Recently, I wrote a very long post on Snugglebug's anxiety. We have started two things that I hope to impact his anxiety. Only time will tell if they work.
The first thing we started was the use of social stories. Social stories are short, descriptive stories with pictures to help the child visualize an event and explain what is going to happen. For Easter, I made a social story using scrapbook graphics. I love digital scrapbooking so I used the same concept for the social story.
We then read the story about hunting Easter eggs, what to do with the eggs, and what to do when we saw our friends. Snugglebug loved it and even asked me to read it after the egg hunt.
Once at the egg hunt, he was excited. There was no visit from the evil anxiety until the kids began to crowd into the starting area before the egg hunt. I could feel the tension increasing as the kids crowded around him and began invading his personal space (personal space is a whole other post). I whispered the words from the story in his ear, "We are happy to see our friends." He began to relax and seconds later the whistle signaling the craziness sounded. Snugglebug took his time gathering eggs and enjoyed every minute of the ten minute egg hunt. He walked away with a dozen and a half eggs. I walked away with a smile on my face. I don't know if we can attribute the social story to helping him to deal with his anxiety but it was enough that I am now making social stories for other upcoming events.
(For those interested in social stories, there are several websites that were very helpful. I'll post them at the end of this article.)
The second addition to our anxiety fighting battle is a visual scheduling system for each day and week. Using Picture Exhange Cards with velcro on the back, we attach the cards to a laminated piece of cardstock. We list the events of the next day with the PECS, and walk through those events the night before and again the next morning. We have just started this system so I hope it works as well as I have imagined.
We also have a laminated weekly calendar with the days of the week. We check off each day of the week and if there is a special event we mark it on the calendar so he can see it coming. He seems to like it.
I'll let you know if all this works to help curb his anxiety. I have no doubts that anxiety will still stage an unwarranted attack, but hopefully those attacks will be less in number.