Maria, a single mother, had been struggling with her son Alberto’s very low school attendance. Alberto was often absent because of prolonged spells of illness. His headteacher had tried to communicate with Maria about Alberto’s troubles, but Maria was very defensive and not willing to engage at all initially, to the extent of being abusive. She had been banned from the school for having an argument with another mum that spiralled out of control.
But the school were eager to improve the relationship and help Alberto deal with the absences his illness was causing. So they approached SHS and asked Maria to talk to me about anything that was bothering her, rather than displaying negative behaviour in front of students and parents in the playground. Maria agreed she would respect staff and parents and adhere to school rules.
After a few one-to-one meetings with Maria at the school, we identified that Maria was being overly possessive of Lorenzo, has anger management problems, and feels defensive about school staff because she fears being judged by them and thinks no one will understand her or her situation. By using an accepting, understanding, and non-judgemental approach and exploring lifestyle, parenting, and learning routine with Maria, we built a lasting and positive relationship. In this case we didn’t need the help of any other services.
Now Maria is a new person: she is positive about her son’s future and her relationship with the school, she is now attending coffee mornings and a member of the PTA. She is also aware of how Alberto’s absence has negatively affected his attainment and social development. Although Alberto’s health is unfortunately not much better, Maria and Alberto are doing everything for a better start to the next school year.
*The names in this case study have been changed