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Neurodiversity and Co-occurring differences

Anxiety and mental health

Although anxiety is not a specific learning difference (SpLD), it is included here as studies have found that young people with learning differences are more likely to experience feelings of anxiety, depression and low self esteem.

It's important to remember that feelings of anxiety are normal and your child may just need support to develop tools to deal with these feelings. All young people go through stages of feeling anxious or angry and generally grow out of worrying behaviour with time and family support.

Emotional difficulties may be seen in a number of ways, such as disruptive behaviour, inattention, throwing tantrums or in physical symptoms such as stomach aches or palpitations, and refusing to engage in school/college.

If you feel your child is struggling to cope there are steps you can take to help them, and organisations that can offer you support.

How you can help

  • Talk openly with your child, and let them know that they can talk to you when they're ready
  • Try to encourage your child to have extra-curricular interests. If they're finding school or college difficult then helping them find an interest that they enjoy can really help to improve their self esteem
  • Encourage your child to stay active. As well as the physical and mental benefits to being active, involvement in a club or team sports can help your child to feel included and boost self esteem
  • Encourage your child to eat well
  • Talk to the school/college teacher or counsellor. It is likely that the school will have experience of helping pupils and their families. The school should be able to provide a named member of staff who your child can go to if they’re struggling during the day such as a counsellor, a mentor or a nurse. Your child is at school for a large part of the day so having staff aware of the concerns and keeping an eye on them during this time can be reassuring
  • Talk to your GP. They may be able to offer counselling or, if appropriate, arrange a referral to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
  • Contact a support service. We have listed some organisations below that offer support and information for young people and their parents

Helpful organisations

Childline

Young people can call free, chat or message about any concerns they may have. There is also a message board so they can speak to other young people who may have similar worries or concerns.
Website: www.childline.org.uk

Family Lives

Family Lives offer support and advice about any family issue, whether it is big or small. You can talk to one of the Family Support Workers through Live Chat, email, or call the confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222.
Website: www.familylives.org.uk

Grooops Dyslexia Aware Counselling

Grooops is a charity offering a range of services to support the emotional repercussions of dyslexia.
Website: www.grooops.org

Mind

Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, and those supporting them. Mind also work in partnership with a local mental health network in England and Wales to deliver local services.
Website: www.mind.org.uk

NSPCC: Advice for parents

If you are worried about a young person and need advice, you can contact the trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support. You can email: help@nspcc.org.uk or call: 0808 800 5000
Website: www.nspcc.org.uk

YoungMinds: Parents survival guide

Young Minds offer advice and support to young people who are struggling with mental health problems, and adults, parents and professionals who are worried about the emotional welfare and behaviour of a child or young person.
Website: https://youngminds.org.uk