Sophia*, aged 11, lived at home with her mum, one older sibling and two younger ones. Her dad was committed to his family but had to work long hours to make ends meet. Sophia had a younger brother with an autistic spectrum condition (ASC). He displayed challenging behaviour and struggled to control his anger, so their mum often had to focus on supporting him and helping him to manage his outbursts. Consequently, she did not have much time to give to Sophia.
Sophia felt scared and alone, tired from constantly being on edge and having to support her mum. She said, “I know my mum is trying her best. Sometimes I feel a bit selfish to think it, but I just wish she had time to listen to me. It feels like she’s not interested in me. I don’t have anyone to talk to about how I feel. I try to help Mum but no-one is helping me. I’m struggling. I get so tired when I’m at school. I find it hard to concentrate on what the teacher is telling us.” As a result, Sophia’s grades were dropping.
Fortunately, Sophia’s form teacher realised. She talked to Sophia and, when she heard the problem, she referred her to a Fegan’s counsellor for help
Finally, someone was giving Sophia the attention that she hadn’t had for years. She was able to share what had been going on at home and the challenges the family were facing.
Family wrap-around care was swiftly put into place. Sophia’s mum joined a Parent Support Group, run by Fegans, that helps equip parents with greater understanding of ASCs and gives them tools to deal with their children’s challenging behaviour. She found the experience empowering and enjoyed making friends with parents in the same position as her.
Mum learnt how to make their family home a calmer place. When she started putting Fegans’ new parenting strategies in place, she was able to have a more organised home life and plan one-to-one time with each child.
The children began to thrive. Sophia liked to dance with her mum and looked forward to the regular times they worked on their amazing routines together. Sophia’s brother felt better knowing his daily timetable and he became more settled and caring.
Sophia explained: “Things are so different at home now, when I get in from school my Mum always smiles at me. I feel so much more important to her. I know she loves us all equally. She has become a much better mum and we are all so much happier. Mum arranged for my brother to have arty time at home every day, he knows what time it is, and he really enjoys making things for us, this year he made us all a Valentine’s card.”
With a little support and encouragement, Mum introduced structure into the home. Children thrive when they know what to expect, especially those with ASCs, and now Mum understands the importance of routines. The home is no longer chaotic…
Without Fegans’ intervention, Sophia’s voice would not have been heard. No one would have guessed what was going on behind their closed door and the despair and disarray could have led to the mental health of Sophia, one of her siblings or even her mum declining further. That in turn could have resulted in more seriously concerning behaviours and incidents.
*Name changed to protect identity.
About Fegans Children’s Counselling Services
Fegans counsellors work one to one with children in our centres, online and in primary and secondary schools throughout the South East.
We also provide parenting support for families with significant challenges such as supporting those with additional needs. We deliver much of this work through five town-wide family hubs in partnership with schools and our own preschool family hubs.
To learn more about our Schools Counselling services click here.