Sunday, December 7, 2008

Emotional Rescue

I will spare you the details, but let's just summarize by saying that my two children have ended up as either an inpatient or partial hospital patient at a behavioral health hospital over the last 2 weeks.

Erin was diagnosed with ADHD when she was in second grade and I was finally able to secure an IEP for her last year after much wrangling, letter writing, meetings with the school staff and emotional pleading. This year, Erin moved to the middle school for 7th and 8th grade, and the transition has been one trauma after another. After another....until she pronounced every morning with vague physical symptoms -- stomachaches, dizziness, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, back pain, neck pain, light sensitivity -- to name a few. I continued to try to get her to school at least at SOME POINT over the course of the day. I met with social workers, teachers, principals and asst principals. Counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, pediatricians. If you have an M.D. or PhD or MSW after your name and live within 25 miles of me, I SAW you.

I spun so fast I'm surprised my head is still attached.

But finally, not through professional channels however, I opened up to several women who had opened up about their struggles with their kids. I found out about a School Refusal/Adolescent Anxiety program at a hospital that is about 25 miles from my house. After Erin had a panic/anxiety attack which resulted in her taking a butcher knife to my door frames, furniture, counter top and walls, I made an appointment and took her in immediately. They placed her in the program which is a PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program). This means that she is at the hospital every day, but comes home at night. She gets individual and group therapy, medication management, behavioral and cognitive therapies, coping strategies, expressive and spiritual exercises, as well as what they call "Exposures". This places the child in an anxiety producing situation in a safe atmosphere, and allows the other program participants and therapists to help the child work through it. The more "Exposures", the better they become at handling potential anxiety producing experiences. Erin has blossomed over the last couple of weeks and was comfortable in the program from day one. It is definitely a reassuring thing to learn there are other people just like you, struggling everyday with the same things.

They also provide team meetings and support groups for parents, which I have attended faithfully and have been a tremendous help. I'm learning just as much as Erin about how to help her cope and keep myself sane.

Here are some of the program's highlights:

"Our treatment approach includes working with your child's school, the parent(s) and other outside resources to best identify and meet your child's unique needs. Our school liaison and educational staff will work with your child or adolescent on issues such as:

* Returning to school
* Problem solving
* Time management
* Study skills
* Regulating moods such as depression and irritability
* Overcoming extreme shyness
* School phobia
* Panic attacks
* Obsessive compulsive disorder
* Goal planning"

It's a 3-4 week program and the one I found has a excellent success rate. Should your child be experiencing School Refusal/Anxiety, there is help out there. It's taken me 8 years to get to a place where I feel my daughter is really getting the help she needs.

She will be transitioning back into her regular school on Monday after 3 weeks in the program. They usually begin by 1-2 days at regular school, 2-3 days back in the program and taper from there. Keep your fingers crossed.

My son is a whole other story.


Anonymous said...

It was very brave of you to post this, but it's an important topic, so I'm glad you did it.


Anonymous said...

Thousands of people around the world suffer from Anxiety Disorders. It can affect everyday life and is capable of leading to a state of depression and more Anxiety attacks. In order to treat someone with an Anxiety Disorder you must know the etiology of the disorder. When the cause is known it becomes easier for the Doctor to prognosis different treatment options. The good news is that, nowadays there are a number of ways apart from the antidepressants drugs (in case you want to know more on this you can check out this link

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

After reading this, my blogger struggles are nothing. Then again, they were nothing to begin with other than a hassle I'd have rather not had to face.

Simply put, they declared me a spammer. They've refused my requests through proper channels to review my blog. And now, four months later, they have locked me out and are threatening to delete the whole thing.

Like I said, nothing major. Just a headache.

May your troubles be so simple.