*The family featured in this case study has chosen to remain anonymous, so names have been changed for privacy.
In May 2022, Nurture Steps was approached by a family whose 3 1/2 year-old son, Archie*, was non-verbal and had a number of behavioural challenges. The family already approached Tailor Ed in Edinburgh and other providers who either did not have availability, or were too expensive. After discussing options and what Nurture Steps could offer, the family were able to secure financial support from Cash for Kids, who provided them with funding towards 6 months of support for 1 hour per week.
To get us started, we conducted a skills assessment with Archie* and his family. We found that his developmental stage was equal to an 18-month-old. We started by conducting a skills assessment and found that the child was on the developmental level of an 18-month-old child. Archie’s mum found it difficult to come to terms with this, but we were able to support her and put together a plan on how to progress. Together, we were able to identify the elements which would make the biggest impact for the family and focus on those; to help Archie communicate his needs and to manage transitions.
After our next session with Archie*, we found the best way to improve his communication skills would be through a picture exchange communication system (PECS). Archie*s mum was a little apprehensive about this, as they had tried this in the past on a recommendation from a speech and language therapist the previous year, but didn’t get the results they were hoping for. Once we explained the process in detail, and broke down each phase, mum was a little more at ease.
It is safe to say everyone was shocked at how quickly Archie* reached his stride on this – even mum! He can now use a sentence strip to ‘tell’ mum what he wants. As his use of pictures picked up and he understood what each meant, his words started coming. Although not consistently, he can now ask for a banana, telly, tablet, different colours and can say ‘Hi’!
After our sessions, Archie*’s parents now understand why he was previously exhibiting challenging behaviour, and know what to do to prevent it going forward. If they are still faced with situations where Archie* is showing signs of challenging behaviour, they have strategies to manage it. Because of the success Archie* has had with PECS, we now use pictures to help him with schedules and preparing for transitions. By knowing in advance when he is visiting Granny, going swimming, shopping, or to nursery helps to keep him calm. He has now learned to put on his jacket and shoes, ready to go!
With a few weeks left from the funding, Archie*’s family decided that we should work on toilet training. The first week was really hard for all involved, but everyone pulled through, and Archie* now goes to the toilet independently at home and at his grandparents’. He still struggles with going to the toilet in new environments (e.g. soft play and when shopping), so this gives us something to work on for the future and think about how we can help him with this.
What other things have changed?
After seeing the positive changes, Archie*’s mum has decided to retrain and is undertaking a part-time course in Additional Needs Support to be able to support Archie* in the long term, as well as other children who are going through similar difficulties.
Next steps for Archie*:
Archie* has moved on from an 18-month old skill level to a 24-month old skill level. Next steps are to follow on from this, teaching him new play skills, imitation and pre-academic skills to help with his transition to school.
Feedback from Archie*’s Mum:
“Before we reached out to Nurture Steps, our son could not play any structured activity, let alone sit for longer than a few seconds to concentrate on anything. Since working with Suzie, the abilities Archie* already had have been unlocked, and she has helped us as parents by teaching us how to support him differently.
“Archie* can now communicate with pictures, where before he would only drag your hand to what he wanted. Working with Nurture Steps has changed our lives as a family, allowing us to communicate more effectively which leads to much less frustration and meltdowns.
“The progress we have seen in such a short time has been so rewarding. Archie*’s concentration has improved, and we now know how to navigate activities he would refuse to do before. We went at our Archie*’s pace and the results were amazing. He now enjoys the play and teaching activities we do together, where before he would swipe the table clear of them. The support we received was indescribable; any questions or struggles we had were answered. Clear targets were set for us, which were realistic for our family and our son’s needs.”
To find out about more about the support Nurture Steps can offer, or to help us provide this support to more families, please reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.