19-year old Zain was referred to School-Home Support by the community hub that he attends as a young adult with an autistic spectrum condition (ASC). He had been an enthusiastic student at college – where he has been enjoying his courses in-home cooking, life skills and employability.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zain hadn’t been seen for months and they were keen to get in touch with Zain’s Mum Rochelle to check that everything was ok – but hadn’t heard back for months.
Losing contact for months
The community hub was worried. Zain has a low Body Mass Index (BMI) of 16. He is currently under review at a local eating disorder clinic – where he is having fortnightly blood tests, kidney function and bone scans to monitor any damage. This had been disruptive to Zain’s education at college.
Zain’s School-Home Support Practitioner Laura had called a number of times but none of the calls had been answered. She had sent texts and had even made doorstop visits several times at different times of the day with no response.
Eventually, Laura managed to get Rochelle to open the door. She had lost her phone in June and didn’t have the finances to replace it, and was cautious about answering the door to an unfamiliar person.
Now that contact had been established with the family – several areas of support were identified…
Home and money
Zain lived with his Mum in a two-bedroom flat. Although the size of the flat is perfect for them, the flat was in urgent need of repairs – particularly in the bathroom which was covered in mould.
Laura was able to support Rochelle to register repairs with the local council housing service. She also referred the family to Income Max to ensure they were getting all entitled income as the family were struggling to get by. In addition, money issues were causing significant anxieties for both Zain and Rochelle.
Rochelle is now able to successfully call up the council to check on dates for repairs herself – which is an enormous achievement. Both Zain and his Mum also have a better understanding of money management – and talk much more openly about money – supported with a crib sheet to write out expenses each month in an attempt to reduce anxieties.
Rochelle and Zain had been going for months without hearing from anyone outside of their household – and so it was recognised that they were in quite an isolated position. COVID-19 has obviously limited our ability to improve this – although regular doorstep visits with Laura has helped to alleviate the family’s isolation a little.
However, during November and early December 2020 Rochelle was able to attend parent drop-in sessions at the community hub Zain was attending.
Zain’s Practitioner Laura created a food poster after having a few conversations with him to understand what vegetarian suggestions he could include into his diet to gain weight. The poster sits in the kitchen – and helps prompt his Mum when preparing meals.
Laura also spoke with Zain’s community nurse, sharing communication on understanding how ASC can also impact on dietary choices and requested to review the need for such intense monitoring – as it had been causing Zain a lot of distress.
After a few months, Zain has made leaps and bounds in terms of his diet. He has found new foods he enjoys – particularly eggs, avocados and seeds. Rochelle has found budget-friendly ways to include these in their weekly shop. Zain is also displaying much more positive behaviour towards discussing his eating habits.
The family worked with their School-Home Support Practitioner to build resilience
After months of hard work from the family, there have been so many positive changes for Zain and his Mum. “We didn’t know how to ask for help with things,” Rochelle told her Practitioner.
Their story is a great example of how we work with families – helping to identify what problems they face, and working with them to find solutions. In turn, this work helps children to focus on their education again – as has been the case with Zain.
Many more vulnerable children and families are in need of a School-Home Support key worker like Laura. Donate today to help us grow our field of key workers.