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So we're a number of weeks further in this term. My 11 year has been diagnosed with separation anxiety and to be honest the signs have always been there when I look back now.
However, this is causing a real problem as she will not let me out of sight, I am currently attending school and sitting in the doorway of her class. She will willingly go in and enjoy the lesson but needs to be able to see me.
It's heart breaking, the therapy she's having is really small steps but it appears she is just suffering in a prolonged situation. Many people are saying to me to be firm and just either leave her at home or take her to school and leave her. But as you can image at 11 she is nearly the size of me!! Either way she would be in panic mode. Has anyone ever tried this exposure method? I'm sure my therapist would not agree but facing her fears could be answer as my gp said. Obviously she wouldn't agree if that's what I said I was going to do.
CAMHS have said we could possibly be seen in 3 months with a trainee, but I seriously can't sit in school with her Until then. The school are very supportive and even suggested to her today to sit in the heads office while I was out of sight. She refused this too.
My family are helping out but me and my husband are at logger heads as I am 'softly softly' and he is 'get on with it'
This is a tough one and one which we all seem to face at some stage and one to which I really don't have the answer!
I think the exposure is ok if it is school she is fearful of - but if it is separation anxiety - it's not necessarily school that is actually the problem. It makes it worse - because schools can be isolating places or too much going on all at once when you have anxiety - but it's the leaving you that is the problem. My son and most kid's with school refusal seem to have this in varying degrees. It becomes ' school refusal' as a result of the anxiety. You might need to experiment to see if the anxiety is present if separation occurs in situations outside of school?
Sorry I don't have the answers but hang in there - you are trying whatever you think might help. Keep her self esteem up and see if you can learn as much about cognitive behaviour therapy in relation to dealing with anxiety as you can and the apply that in your interactions with your daughter.
They do say with 'fears' that constant exposure breaks them down. The psychologists never seem to quite get their head around this one with school refusal though, as they can't tell if it is the school or the separation. If it is the separation - then exposing your daughter to separations when in other situations in small doses might help. Going to a library and saying you'll meet her at the front desk in 5-10 mins or something. Or telling her to go into the next isle in the supermarket and get the cereal for you? Or when out - ask her to go into the shop/petrol station if she wants a drink? Do it 'matter of factly' so that she doesn't have time to think it through and give her lots of praise afterwards as being a great help to you. And she is less likely to over react in such a place. But also don't leave her alone for long at any one time but increase it slowly until you perhaps stay in the car and ask if she can just pop in and get a carton of milk. It almost worked with my son except that he can't do this in the local shops as he is still fearful he'll see one of his peers - as this is the social anxiety now speaking.
If you can build her self confidence in separation from you in such small doses - she might not feel the leap into school as so large. Just an idea. Would the school consider half days building up to longer? Or an hour first week - two hours the second week etc. It has to be slow enough to work. Rushing and pushing just don't work.
And there is always a good cop bad cop in the one house or even in separate houses (as Simon pointed out once) so don't worry - we all do things differently.
Let us know how you go -