Do you remember what it felt like being a child?

It can be hard to remember now as an adult. We’re so busy with our jobs, our children, our homes, and all the activities we’re involved with. 

It’s easy to think that our childhoods were so relaxed compared to our busy lives now.

But if you really think back, was everything easy and carefree?

Did you ever misbehave at school and worry your parents would find out? Or maybe you kept putting off studying for an exam and now it’s test time? Perhaps you and your family moved and you had to face a new school where you didn’t know anyone?

Does your childhood seem carefree now?

Worrying about getting in trouble, not studying or starting at a new school are all things to feel anxious about. Especially when you’re a kid and just learning to cope with the world around you.

So now imagine what it must feel like for a child with a learning disability. To already be coping with the daily challenges encountered at school. It makes navigating day-to-day life more complicated.

So what’s going on when a child with learning disabilities is feeling anxious? Let’s take a look to get a better understanding.

Automatic Nervous Response

Anxiety is an automatic nervous response. A normal response. It’s our body’s alarm system. And there are a few ways this manifests. You’ve probably heard of fight, flight and freeze.  

Fight: One of our responses to anxiety could be to fight. For children this may mean she talks back or starts to yell. She could even start to behave aggressively.

Flight: With flight it could be something as obvious as running away from a situation that is causing stress. But it could also be as subtle as pushing schoolwork aside.

Freeze: You’ve heard of people becoming paralyzed with fear. This is similar. When confronted with something that causes anxiety, a child may give up easily or shut down.

Sometimes these signs can be hard for adults to recognize in children and this can mean children don’t end up getting the support they need to cope with anxiety. And support is especially important for a child with a diagnosed learning disability. He will already be challenged with cognitive processing, and anxiety is another layer of difficulty to overcome.

Fortunately there are many ways to support a child with an anxiety disorder. To help him cope. To help him thrive. And it’s important these supports are available from parents and at school.

We will continue to look at ways of supporting children with anxiety in future articles.

In the meantime, if you are interested in deeper exploration of this topic please take a look through the following article.