Case studies can be really useful tools for parents who want to find out more about a specific condition and to see if their child is displaying any of the signs of a particular disorder. Parents often need to be educated about the condition and taught to understand how parenting strategies may need to be altered to take account of it.
Social Skills Training is an Important Part of Coping with Difficulties
Parents will need help to deal with unwanted behaviours, such as sniffing or touching objects inappropriately, and will need to think about social skills training. Specialists are experts at discussing the emotional impact of the diagnosis on the family and any siblings as well as the child.
Sam: A case study
Sam is 12 and he attended a social skills group with other primary school aged boys. His parents were offered support alongside this, following his diagnosis as autistic. The school has been very supportive, and have trained their staff to deal with the problems and have also sought advice from the local specialist school for children with autism.
Sam has a visual timetable for each week, highlighting anything that might be different about the week, and gets a reward for coping with times of unpredictability. He loves computers, and enjoys the company of other children, but needs help with playing games and not overreacting when another child does not follow the rules of a game precisely.
Impact on the Family
Sam’s condition has had a massive impact on his siblings because they have lost out on time with their parents. Family life was revolving around the child’s need for regularity, meaning that many weekend activities were curtailed.
Specialists can Help
Behavioural expert Dr Sarah Helps said: “Talk to your GP, class teacher or SENCO. Read up on the national autistic society which has a wealth of detailed information. Diagnosis can and often needs to take many months so be prepared for a lengthy process. Families often experience relief at a diagnosis because they then have a way of explaining to themselves and others what is going on for their child.”
Autism can be seen from as early as 18 months, and be demonstrated by problems in the development of language play and social relationships. The parents of one eight-year-old boy always had struggled with making friends, and loved solitary activities such as drawing and Lego. He was doing ok at school but teachers reported that he tended to be dreamy and not really understand what was expected of him.
He struggled at times of change, such as at the end of term or if his teacher was off sick. Parents talked to the SENCO at the school who referred them to a community paediatrician, who then carried out a multi-disciplinary assessment and diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome. The child’s extra needs were recognised within education and an Individual Education Plan was drawn up to help him develop social skills and understand what was expected of him by using social stories.