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To the Future Special Education Teachers Who Have Students With Anxiety

Dear future special ed teacher who has students struggling with anxiety,

I don’t know you, but here is some advice from a former student with anxiety.

It can be painful to look back on all of my bad episodes caused by anxiety throughout the past four years.

If you have a student with real fears, please don’t tell them that they are “stupid.” If you know they are afraid of fire drills, don’t say they are “stupid.” Here’s why:

The start of my junior year, I was in panic mode over years of dealing with anxiety around fire drills. I asked my teacher when there would be a fire drill because I was afraid of the sound. The teacher that I had had for two years said something along the lines of, “I don’t care about your stupid fire drill.” The mistake by that teacher caused me to develop trust issues. During my senior year, these trust issues made me so afraid of talking about my fears to my new teacher.

When you have a great student and you know they have anxiety, be patient with them.

Let’s say they are having a panic attack and you say, “this is not a game,” or “act your grade/age.” I think this is an inappropriate way to handle the situation, in my opinion. I have heard this multiple times throughout my four years of high school and it always made me incredibly upset. In regards to the second statement, if it actually was “in my head,” you might understand how this is inappropriate.

I hope you are going to be awesome special education teachers!


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Thinkstock photo via Creatas