(PLEASE DON’T) RING MY BELL

We’re into our third week of 7th grade and it doesn’t feel like the anxiety of a new school year and the transition to the new teachers and classes is dispersing at all. In fact, there’s a whole new stress that now accompanies each school day. The morning bell…

My son suffers from startled induced seizures. They’re usually pretty short, not too invasive, and triggered by noises of some decibel level that leaves me perplexed. Sometimes the dog barking, a friend rushing up with a high pitched “Cole”, the dratted morning bell, a sudden exuberant outburst from mom, or something that I don’t register…You just never know.

But the bell has become his nemesis. During the final minutes of the drive to school there is a notable change in his demeanor. His body tenses, he becomes agitated. All in anticipation of the morning bell. It’s heartbreaking and frustrating. Probably more so for him since it shows an awareness of the seizures that he’s not had before, but also for the poor slob driving him to school (usually his darling dad). There’s a helpless feeling that washes over the driver, knowing there’s really not much we can do to ease the anxiety.

We’re working on finding ways to help him with it, but it takes time, and it takes his cooperation. We saw an amazing therapist this past weekend who created a story for him to use as a tool to help to ease his stress, anxiety, frustration, anger, and even sadness. It was fascinating to watch him while he listened to her create the story and dialogue with such interest and focus. We were provided with an MP3 of the story so that he can learn to weave it into his own internal narrative to help dispel the “shark” (the negative or fearful feelings). Time will tell but he was opened to the process and is keen to try to move past some of the negative things so I’m hopeful.

We also are trying noise cancelling headphones for the dreaded morning bell. Maybe just muffling the sharpness of the ring will help, or playing something comforting like the therapist’s MP3, or favorite music, will help ease the morning. I don’t know. He doesn’t always have a seizure, but the anxiety of the bell has become a problem in itself. I am hopeful we can relieve some of the bell stress. I feel like if we can help him to move past the bell, it will give him some confidence in his own ability to sooth and calm himself in other situations.

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