The Reason For Anxiety
A friend of mine, Carl Lovejoy, who works at Mountain Valley Treatment Center, once told me that “Anxiety can be a good thing.” He said “It protects us. It keeps us out of trouble.” He explained, “When we are walking through a bad neighborhood at night, anxiety tells us to leave. When we are getting ready to take an important test, anxiety tells us to study.” There is a gauge in our bodies that distributes appropriate levels of anxiety in accordance to what we are confronted with. Our gauges are all set similarly with some variances. Because anxiety is reactionary, it can also serve as a diagnostic tool to identify a problem or issue. The issue could be sociological or neurological in nature.
When Anxiety Gets In The Way
A student at a local school is incapable of getting to class. He often spends an entire day in bed. He misses a lot of assignments. In addition to his social anxiety, the boy becomes overwhelmed at the work he needs to complete to catch up. Another student, who overachieves at school and underachieves on exams, says she feels anxious and is burning out at school. She feels as if she is racing against the clock and is incapable of concentrating on the problem at hand due to pressure to finish tests and exams on time. The point is that there is generally a story or condition associated with elevated levels of anxiety. Doing some investigation may reveal a cause.
The socially anxious student sees a therapist and develops a close relationship with him. Through therapy, much is revealed. The boy is struggling with his past. Events happened that are preventing him from putting himself out there. The girl completes a neuro-psych evaluation. The testing shows that she has slow processing speed and word retrieval issues. In addition, she struggles with auditory learning but is otherwise very capable.
Once the cause is identified, a solution can be administered. In the case of the socially anxious student, his therapist has him admitted to the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders. There, he works closely with trained staff helping him face his fear of large groups and crowds. Applying to another smaller, more nurturing and structured school for the following year is also discussed as is having him attend Mountain Valley Treatment Center during the summer prior to making the transition. For the girl in question, both her school and the College Board grant her extra time on tests. In addition, her school makes sure that her teachers are aware that she needs visual cues in class such as outlines on the board and that she should seek out teachers where experiential learning happens more often.
The Reality of it all
Anxiety serves to sound the alarm that things aren’t right and, therefore, changes need to happen. The girl was fortunate to have attended a school that was flexible and where the classes were small enough that teachers could facilitate different learning styles in the classroom. Unfortunately, not all schools are able to do so and many students have to adapt. If they are lucky, they can seek outside support in the form of study skills tutoring. Even luckier would be if they can change schools.
If you would like to read more about anxiety and its effects on students, please go to https://globaledconnector.org/social-and-emotional-learning-by-david-vaughn-chairman-the-tremont-school/
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