Raising Asperger's Kids: Dealing with your fear of fear. That is how I always describe the boys' need to worry. Of course the doctors call it generalized anxiety disorder or even the anxiety that goes hand in glove with autism. This drive that something is never perfect or that something in our life is wrong or could be better if only...if only, but you don't know what that only is. The catastrophizing about your reality. Worrying that the most awful things will happen, even if there are no realistic basis for the worry. Allowing this worry to prevent you from having a happy and enjoyable life.
Anxiety is the monster that attacks us in our brains and in our every waking hour It is the monster that hides in the recesses of our minds and prevents us from living life. As parents it is hard to watch your child deal with anxiety. It is hard to not know how to help them. It is hard to not understand what is going on inside their head. Anxiety is a complex pattern of thoughts and ideas that just seem, seem seem to be on the otherside of a divide that we cannot get ahold of.
Well here comes some help. Dr. Peters breaks everything down for us in a matter of fact way that makes it very understandable in his book Make Your Worrier a Warrior: A Guide to Conquering Your Child's Fears. He teaches us the basics and gives us useable information on how to help our children and even ourselves. He breaks down the types of fears and anxiety you might encounter and then goes about telling you how to handle them. He gives you practical advice. He also acknowledges that debilitating anxiety isn't something that just happens in a vacuum. That dealing with anxiety you may also have to deal with other mental health or learning disabilities as well. He talks about a convergence of ideas that incorporates all aspects of your child. He discusses how to get your child's (or even your) village on board with a treatment plan. (As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a big fan of the concept of "village" to help your child. You cannot do this alone and neither should you have to. It is NOT a matter of weakness, but of understanding that at times you do and are entitled to seek help for yourself and/or your child.)
What is equally important is that Dr. Peters, unlike many other authors, doesn't stop with the parents. He writes a companion book for children, From Worrier to Warrior. Using the same methodology that he does in the parent's book, he tells children about the "worry monster" and what it means. He explains through vignettes how there are other children who feel like they do. In the end he gives your child advice and understanding on how to help themselves. Of course if you do buy these companion books for younger children you would simply want to pick out the applicable stories to your child and their situation. In fact, I would say reading the stories together goes along way in helping and supporting your child.
Note: This book is not really for younger elementary school children. It is definitely too much information for a young child to process. The book is also for independent learners. Even if your child is a tween or adolescent, it is not a bad thing to read it together if that is what it takes for them to synthesize the information.
Actually remember that these two books are meant to be read together. I would say its akin to a family therapy session. I would coordinate the chapters in the two books so that after each one is read you could sit down with your child and help them process what they have just learned. Discussions could also be helpful for you to see just how your child views themselves in relationship to their worry monster. My personal opinion is that these books are helpful for any family dealing with anxiety issues. It is definitely a good place to start.
Here's something new and fun for me: in conjunction with Mother's Day, which here in the USA, is May 11, I will be doing a giveaway of these companion books. Please leave me a comment about what you think of the book review above along with your email address so I can contact you once a winner has been randomly chosen. The contest runs from today until May 1, since I would like to send the books out to the winner before Mother's Day.
There are several rules: (1) only ONE entry per person and; (2) since this is my first contest I am going to limit it to those people who live in the USA (sorry to my foreign readers); (3) If you are going to do a critique of my writing be kind, and (4) FYI the caveats. If the comment doesn't fit into the prescribed rules, it doesn't get published and you are not entered. Go to Raising Asperger’s Kids to comment and enter.