Teacher’s book takes novel approach to anxiety

BATTLE GROUND — It’s been more than eight years since Bradley Smith, a special education teacher at Chief Umtuch Middle School, first experienced the beginnings of an anxiety disorder.

Smith was flying back to Portland for spring break from Boston College, where he was pursuing a master’s degree in special education. A smiling flight attendant offered him an extra snack. Smith began to fret about whether he was making too much eye contact with the woman.

“And once that thought locked in it was like a spiral and then it started to snowball into all the different relationships in my life,” Smith said.

Smith is now 34, and with medical intervention, his anxiety is more manageable. But the biggest help in maintaining control over his anxiety are the relationships Smith has developed with his students.

Smith’s journey with his own mental health problems, and the special education students who helped him overcome it, are the inspiration for his recent novel, “A Special Education in Anxiety.”

Over four years, Smith wrote the semi-autobiographical novel about a young special education teacher, and the six students in his class who live with autism, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Though the events and students in the book are fictional, the book’s lead character, Michael Smith, struggles to live with anxiety. But his relationships with his middle school students and peers help him do so.

l education teacher at Chief Umtuch Middle School, first experienced the beginnings of an anxiety disorder. Smith was flying back to Portland for spring break from Boston College, where he was pursuing a master’s degree in special education. A smiling flight attendant offered him an extra snack. Smith began to fret about whether he was making too much eye contact with the woman. “And once that thought locked in it was like a

Source: Teacher’s book takes novel approach to anxiety | The Columbian

Jimmy Kilpatrick, a national recognized professional special education advocate since 1994.

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