When we first met Ben*
Ben came to Hill House from a school that could not meet his needs. His behaviour was extremely challenging; he was unsettled, anxious and would quickly become aggressive. At his previous school there were incidents of staff being injured and of windows being broken, creating an unsafe environment for both Ben and other people. This made it difficult for him to have meaningful contact with fellow students or to work in the classroom. He also had a history of not eating properly and looked thin and ill.
At home, Ben was unable to cope and he would often damage his parents' house and could be aggressive towards them. When travelling, Ben would be prone to outbursts and would be a risk to himself and those around him.
When Ben came to us
When he arrived at Hill House, Ben was reluctant to communicate. He found it hard to follow instructions and was often upset and anxious. Noise was stressful for him and he often wanted to be on his own, finding it difficult to remain in the classroom for more than a few seconds. He then wore ear defenders to block out the noise. Often up to three or four staff members were needed to help him calm down or to make rooms safe for him.
The staff at Hill House developed an individual behaviour support and activities programme for Ben, based on detailed analysis of his likes and dislikes, previous experiences, cognitive levels and reactions to different strategies. He received specialist input from the school's assistant psychologists, clinical psychiatrist, speech and language and occupational therapists, which helped to improve his motivation and engagment and to reduce his stress triggers.
With a great deal of support, his confidence gradually grew and his relationships improved. He became more comfortable in his surroundings and able to communicate his anxieties more appropriately. With staff support, he was able to follow elements of a timetable, improve his social and life skills including access to the community. Ben now participates in shared events such as parties and meals, is more willing to try healthy foods and has taken on more responsibility for his daily routines.
Although he still needs reassurance from support staff, Ben now has 100% school attendance and is helping to run the school tuck shop. Ben now welcomes his parents' visits and he is no longer aggressive towards them. He has come a long way, and is a healthier and happier young man.
*Name has been changed to protect identity