Case Study – Discovering Choices
Support Provided by Action for Children as part of the IThrive 2 – 11 years programme
Daniel is a 9 year old male who was referred by school to attend the 6 week Decider Skills course , due to his anxiety which is suspected to be linked with possible neurodevelopmental ASD or ADHD. He is undergoing assessment. It is noted that Daniel had an acute fear of sensory stimulation, most notably related to snow. When referring to snow, Daniel would cover his ears, close his body by pulling his legs to his torso, and struggle to regulate his emotions. This had a negative impact on Daniel’s wellbeing and his family. Mum explained that they ‘dreaded winter’ as it would cause immense disruption in their lives. Daniel would not want to go outside and would struggle to walk on snow, meaning that his parents would carry him to and from the car; there was often a decline in Daniel as the weather began to change and get colder. Daniel would be overwhelmed with strong negative emotions if it was suspected to snow or did snow. . The family participated with full engagement; and Daniel incorporated well into the group. Daniel completed all assigned homework tasks including ‘naming his emotions’, thinking about what ‘thoughts’ he has and what behaviour he exhibits when experiencing a negative emotion. Daniel listed an opposite action that he could do instead. By the end of week 6, Daniel collected 12 key cards, which he put on a keyring to help recall the skills and refer to them when needed. Daniel finished the group in October 2022 which mum states as ‘perfect timing’ as the weather was beginning to change. On the 10th of December 2022 it snowed enough to fully cover the ground in Bolton. Mum got in touch to give feedback as Daniel had made significant progress regulating his emotions and she wanted to share the impact the skills and sessions had on him. Mum explained that Daniel used his keyring and made his own list of skills that he finds the most useful. It is evident that practise at home supported Daniel in embedding the skills. Mum and dad fully supported Daniel using the skills and allowed him to experiment with the skills in the snow at his own pace. Mum explained, ‘when he had to walk from the car to his dance class in the snow, he tiptoed but was able to remain calm’. After his class he used the skills and proceeded to apply the pressure of his whole foot in the snow, which mum stated as, ‘amazing’. Daniel returned home after his lesson and for the first time used his skills to interact with the snow, overcoming his own negative thoughts and emotions relating to snow, to discover that ‘he loves snow’. Daniel started by touching the snow and progressed to playing with the snow for a full hour with his sister.
Daniel discovered he has the ability to ‘choose’ his reaction to events and situations. Daniel experienced the enjoyment most children have when it snows. The sessions and skills enabled him to overcome his own apprehensions and negative connotations with snow and he developed a new definition of what snow can be. Facilitators are hopeful that now Daniel has experienced a positive outcome using his skills independently that he will continue to rely on them as he transitions to new situations and potential new overwhelming sensations.