Child autism spectrum disorder< back to case studies
G was 4 years old when her mum came to see me. G came with a possible diagnosis of autism. Her mother was desperate to get help for her daughter who she feared the system and services had already written off as beyond help or improvement. G was in a mainstream school and as a result of her challenging resistance, her place within the school was in jeopardy. Relations between school and mum were in on the verge of breakdown.
G was disconnected, anxious an unable to say anything other than repetitive utterances and she paid little attention to what was being said to her. G was highly resistant, obsessive and struggled with simple tasks that challenged her problem solving capabilities in particular. She refused to go near a pencil or book and if compelled she would scream cry and run away. However despite this apparent disconnection, she was showing intense interest in the world and those around her, often scanning the minutia of your face. The impoverished state of Gs language and communication meant she was as yet incapable of utilising this channel as a conduit for expressing and sharing ideas and her inner thoughts.
As we began our work together it became apparent that G experienced severe problems organising and accessing her thoughts and worse still, maintaining her minds momentum whilst processing the language she needed to understand and express ideas. It was like working with an engine that kept stalling. Not surprising therefore G’s resistance was huge and attempting to cajole her into participating in an activity was exhausting and very frustrating. My concern was that without input, G could become more and more inert, withdrawn and behaviourally more challenging as she got older.
The early stages of the intervention with G were very hard as G fought us every step of the way. However with support from Gs mum, in a very short space of time, G was sitting at a table using a pencil and doing puzzles, albeit with adult support. This was a major breakthrough and so significant for her parents who had never achieved this with their lost and locked in, child.
I then went into school and began to work with G through her learning support assistants who were at the end of their tether. They had no idea how to motivate G or where to start working with her and struggled to keep her in class as she frequently disrupted the room with screaming and crying. Four years later with the provision of once weekly term time therapy sessions only, G had made fantastic progress.
Gs speech and language skills improved dramatically in all areas including her reading and writing, as did her social and communication difficulties. Although still language impaired and with lots more work to do, she was able to participate in conversation follow everyday instructions and using language to express complex ideas, demonstrating her understanding of the world and her ability to think ahead.
G said “Not see you next week...I going Southend” I said “Can I come”
G replied “No you...with other children”.
She loved to chat, her mum said in her Annual Review “She doesn’t stop talking” With her improvements in her understanding of language, G became less resistant and obsessive, as it became easier to talk her through what was happening and why. Consequently G was now rarely removed from class, unless for speech therapy or other therapeutic interventions. She had become increasingly able to work independently and more importantly had become highly motivated to work and succeed. She loved school and had built positive friendships with her peer group.
The fragile situation I first encountered between school and home had also completely reversed. The training support and guidance I provided within school clearly proved Gs potential to grow and change in all areas. Consequently her teachers and support staff became enthusiastic about the progress she was making and took an increasingly active part in this process. And more to the point G was now perceived as a valuable member of the school community.
Geraldine has been instrumental in our daughters progress, G looks forward to her sessions and we as parents have found Geraldines advice and support invaluable.
What People Have Said About Geraldine Wotton ...
"Her advice and therapy is immensurable and I would recommend Geraldine to anyone whose child is struggling with speech and language. She supported me as a mother with a child with Autism and helped me to feel positive about the future for our son. She has helped him accomplish things I never thought possible."
Mother of child with autism
"Her years of experience mean she knows how to get the best from my at times very challenging daughter using praise, patience and humour. My daughter has been seeing Geraldine for 7 years and in that time made such progress with her that the difference is noticeable to children of a similar age. This progress is as a result of Geraldine’s skills."
Mother of Daughter with Down Syndrome
"Geraldine has worked with a variety students at North Hertfordshire College to ensure they receive the continued speech and language skills they require to access the curriculum, communicate with their peers and gain further independence skills in communication. The students related well to Geraldine and staff were able to use the strategies suggested throughout the week and feedback on their progress. Geraldine completed all reports and assessments in a timely and professional way and the students benefited from the feedback given. Parents/carers were able to use some of the strategies suggested in the home and reported that obvious improvements were being made by their son/daughter."
Course Co Ordinator for Adults with Learning Needs at North Herts College
"It was an absolute pleasure to see how Geraldine engages with her patients. The holistic and intuitive approach she adopts reflects the vast amount of experience Geraldine has in working with children and adults with a range of communication disabilities. I was inspired by the sheer joy and devotion she demonstrated in her work and it is no wonder her clients are so committed to her."