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CASE STUDY Poppy, Substantial, Social/emotional

Year level
Educational setting
Mainstream school

Level of adjustment
Category of disability
Included in data collection

Poppy is a 12-year-old girl who attends a regional city high school and has been living with the same foster family for an extended period of time (out-of-home care). Poppy has siblings who attend the same school but do not live with her. She has been diagnosed with anxiety and reactive attachment disorder as a result of neglect and trauma in her infant years.

Poppy has difficulty interacting with adults and peers. Her anxiety and history of trauma make it difficult for her to regulate her emotions and focus on learning.

Poppy lacks the basic skills necessary to manage her behaviour and she has outbursts for no apparent reason, often several times a day. Her emotions can vary from clingy and irritable to socially disengaged. When Poppy is highly anxious, she can become so emotionally stressed in class that she becomes physically unwell and is unable to attend.

Generally, Poppy's achievement levels are average, although her teachers differentiate her work activities when she shows signs of disengagement or anxiety. Poppy has learnt to withdraw herself to an agreed space when she feels the need, and staff will assist and recommend options for her. Transition times between classes can bring on anxiety, so Poppy is supported by an allocated teacher or education assistant to ensure she reaches the next class.

Poppy’s case worker and the school counsellor have developed a support plan, and work closely with a specially trained education assistant. They meet daily to provide Poppy with the support she needs to maintain focus and regulate her emotions. A psychologist also visits weekly. This team monitors Poppy’s daily activity and, in consultation with her, have developed a personalised learning plan to accommodate her learning needs.

Poppy’s teachers differentiate worksheets and assessment tasks and allow flexibility in timing of assessments and exams.

Her teachers and education assistants have participated in guidance-run workshops in order to learn skills to encourage resilience, improved social skills, anger management and peer interaction.

Most activities are arranged so that Poppy is part of a group of five girls (rather than boys).

Poppy accesses an occupational therapist and psychologist outside school hours. These specialists work closely with the counsellor and child safety officer to improve Poppy’s sense of belonging and re-engagement in school activities. They continually link back to Poppy's school support team.

Information that supports inclusion in the NCCD What's this?

  • Step 1. Is there an adjustment to address disability? Yes

    Yes, adjustments are provided to enable a student with disability to access education on the same basis as other students.

    As defined by the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Poppy has a disorder, illness or disease that affects her thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgement, or that results in disturbed behaviour.

  • Do you have evidence? Yes

    • Medical diagnostic report
    • Personalised learning plan
    • Differentiated worksheets
    • Case management notes
    • Education assistant notes
    • Counsellor notes
    • Notes from parent meetings
  • Step 2. What is the level of adjustment? Substantial

    • Substantial support and considerable adult assistance to ensure wellbeing and regular school attendance
    • Personalised learning plan, which includes continual monitoring
    • Flexible negotiated timetable and small-group instruction most of the time, on most days
    • Assistance to access a calm space as required
    • Regular counsellor support in collaboration with psychologist
    • Adjusted worksheets, activities and assessment tasks provided most of the time, on most days
    • Monthly stakeholders meetings, including teachers, case manager, child safety officer and counsellor
    • Mental health, trauma and crisis management training for all staff
    • Teacher assistant support most of the time, on most days
  • Step 3. What is the category of disability? Social/emotional

    Poppy has a social/emotional disability in the form of a disorder that affects her thought processes, perception of reality, emotions and judgement.

  • Step 4. Record and submit the data Yes (Student is included)

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