Separation Anxiety Disorder is when a child suffers extreme distress at being separated from their family or home. It tends to happen more so to those children from close knit families. Most children are clingy at some point, however if it is excessive or lasts for a long length of time, then it will most probably be Separation Anxiety Disorder.
The child will have a great fear of separation, they will become anxious and traumatised by it. They will resort to pleading to stop the caregiver leaving. They may fear something bad will happen to them or to their caregiver whilst they are separated, and that the separation will then be permanent. They have nightmares about separation and they usually have a fear of being left alone. At night they may want the caregiver next to them in order to settle down. They invent physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach ache in order to not have to go to school to avoid separation.
The causes of this disorder tend to be when the child has been through a traumatic event for instance a stay in hospital or the death of a relative, a change of environment for example moving home or school, or having over protective parents. There may be a family history of the disorder, or a history of anxiety which makes a child more prone to this condition.
Separation Anxiety Disorder can affect the child’s education, social functioning, as well as impairing the child’s life in other areas.