The build up to birthdays in our house seems to cause more anxiety these days than the actual day itself, which is an improvement.
Our youngest son turned 7 on Sunday and had a wonderful day enjoying the rides at Wicksteed Park. As the weather was not great when we arrived, not many people had decided to visit for the day and so there were no queues for the rides. Not having his presents wrapped up, which people still find odd, but it makes him so much happier, helps to make the day run smoother.
We ended up giving our main present to him last Friday to try and reduce some of the anxiety he suffered in the week before his birthday. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to stop the meltdowns that followed all day Friday and Saturday, but for the odd hour that he was calm on those days, he enjoyed going out on his new wiggle scooter. It seems to be a terrific form of exercise and will help with his sensory processing difficulties. I have yet to master the art of getting it to move forward, but he has already become a speed demon on it!
Our son has now started to ask about his 8th birthday – it will be the first time since he has been at school that it has fallen on a school day. Up until now, he has been lucky that his birthday has been either a school training day or weekend. Next year it will be on a Tuesday and he’s not sure how he will cope as he hates to be the centre of attention. We have told him that we will think about this next June, but he is already asking how many sleeps until his birthday!!
To us it seems a small thing that is a long while in the future, so we can put it to the back of our minds until nearer the time. Our son struggles to do this and although he is using different coping strategies to deal with situations in life, learning to cope with anxiety is a difficult thing to master. One way to describe his brain is that it is like an open filing cabinet and no file is ever closed. Instead, he keeps the files open all the time and so the thoughts keep whirring round in his mind increasing his anxiety, rather than being able to close a file and return to it at a later date. As he grows older, he will hopefully find a way that suits him to deal with anxiety. In the meantime, we just need to be there to support him and if he asks the same question over and over again, it’s not because he’s forgotten the answer, but instead because he needs that constant reassurance and that is how he copes at the moment.