Hello Space Colleagues,
I am recently trained in SPACE, and am seeking some consultation for a family I am working with. This 16 year old boy has a long history or selective mutism and social phobia. In recent years, as school has become more challenging he has also exhibited school refusal. We are in Toronto, and school is currently online. He does participate in school however parents wake him, sit beside him, put him into break out rooms, and monitor closely his attendance. He never speaks in class, and hardly speaks to parents. They also prompt him to finish school work, and he is doing well in school. There are SO many accommodations, however I struggle with what to begin with. Parents are concerned that if they remove something he will sink lower and will participate less in school- AND they know that they have to start with something. He can lay on the couch and do nothing fo long periods of time. We have settled on not prompting for homework completion, and not sitting with him through classes that he is more confident in (math). He had been in treatment, but was not willing and would not speak. I am currently working with parents. Any thoughts, or input would be much appreciated!
When we've run SPACE for anxious school refusal with parents, we've found that once parents list all the accommodations, they can feel quite overwhelmed. We introduced the baskets activity, which is used in the NVR parenting group, which allows parents to target one or two behaviours (either behaviours that feel achievable, or those that are causing the most impact on their child's functioning). We have parents list all the accommodating behaviours on post-it notes, then sort according to the baskets (I've attached the handout we created). Once that's done, we tell them they can only have 1-2 behaviours in the small basket. They become the behaviours they'll target first (the middle basket is behaviours they'll address at a later time, and the large basket are behaviours they'll leave for now - which can be quite liberating). I hope that makes sense! Tamar