REECES’S STORY – SELECTIVE MUTE, MANAGING DIFFICULT EMOTIONS, TRANSITIONING (CHANGE OF GENDER)

Social context

NB Names altered for anonymity

OUTCOMES and IMPACT

Has been able to build trust and positive relationships with his horse, his peers and his coaches.

Can use strategies given to him by coaches to deal with his emotions in a positive manner

Can now discuss with coaches any issues that bother him both at the centre and in his personal life

Can now reflect on the importance of sharing his feelings and emotions with others.

Transitioning is when someone begins to live in their gender identity, rather than the gender they were assigned at birth. Transitioning can involve many different stages. Most studies around mental health of gender variant young people show that they are at higher risk of other difficulties than the general population. There also seems to be a higher prevalence 13.3% of autistic spectrum conditions in clinically referred, gender dysphoric adolescents than in the general adolescent population.

QUOTE

“My confidence has gone up like a rocket”

Mother: “Reece is really enjoying his time at seeds of change, I’m of the view that having a goal might motivate him. We are happy to support as a family too.”

Social context

NB Names altered for anonymity

Children with a hearing impairment are likely to report feeling isolated with fewer friends which can affect self-confidence and social interaction skills. The impairment can cause delays in the development of communication skills, in terms of speech and language which can have a negative impact on education.

It can be tough living in a family affected by disability with children often experiencing social exclusion as a result of their disabled parent’s restricted access to employment, housing, transport, hospitals and schools.

Background to case

Reece has a Diagnosis of ASD, ADHD, selective mutism and social and generalised anxiety.

4 years ago, Reece was identifying as his birth given gender of female. She was unable to make simple decisions such as whether she would like to sit down on entering a room or drink a glass of water unless given a direct instruction by a coach. She did not converse with coach verbally at all, appearing to avoid eye contract.

Now transitioning to a male XXXX has been out of school for a substantial period of time. He has had incidents of self-harm on starting to transition into school, which have rapidly and significantly increased, and he struggles to manage changes to routine which triggers anxiety.

Process at The Seeds of Change

Reece attended TSOC to build resilience, to develop confidence and self-esteem and the ability to regulate behaviour in a positive way and to develop coping mechanisms to manage difficult emotions with the aim of working towards improving engagement to enable him to attend school once again.

Reece was able to recognise the importance of communication when working with the horses and overtime has begun to talk with his horse, starting with one word and building towards sentences. He has now transferred this skill to communicating with others, recognising this will enable both horse and human to understand him.

During his sessions, Reece has developed strategies to enable him to voice out loud his emotions, thoughts and feelings with others and has gained the confidence to identify as a male.

Working with the horses and making decisions on behalf of the horses about their wellbeing has encouraged his ability to make decisions for himself.

Reece has developed strategies to deal with situations which would have previously been difficult to manage and he is now able to take on challenges he would have formerly never attempted.