From leaving hospital following a mental health crisis, Jess* went from accessing a couple of hours remote education a week to returning to school four days a week.
When we arrived
We first met Jess when she was in Year 9. She was keen to be in school but was overwhelmed by the school environment. School staff weren’t picking up on her signs of distress; and it got so bad that she threatened to take her own life. Hospitalised for several months due to self-harming and excluded from school; she had missed Year 8 and most of Year 9. She received an autism diagnosis while in hospital, resulting in an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP).
The network between the school, CAMHS, social care, and the family had broken down. The family found themselves in a cycle of using formal complaints to resolve their needs. With no local special provision available, Jess and her family both wanted her to remain at the school. Their social worker reached out to BeyondAutism and asked for an assessment. We quickly met with the school and the family, to give us all the information needed to make an informed response. From there a proposal was formed, based on the resources available and immediate barriers. At the heart of this was creating a person-centred plan, in which Jess was the main voice. This provided a clear road map of support – a mixture of direct outreach with Jess, to develop her resilience and strategies for returning to education, alongside skilling the professionals around her with the right knowledge and tools to support her needs.
How we supported
- We activated the network of professionals required, who brought the correct scope of practices and competence to the team around Jess and her family.
- A proposal was formed, based on the resources available and immediate barriers. This was further supported by the first piece of work – a person-centred plan which provided a clear road map of support for Jess, with the school leading the way. The support placed Jess’s voice at the centre and her support was built around this.
- The focus of support was a mixture of direct outreach with Jess, to develop her resilience and strategies for returning to education, alongside skilling the professionals around her with the right knowledge and tools to support her needs.
- We explored the autism diagnosis with Jess and the school, reviewed the curriculum and provided communication tools so that staff could alter their approach when she needed help.
- We supported with risk management – demonstrating how a behaviour plan and risk assessment could ensure safety. We supported the recruitment of an appropriate TA and focused on training and sharing knowledge – delivering training to staff across the school, empowering them to be confident in meeting needs.
- Regular reviews and meetings of the network were key to ensuring the support was correct and proactive.
- The intensive support and planning at the start enabled a fading of support over time to a point where BeyondAutism was used as a ‘sounding board’ for advice.
From leaving hospital following a mental health crisis, Jess went from accessing a couple of hours remote education a week to returning to school four days a week and one day at CAMHS support. The 1:1 support and other strategies enabled her to complete her GCSEs, achieving 6s, 7s, and 8s in her core subjects, and in her favourite subject, Art. She is happier, with zero self-harming and CAMHS support reducing. Her profile and support plans are regularly reviewed – and she is the main voice in what those look like. We are now supporting her transition to Art College to follow her passion.