Within the secondary school setting, we have found the biggest demand for our services is to help with social and emotional challenges that this age group faces on a daily basis.
Peer pressure, self-confidence, self-love, fear of rejection and failure, social anxiety and acceptance are all of significant importance in this setting where the presence of the school assistance dog team has shown to help ease and dissipate these feelings and emotions.
Case study – Sasha
Sasha is a year 8 pupil, who uses inappropriate attention-seeking behaviour to attract the attention of others. Sasha has trouble with social skills and understanding of how her behaviour affects others.
- To develop a greater awareness of how behaviours can affect others
- To introduce and explore alternative appropriate methods of communication when wanting the attention of others
Through the Canine Assisted Learning interventions, Sasha was able to take part in dog related social skills scenarios and reflect on various outcomes. This promoted lots of discussion surrounding what could have been done differently and how these changes could affect possible outcomes.
The programme for Sasha also included “Steps to Success” which was a pupil-led intervention (with the assistance of the dog). This was a step by step plan for Sasha to use when she was struggling within class/social situations and would act as a prompt to promote positive actions and therefore positive attention from peers and teachers alike.
Over a period of time, Sasha has been able to recognise and verbalise how her behaviour affects others around her (both in a positive and negative way).
Sasha has identified various strategies to help her maintain positive relationships within the school setting. e.g. to move away from disruptive behaviour rather than join in and to verbalise her feelings rather than resorting to invasions of personal space, making noises with no meaning etc.
Sasha is also able to answer the question ‘How do you think that would make someone feel?’ when asked by staff.
Consultancy School Dog Services is where one of our team of a trained school assistance dog and practitioner can visit your school for one-to-one sessions and Affiliate School Dog Services is where we can offer a training and support programme for your own school dog for this setting.