A while back I started noticing some anxiety in Alyssa. Most of it revolved around her food allergies. I mean, who wouldn’t have anxiety when just 2 bites of a sandwich sent you in anaphylactic shock? The poor thing became so anxious about every bite of food she took and it just broke my heart. Though that has gotten better, she has limited her greatly because she is afraid to try anything new.
Food hasn’t been the only time I was seeing her anxiety creep up. Alyssa has always struggled with separation anxiety but over time it continues to increase instead of decrease. I am able to pinpoint why some of this separation anxiety has increased but overcoming it has not been easy. We have also noticed over time that “traumatic” experiences in general stick with her longer than usual.
Our biggest struggle of recent has been her inability to tolerate some of Courtney’s behaviors, specifically all the noises Courtney makes. When I say inability to tolerate, I mean full blown tantrums that end in her hitting and pushing Courtney. I have really struggled with these behaviors. These noises are who Courtney is and it’s not as simple as, teach Courtney not to make these noises. On the flip side, I feel Alyssa’s feelings about these noises need to be respected too. Of course, thanks to Covid, Alyssa doesn’t get any breaks from her sister so it has been very difficult. With the help of both girl’s school teams we have tried a few different strategies. If you were to enter my house at a given time, you may find both girls sitting in separate rooms with cool pink head phones on. That’s how we roll here!
For a lot of Alyssa’s behaviors, I have kept putting it off as your typical 4 year old but at as of recently I started realizing, Alyssa is not your typical 4 (almost 5) year old. She is a little girl trying to manage the world with severe food allergies, asthma, AND a big sister with significant needs. There is nothing “typical” about that. So…we decided it was time to focus on her mental health. I’m excited about the step we took this weekend and it was confirmed, she definitely struggles with anxiety and we have a plan in place to address it. Autism doesn’t just effect the child, it effects the whole family and I don’t mean that in a bad way. This is our journey as a family and we will make sure all our needs are met along the way.