We have known that David has Reactive Attachment Disorder for a while. It is a fact of life. In the current residence, David had been doing well. Until.
About 10 days ago, David’s primary left employment at his facility. David evidently was pretty attached to her. As his behaviors have gone down hill since she left. He apparently likes his new primary, but is still coming to terms with the “loss” of his last primary.
Since the primary he attached to left, they have had to call in the Event Support Team a couple of times for David and put him on a modified plan. He eats by himself with close supervision by the staff, among other things. He is still doing well in school. At night, he has difficulty sleeping.
On one hand I am happy that David can establish relationships, close relationships to people. It is nice to know that he has that ability. The residence where he lives is supposed to simulate a family environment. While I understand the logic, I find it to be something of a dysfunctional family at best.
I don’t hold out hope that he will ever form an attachment of any real kind to his family. I can live with that. As long as he is able to establish appropriate relationships with other people, I will consider it a success. How I feel about my relationship, or the relationship of the rest of the family to David doesn’t really matter at this point. What matters is that David is on his way to achieving a life goal.
He has to learn to deal with the loss of people in his life. He has to learn how to recover on his own without letting his anger take control. People are largely transient in the lives of others, unless there is a family involved, and even that can be transient. Hopefully, he won’t let the fear of loss of healthy relationships dissuade him from establishing any type of appropriate relationship. Friendships are difficult enough to nurture without having Autism or Reactive Attachment Disorder thrown into the mix.
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So my son has anxiety about the first day of school. This year is worse than normal because his resource teacher didn’t come back. So we have to “break in” a new teacher. I think that he will do well, it is just going to take time for him to adjust.
Their are key points to transitioning through the anxiety. Points that we have found successful in years past.
- Don’t force the child to go to school. 504’s and IEP’s are made for a reason. If necessary get the anxiety added to the education plan.
- Don’t minimize the way the child feels. By making light of the way they feel, you can actually affect their already fragile self-esteem.
- All things in time. We gradually increase the length of each day by 15 minutes. Then reward the positive behavior.
- Ensure that the child understands that they are still responsible for the school work that they are missing.
- Allow the child the opportunity to voice how they feel. Don’t minimize the tears. We likely won’t understand how the child feels, but we don’t need to make them feel worse because they are crying. School can be daunting without having anxiety.
- Ensure that the school understands what is going on. They should be supportive and encourage learning.
- The last thing that I can recommend is that the child needs to know who they can turn to when the anxiety hits them. They need to know that how they feel is perfectly normal. If possible identify two staff that they can approach. In our case it is the teacher, and the principal. If the teacher is absent, they can see the superintendent.
Anxiety doesn’t have to mean the end of the school career. It is a matter of making the child comfortable, and showing them that their concerns are real. Moving forward, you can gradually plan for each year of schooling. A good start to the year is having the child walk through the building before the first day of school, identify classroom(s) that they are in, and plan the best route to each.
If you are of mind to, please add any tips in the comments below.