I'm new here so I'll briefly introduce myself. My name is Sharon, and I have an 8-year-old son who has been struggling with separation anxiety for the past 18 months. He has always been a shy, somewhat anxious child, but we had been able to manage it with encouragement, positive reinforcement, and lots and lots of patience. He attended preschool just fine, but it was a small private preschool. Kindergarten was a bit harder, but he had a great teacher and was well engaged. Towards the end of first grade, he (for lack of a better phrase) just tanked. At first it was just asking me to stay a bit after drop off, then to come back and check on him, and finally it was an all out school refusal. I spent the last month in his classroom, just to get him to finish the year. Last year (second grade) was also a struggle, although we were finally able to get him back into school independently by the end of the year. Again, he had a great teacher who suffered from anxiety herself so she completely understood what he needed and what he was going through. We used systematic desensitization to help him reintegrate into school. This year he started school fine, but a week into the school year, he tanked again after he was mistakenly yelled at by a teacher. We have him in behavioral therapy (just started) and also working with an occupational therapist for Sensory Processing Disorder after we discovered that his sensory issues contribute greatly to his overall anxiety. Both have been helpful, but his dad and I are still at school everyday trying to navigate his anxiety. Despite his separation anxiety, he functions very well in most other areas. He excels at school and is in several different extracurricular activities, all of which he enjoys and does well in. He gets along with other kids and is well liked though has a hard time making friends because of his anxiety. He is polilte, respectful, responsible, funny, charming, and overall a wonderful little guy.
His pediatrician, his therapist, and his OT all believe he should start medication - specifically Zoloft. Their reasoning is that he continues to have separation anxiety despite repeated interventions, no history of trauma, and a stable, loving homelife. I get it - I totally do. Before I spark up a debate, I just want to say I am not categorically against medication. I understand the biological component of anxiety and the usefulness of medication. But as a mother, I am having a very, very hard time consenting to medication. He functions so well in so many areas of his life that it just feels like if we could get a grasp on this school anxiety, we would be okay. We've discussed different schools and home schools, but he is determined to stay where he is.
I cannot find another parent whose child is on medication or who will admit to their child being on medication so I have no concept of what his being on medication would be like. He seems so young, but from what the professionals tell me, there are kids who are much younger on much stronger meds. Is there any brave soul out there who has been in a similar situation with their child and is willing to discuss their decision to medicate or not medicate? I am extremely open minded about this. I just want as much information as I can before I make a decision either way. I've read tons and asked the experts questions, but I'd really like to hear the opinions of other parents who've had to make this decision or whose child has struggled with anxiety. Any advice or information is appreciated. Thanks!