Charlie was a member of Simon’s class in middle & upper primary but had had dealings with them in the earlier years as well. Charlie’s background was from a split family whose mother when born, was drug dependent. Charlie was born small and drug dependent. After a few weeks, Charlie was found by his father in the bath alone with his mother downstairs in a drugged state. Charlie was removed from his mother’s care and custody given to the father.
As Charlie grew, he remained small for his age and stage and reached developmental milestones later than would ordinarily be expected. Simon’s first contact with Charlie came in their early primary years, as part of a ‘buddy’ arrangement whereby older classes were linked with younger classes. At this stage, Charlie had low self-esteem and self-worth, struggled academically which further hindered his esteem as he was aware that he was not as ‘good’ as others. Charlie also had difficulty with anger management and frequently would ‘erupt’ violently towards others and property.
Over the time that Simon was responsible for Charlie there was a significant change. Consistent expectations, use of differentiated educational activities to help him specifically improve in the educational areas he found difficulty and ensuring that Simon provided approachability, availability, support and practical acceptance and help when Charlie was struggling along with gentle and gradual encouragement towards the use of anger management techniques all helped him self-regulate his anger better.
Charlie when distressed would also often self-harm, in this situation it manifested itself through time scratching his arms or pulling out his eyelashes. Thus it was essential to get to know Charlie well in order to be able to spot the warning signs so that on days when Charlie was particularly anxious, verging on angry, that situations could be de-escalated before they developed. Charlie knew that he could always come up and talk if he needed, no matter what time of the school day it was. Likewise, he used of an agreed ‘safe’ zone they could go to, to help calm down.
Latterly (though it took many months for the process to be set up), Charlie attended a voluntary activity group run by a local charity which worked directly with individuals with similar difficulties. Simon’s desire to set this up early was, knowing that transition to high school was coming ever closer, that it would start the process off early for Charlie because he would need time to build links and relationships with staff who could support Charlie’s difficulties. It also enabled Charlie to have further opportunities to build social skills with his peers.
Several years later, Charlie successfully transitioned into secondary school and was able to, with support, continue with his secondary education.
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