When Mikey was referred to our School Therapeutic Services (STS) program, he was about to enter kindergarten. Since a young age, Mikey was a very anxious child. He had many behavior issues in preschool and daycare that made his parents and the school concerned about his transition to all-day schooling. At the beginning of the school year, Mikey was unable to attend full-day kindergarten. He was extremely upset each morning, unable to even enter the school building. Whenever he was able to stay, he had extreme difficulty with transitions of any kind. The only way that he was able to stay in school a few days a week was if one of his parents stayed with him. All agreed that Mikey needed immediate help. The school called the STS team. Interact’s STS program offers services to children who have serious behavioral or emotional issues in select Philadelphia schools. STS provides targeted treatment for specific problems that prompt referrals, but also provides resources that promote social and emotional growth, coping and social skills to children through individual and group sessions. The primary goal of STS is to help kids remain in their schools and out of more restrictive environments like “special” or “disciplinary” schools. After only a few weeks of working with Interact’s therapists and behavior workers, Mikey now attends school all day. He has a one-on-one worker and a therapist who work with him on overcoming his anxieties and regulating his emotions and behaviors. The STS staff worked with Mikey’s parents to establish routines and activities that would ease his transition to the classroom every morning. One of the most successful activities his team came up with was “the kissing hand.” In the morning, before he leaves for school, Mikey’s mom kisses his hand. Every time he starts to feel sad or anxious at school, his STS worker asks him to touch his cheek with the “kissing hand” and think of his mom kissing him. He has learned other coping strategies and “tricks” that now help him keep calm and focused. Today, Mikey writes cards to his parents “telling” them what his favorite part of school was. At the end of the day, right before he gets on the school bus, he turns to his therapist and STS worker and blows them kisses – with his “kissing hand,” of course!
Mikey’s Story (Behavioral Health Services)