CTAC Success Story

Gabe* gets help for school

Gabe* was a first grader at a local elementary school. His teacher and the school social worker contacted CFS CTAC because this little boy was very frequently out of control in the classroom. He had violent, explosive outbursts that had begun when he was just in preschool. He would hit adults and peers and use inappropriate language. He had great difficulty with transitions and was very quick to physically attach himself to any caring adult. He was taken out of the classroom so much that they knew something had to change.

Gabe had grown up in terribly difficult circumstances. He started his young life in the NICU, where he tested positive for THC at birth. His parents were chronically homeless and struggled with substance abuse and domestic violence. These parents used severe corporal punishment. Gabe also experienced extreme neglect, as he was left in his carseat for hours, with a lack of human interaction.

When Gabe was removed from his parents’ care, his grandmother became his primary caregiver. She provided loving attention, but Gabe’s behaviors still necessitated that she come to the school several times a week to help the child de-escalate. When her partner, a man Gabe had become attached to, left, the little boy experienced another loss (he had lost his parents and siblings he could not see as well).

The CFS CTAC Team got to work. A full range of recommendations were made--from vision and hearing testing to occupational and physical therapy referrals. The CTAC Team also had recommendations for the classroom: the use of noise-cancelling headphones and other measures to limit his overstimulation; providing a soft object or blanket so that Gabe could self-soothe; and frequent breaks to limit his level of frustration.

These measures, combined with the outcomes of the CFS CTAC-recommended tests and therapies, had a result. His teacher reported that Gabe had “markedly improved” and spent significantly less time out of the classroom. This means that not only is Gabe getting more of the educational content that every child needs, but that he is having some of the typical childhood experiences that we want for each child. His classmates experience a calmer classroom, his grandmother has to interrupt her day with trips to the school less often, and his teachers can spend more time teaching and less time problem-solving how to deal with a frequently disruptive student.

*Stock photo and not the child’s real name