Extreme anxiety in toddler with medical issues

by Fran
(Virginia)

I am wondering where to look for help. I have a toddler who is turning 3 in a few months. He has had over 5 surgeries, the last one was January 08 and it involved a 6 week hospital stay where he was "sedated" with various medications and in traction for that time. the sedation didn't work well and he has been having serious behavior issues, anxiety, tantrums, self-stim type behaviors (rocking self to sleep, lining up toys over & over) and no flexibility whatsoever. He is aggressive to me (mom) and delayed in many areas. It is obvious that this is more than a two year old phase (I have 6 older children and lots of experience with two year olds.) and it appears his mental/emotional health is not good since getting out of the hospital. He has chronic health issues and more surgery ahead. I am trying to figure out what to do. He displays many "autistic-like" behaviors, but that just doesn't fit with most of the rest of him. Any ideas which direction to start looking?

I am so sorry to hear about your childs surgeries. I'm not really clear on why he is having surgeries or what the surgeries are due to. Could these symptoms be related to his medical illness? If they aren't due to his medical illness, does that illness co occur with any mental health issues? I am not an expert in autism so I cant really speak to the autistic like behaviors.

I also can't help but wonder when you are talking about sedated if you mean anesthesia?

I wonder if any of these behaviors are related to the sedation. I would explore experts in neurology and autism first. It may also help you to speak with someone who has experience with attachment issues. Sometimes when children undergo medical surgeries the pain and trauma can disrupt the normal attachment process. That process is responsible for emotional regulation and a sense of trust and safety in the world. That might explain some of these behaviors of self soothing and aggression. I'm not sure what you mean by no flexibility but that certainly would seem to have a physical cause.


It sounds like your child has been through a tremendous amount of trauma. I agree you need to get him some help as it sounds like he is really hurting inside.

Good luck

Kristen McClure

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