Matthew's teachers knew about this when he started school, but
they became worried that something other than his disability was
holding him back. As he went into Year 2, Matthew seemed to be
retreating. He did this by looking away when he was being spoken to
in class. At break time, he stood alone in the playground and would
turn away when other children approached.
Staff referred Matthew to Place2Be and the School Project
Manager discovered that as well as his hearing difficulty he also
had complex family problems. His father, who had a history of
violence, committed suicide when Matthew was 2 and his mother was
now struggling to cope as a single parent.
Place2Be decided that Matthew might benefit from group work with
5 other boys, all of whom had fathers who were no longer living in
the family home or had died.
The boys worked with a male counsellor who encouraged them to
paint and draw during sessions. The breakthrough for Matthew came
when he drew a battle scene with scattered dead bodies. When
asked to explain what was going on in his picture, Matthew
said: "All of those dads should have listened to their
This has helped the other boys see Matthew with fresh
understanding. They picked up not on the word "dads" but "listened"
and began looking directly at Matthew when speaking to him and
running around to face him when he turned away.
Matthew has since had some one-to-one counselling at Place2Be to
talk about his family problems. In class, he is making eye contact
and in the playground, he hangs out with the friends he made in the
group. He says he now looks forward to coming to