Social Anxiety is not just a Typical Teen Drama
Read the journey of one of our students from not attending school to successfully completing a year in college
When young people are struggling with the social side of mainstream school it can be hard to know how to help for the best. Is it a phase that will pass or something more serious? We come across young people who have social related trauma linked to an event in their personal life, their neural diversity, their gender or bullying at school. Whatever the cause, social related trauma can leave people feeling isolated and withdrawn.
One of our past students has been kind and brave enough to share their story and the very unique way they have celebrated their success in working with and managing their social anxiety.
What were the circumstances that led you to come to Red Balloon of the Air?
I was struggling greatly with the social side of mainstream schooling. I had tried countless times to push through and continue with school but it had reached the point where I was going downhill academically and it was time to search for a different solution.
How were things at your mainstream school?
Things were tough for me, I found it hard to be accepted. I have struggled with ADHD for as long as I can remember, only receiving a diagnosis at 15, which led to me having difficulties presenting as a ‘normal’ child. Being at Red Balloon of the Air helped me learn that I was just as much of a ‘normal’ child as
Was there a trigger?
Things got seriously worse for me after I lost my entire friend group at the beginning of year 10. Though this had happened to me many times, this one time pushed me over the edge.
I was out of school for the rest of year 10, before starting my year 11 with Red Balloon of the Air.
How did it really feel on the first day with RBAIR?
Surprisingly to me, I was beyond excited for my first day. I was looking forward to a fresh start. I had a new found confidence and made friends and built connections with the teachers instantly.
What did they say or how did they treat you that was different?
Red Balloon really focused on me, and how I learnt and how I was different to other students. Everyone learns differently and with the diversity at Red Balloon of the Air it was important that we were all offered different methods of learning. I very much saw this through my friends and myself.
Did you feel accepted and what made you feel accepted?
I instantly felt accepted, my differences were celebrated and embraced by the staff and the other students.
What would you say to any young person in your position?
When you feel like you’re stuck, at rock bottom or alone. Reach out. It’s understandable if society’s expectations don’t fit you, if the education you’re receiving just doesn’t quite work for you. Talk to someone because there are always options out there for you. You can find a solution.
What would your 3 top tips be for parents and teachers to recognise issues in young people?
One of my main issues was that every time I struggled socially, my school would just brush it off as “typical teen drama”. But if a child is continually coming to you with social issues, they trust you and they need more than just verbal comfort. Take action, coming from someone who needed someone of power to take action well before they did, sometimes waiting it out and ‘getting over it’ doesn’t work.
What next for you?
After Red Balloon of the Air I successfully went back into mainstream education. I completed a full year course at college. I came out the other side more confident than ever. I still struggle socially but the difference is it doesn’t bother me. Thanks to everyone at Red Balloon of the Air I am stronger than ever.
Anyone you would like to thank?
I was to thank everyone at Red Balloon of the Air. To whoever it was that recognised that there needed to be another option for kids who struggled in mainstream school. To the teachers who had a truckload of patience, understanding and kindness. To the other students who didn’t judge me or each other. And a massive thank you to my mentor Sarah who was there for me the whole time. She went the extra mile to take care of me, from taking me kick boxing to driving me to McDonald’s.
“Red balloon was such a huge part of my life. Being at Red Balloon picked me up when I couldn’t do it myself and I wanted to keep a reminder of how much they helped me so I got a tattoo to remind me. This is my red balloon tattoo.”
It’s very easy to put everything down to “teen dramas” yet as our student recalled, if someone continually comes to you with social issues it means they trust you and need your help. At Red Balloon of the Air we genuinely celebrate differences and focus on how each young person and their learning style is different to others. We tailor learning, wellbeing and therapy to the needs of each individual and ultimately seek to re-engage young people with learning and help them manage their social anxiety.
Referrals into Red Balloon of the Air come direct from SEN professionals within the school or academy, from the Local Authority or direct from parents. If this story sounds familiar in any way make sure you act or reach out to help that young person and get in contact with us to see if we can help.
If you need support with social anxiety, you may find the following websites helpful: