Monday, December 26, 2016

A Follow-up and Survival kits for Children with Anxiety

    In August I talked about labels and my sons.  It has been 4 months since those first appointments, and there has been some progress and change.  We aren't completely where we want to be, but we are further away from where we were.  At this point, any progress is welcome.

    If you read my previous post, you know that Porthos has ADHD.  He has been put on Concerta, having a few dosage increases over the past four months.  I was worried there would be negative side effects, like mood change, loss of personality, anger or rage issues, etc.  Thankfully, there has been none of that.  He is entering puberty, so there is a bit more snippiness going on there, but I do not attribute that to the medication.  One of the behaviors he had before medication, was fidgety hands and feet.  He would tap on things all the time.  He would squirm in his seat a lot.  Both of those habits are either gone or significantly subdued now.
    Porthos is also taking a Karate class that he really seems to enjoy.  Class is in the evening, and starts about the time the Concerta wears off.  He is progressing well in the class and is so focused.  His instructors have commented numerous times how balanced and focused Porthos is.  I am so glad to have found this outlet for my son.

    Aramis has had a longer journey, and it is far from over.  It is taking quite a bit more effort to help him.  He is still taking Zoloft, and we are about at the max dose that has the potential to work for him.  Aramis spent three months in counseling, receiving cognitive behavioral therapy to help him with his anxiety.  Although he has made good progress, he still struggles.

    We have had some ups and downs the past two months.  He recently participated in a community theater with his brother, for a Christmas performance.  This was his second time on stage, and first time acting.  Aramis was so funny and really seemed to enjoy himself.  There were weekly rehearsals he had to attend, to which he handled with ease.   The downfall came days after the final performance.  We had spent the day in the city (an hour away) for his eye exam and some Christmas shopping.  We were out all day, and Aramis did great.   The next day was not so great.  The whole day he was close to tears and on the verge of an anxiety attack.   At that point, I joined a support group on Facebook for Parents of children with anxiety and depression.  There I got the idea for a survival pack.

I created two kits for Aramis.  One in a backpack that he can take with him anywhere, and one to keep at home.  The idea is, when he is feeling sad or anxious, he can find comfort measures easily.  Included in each kit:

  • Composition book: writing in, drawing pictures, etc.
  • Activity book or coloring book
  • Small note pad: for writing emotions down as they happen
  • Zipper pouch with crayons, pencils, erasers, and/or markers
  • Flarp: because he likes how it feels and the sounds it makes is silly enough to make anyone laugh.
  • Kleenex
  • Hand Sanitizer: Right now he is going through a clean phase.  (at least I hope it's a phase)
  • Socks/Gloves:  In his travel pack only.  Might put a hat in his home pack.
  • Water bottle:  In his travel pack.  Hydration can help wonders.
  • Healthy Snack:  I put granola bars and such in each pack.  Sometimes he is more emotional when he's hungry.  
  • Stuffed animal
  • Woobie:  This square of fabric is super soft, has texture on the reverse side, and ribbon tabs around the edge.  Being able to hold different manipulatives helps distract the mind from whatever is bothering him.  
  • Slinky:  This was one of his choices.  Again, it's a manipulative.  Something to keep his hands busy, which distracts the mind.
These are the things we put in his kits.  You can make yours with whatever works for your child.  Already, I have seen him utilize both kits this past week.  Christmas with a big family gave the potential for Aramis to become overwhelmed.  We took the backpack with us, and it wasn't long before he opened it up and was pulling different items out and handling them.  He let me know when he was ready to go, and thankfully, that wasn't until well into the evening.  So, a success there.  He played, and had a good time.  Although there were a few times Aramis came to check in with me, and get an extra hug, it wasn't near as often as it has been in the past.

    We still have a ways to go with Aramis.  His will most likely be a long term issue.  Along the way, we will have to alter how we do things, but for now, I feel like we are headed in the right direction.