Child's name: Jake
Support Coordinator's name: Laura Griffiths
Location: London South
At the age of eight, Jake was admitted to hospital with meningitis where it was discovered that he had two brain abscesses. He underwent surgery and spent five months in hospital. The injury left him with right-sided weakness, and he had to undergo intensive physiotherapy to strengthen his right leg. He was also left with noticeable cognitive deficits and had to start back at school on a phased return following discharge from hospital. Jake’s teachers observed ongoing speech and language difficulties, and the daily battle with fatigue caused Jake’s behaviour to become unmanageable for his mum. Jake would use all the energy he had to keep up at school and then return home so exhausted that he’d lash out at his mum and older brother. He would hit and kick them, and the shouting would disturb the neighbours. Jake found it difficult to accept the changes that had happened to him and to open up about how it made him feel. His mum and brother really struggled to know what to do for the best. Prior to his injury, Jake was a bright, bubbly boy who was doing very well at school and enjoyed playing football with his friends. He had never displayed challenging behaviour before.
The Child and Family Support Coordinator carried out a school awareness session for staff providing information on how an acquired brain injury can affect a child and what support strategies can be implemented. The Common Assessment Framework was used to set up regular meetings attended by all the professionals involved in Jake’s care, including the Child and Family Support Coordinator. The meetings were led by the pastoral manager at Jake’s school and reviewed the ongoing needs of Jake and his family. Various referrals were made for Jake, including one to the local authority Speech and Language Therapy team, and one to the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. It was also agreed that additional support was needed for Jake’s mum and brother. Jake’s mum didn’t feel ready to talk to others about the experience but received regular check-ins with the Child and Family Support Coordinator and was supported to visit her GP to discuss her anxiety. It was also arranged for her to complete a parenting course through the local authority. A referral was made for Jake’s brother to receive individual therapeutic support sessions from a local Young Carers support worker. When everyone involved felt Jake was ready to talk about his injury, the Child and Family Support Coordinator carried out a family awareness session and the whole family joined in to learn more about childhood acquired brain injury. During the session, the difficulties and needs of all the family were discussed and a plan was formulated to help aid this. The family were also provided with various Child Brain Injury Trust resources to look back at when needed.
Over time, Jake’s speech and language difficulties improved further and he no longer required weekly interventions with the speech and language specialist teacher. His outbursts became fewer and his mum felt better equipped to manage them. She felt more in control and was now ready to accept a counselling referral through her GP. Jake’s brother also felt better able to cope with his brother and had a better understanding of how Jake’s injury had affected him. The home situation was far more stable, and the professionals involved agreed that the Common Assessment Framework was no longer needed. The Child and Family Support Coordinator stays in regular contact with home and school and supports the family to continue moving forward on their journey. Jake’s mum is now planning a well-deserved family trip and has been provided with information on grants to help with this.