Community Forum Archive

School Support for Student with Helmet

Tue, 04/30/2019 - 12:45
I'm a school psychologist in Huntington Beach, CA looking for ideas to support one of my high school students who has anxiety regarding her helmet. She has not had to wear it yet because it keeps getting refitted; however, she shared with me that she has soul-crushing anxiety about wearing the helmet at school (really, in public). Not so much in her classes, because she feels confident that her classmates will support her. It's really break and lunch that frightens her. I want to organize something for her with our ASB students to show her that she is valued and loved by her fellow students. Does anyone have previous experience with this issue? I'd love to hear your stories and ideas. We care very much about this young lady and just want to show her that she is supported.

Comments

I think it's great that you

Submitted by Jazz101 on Tue, 2019-04-30 - 19:40
I think it's great that you are trying to figure out how best to help her balance the fears/anxiety. You are a psychologist so I don't have to tell you about how particular we become in that phase of entering adulthood. Moreover, just being a teenager is a league of its own. I think if she hears stories about challenges everyone probably faces/d in their teenage years it might help her not feel so alone. Again, I'm not a psychologist but just going back to my teenage years and how confusing high school can be, especially the crowds; the noise, the sheer confusion as you are changing classes; well, that can be a challenge. Couple that with the fact that she will be wearing a helmet, meaning she stands out on her own, and the fact that helmet is about safety, well, I can understand her anxiety. Robert Powell, a great writer at Marketwatch, sent out a letter to his sons who were entering college in 2013. It's not close to the challenge this young lady is dealing with but I think if you read it you might get some thoughts of how to approach this situation as you try to make her more comfortable. After all, this one is tricky. But I find at times reading something somewhat similar can give us ideas of taking on challenges we might be facing. In Powell's case, well, he was trying to let his sons know that he has been their age and, as he looks back, can put things in perspective so that his sons can say; "Really Dad? Okay!!! We get it." As a result, they might find ways of balancing that feeling of invincibility, the natural feeling that just comes with being a teenager. In this case I think the helmet, in her eyes, is taking away from that feeling; that sense of self. Below is the link to Powell's letter. His was just about college and how, at that age, we can see things in such an unrealistic way. After all, that sense of self stands out more than anything. And that sense of self, at that time, can easily be distracted. As a result we can be either too critical or too indifferent about certain things. And, obviously, our goal should be to find a middle road. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/an-open-letter-to-my-three-sons-2013-06-07I'll ponder your question given at this time I don't really have any idea of how to approach it. But I think the article by Powell might give you an idea of how to approach it. That said, hats off to you for trying to find ways to make her more comfortable. I think the more she is able to  have conversations with you the more you may get ideas as to approaching this. After all, I am guessing that her concern probably centers around feeling like the helmet makes her seem like the odd person, and at the same time she probably is also concerned about the safety of just being in crowds given the activity there is usually noisy and individuals usually aren't paying much attention to where they are going etc. Keep up the great work Corbitt. Best Regards 

Hey there,I read your post a

Submitted by Believer_59cd4d81a99cf on Fri, 2019-05-17 - 00:06
Hey there,I read your post a few days ago and felt so much like I wanted to help. Had to think about it for a while before responding. I'm a teacher, and I definitely relate to the fear of judgement or stigma from people who don't know you. I'm so glad to hear she feels supported by her closest peers, that's an amazing start. What I think can help her, and definitely helped me as well, is exposing her to people with similar struggles who are successful and happy. I worked with a lot of special needs individuals before I had my first seizure, and there was an unspoken association in my head between seizures and people who didn't have the same abilities and opportunities as me. And I think a lot of the fear of stigma is knowing that other people think that way too. BUT that changed for me. I realized that I knew more people with epilepsy than I thought! I got to meet happy, successful people in my community who had families, careers, and a lot of respect, and the more I saw how much others can be accepting, the less I feared the rejection and the more comfortable I became in educating people about seizures--I didn't mind as much to be the "face" of seizures for people I know well. I met other teachers who had had seizures in front of a class of students, and I learned that students and coworkers can be accepting and open-minded. The more negative experiences I've endured the more I've learned how accepting people can be when they learn. I'm sharing this all because I'm hoping you can harness it to help your student. If you can find someone in a somewhat similar situation to her, someone who is likeable and confident and open, they can serve as a role model and incredible emotional support to make her feel more confident in her helmet, and let her feel that instead of everyone judging her, they're all learning from her that people are all different, and have different challenges, but can all be successful and happy and have opportunities. That one day they'll be in their twenties chatting with a friend and someone will bring up a story about someone who has seizures and they'll go, "Oh, I went to school with a girl who had seizures, I didn't know her very well but she wore a helmet, she seemed pretty cool."  And most people won't judge her, they'll learn from her not to judge other people. No teenager wants to stand out, but giving her a feeling that it's her platform, that she can influence and inspire people, might make it meaningful in a way, or at the very least more tolerable. (If she is interested and the go-getter type, I'd have her lead or be involved in some kind of acceptance project or movement in the school. The more empowered she feels the better. But if she's uncomfortable with attention that might not be something she's interested in. If you have time on your hands, check out the SBSK YouTube channel of interviews with people with all sorts of differences, it's a great resource) Best of luck,B

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