Coping with anxiety in crowds

We try to do typical things with Maggie whenever we can. It’s important to give her the same kinds of experiences that typical kids would have.  She deserves no less.

That said, we are always nervous about putting her into uncomfortable situations and I’m not sure that ever goes away. We’re nervous we’re going to make her uncomfortable, or uneasy, perhaps even cause her pain without knowing it.  Perhaps the crowds or the noise will be too much for her, the smells, possibly, driving her mad.  We worry that she’ll break down, lose it, hyperventilate severely, or garner the stares of strangers. We worry about a lot of things whenever we plan on taking her out of her comfort zone.  A lot of this stems form her inability to communicate effectively.  We just don’t know what’s bothering her in these kinds of situations.  We try to prepare for it as best we can.  We walk her through step by step what is likely to happen, repeatedly, over the course of the excursion.  We talk calmly, and remind her that she’s safe.  We listen even more intently than usual for any of her non-verbal cues.  If we can pick up on something before it escalates, we can help her.  But ultimately, we push through and try to give her those experiences because those are all of our worries. Not necessarily hers.

It wouldn’t be fair for us to keep her home, where she’s comfortable, for the purpose of limiting our own anxiety about taking her places.  So we take her places.  We do things.  And if she gets overwhelmed, we adapt.  It’s the least we can do.

 

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