TOMMY's story

Fighting anxiety and growing in confidence to succeed at school

When Tommy arrived at school in Year 7 he already had a history of severe separation anxiety. It was most pronounced when he was apart from his mum, but it happened when he left other family members too, and it posed significant problems for his overall performance at school.

 

His mum reported that he was spending Sundays and Monday mornings in tears, clinging and distraught and dreading having to go to school. The end of half terms and holidays were even worse. She simply didn’t know what to do or how to help him.

 

Thankfully Tommy’s school had an east to west Relational Support Worker (RSW) and they were able to start meeting with him on a regular basis. In the initial stages it was very helpful for Tommy to have a designated person at school that he knew would greet him and look out for him. But our RSW wanted to be careful that he didn’t just transfer his anxiety issues to another adult, so they focused on working with him to put all of his relationships into appropriate perspective. Together, Tommy and the RSW slowly built up his confidence and resilience and planned lots of different coping strategies to help him focus throughout the school day.

 

Tommy still has his off days, and going back to school after long holidays can sometimes bring up past struggles. But on the whole his anxiety has vastly improved, and both Tommy and his mum feel much calmer and in control of the situation thanks to the RSW’s support.

* All children's names and photos have been changed to protect their identity

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