Back in junior high school, there was this girl who irked the class whenever she was called upon to answer a question.
It is not like she overwhelmed us with intelligent answers that made the rest of us appear daft or anything. Far from that.
On the contrary, she always stood up, said nothing at all, and instead of shooting the answers she would just cry like the question had shot a member of her family to death.
Bizarre waterworks just because a teacher asked her a question.
At the time, as immature and naïve as we were, we thought the girl was not so bright and had just adopted the weirdest strategy to avoid questions.
Surprisingly, she always scored high marks in every class test and end of term examination.
We found it hard to understand her until a teacher figured out what her problem was.
She was experiencing Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) and for that matter, had an intense phobia of social and performance situations.
Social anxiety disorder is an awfully disturbing sickness among adolescents since the apprehension and uneasiness that comes with it impacts severely on their day-to-day activities, including school.
A kid with this problem becomes scared of being watched, judged, or getting humiliated.
And those with severe social anxiety disorder most of the time perform poorly in school and have problems attending class, leading to them dropping out or declining to leave home.
It is believed that youngsters with the disorder mostly live with the symptoms through adulthood without ever being detected; and though it is the third most common mental health malaise, countless parents and teachers are not even aware of it.
If not detected and treated, social anxiety disorder in adolescence could increase risks of other mental health complications later in life such as depression, eating disorders, and even substance abuse.
Although the precise cause of social anxiety disorder is unknown, it is held that a combination of hereditary, societal, biological and environmental factors contribute to its occurrence.
To spot a child or teenager who is experiencing this uncomfortable illness, look out for the following symptoms:
- There is always the fear of reading aloud or answering questions in class even when they can.
- There is also the fear of talking to other kids.
- The child also gets scared of being in front of the class.
- They always sit alone in the library or cafeteria.
- They are also afraid to ask a teacher for help even when they find it difficult to understand a topic.
- The pupil or student also never raises their hand in class.
- They also tend to avoid classmates outside class.
- They even refuse to participate in extra-curricular activities.
- They are mostly afraid to walk into class late.
- May refuse to go to school or drop out
- The kid also fears performing in front of others/public speaking.
- They are intimidated by speaking to adults.
- They are overly disturbed about negative evaluations.
- They also fear ordering food in a restaurant or canteen.
- They have a habit of crossing their arms a lot and mostly keep their heads down.
- They display few facial expressions.
- Nervous habits such as hair twirling or fidgeting.
- They are scared of attending birthday parties.
- They get tense about having friends visit.
- They worry about being judged by others.
- They tend to always avoid eye contact.
- They are afraid to start or participate in conversations.
- They also blush, sweat profusely, have trembling hands, experience muscle tension or racing hearts when put on the spot.
- Also they speak softly or murmur most of the time.
- Become very uncomfortable in group settings.