ReGina knew there was something going on with her son, Deyondre, but she couldn't figure out what was causing his confusing behavior.
"He would have periods where his grades were good, and then his grades would fall off. And when his grades would fall off, his behavior would change. And I couldn't understand what was going on," ReGina explained.
They explored a number of options: seeing a behavior specialist, seeing a psychiatrist, trying out medication--ReGina even tried working with him on her own.
Finally, his primary care nurse practitioner recommended that they try counseling at ACH Child and Family Services.
At first, progress was slow. "Deyondre wasn't very communicative in the beginning," ReGina said.
After a couple of sessions, Jessica Sorensen, Deyondre's counselor, noticed that after physical activity, he was more relaxed and communicated with her a whole lot easier.
Sometimes, if Deyondre wasn't feeling his best when he came to a session, Jessica would take him out to the playground to run around for 10-15 minutes. When they came back inside, he would be ready to talk.
They were also able to have Deyondre tested at school, and they determined he has dysgraphia, which his teachers now know how to manage.
"One of the things we have discovered is that things that he truly likes, he excels at. Things that he doesn't like, he doesn't, and that's where the behavior issues start," ReGina recounted. "We learned he needs information in little pieces and to let him process each piece individually and then put it all together at the end."
One thing ReGina was very surprised about was that Jessica helped them discover that Deyondre was also struggling with an early childhood trauma that was impacting his behavior.
In coming to ACH, they were able to talk through his history with Jessica. They discovered that Deyondre first experienced trauma as a 3-year-old when their family home caught fire while the family was still inside. Another trauma happened when he was 4 years old, and ReGina was in a major car accident that left her unable to care for her son for a few months.
"He didn't know how to process his emotions at such a young age, so he suppressed them. Coming here, we were able to figure that out," ReGina said.
Jessica helped teach Deyondre tools to help calm himself down, and as Jessica says, "To get his lid back on," which meant calming down enough to think through the situation.
Having learned these tools, school has been going much better for Deyondre. "His teachers have said both how his behavior and his work ethic have improved so much," ReGina said.
She added, "This was the greatest thing because I didn't know what to do in those situations. When he became overwhelmed, I didn't know how to get him back at a controllable level. So Jessie taught me some things to help him and taught him some things to help himself when he's not with me to be able to calm back down."
Deyondre said his favorite part of counseling was getting to know his mother better.
"I liked the 'game' when we answered questions about ourselves and each other," Deyondre reported.
"It was really, really helpful to answer the questions about yourself," ReGina remembered. "At one point, we played it where I answered questions about him and he answered questions about me. So we learned about each other, but more importantly, I learned more about him. He didn't want to leave that day."
Not too long after completing counseling, ReGina's fiancé had a major stroke and was in the hospital and a rehab center for several weeks. She said she was nervous that Deyondre would have a setback because this was another trauma. However, she said he really rose to the occasion.
"As far as behavior goes, he was still on the ball, still able to do all the things he learned here."
"Coming to ACH was the best thing for him. I've just seen so much growth in him since we started coming here. Now that he is able to clearly communicate with me his wants, his needs, his issues--it has just made a tremendous difference," ReGina added.
Deyondre agreed. "Jessie is good at what she does. And she helped me enjoy my time in counseling."