Day 162 (of 184) stuck (when anxiety sucks)
Today we learned a good reminder: when anxiety strikes it can get a person ‘stuck’ for a long time….
When anxiety strikes, it can look like ‘inappropriate behaviour’ – sometimes walking (often in circles) sometimes just …. non responsive. It can look like Oppositional Defiance…it can look like being rude….it can look awful.
This is not a time to escalate voice or commands (even though you really want to)
It may be a time to remove a class from the room (as our teacher did today) and get some assistance (which I provided).
It can then take time….a good amount of time (and be prepared to enter a time vortex) – the teacher didn’t realize how long it had been that she was trying some quick interventions until she started eyeballing the clock, and then noted it had been at least 20 minutes.
It was about another 20 minutes with the class outside (great weather is helpful) and me modelling and encouraging some strategies.
Probably another 20 minutes (or more) of him with a CEA who is VERY good at distracting the brain – one of the key strategies that I have used with my own chronic pain and my son uses when he gets ‘stuck’: suddenly something of ‘different interest’ can occur and help the anxiety get unblocked and positive thoughts start to flow.
At no time did we get angry – though the classroom teacher did self-acknowledge her own frustration (which is common – I experience the same thing) and then she did a beautiful thing: she modelled some self-soothing strategies – ate some fruit (kids got their snack) had some water (so did the kids) and had some quiet time (kids played some centre time).
Our focus: the anxiety does not win and enable the student to leave the school.
It’s worth repeating: even though the student appeared ill (almost making himself throw up) and defiant (wouldn’t stand up) we knew that it was the anxiety that creating these actions – it was NOT a behaviour issue and he would NOT be going home.
Sure enough – the “switch was turned” and the anxiety was managed and he was able to rejoin his class for the rest of the day.
Was it tough? Yes.
Was it able to be done by one person? No.
It truly takes a team to deal & work with anxiety. And today was tough. And today our school claimed another victory – totally worth it.