Thursday, 16 June 2016

The delayed effect of anxiety on children: 'complete fabrication on the part of the parent'

My role is to see children with ASD, Selective Mutism and complex communication difficulties. I don't mean complex needs, I mean complicated profiles and even more complicated situations. Many of these children are very anxious. I know that the more complex the case, the more simple my explanation needs to be. Time and time again, I see parents who describe their child one way and schools who see something different and completely refute what the parent is saying, even if they have the scratches and bruises to confirm it.

It is described as a 'delayed effect' or the 'pressure cooker' situation. I like to see it as 'the bottle of pop phenomenon'. the child keeps it together, maybe doesn't like to draw attention to themselves or can 'just about manage' until 3.30pm. There might be small signs, that someone who who knows the child well or someone experienced in childhood anxiety can spot, such as slight eye or vocal tic or the picking at the skin on their thumb.Then when they get home all hell erupts. The bottle has been shaken all day and the top comes off at the door. The door where they feel safe and secure with a parent who understands them, won't judge them or hate them whatever they do.

I've had this reported 12 times in the last few months alone,  but there is little written about it which might help professionals understand that what they see isn't always the true picture:
  • the child with anxiety who smiles, so can't be worried at school
  • the child who is sweet and polite so can't have sworn uncontrollably at their mum last night
  • the timid, quiet child who can't possibly have inflicted those bruises because the lessons changed today
  • the 'normal' child who does as he's told can't be demand avoidant at home
  • The child who seemed happy for a new member of staff to take the class as he didn't say anything, can't have trashed the house when he got in
  • the girl who said nothing  in class can't possibly have had a melt down at home because they'd moved the cupboard to the other side of the classroom
  • the kind, helpful girl can't have scratched her mum so badly she drew blood when all she was trying to do was to give the ipad to a man to take to repair
  • the 'ideal pupil' who loves school can't really hang onto the door handle and fight both parents every single morning because he doesn't want a bath
These are all real cases and some of you reading this will know who I'm talking about.

It must be parenting, it must be the parent, the parent must be fabricating........ I think NOT!!! We need training for staff in spotting the (often well hidden) signs of anxiety. It can be directly related to language and communication difficulties as they struggle to cope to understand or fit in......bit like a swan paddling away furiously underneath. It's exhausting for the swan and he needs a break after  a short time. It may also be related to sensory issues or both.  One thing is for sure, the parents need support not disbelief.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Small Talk in Sutton Coldfield: Sophie Harding, Small Talk's latest recruit

We're delighted to introduce Sophie Harding who will work with the Small Talk team in Sutton Coldfield and other areas of Staffordshire

About Me:
My Name is Sophie Harding and I am the Small Talk Speech and Language Therapist covering Sutton Coldfield and surrounding areas. I have a BSc (Hons) degree in SLT and I am Makaton and Camperdown trained. I am married with two young children.

My Work:
My work focuses on children who have difficulties with communicating. This includes understanding language, using language, producing speech sounds clearly and interacting with the world around them.
I provide all children, families and teaching staff with the support they need to reach their potential.

How I can help:
I can provide detailed assessments, tailored treatment programmes, training and support for families, teaching staff and other professionals. We can be successful when we all work together. My time can be flexible to meet your needs and I work both in and out of term time.

Sophie Harding

0844 704 5888