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    Are Our Kids Experiencing Post COVID Long Anxiety?

    Part 1 of 3 Here we are, almost 3 years post the COVID-19 virus pandemic that shut down our world instantly and has kept us in a state of uncertainty about many of the parts of life that we took for granted. We lost our freedom to leave our homes, interact with others and move around our community and environment without worrying about catching a virus that had the potential to be deadly. We all experienced a large scale and collective level of feeling nervous, worried, and scared about the present, the future, our health, and the health of others. We also worried about the availability of basics such as food and toilet paper.

    Let’s start with the definition of a pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) definition is “a worldwide spread of a disease” with the COVID-19 pandemic being our 21st pandemic (Pitlik, 2020). Due to the speed of the spread of the virus, it was believed that the way to contain and confine was to shut down and create isolation. Humans are social creatures and in need of interaction with others on a consistent basis. The rise of a “virtual” world allowed for many to keep their jobs and for education to seemingly continue. However, the short-term and long-term effects of isolation have created havoc on our mental health.

    During this time, anxiety set in for many. Dictionary.com defines anxiety as the following: “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt of one’s capacity to cope with it.” It is also defined as an “apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill.” Anxiety is at an all-time high leaving mental health providers with waitlists.

    How is Anxiety Manifesting Itself Presently?

    Avoidance

    Many of our children, teens, and young adults are still avoiding school, social situations, or participating as members of a team for a sport or activity. What can be heartbreaking for parents is that our children may have actively participated in these arenas pre-pandemic and did not know how to “re-enter” so many didn’t. They once had interests and now they seem to have few. Many of our kids have found a strong interest in video games because they don’t require face-to-face interaction and there is escape and submersion in a virtual and highly engaging electronic world. I have heard way too often from parents in my practice that their child or teen has very few “real” friends and friends from the video game domain; however, these friends don’t live locally making their interactions exist only in the virtual world.

    Many of our kids found interest in more sedentary activities that have had the negative consequence of weight gain. Dr. Johnson, of the Johnson Center for Health, indicated that the quarantine change in lifestyle created weight gain; however, the long-term effect of the virus may have resulted in physiologically-based excessive hunger and increased appetite. This may have also created new, unhealthy habits where our kids ate due to boredom rather than due to hunger. In the long run, the change in eating habits has created a change in appearance and ease of movement that has further created avoidance for our children and teens to participate in school, socialization, sports, and activities.

    For many of our teens and young adults, their friendships changed over the pandemic as there were varying levels of comfort in attending school or socializing which created a change in the social groups and friendships. Thus, our teens have had to create new friendships; however, the problem came to be when their peer group was small to begin with, and there weren’t other children with whom to create new friendships.

    Hanging in High Mode

    Many anxious people start their day with a high residual level of anxiety that runs in the background. As the day goes on, that level of anxiety continues to peak and wane as different situations are encountered that result in a feeling of “I can’t handle this,” or “This isn’t safe.” For a student in school, thoughts such as the following can heighten anxiety over the course of the day:

    • I can’t solve these math problems.

    • Everyone must think I’m so stupid for that answer I just gave.

    • I can’t read this.

    • I don’t know the answer to this test question.

    • This is so much work – I can’t finish it.

    • I should have done better on this quiz.

    • I hope the teacher doesn’t call on me.

    • She thinks my hair looks stupid.

    And even when our children and teens have a moment or two where things in life are cruising along smoothly, they often sit with a high level of anxiety for fear of what’s to come. Many fear that if they let their guard down, they will be blind

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    Are Our Kids Experiencing Post COVID Long Anxiety?

    Part 2 of 3 sided by the next “disaster.” I’ve heard this phrase too often, “I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop” and “I need to be ready for whatever may come my way.” Anxiety can lead to anticipation of the next “bad” thing that may happen and having a moment of respite is often not enjoyed.

    Hold this mantra instead: the other shoe will drop and holding that high level of anticipatory anxiety, it won’t lessen the surprise or the hurt. Whatever it is, you will deal with it at the moment.

    Unreasonable High Self Standards

    Many children, teens, and adults often hold themselves to high self-standards at a very young age and can be intolerant of making mistakes. That may look like a meltdown when a child colors outside of the line or doesn’t know the answer to a math problem. Anxiety often comes with the standard of perfection or nothing at all, with little in between. It’s either good or bad, pass or fail. Errors and mistakes or anything lower than a high set standard is equated with shame, guilt, or feeling incompetent or unintelligent. Not achieving 100% or being 100% accurate holds the fear of letting others down and not being “perfect.”

    With education managing the pandemic as best as it could, our kids lost time and skills. Many children’s learning disabilities went unnoticed and undiagnosed as teachers could not see the student’s work directly. In my practice, I have been evaluating and diagnosing children with learning disabilities and other disabilities that likely would have been diagnosed two to three years ago. At nobody’s or no institution’s fault, our children are missing academic skills for their present age and grade level, thus certain academic classes are difficult. However, our kids aren’t necessarily aware of this reason for their struggle in reading, writing or math, and instead, are anxious about going to school and blame themselves for experiencing this struggle. I hear again and again, “I SHOULD be able to do this work, but I can’t so I’m stupid.”

    Now What?

    Relate, Engage and Move

    Our children are emotionally starved and are trying to make up for the lost time. Their self-esteem has suffered. As parents, create family time and time with friends and extended family. Many of us as parents used to have an active social calendar and the onset of the pandemic decreased that zest to reach out and set the dates on the calendar. For younger children, create playdates at least one time per week. If during the week is difficult, try to set one playdate per weekend at a minimum. If possible, create plans to do social things with other families and their children to create those bonds and memories that our children can build on. Although our children say they have friends in school, the amount of time spent socializing is minimum and friendships will be formed and strengthened outside of school, for the most part.

    Just yesterday, a 9-year-old little girl said to me, “You know, since COVID, I don’t play soccer anymore. I used to but now I don’t.” I asked her why she doesn’t play soccer anymore and she said, “I just got used to not playing soccer.” This one short sentence summed up for me how our children lost their interests during and after shut down and are struggling to return to the sports and activities they enjoyed or are struggling to find new ones.

    Parents, talk to your child about finding an activity or sport that they think they may enjoy. Find local classes or teams and join for a trial class or session. Part of the hesitation is not knowing how to be a part of a team anymore perhaps because it has become a distant memory. There may be hesitation in holding accountability as a team or group member. If your child struggles to be on a competitive team, find an activity or sport where they are competing against themselves such as track.

    Our bodies are not meant to be this sedentary and our children sat in front of a computer instead of walking through the hallways, participating in their physical education class, or playing on the playground. The natural inclination to move may have been quieted and we all need to awaken that instinct once again. Encourage your kids (of any age) to go outside (even if it’s cold) and take a walk by themselves, with a friend, or walk the dog. Take a bike ride, ride a scooter, play on the playground, go for a hike, find indoor swimming (during the winter), join a gym, or create a home gym – anything that keeps the body moving and the endorphins being pumped.

    Engage Your Child’s Teachers

    If you notice that your child is struggling in any one or more subjects, reach out to your child’s teachers and ask for a meeting with one teacher or their entire team of teachers. Ask them if they are noticing what you may be noticing in terms of struggle with anxiety, reading, writing or math. Ask the

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    I’m new here!

    Hi, my name is siah11. I'm looking for community and answers

    #MightyTogether #LearningDisabilities

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    I’m new here!

    Hi, my name is msathish. I'm looking for help regarding how to get into the workplace and find the correct type of roles where the provide support/ accommodations as I have been discriminated against twice .

    #MightyTogether #LearningDisabilities #IntellectualDisabilities

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    25% ●
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    15% ●
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    6% ●
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    I'm back after a break... how are you?

    I'm in a mental health IOP currently after a hospitalization in December for a bipolar mixed episode.

    I'm taking it one day at a time!

    also have some new physical health conditions to add to the list that I'm taking care of!

    #Bipolar1Disorder #Autism #ObsessiveCompulsiveDisorder #ADHD #ComplexPosttraumaticStressDisorder #Anxiety #TicDisorders #EatingDisorders #Addiction #PolycysticOvarySyndrome #GenderDysphoria #Hypertension #HighCholesterol #LearningDisabilities #Osteoporosis #PersonalityDisorders #SleepDisorders

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    I’m new here!

    Hi, my name is Selflovebadass. I've been diagnosed with and am wanting to find the puzzle pieces to help me now, while I’m waiting for my DBT therapy class, which is a two year waiting period. I’m doing the best to understand myself more, so that I can fix my moods.

    #MightyTogether #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #Fibromyalgia #ADHD #Anxiety #Depression #LearningDisabilities

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    Academic planning and nvld

    In my experience  overcoming an NVLD and also knowing others who have Learning Disabilities I believe too many IEP teams still  believe the local community college and district summer work programs are our only options. This is far from the truth. I believe it is the lack of awareness of what is available that  limits success for some students. Personally if I didn’t go  away for a summer program and then on to a college with comprehensive support and campus life I wouldn’t have achieved as much as I did academically and socially.

    For example when I  applied to summer programs for students with Learning Disabilities  my IEP team was  unaware that these types of programs existed. Thankfully my parents  were knowledgeable of outside programs and that  our summer district program wasn’t appropriate for me as I needed better  opportunities for social and academic growth. Thankfully my parents  knew about Eagle Hill which I attended  and this turned out to be the best decision. For the first time I was surrounded by other academic and socially  engaged individuals like me who had  a Learning Disability  and  I experienced so much personal growth. In fact upon my return my resource room teacher even commented about how this helped me be the  Eileen  she had heard about  and told me to always be thankful for having  parents who were so knowledgeable.

    My college planning fell on my parents and the school counselor at Eagle Hill as our district had very limited knowledge about  what was out there for post-secondary options for students with NVLD and similar disabilities . Thankfully my father was a school counselor and  the districts he worked at required him to know post-secondary options for all types of students and the programs our district  offered  wouldn’t have given me the social, academic, and personal growth I needed. After doing some thorough research early I applied and was  accepted to NYIT and Dean College. I ended choosing Dean and then  continued on to Curry College and was successful at both.These are  two fantastic schools for students with learning disabilities and more IEP teams should be aware of them and others like them.  At Dean and Curry I made great friends and got  involved in campus life while also receiving the academic support I needed to be successful. Due to this I believe it’s so important to stay current about all the post-secondary options with great support programs as in my experience it leads to great success.

    The wonderful academic and social support I received at Dean college  led me to become a more confident person. The support started the first day of classes  as  I received individual personal learning services twice a week  and went to a math support group once per week. The learning specialist either had a master’s or PH.D in Special Education so they knew how to support students  accurately. Furthermore our first year seminar class was for Arch Program students (the LD Program) so we developed an even greater support system. In addition to the academic support we received in our first semester we also had a variety of weekly social support programs offered. If I had  attended the local community college I wouldn’t have received this level of support and therefore wouldn’t have been as successful.

    I also believe that the lack of awareness of these types of programs greatly impacts students who demonstrate fewer academic needs. What I mean by this is that many students with this profile are guided to four year state and private schools that don’t have the structured support programs that these students need and as a result they can fall through the cracks. Instead they should be attending a school like Syracuse or Boston University where inclusion is  valued and  support is given in all areas which allows students to  become successful in all ways. Yes, while these schools come with a higher cost they do provide wonderful support and a great campus life .

    I  agree with the current research that shows students with an NVLD or another disability greatly benefit from attending summer programs at colleges or LD boarding schools. Students achieved more academically  and socially  from being with other students like them in such a supportive environment.  The research further concluded that  the reason college graduation is still low for students with an NVLD and other learning disabilities is that they are guided to colleges that do not provide enough support.This needs to change for students with all types of abilities.  As discussed, schools like Dean and Syracuse have impressive graduation rates. Most importantly being aware of  summer programs and colleges with comprehensive support programs for all types of intelligence levels leads to  success stories like mine being more of a common thing.

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    The Toxic atmosphere of having a disability

    Part 1 of 2 One of the most frustrating parts of having a Learning Disability isn’t the disability itself, but the atmosphere that society creates. Having one is no longer an issue for me, for I have found ways to cope. A great deal of the problem is how others view it and the toxic atmosphere that society creates.

    I was first introduced to this environment when I was diagnosed in Kindergarten. I struggled to count, write my name and tie my shoes. Right from the start people began to judge me. I had people who thought that if I really wanted to learn, that I could. Little did they know that I truly wanted to be a good student and be accepted. I had other people who thought because of the severity of the disability that I wouldn’t be successful. Neither extreme has been helpful to me.

    The early years of school created a storm academically and socially. I had to repeat Kindergarten in a different school.  I began to receive specialty instruction, and accommodations. My teachers taught me how to read, write, and attempted to teach me math. My parents never gave up on me and told me that I learned differently. They held out an umbrella and shielded me from the storm. Eventually the rain did slow down. I was able to attend regular ed science and social studies, with accommodations. I had the test read aloud to me and extended test time to help my brain process the information. Eventually I was in all regular ed classes, with supports except for math and resource. Most importantly I learned to dance in the rain a splash in the puddles.

    The social climate was cold and harsh in school. I couldn’t hide my disability in the small school district. Diversity wasn’t celebrated or accepted; it was feared. It was regarded as a close-knit community that was accepting if you were one of them. My disability caused me to be different.  Everyone I knew that I went to Learning Support for classes and accommodations. The regular ed peers thought I was getting the answers or doing easy work. I was also lumped in with my learning support peers who struggled more with reading and behavior issues. They also viewed me as not smart because I couldn’t do math. The conditions got colder as school went on. Peer groups became more defined. I didn’t feel as I fit in with any of them and I was bullied by both the popular groups and other peers’ groups as well. What helped to warm me was to hang out with peers in a neighboring town, that were part of an arts group. I found acceptance and other who shared my interests. I finally didn’t have the reputation of the outcast and the screw up that followed me all throughout my school years. I was also able to reach out and form relationships with others in the community, that didn’t go to my school. Some of those relationships are still happening 20 years later.

    During my post-secondary years, I have also found that the atmosphere of how society views disabilities isn’t always ideal. I have had people who have tried to limit what I can do with having a disability. I had a Physiatrists write that I would never go beyond a community college. I also had instructors who told me that my job and educational choices would be limited. Once again I had peers who thought that accommodations were the easy way out and declined to use them because of the stigma. Not using disability services caused my grades to drop. When I went back to university I didn’t care what other people thought and used the services. My grades improved and I made Deans list one semester. I was able to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree.

    I have also encountered people who dismissed my disability. Part of the reason for the disbelief is that they can’t see it. I will have people tell me that I don’t look disabled. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I’ve also had people who wanted to cure my disability through adult education programs, and positive thinking. None of those have worked for me. I have also had people who have shoved toxic positivity at me, when I shared about the difficulties having one has created. I have been told to stop complaining and that other people are more disabled that I am. Everyone with a disability will experience it differently, even if they have the same diagnosis.

    I’ve also experienced a troubled climate at work with having one. Many former employers didn’t understand that my disability was affecting my job performance. Some of them thought that I was screwing up on purpose.  I wanted to do a good job and be a productive employee, but some things I simply couldn’t do, even with accommodations. I can remember working for an agency that helped people with disabilities, but made too many clerical mistakes and was fired. The agency tried to deny my unemployment claiming willful misconduct, saying that I made the mistakes on purpose and t