I Want Him To Be Able, To Be, Whatever He Wants to Be – Ann’s Story
Hi all, and welcome back to my mental health series. If you missed the last interview with Jenni get that here. Today I am joined by Ann from rainbowsaretoobeautiful who is talking to me about her son’s battle with Anxiety. Please show your support, like, leave a comment and share this post.
I’m Ann, mum to three, part-time teacher, charity trustee and special educational needs writer. My eldest son is Anthony. He is a funny, nearly ten year old autistic boy who is seriously into motor racing.
What mental health condition does your child have, or potentially have?
Anthony really struggles with anxiety. It’s quite common for kids with autism and ADHD like Anthony.
When did you first notice that your child may have a mental health condition?
When he was around six or seven we noticed that Anthony was struggling particularly with making decisions. It would become so worried about them that he’d end in tears.
How did this make you feel as a parent?
I was concerned. I think perhaps if mental health was one of first difficulties Anthony had faced I might have been more worried, but the truth is he deals with a lot and in a way I wasn’t surprised that this could have happened. More than anything I just wanted to make sure we told someone about it so he could get help if he needed it.
Did your child express any concerns to you about how they were feeling?
Not really. I think he lives very much in the moment and he’s either happy or not, entertained or not. But anxiety was often just always there and I’m not sure he really felt different to usual, we simple were recognising it.
What help have they received?
We were referred to CAMHS as along with his anxiety we were concerned about a potential misdiagnosis of his sensory seeking activities. We thought he might have ADHD. It turned out that he really did – scored as high as is possible in most of the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis. Getting to grips with this helped a bit with his anxiety. We also told him about his autism and ADHD and again I think this empowered him. He stills gets upset and struggles with decisions but tends to identify the issue which really helps him.
I am glad you were able to get the correct diagnosis for your son.
How do you help your child? What makes them happy?
We try and help him to recognise what he’s feeling and then help him think about what he could do. We used a great traffic light system for a while where he had to really think about how important his worries really worry as opposed to how big they felt.
I have seen traffic light systems before, and think it’s a really helpful way for children to deal with their emotions, and challenges.
What is your biggest worry for them as their parent?
Like all the other thing, it’s about them being able to be and do whatever they want to be and want to be able to do without being limited by how they feel or their conditions.
Do you feel like there is enough support out there, for children who suffer from mental health conditions, and their parents?
Not really. I think without also seeking a diagnosis for ADHD we would have got very little help and we were fortunate to be able to access support for his anxiety around that process.
What advice would you give to another parent, who’s child has or may have a mental health condition?
Anthony’s clinical psychologist gave me a great piece of advice once about Anthony’s worries. She said not to ever tell him that his worry wasn’t important because then Anthony would have two things to worry about 1) His original worry and 2) That I thought he was silly and wasn’t going to help him.
I think about this a lot even when I talk to my other kids and think it’s a great piece of advice.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions, and helping me raise awareness.
If you want to follow Ann and her son’s journey, her details are below. Tomorrow I am speaking with Kaila who is talking to me about her battle with postpartum depression. Post will go live at 9am.
Much Love 💕