Rachael is in Year 7 in a mainstream secondary school. Rachael completes her work in class, is achieving at a sound level or above in all subjects, has a good friendship group and engages in school activities.
At the beginning of the year, members of the school team met with Rachael’s parents to discuss her needs, as her primary school had indicated that she required additional support. Rachael’s parents told the school team that she had anxiety and was seeing a psychologist, but had received no formal diagnosis.
In the middle of Year 7, Rachael was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. Her parents reluctantly agreed to diagnostic information being recorded on her profile, but stated that Rachael was not to know about her diagnosis and that nothing should be discussed with her at this time.
Rachael’s parents have reported that at home she makes objects with glue and glitter and hides these creations around her room. Rachael is highly disorganised and does not know where her books or school equipment are located. She has difficulty regulating her emotions and frequently becomes distressed, argues with her parents and runs away from home to a neighbour’s house.
When highly stressed at school (approximately once per term), Rachael will dislocate her fingers. She goes to the sick bay, but will realign her fingers herself before her parents are notified. The school keeps records of her visits to sick bay and reports the incidents to her parents as they occur.
Rachael has contact with the wellbeing officer each fortnight and the school counsellor twice per term, but does not independently seek support. In her counselling sessions she works on social scripts for particular social situations that Rachael identified as challenging. They also discuss strategies Rachael can employ to ease her anxious feelings, such as being organised in advance for school and for each lesson and colour-coding her timetable and her folders. Rachael has been using mindfulness meditation at night time to help her fall asleep. The wellbeing officer checks in with Rachael once per fortnight to help her organise her locker, folders and books. Rachael also developed a weekly planner with the wellbeing officer to help organise her time after school. They review this each time they meet. She has a five-minute visual ‘walk card’ that she can show to her classroom teacher when is she is feeling anxious and needs to take a break from the classroom in a pre-arranged supervised space. She uses this at least once a week. Rachael participates in whole-school programs that teach strategies for managing anxiety. She also has access to a quiet learning area for sitting tests and examinations when required. This area is supervised by staff from the learning support department.
Rachael’s parents have provided reports from her psychologist and paediatrician to the school. Rachael has been referred to the learning and support team who will develop a personalised learning plan with her. The counsellor has developed a mental health plan.