3 Things to Consider with Anxiety and Learning Differences
Let's get right to the point. Anxiety is not nice. In fact, it can be a monster. It makes it hard to figure out what is triggering emotions, behaviours and even physical discomfort or illness. Now add in the demands of a Learning Difference, and it can make things really tricky.
So I thought I would review the 3 things to consider when looking at anxiety and Learning Differences based on my experiences and review of facts.
1. Learning Differences can be stressful
So if you have a learning difference such as dyslexia, ADHD, or a learning disorder you can be faced with situations that are stressful due to the way you learn. What adds to the stress is not understanding how you learn. When you and your child come to terms with how you learn then the stress level decreases as you are able to say, "I need to use a calculator to add numbers as I can't do that in my head." or "I need to use spell check for my writing so everyone can read my message clearly."
The stress of learning differences will also decrease as the stigma of dyslexia, ADHD and other learning differences changes. We are not quite there yet, but it's coming. That's why we are here!
2. Anxiety can show up in many different ways
We think of anxiety as anxious thoughts. Which of course it can be, but fear can show up in other ways as well. Such as through physical symptoms as related to the possible flight and fight response you or your child may be dealing with as you move through the learning stresses of the day such having physical reactions like headaches, tummy troubles, troubles getting to sleep, not wanting to eat or use the washroom (in public spaces). These physical symptoms can happen to anyone but if they continue to occur..it may be anxiety and something to pay attention to and address. These symptoms are not made up but are part of the bodies response to stress or fear.
Anxiety can also show up in behaviours such as refusing to go to school or not talking with others. Possibly avoiding social situations, not wanting to try something new or not participating in class.
We sometimes think this is just our child (I know I did) but when the anxiety is moved away slowly, you start to see it was the 'anxiety' the whole time. It can be challenging to see fear for what it is but just be aware that it might be hidden.
Of course, we know about anxiety concerning fears and tears but do we see that it can also be why our child can't focus or is irritable, grouchy or angry? It can be.
So all these different responses can be anxiety coming through.
3. You may have to address Anxiety and your child's learning difference at the same time
It's wise to look at BOTH your child's learning difference and the anxiety at the same time. Take some time to observe and figure out what is the anxiety piece when it comes to your child's physical, emotional and even physical concerns and what is the learning challenges that they are facing right now. As you work on the learning issues, the anxiety may decrease, or it may be an issue you have to address along side the learning.
You got this!