Case study on Group Work
G. is a ten year old boy with autism, he has recently moved to a special school setting. He previously attended a mainstream school and spent a lot of his time in an individual classroom due to behavioural difficulties.
G. is a ten year old boy with autism, he has recently moved to a special school setting. He previously attended a mainstream school and spent a lot of his time in an individual classroom due to behavioural difficulties. He has a history of difficulties in tolerating his peers and forming positive relationships. He also struggles with emotional regulation and tends to use behaviour as a means of avoiding tasks in which he thinks he will fail. Strategies to help keep calm and self-regulate during stressful times have been unsuccessful as G. struggles with the intensity of working 1:1 with an adult in order to become competent in using such strategies.
On transition to his new school, group work in the form of Attention Autism was used to help develop experience of shared enjoyment with G. and his peers. The approach in initial stages of the Attention autism program suited G. as there was no expectation of active participation, instead he was successful by watching the adult led tasks. He was highly motivated by the group content which involved fun, vibrant, colourful and interesting play through the two stages of attention grabbers (bucket toys) and attention builders.
This success with group work and enjoyment in the activities helped develop positive interactions between G. and two of his peers. He became more confident in commenting and interacting within the group and became aware of peer common interests, through laughing and being intrigued by the same things. This generalised into playground play and shared enjoyment in soft play opportunities within the school day.
Following a period of further development of the Attention Autism Programme whereby turn taking and group work were introduced, G. was deemed ready for more intense group work within his school day. This initially entailed involvement in a music group and then progressed onto a small group with familiar peers with whom he has a positive relationship to address his emotional regulation difficulties.
After consultation with teachers and parents the following were identified as triggers for emotional regulation difficulties and behavioural outbursts.
- Having to work alongside peers and form positive relationships
- Avoidance in specific tasks that he thinks he will either fail or not be good at
- Expected to speak out in front of peers and teachers
- Recognising physiological signs of anxiety and frustration within our bodies
- Matching emotions to various experiences
- Use of strategies to help calm such as deep breathing, proprioceptive input, listening to calming music
- Design and formation of a ‘tool box’ to help regulate emotions which includes visuals for strategies and actual resources such as stress balls, therabands and scented jars
G. is now actively participating within a group setting, he appropriately interacts with peers, offering them help for practical tasks such as cutting and sticking. He shows excellent initiative in identifying causes for frustration and anxiety as well as strategies to help us calm, he is also effective in identifying what works for him personally.
The group work setting is effective in addressing his emotional needs as it is less intense and more socially motivating for him than 1:1 adult support. Developing group skills confidence was essential and was developed using the Attention Autism approach.