a lot of anger - recommended OT) and the autism screener put him at the cutoff for a full assessment, with a lot of sensory flags. She said to wait a couple of years to see if his social skills improve once we've sought help with his emotions. His cognitive assessment puts him above average with a few really high areas (he works 1-2 years ahead of expected at school).

    I'd noticed during lockdown that he'd become anxious about going anywhere. I think in trying to explain to him why we couldn't do the things he loves to do, plus seeing/hearing things on the news, backfired to make him take it all so seriously. So we knew back to school might be a challenge.

    However last week he was fine. I think the excitement about seeing his friends overrode any fears.

    Last night though, he just burst into inconsolable crying during dinner because he's eaten something off his plate and he'd wished he'd taken a photo to remember it. It took me over an hour to calm him enough to eat some plain crackers (dinner plate cued manic crying again) by reading books to him and taking actual photos of the crackers. He got to the point of feeling like he was going to vomit at one stage though.

    I'd hoped he was just tired and emotional and that he'd be better in the morning but no, breakfast was a battle of tears and I could only get him to eat by videoing the whole thing so he could remember what his toast looked like after every bite!

    He's had minor things like this before where I've had to take a photo of a really cute baby potato or a weird shaped bean before he eats them and then he's been a bit sad after eating them. He also got very obsessed last year with not wasting anything (after an incursion about recycling etc), crying after things went in the bin.

    So today I'd reassured him I'd taken photos of all his food in his lunchbox but he was in such a state before school. He's worried he'll forget everything if he can't take photos, his school work, food, anything.

    Memory was one of his clear strengths in his cognitive assessment, along his his visual-spatial skills. For a long time he's talked about being able to take pictures with his brain. The kid's memory is amazing!

    I'm feeling like all the changes lately, e.g. back to school but there's no drink taps, hand sanitizing all the time, no sharing equipment etc. Plus his general dislike of school/preferred home learning. Has just overloaded him and the food thing is his stress manifesting in something quite random.

    I really don't know what to do though. I can't see him focusing or connecting with a psych over zoom (based on family video calls) and I doubt I'll get an appointment quickly as I'll need to get referrals first etc.

    I'm worried he's going to stop eating! What do I do then? I'd surely need to take him to hospital.

    I'm just feeling like I'm suddenly way over my head as a parent. I'd welcome any advice from those who deal with children's anxiety, especially if it's started suddenly. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    That sounds like quite the morning (and evening)! Big hugs x

    My DS 8 had issues with anxiety last year - mainly associated with school but flowed over into home life. We are in WA so not sure if systems are different in other states but we were able to access help through the school (I just had a meeting with the deputy principal and she organised a psychologist to sit in with us to provide a course of action). All organised with a day or two.

    Independently I also contacted a psychologist and was able to get an appointment without a referral. I did later see our GP to get a Care Plan so the visits were then subsided.

    We’ve started being able to have face to face sessions again - maybe just a WA things as well.

    You may be surprised with how the Zoom sessions go. My DD goes to speech therapy and in the face to face sessions she barely talks, is clingy and can’t concentrate - we did a Zoom session this week as she had a runny nose and she didn’t stop talking and was so focus - I was super surprised.

    Best wishes - anxiety is horrible and makes parenting extra hard!

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  4. #3
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    Thanks. I'm a teacher and have worked in WA and Vic. The systems can be a bit different but I do think Vic has extra support available at the moment due to the Covid situation, so that's a great idea to try the school.

    I got a care plan for his psych assessment visits (just covered appointments, not the tests) and don't know if that's still valid. I'll make a GP appointment for him anyhow to sort out something more long term (just worried about the wait!).

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    My daughter has ADHD and anxiety. What you describe sounds very much like what she is like when experiencing high anxiety. She has generalised anxiety, but has only ever had two episodes where her sense of reality has become very distorted. Both times preceded periods of change and uncertainty, the last being the transition from primary to high school.
    It was very distressing, no amount of reassurance would alleviate her concern. And it would be really weird far out stuff, like she was afraid the world was going to disappear around her and she would be all alone.
    Both episodes lasted a few weeks, and then she just seemed to snap out of it. I don’t think we managed to get her to the psych until the peak was over, but she was given strategies to help manage anxiety and the particular obsessive thoughts of the episode.
    My thoughts are with you, I felt so helpless as a mum watching my daughter struggle as she did. And it was very scary to hear some of the things she was saying as I was afraid she was entering a psychosis state.
    Hugs x

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  7. #5
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    Adding to advice you already have been given.
    I would seek out a speech therapist that does food therapy. They often will work with a OT.
    Its sounds he needs to see all 3 therapist.

    Btw all (8) of therapist are back to face to face meetings but will do a zoom if you prefer.

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    Stretched (02-06-2020)

  9. #6
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    We can't get a GP (tele) appointment until Thursday so I did some googling and found a a YouTuber Natasha Daniels who has made videos for kids about anxiety. I watched one with DS and he 100% identified that that's what's going on with him.

    I know for me, and this is how my psych explained it, when the baseline stress is high (e.g. life changes, new job, deadlines etc) it just takes something minor to tip you into the red zone. I was watching a video on my phone tonight and they mentioned people dieing - DS freaked out, he didn't want to hear that word and all his fears about death were back too. We also talked about being back at school (he doesn't like school) and he said it's confusing - it's discussions like this that he seems very much like a child with autism. I think the combination of the overwhelming environment of school, plus Covid fears, on top of his deep understanding of death due to a relative and our dog both passing away in Feb, it's pushed his baseline WAY up.

    It's not even a food thing, his fear is that he won't remember anything that changes. He wanted me to video him taking his socks off before bed. He is afraid of forgetting anything.

    Thanks for the advice. He managed to eat at recess and then ate his lunch a little while before dinner time (after we watched the YouTube) but no dinner. So it's better than nothing!

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    Well he's worse not better today.

    DH had to stay home with him as DS would not touch breakfast. Last night and today it's spilling into all sorts of obsessive behaviours like keeping every lint ball off his socks and writing down every TV show he watches so he doesn't forget. He ate half a bucket of hot chips when DH went to the shops with him.

    DH took him to the GP (Not his normal one) who who a referral to a paed. They've put him on the cancellation list but when DH told DS it would be 5 weeks untl he could see him, DS lost it. Uncontrollable crying for ages until he fell asleep (very unlike him to day sleep). I got home from work and we rang the Monash mental health triage. They said unless he ends up in emergency from dehydration/malnutrition it was usually at least 2-4 weeks. She's talking to their Paed tomorrow though to see if there's anything else they can do sooner. They said don't make a big deal out of eating, just leave out things he can graze on while he's distracted watching TV.

    He drank about 80ml of water when he just woke up. He hadn't been able to touch any other food. He just keeps saying he can't do it. We even had garlic bread with dinner, a favourite, and he said he really wanted to eat it but he couldn't. It's not the food, it's the idea that he won't remember the food (or tonight, the TV show, the way his Lego is laying on the floor, etc).

    Sorry, probably more just needing to say it all. I know there's not much that can be done.

    I'm off work tomorrow, so I'll call the school and see if there's anything they can line up under the banner of "school refusal" or even "Covid anxiety". My school is in a different region, but I know they have psychologists available for emergency things (e.g. we had a local death that hit a lot of kids hard) at really short notice.

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  12. #8
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    I haven’t been posting but couldn’t go by this one.
    I don’t have much advice but just wanted to send a virtual hug because I understand.
    I have 2 sons with asd and we have never experienced anything like this, but I have a daughter and another son with adhd and anxiety and this is very similar to things we have been through. My 5 year old daughter is not diagnosed yet but has major issues with food so I really feel for you with that becoming an issue. It’s so stressful when they won’t / can’t eat.

    Is there anything he could be distracted with or will that also cause anxiety? I can distract my asd kids with things but I could not bring up new ideas with my adhd son as it just brings in a whole new thing for him to worry about.

    He is now on an anti depressant (lovan) and he has had success with this. There are still some things that are an issue but we have a somewhat normal lifestyle back.

    I hope you can get some help soon and just be kind to yourself and do what you need to get him through this. It’s not about doing what others think is right etc when you’re facing this kind of thing. Take care x

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  14. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluebirdgirl View Post
    I haven’t been posting but couldn’t go by this one.
    I don’t have much advice but just wanted to send a virtual hug because I understand.
    I have 2 sons with asd and we have never experienced anything like this, but I have a daughter and another son with adhd and anxiety and this is very similar to things we have been through. My 5 year old daughter is not diagnosed yet but has major issues with food so I really feel for you with that becoming an issue. It’s so stressful when they won’t / can’t eat.

    Is there anything he could be distracted with or will that also cause anxiety? I can distract my asd kids with things but I could not bring up new ideas with my adhd son as it just brings in a whole new thing for him to worry about.

    He is now on an anti depressant (lovan) and he has had success with this. There are still some things that are an issue but we have a somewhat normal lifestyle back.

    I hope you can get some help soon and just be kind to yourself and do what you need to get him through this. It’s not about doing what others think is right etc when you’re facing this kind of thing. Take care x
    Thanks, I really appreciate you coming out of hibernation to reply. I remember that your children have not given you an easy ride as a mum!

    I can usually get him to "break" his mood when he's in an angry or anxious state with humour, but while it's pulling him back for a minute or so, it's not lasting. Still trying with the distracting but I've given in that we just have to video a lot of things (eating, hand washing, teeth brushing, putting on socks) as he's petrified he will forget things. He's starting some obsessive things in the past 2 days too.

    I appreciate the advice to not worry what others think. I feel like we're 100% giving in and feeding the anxiety, but without any professional support I feel like we just need to do what we can to get him to eat and drink at least!

  15. #10
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    No advice but we are in a similar (but different) situation with my 7yo. We were already seeing a psych (has been monthly) but have now had to book him in to see her this week.

    School are on board - We have a meeting soon to get the support staff on board with the help we need for him.

    Here to chat if needed.

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