Monday, 22 August 2011

Fears and Phobias - help please

This is a post asking for help and advice please.

Little Man has been developing a fear of dogs for a while now. We are unsure what has sparked it, but it is steadily getting worse to the extent that today we were out in the woods on the bikes and stopped for breather and drink. Now being in the woods we kept meeting people out walking dogs, and both t'husband and me had noted as soon as we saw one in the distance Little Man was shooting off on his bike and taking a very long winded route round through the trees to avoid the said dog.

Just before we stopped for a drink, we had been going along a path and a dog had walked by Little Man's bike and he had stopped dead through what we now know was fear. He was rooted to the spot and it was pure fear, he was crying and squealing and took a while to calm down. The poor woman with the dog didn't quite know what to do and was desperately trying to get the poor dog on a lead, and apologising.  All the while Mini Man who is shaping up to be bloody Dr Doolittle, was all over this dog.

As a way to calm him down we got over the a grassy bit, and sat down with a biscuit and drink. He was just settling when 2 very old, very slow cocker spaniels ambled up to see what we were doing. They were lovely but Little Man went mental. Afterwards t'husband admitted he thought Little Man had been so scared he had wet himself (he hadn't). The more upset poor Little Man got, the more the dog tried to stick his nose near him.

Thing is he is now saying he doesn't want to go out as he doesn't want to see any dogs.

Its not just dogs though, he is the same with cats. If there is a cat in a driveway he will cross the road and walk glancing over his shoulder until we round a corner.

We simply don;t know what to do? What can we do to help him? We are a very active family and do a lot of cycling and walking and try not to drive places that we can walk to but dogs and cats are an inevitable part of each journey/activity.

We have tried talking and going through pictures before setting off and some days he is just wary and seems to cope a little better, but other days it has no affect.

When he was about 3 a dog did nip him, he was bothering the dog and was removed about 5 times, and told off, and I explained the dog would get cross. Little man didn't listen though and it ended in the dog growling and nipping his hand - it didn't even mark. Now he seemed fine about the nip and has been around loads of dogs since and never shown any fear. We have talked to him about this minute nip he got and he says he remember it and he knows it was because he was pulling the dog's ears and poking its face, and like I say suddenly at the age of 7 he has gone from being fine around dogs to being petrified. My brother nearly lost half his face as a 3 year old and he doesn't especially like dogs but ever since that day has always shown a dislike to them, and just been wary but it's nothing like this.

His fear is like something I have not encountered before, he is pure and simply petrified.

I feel so helpless and useless, I don't know what I can do to help?

My mind keeps running away and saying should I contact the doctor, CAMHS, a hypnotist?


Lizbethcole29 said...

I don't know. My son remembers EVERYTHING so maybe your son is reliving the past like it was yesterday? I don't know....I hope things turn around.

Tilly Tatas said...

I don't know how things work where you are but here (Berkshire) you are under Paediatrics until you are 9 years old and then you transfer to CAMHS. So if I was in your situation I would contact the Consultant who diagnosed Nipper (and very kindly gave us her number and told us to call if we needed to) and ask advice. We recently found out that Nipper had a problem with his vision and she had an idea what was going on and told us exactly what to say to our GP to get the right referral. Failing that I would call your local Autistic Society, if you have one, and see if they can advise you.

Like 'Lizbethcole29' my Nipper has an amazing memory so something may well have happened to trigger your son's memory, or maybe something has happened more recently, or he's read a scary story about cats and dogs.

We took Nipper on a fairground ride that was based on a space theme and there were people on the ride dressed as aliens who suddenly came to life. (I didn't know this was going to happen and Nipper generally loves all things space related). So the alien comes to life and Nipper completely freaks out and now he's got a real thing about aliens and aks me if there are going to be aliens around, even when we are in places where you would never think to find an alien! Bless him!

Deb at Aspieinthefamily said...

Hi RP, I would recommend you speak to your GP and see if you can get an appointment with CAMHS. It sounds like your son may have developed a phobia which is stopping him going out. My son's anxieties and fears got so great that he dropped out at school and couldn't even leave the front door. I felt helpless too but got help from a consultant psychiatrist and eventually our son recovered enough to go out and about. Hope things improve soon. Deb x

Theramblingpages said...

I have wondered this as well but I don't know how to move forwards from this point. Thanks for replying x

Theramblingpages said...

Hi Tilly Tattas, we are already under CAMHS, so I think I may ring them. In our old town I really liked the lady we saw and felt I could ask her anything. I am still trying to suss the 2 new doctors out! I think i will give them a call x

Theramblingpages said...

Hi Deb, thanks for your advice. I knew you had experience problems with a fear of going out & had hoped you would stop by (if you hadn't I had planned to email stalk you!). I had to take Little Man to the docs this am as he isn't well so took the opportunity to mention it. The advice was to keep reassuring, desensitizing and slowly introducing a very quiet dog, perhaps an older one. Hemm just where do you think I can find a dog to borrow? We do have a couple of friends with dogs but their dogs are all nutters & hyper. As I said to Tilly Tattas and Lizbeth I think I will call CAMHS as well. X

Deb at Aspieinthefamily said...

Good luck with getting some help. I do think you need some CAMHS input as his phobia is extending to cats and is affecting him going out. I found with my son that as soon as I had a diagnosis of agoraphobia and severe anxiety then I could work towards very slowly exposing him to the outside world. I also had a psychiatrist that I could discuss things with which is really important as it can be tough helping a child with anxiety and phobia. Anyway all the best and I'll be thinking of you. Deb x

Kirsty @ My Home Truths said...

My son is petrified of dogs and cats too and went through a stage where he refused to even go out into our backyard in case a cat came over the fence. He is better now (he has accepted his grandparents' dogs for instance) but he still runs away in fear if a cat comes anywhere near him. His reactions seem to be worse when he is anxious and under stress so I hope things improve for your little man.