Time for Back up-Part 2
Awhile back I posted about my concerns for Big Sister and how we sought out support in a post called "Time for Back up"! You can read that here if you'd like!
Well, after getting Speech Therapy and Early Intervention into place, there continued to be this struggle for Big Sister with fears. At 4, she still struggled to leave us even in familiar settings like church and Awana's. This has been a long standing struggle as even being left with our wonderful neighbor who babysits for us, was upsetting and worrisome for her for well over a year.
I always, figured it was a stage and she'd eventually get over it, but during our busiest farming season her fears and anxiety would worsen, with the inconsistent flexible schedule we kept.
This past season, Big Sister would get so worried about being left that when we went to leave the house we all had to hold hands and go out the door at the same time. Even when I got out of the pickup to open gates, she would cry and scream. It was very upsetting to the whole family.
I just couldn't shake my concern and worry that this was something more than a developmental stage. You know that "Mommy gut" feeling? Trust your "mommy gut". It's there for a reason!
We had tried all sorts of strategies with her including but not limited to:
1."First, then" type cues - "First Momma's going to open the gate and then I'm going to get right back in the pickup". This helped a little bit, but I had to make sure I offered this well before I was stopped at the gate and sometimes still didn't help.
2. Rehearsing what we were going to do that day - "Today were going to the North Farm to see daddy and stay in the camper." This helped a little bit, but she would often "obsess" over it (talking about it and rehearsing it over and over and over), from the time I told her to the moment we arrived at the North Farm.
3. Schedule - Still to this day, if she knows what to expect, things go more smoothly. She loved having a schedule, but this was very difficult for us to stick to as our days change so frequently.
Finally, I felt like I had used every strategy that my Pediatric Occupational Therapy background could offer and it was time to bring it up to our family Doctor.
I think I kind of blind-sighted the poor guy. He knew that Big Sister was an intense kiddo, but I had never shared to what extent and the strategies we were putting in place at home, just to get through the day.
If it can be avoided, don't blind-sight your doctor! :P
We went in for a check-up and I sweetly demanded a referral to a Neuropsychologist. He offered many of the strategies that we had already been trying before giving the referral. I had never told him, until that day that we had already been doing those things...since she was itty bitty. Don't be me! Keep you doctor informed!
Anyway, he is a wonderful doctor and gave me the referral.
The evaluation was intense and long. Big Sister was a trooper. The Neuropsychologist and her staff were amazing. Big Sister did so well.
In the end, Big Sister received a diagnosis of anxiety, Sensory Processing differences and fine motor delay (the last two, I'll share more about in another post).
The diagnosis wasn't a surprise, I had felt for a long time, that Big Sister's struggles were more than just that of an intense kiddo, poor parenting (which sometimes it looked like to people looking in from the outside), or not having much practice leaving or being away from her parents.
What was a surprise was that the Neuropsychologist looked at me during the follow up time and said "your anxiety, triggers her anxiety." That was a complete shock to me. I had never considered that I might be anxious myself. When I shared that with our doctor and a couple friends, they all responded with statements that resembled, "You didn't know? I thought you knew!" It was very weird.
It took me about a week to really process that and think back. Of course, I realized my anxious moments were often her anxious moments. It was a hard pill to swallow. I really blamed myself for adding to her struggles and anxiety. No parent wants to be the cause of their child's struggles, but knowing that in and of itself has made a huge difference in our day to day life!
She has always taken cues from me and when I get upset or anxious, she begins to pepper me with questions, sing or make loud noises, do things she knows she's not supposed to do, and/or get really busy. When I stop myself, explain to her what's going on and that as soon as I figure it out I'll share that with her, she immediately relaxes.
You may not have the exact situation or relationship that Big Sister and I have, but as parents we impact our kids everyday. Sometimes, their actions whether positive or negative are just theirs. But there are times when our actions and feelings impact them enough that they express it through their actions. Be kind. Consider whether they are acting on their own or if they are taking cues from you!
Now I know I've left you wondering, "What about the fine motor delay and the sensory differences? What are you doing to do about the anxiety?" I promise I won't leave you hanging for too long! I will share with you the new strategies that we are using and share with you how we are doing! I also will share with you the things we've tried to help with sleep!
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As always, Thank you so much for reading, commenting and sharing! I love to hear what your thoughts are and what you get out of the subjects I share!
Love to you and yours,