Taking Control Again
Taking Control Again
- An academic high achiever suffering from schizophrenia hospitalised after suffering a breakdown
- Mainstream placement broke down just as major examinations were around the corner
- Initial family concerns about a non-mainstream setting were largely satisfied by agreeing a dual placement approach, largely at Spark of Genius, with continued attendance at the mainstream secondary
- New strategies created by Spark of Genius to deal with his unique presenting behaviours
- Ryan prepared well for the post 16 transition, now attending further education with university his next goal
Ryan came to Spark of Genius late on in his school career after the breakdown of his mainstream secondary placement. Throughout his mainstream school career Ryan had been a high achiever and was preparing to sit exams leading towards a university place. At 15, his behaviour, attitude and attainment deteriorated dramatically. Staff within his mainstream school noticed that he had become confrontational with staff, his concentration within class was poor, his relationships with his peers was suffering and he was constantly being removed from the class and placed in the pupil support base. Ryan was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was hospitalised after suffering a breakdown.
After several months in hospital Ryan was referred to Spark of Genius in March 2009. This initial referral was met with some resistance from both Ryan and his parents. Ryan was a high achiever who was expected to go on to university and they believed that Ryan would be best served in a mainstream environment to achieve this goal.
It was agreed that Ryan would attend Spark with links maintained with his previous mainstream placement. Ryan attended the mainstream school 2 mornings a week working on a one to one basis with a member of school staff with support from a Spark staff member. In doing this, Ryan and his parents were reassured that their concerns were met and that if in the future it was possible for Ryan to be reintegrated into the school that the links had not been broken. Staff at the mainstream school appreciated the support provided during these lessons and commented during professionals meetings that they had benefitted from the behavioural strategies Spark staff had used when dealing with Ryan.
Another issue for Ryan in terms of attending school was the effect that his medication had on him. Ryan would be extremely tired in the morning, would be unresponsive to staff promptings and would often fall asleep at his desk. An individualised timetable was put in place for Ryan that allowed him to start later than the other young people and leave earlier on certain days. This had an immediate effect as Ryan started to be more alert in class and staff were able to work on getting him focused on his academic work.
Ryan still presented issues in terms of his relationship with his peers and he continued to suffer from poor concentration. Staff at Spark did a lot of work with Ryan in these areas. In terms of his relationships with his peers he needed constant reminders of how to behave appropriately in social settings. Although this was a long process, Ryan started to build appropriate relations with the young people within the Spark learning centre. In terms of his poor concentration, staff tackled this in a number of ways including short achievable tasks and time out cards for when he was feeling stressed.
Ryan started to become frustrated with his apparent lack of academic process. This was a completely understandable considering his previous attainments and the expectations that were placed on him. Staff discussed Ryan’s own expectations with him in terms of what he wanted to achieve and how they could support him in doing this. Emphasis was placed on subjects that Ryan felt were important qualifications to leave school with. These were set as long-term targets as he wanted to gain the best qualifications possible in these areas. English was one of these subjects and extra support such as use of ICT was also put in place to aid Ryan in this area. In a bid to improve Ryan’s self-efficacy, staff included in his timetable certain subjects at a lower level that would gain him attainments in the short term. The result of this was almost immediate with Ryan enjoying success in the short term and seeing that his long-term goals were also being met.
Attainment became less of an issue for Ryan and his parents as they saw him making steady progress in this area. Concerns were still being raised by Ryan’s parents, Spark of Genius and other external agencies in terms of transitions and how ready Ryan was for leaving Spark of Genius. The success of the placement was recognised and Ryan was allowed to stay for another year in order that these issues could be resolved. Ryan was enrolled in a day release course at a local college to prepare him for the transition between school and further education. He also took part in far more practical classes such as Practical Cookery, Safe Road User and he also participated in Skills for Work units in Construction and Creative Digital Media.
Being allowed to stay that extra year also allowed Ryan to achieve his long-term academic targets. He passed the subjects that he placed greater value on showing that the planning put in place 2 years previously has paid off. It may not have been the path that he anticipated but Ryan has now moved onto further education. The foundations have been placed and Ryan can now move on and build on his achievements at Spark of Genius.