Life in progress


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Anxiety in Children

I thought it would be better by now, but it’s just getting worse. My son, Alex, as most of you know, is Deaf, and he hates masks. Anyone dressed in a costume is an extreme cause of stress for him, from the Easter Bunny, to Santa, to his school mascot. I believe it’s mostly because he can’t see their facial expressions, and thus can’t determine whether or not they are friendly or threatening. Whatever it is, Hallowe’en is the worst time of year.

This morning, getting him to go to school to spend the day with his friends was difficult, to say the least. He doesn’t seem to understand that the people he knows are inside the costumes. He’s sixteen years old physically, but at a mental age of six or seven. It’s not likely to get any better from here.

My concern is that I’m perpetuating the problem. Today I drove him to school so I could be there to reassure him everything was okay. He was nervous (he’s been having anxiety attacks every night before bed for the past week) even though he was able to explain to me himself that masks and scary costumes were not permitted at school. So okay, he needs support. I think there’s a fine line between coddling him and reassuring him when his fears are legitimate. But should I be the one supporting him at this point in his life?

I’m not going to be around forever. As he becomes an adult, there will be a time when he can no longer run to Mommy when there’s a problem. I believe he needs to start, at some point, (soon?) to rely on society to feel safe.

I’m at a loss. Any suggestions are welcome.