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Neurodivergence and Anxiety in School Children

Neurodivergence and Anxiety in School Children: Links to resources below
Our family has just come through a very long struggle to understand our child’s anxiety around school. Though we were grateful to the teacher who first pointed out his distress in the classroom, information about the process of when and if a child needs an Educational Assessment was very difficult to access. At age six, we were told he was too young and that the school was keeping an eye on him. 

We engaged with our GP and tried play therapy twice (36 sessions) both therapists mentioned behaviour consistent with dyspraxia. We told the school and again wondered about assessments. Through a very long and difficult journey we have come to understand that the National Educational Psychological Services in Ireland (NEPS) begins testing children for literacy related challenges like dyslexia from the age of eight years if there are no additional concerns. For many children this will not be early enough. It is still unclear to us when dyspraxia is meant to be assessed. 
NEPS resources are naturally directed toward children with the most evident need and only two places a year are allocated to each school. This is woefully inadequate. We now know that children will work harder to "mask" difficult experiences in school to fit in with their classmates and appear "fine”. A child’s self-esteem and emotional state, must become part of the assessment criteria if we are to consider addressing the needs of the whole child. Waiting until people are desperate before satisfactory intervention is too late. 
We know we are not alone. Many other families around the country have expressed similar experiences. It is difficult to speak about publicly because it feels like a betrayal of a child’s privacy and no one wants to have a  difficult relationship with their children's school. Representatives from TUSLA and Citizens information have both expressed that nothing will change as long as individual parents continue to fight individual battles with local schools.

My intention here is to connect concerned parents with each other, to further our understanding of how divergence shows up in children and share information. The guidance of other parents was central to navigating this difficult experience for us. My son is doing much better now with his specific needs finally being addressed at school. Now, it's important to us that we make an effort to initiate change to prevent this from happening over and over again. 

If there is enough interest in a free zoom session, I will orchestrate a conversation around behavioural signs of neurodivergence and anxiety practices for parents and children. I can also make a petition. Please drop me an email, join my mailing list or connect on instagram to express interest. I hope the links below are useful, they have been a lifesaver for us. I will continue to add to them as things progress. 

Support Groups and Links;
Neurodiversity Ireland; https://www.neurodiversityireland.com is organising a task force around Dyslexia Awareness month in October.
Dyslexia Ireland; https://dyslexia.ie/ for information on dyslexia and dyscalculia.
Dyspraxia/DCD Ireland; https://www.dyspraxia.ie/ for information on dyspraxia
ASD Ireland; asdireland.ie for information on Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Several FB groups have been extremely helpful for information on symptoms and professional referrals.
Supporting Children With Additional Needs Ireland
Dyspraxia Support for Parents 
Dyslexia Support Ireland
School Related Anxiety 
https://www.facebook.com/groups/2372829526302082/?ref=share Sent from my iPhone

Dr Pauline Cogan



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