Erik, a 10-Year-Old on the Spectrum
Erik was always ahead of the curve in his intellectual development but lagged in terms of social and emotional development. Erik’s parents thought it might be because he was an only child. When he entered kindergarten, it was evident that Erik was different than his classmates. He would often “zone out” and focus on small, mostly irrelevant, details in the classroom around him. At first, his parents and teachers wrote it off as boredom as Erik was so more advanced than the other students academically.
Eventually, Erik’s parents sought out a psychiatrist to determine if there was anything beyond his relatively lesser-developed social and emotional maturity. After several sessions with the psychiatrist, Erik was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum. The psychiatrist also recommended a therapist who specialized in children on the Spectrum. For the next two years, Erik met weekly with her and she helped him with his social skills and emotional regulation. as well as improving his self-awareness.
By the time Erik was 10 years old although his symptoms had moderated a bit, he was subjected to extensive bullying. As a result, Erik’s self-esteem nosedived. His depression exhibited itself both at home and at school.
Erik’s parents concluded that given the situation, once a week therapy was not enough. They considered sending him to boarding school but did not want him living away from home. After discussions with his therapist, she recommended they consider the Connections program, with herself working in collaboration with the Connections team.
In discussions between the therapist the Connections Team, they decided that she would continue as his main therapist collaborating weekly with the rest of the team. She would also co-facilitate family counseling along with a therapist from Connections. Erik would be assigned two coaches, one to help him with social skills and another to help him discover outlets for his advanced intellectual capacity, such as astronomy, robotics and computer programming. Additionally, he was assigned a personal trainer who worked with him on basic physical conditioning.
Erik’s comprehensive schedule kept him occupied throughout the week and allowed him to stay in his current school.
|12 pm||Personal Training Session||Personal Training|
|3 pm||Individual Therapy||Group Therapy|
|4 pm||Coaching Session: Self Discovery||Personal Training||Coaching Session: Activity|
|5 pm||Family Therapy|
Erik’s parents and the Connections team saw positive growth in Erik’s social skills. They all agreed, along with Erik, that a fresh start at a new school would help him both socially and academically. Interestingly, one of his coaches knew of a Magnet School about forty-five minutes away for academically gifted students that specialized in science and technology, two of Erik’s favorite subjects.
Erik was accepted to the Magnet School and immediately socialized with students who shared similar interests. He found the curriculum challenging, even for someone as academically gifted as himself. He continued participating in the Connections program with some of his coaching and therapy sessions conducted virtually to help save time in his busy schedule. After three 90-day cycles in the Connections program once he had begun attending the Magnet
School, it was decided they could cut back from two coaching sessions per week to one while maintaining the weekly individual and family therapy sessions.