For the last 19 years, D.F., a 20 year old student with Autism, has been used to his daily
routine which includes going to school in the morning and going home to mom and dad. Mom
takes him shopping and dad takes him fishing on the weekends. They watched movies and ate
pizza every Friday night. That all changed a little over a year ago when his parents separated.
At first, his parents hid it from D.F. by still living in the same house but staying in separate areas
in the house, mom living in the basement and dad staying in the bedroom upstairs. When the
school year ended in June last year, the divorce was finalized. Dad took in a new friend and
mom got kicked out of the house. D.F. shuffled between two homes for about a half a year until
mom remarried and has to stay in a different state for a few months. D.F. now lives with dad
with his new family and talks to mom through FaceTime.
D.F. thrives on predictability and structure. Any changes, big or small, trigger behaviors.
The once jolly and happy kid is a totally different person. He has been showing persistent
feelings of hopelessness, frustration, loss of interest in most activities, suicidal thoughts, and
aggressive behaviors towards himself and others that have been significantly affecting his
performance at school and at home. He constantly blamed himself for breaking his family. The
teacher called home and requested for a parent conference to discuss her concerns. During the
first meeting, emotions were heightened and issues were not addressed or resolved.
The teacher reached out to the district’s secondary Special Education instructional
specialist to help with the situation. She came in to observe D.F. for a week during structured
and unstructured times. They reviewed his BIP, behavior notes, and reports from teachers. One
of her recommendations is to work with the family.
The teacher decided to create a team not just to help the student but also his parents.
The team consisted of a behavior specialist, occupational therapist, social worker, counselor,
paraeducator, the student, and the parents and their extended families. J.F. receives behavior
consultation services on a monthly basis. Dr. D. is a behavioral specialist consultant for the
school district. He sees students with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. Dr. D. has
been working closely with D.F. and his parents since D.F.was in middle school. J.F.
demonstrates extreme sensory overload and Mrs. F., an occupational therapist, provides
sensory diet for D.F. To better understand the changes in the family dynamics and its effects on
D.F.., the teacher also sought help from the school’s social worker and counselor. Also, helping
D.F. on a daily basis at school is his 1:1 paraeducator. She has been working with D.F. for less
than a year and has been struggling getting D.F. to perform his daily tasks. Since the beginning
of the school year, J.F. has refused to do any of his school work and also stopped going to his