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School Anxiety

Returning to school after a long break can, at times, be stressful for children. However, for some kids, the anxiety is an everyday traumatic experience. This anxiety is not just a manifestation of their thoughts, but it often translates into physical conditions like stomach aches, headaches, sleeplessness, and more. It's essential to understand and address these signs rather than dismissing or ignoring them.

The Daily Struggles of Going to School

School anxiety can be a daily struggle due to a variety of reasons.

One of the biggest triggers can be sensory overload. A loud classroom, bright lights, and a large number of people can be overwhelming for some children. The struggle can also be intensified if they find the schoolwork difficult or if they are made to sit next to children they do not know. A structured environment with intense routines can also cause anxiety. Autistic children want to get it right… they want to make you proud and happy… but might need support within the environment in order to succeed.

Another significant struggle can be the transitions between different rooms. The shift from one environment to another can be challenging as each room has a different atmosphere. Additionally, social struggles like bullying or difficult relationships can add to their anxiety. Misunderstanding, worries at home, lack of support, or reasonable adjustments in the school environment can also contribute to the stress. The energy consumed in masking these struggles can lead to exhaustion and further amplify their anxiety.

Physical Manifestations of School Anxiety

School anxiety can manifest itself in various physical conditions. Children may often complain of stomach aches, headaches, and feeling sick. Some children may experience meltdowns, which can be explosive, or shutdowns where they stop speaking or communicating with those around. Sleeplessness and irritability can also be common indicators of school anxiety.

Addressing School Anxiety

There are several ways to help children navigate their school anxiety. One simple method can be allowing them to come into school slightly earlier or later than other children. This can help them avoid the rush and find their own quiet space before the day begins.

Another useful strategy can be giving them time to transition or process the changes. For instance, having an area where children can come in and sit with no demands made until they are ready can be beneficial. Other arrangements like movement breaks, varied seating, ear defenders/loops, differentiated work/coloured paper or overlays, fidget toys, check-ins and reassurance, a safe space to regulate, and the ability to doodle can also be considered.

However, the most effective approach to help children with school anxiety is to understand the reason for their anxiety. Once we understand the cause, we can work on easing the underlying emotions rather than just managing the symptoms. A child who feels understood, accepted, and celebrated will be more capable of learning than a child who is constantly battling anxiety.

Supporting the Cause

If you have found my work helpful and wish to support my mission to help the Autistic Community, you can do so by buying me a coffee. However, please only donate if you can afford to do so. Every donation is deeply appreciated. You can also help to spread the word by liking, loving, and sharing my posts. Together we can make the world a better place for our children.

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