Autism, Anxiety, and the Teenage Girl
So I’ve been busy with my cub, she has really struggled this year! It is her freshman year in a new school and she started with no friends. All of her middle school friends ended up in other high schools. Her anxiety started the with lack of sleep, she’d wake me up at 3am in tears because she couldn’t fall asleep. This went on for weeks while we tried all the typical sleep remedies. She also suffers from auditory sensory issues that made white noise intolerable. We tried meditating with no luck (if you can’t quiet the mind to sleep.. you can’t quiet the mind to meditate), you name it we tried it. Going so long without sleep snowballed into poor school work and more anxiety about poor performance. She couldn’t tell us why or what was going on with her, so it was trial by error trying to find something that would work. Then we resorted to giving her a non-addictive sleep aid, that kinda helped.
Her grades started to show her lack of sleep and grogginess from the sleep aid. This is when it really got bad. She is a perfectionist and knowing she was not performing like she felt she should, her anxiety and stress reached a max. I immediately started the therapy process. They wanted to put her on drugs for anxiety with a sleeping pill right away. I only agreed if she was assured close observation and weekly therapy. This was February of this year. Our medical provider has a psychology department, but they are inadequate to say the very least! So she was not getting her weekly therapy, she was tossed into “Group Sessions”. A child suffering from anxiety and social awkwardness is not going to thrive in a group of other anxiety filled awkward children. As she said, “It’s a group of kids staring at the floor for an hour! Not helpful!!”. Needless to say, she didn’t want to go back. I could not get the psychologist to set regular meetings so I had to seek help outside our medical provider. It’s tough to find someone without a wait list, a sad statement for the state of our world.
She is on a waiting list for a psychologist now and should be seen in June. Until then we are taking our cub to a family therapist just so she can talk to someone other than mama and papa bear. She is still on the medication. The meds seem to help with the anxiety and the sleeping pill helps her fall to sleep quicker. As for her school and grades, well that is something we had to put lower on the priority list. She’s already putting self-inflicted stress on herself.
Her anxiety was a sleeping monster (pun kinda intended) that I didn’t see coming. Her first real anxiety attack came during her 8th grade Washington DC trip. Her first night I got a call in the wee hours with her whispering to me through her tears. She didn’t want to wake her roommates, so she called me from the bathroom where she had retreated. She had called the girl’s chaperone to get her some Pepto-Bismol thinking she had a stomach-ache. After talking with her I could tell it was an anxiety attack. She went all 5 nights sleepless. When she got off the bus after flying from the East Coast back to the West Coast, she looked like a zombie! But within a week, she recovered and nothing else was thought of it. Just a rough week away from home with an overly busy schedule.
I am working on getting an IEP in place. Really not something I was expecting or wanting to do again, knowing the resistance parents get from schools and their districts… but it is what she needs and mama bear will stand up for her cub!!