Monday, May 02, 2011

A Powerful Force

I called this morning and made an appointment for my eight-year-old son to see a therapist. As you may recall from last week's post, Lucas' anxiety has reared its ugly head once again. Since that night, Lucas has continued to be fixated on bedtime--or more specifically, sleeplessness. It begins about 5:00 every evening. Lucas gets visibly nervous and shaken as he begins to think about his impending bedtime. If you address it with him at all, he starts crying. His fixation on his sister continues, as well. Every night, he makes multiple trips to her bedroom, and does not settle himself until he has made certain that she is asleep. Eventually, he simply ends up in my bedroom because he has become completely incapable of falling asleep in his own room.

Two years ago (March/April 2009), when Lucas was in kindergarten, we took him to see a therapist who specialized in childhood anxiety. At that time, Lucas had many worries. Numerous different situations concerned him, but none as strikingly as a drippy faucet in our bathroom. The faucet in our downstairs bathroom would not shut off immediately when you turned it off. Rather, it would drip for probably a solid minute before stopping. This caused Lucas nothing short of excruciating mental anguish. He obsessed about it. When it would drip, he would end up in tears asking when it would stop. He could not tell us exactly why it worried him, but he was terrified something horrible was going to happen if the faucet did not stop dripping. It got to the point that he would refuse to wash his hands after using the restroom, and he would even beg his brother and sister not to wash their hands. Eventually, we got the faucet fixed and Lucas' obsession waned. Lucas had always been a worrier, but this was our first glimpse into the overwhelming and destructive power of anxiety.

The therapist Lucas saw in 2009 helped him develop some coping skills and, for the most part, he seemed to have a better grasp on his anxiety. Though he continued to be a nervous and worried kid, he did not fixate on anything in the same manner that he did the dripping faucet. That is, until now. His current obsession with sleep--or the lack thereof--hearkens back to his drippy faucet issue. It is of the same magnitude and developed quite out of the blue. I am not sure what prompted his anxiety to make such a vigorous comeback. I know he's been struggling in school. Is it a coincidence that his anxiety suddenly peaked during the week that he was grounded from his video games for refusing to do his school work and hiding it in his desk? I don't know if the two are related, but perhaps feeling out-of-control or in over his head at school prompted an anxious spell at home? Just last week, I received forms in the mail from his school to have him tested for learning disablities. It was permission slips and additional information regarding a special education evaluation. I know I requested it and, though it took them longer than I expected to respond, the school was simply responding to my request. However, I can't help feeling a bit sick to my stomach over having my son evaluated for special education. He is a bright, intelligent, enthusiastic kid. Do I really wanted him branded as "special ed"? Then again, we need to find a way to help him succeed in school. And we need to find a way to help him cope with this anxiety that just won't let go of him. If he needs additional help, it is our job as his parents to find that help for him.

So....as it stands, my son is going to be in therapy AND he is being evaluated for learning disabilities. Not exactly what a mom wants for her child. But I am willing to do whatever it takes to help Lucas. To see an eight-year-old boy reduced to tears because he is afraid he will never fall asleep is heart-wrenching. Anxiety is a powerful force to be reckoned with.

2 comments:

Madgew said...

You are doing the right thing. Something is going on for Lucas and the sooner it is worked on the better. He is not automatically put in special education. My niece had a real learning disability and was allowed extra time to finish things. She, today is a speech pathologist and doing fabulous. She needed a leg up and therapy got one for her. Same holds ture for Lucas. Also, is he young for his grade? He might just need to repeat the grade to get his maturity up to his intellectual abilities. Better to be the oldest kid if you are a boy than the youngest. He will do fine. I was so terribly anxious as a kid. I took medicine to ease my stomach and when it was finished my Mom put in water and one day I said I was fine and she told me that I had been taking water with the hint of medicine for months. I didn't feel betrayed but knew I had needed it until I didn't. Sometimes it gets into your psyche and needs some attention from outside sources. Lucas will be fine as will his Mom's. Love you lots Shannon. Relax and breathe.

Barb said...

Sounds like a heartbreaking ordeal. You are such a good mom!

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