Durand School Wellness Program
Aiden was referred by the middle school counselor to the School Wellness Program due to anxiety surrounding eating at school Aiden’s mother explained to the Mental Health Counselor that at the age of 6 Aiden had a traumatic experience choking on a piece of hard candy that completely cut off his airway. His mother, using the Hiemlich procedure was able to clear his airway. It had been life threatening for Aiden. The trauma soon led to Aiden becoming reluctant to swallow and then developed into a significant eating problem. Aiden who was slight in build began losing weight. After multiple tests with multiple specialists Aiden’s pediatrician told his parents there were no medical or physiological reasons for his discomfort in swallowing. His difficulty swallowing was preventing him from eating a full diet at school and at home. Meal times with his family and with his classmates at school were too much for him to cope with. Medication prescribed to reduce anxiety was helpful. In time, his symptoms reemerged and medicine was increased. His pediatrician referred him to outpatient therapy and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. He was not making progress. Aiden wanted to be able to be at school and not have his anxiety prevent him from joining in with the other students.
The SWP mental health counselor saw Aiden and his mother separately and together to develop a plan of service. A research based collaborative problem solving approach was used. Aiden’s mother was coached in a process of including Aiden in solving his problem. A plan was created. The plan included SWP mental health counseling with goals for psychoeducation focused on anxiety and coping strategies for handling it. In addition, the plan included Aiden talking with the SWP nurse about his difficulty swallowing. Two meetings were arranged by the SWP counselor with the speech and language therapist at the school for Aiden to learn about swallowing and choking. Supported by the SWP counselor Aiden let the school lunchroom aides know what his concerns were and he learned they were trained and ready if any problem occurred.
In the course of 4 months, prior to the end of the 2017 school year, Aiden was eating an increasing variety of foods at school and at home. His progress was evident to him and his family. The decision was made to reduce the SWP services to an as needed basis.
I was very happy with how kind and caring the Durand Wellness Center was to me. Before I saw Mr. Bromley, I was very uncomfortable while eating. I had mostly a liquid based diet and was scared to eat solid food because I would choke again. After I began treatment they made it so I felt comfortable eating at school because I always knew if I had a problem they would help me. I now feel a lot more comfortable eating at school. I go out to dinner with my family and eat out in public thanks to the Durand Wellness Center. – Aiden
The School Wellness Program’s unique ability to provide high quality mental health treatment to students in the school setting made it possible to help both Aiden and his family in the familiar and more typical setting of his school. This made it possible to help Aiden collaboratively within the school and with the other services needed while minimizing the disruption of his learning experience.
As a final note, Aiden, now at the High School, continues to be highly successful in school. He has a 4.0 GPA, is first in his class, and is president of his class.
About the My Health Story Contest
School-Based Health Care Awareness Month is the time each year that we pause to celebrate the value of school-based, school-linked and school wellness programs. This year, we asked youth across Michigan to tell us how a School-Based or School-linked Health Center has improved their health and helped them to succeed in school. Contestants were asked to submit an essay about their experiences with a Health Center. Stories will be posted daily on our website beginning in February during Awareness Month to the end of April when we host advocacy day. You can see all the contest entries here.