Shane's story

A sanctuary during lockdown

The enforced lockdown brought back the all too familiar feelings of uncertainty and a loss of freedom for Shane and his Mum Vanessa.

When the country retreated into lockdown the news of this may have left people with conflicted feelings. Some welcomed the opportunity to slow down while others dreaded the feeling of uncertainty. For the families who would have been attending Dandelion Time, questions of how to cope with this new “normal” arose. Shane and his Mum, Vanessa, had just begun attending their sessions at Dandelion Time when everything changed.

Shane had started to feel relaxed with his peers after his first few sessions at Dandelion Time, forming the foundations of new relationships and generating positive shared experiences. Suddenly Vanessa and Shane found themselves at home with both work and school on pause. While home was now a happy bubble for them, their recent history of domestic abuse brought back the all too familiar feelings of isolation, uncertainty and a loss of freedom.

Previous experiences had left Shane feeling frightened, vulnerable and anxious. Shane relied on structure and routine in his day to help him feel calm. Dandelion Time therapists remained in regular contact with Vanessa, offering weekly therapeutic support via telephone, but it soon became apparent that they were both struggling. Vanessa explained that her relationship with Shane had become strained and Shane had become reliant on her company all hours of the day. Vanessa no longer had support from her friends or family and Shane’s behaviours were becoming exacerbated. Their home was evolving into a pressure cooker of emotions with both of them struggling to cope.

While Dandelion Time was able to run 1:1 farm sessions with families, Shane had withdrawn so much he was finding it too difficult to leave the house. He was plagued with anxiety fearing any social interaction or being removed from the safety that his bedroom provided. Dandelion Time began by sending Shane craft packs with purposeful and creative activities. As these craft packs arrived each week, Vanessa noticed a sense of hope fostering within him. Shane started looking forward to his weekly delivery from his Postman and discovering what this week’s pack would include. He enjoyed carrying out his activity and sharing his creations with us. So much so that we were able to encourage Shane to join us alongside other families for an Online Virtual Session! This enabled Shane to begin building on his confidence again and confirm his abilities to interact outside of his relationship with his Mum.

Our woodland forest englufed with wild garlic

After a few virtual sessions Shane agreed to leave home and try a short visit to Dandelion Time. Initially Shane found it hard to leave his car, but with the support of his Mum and the lure of a guinea pig cuddle he stepped out of the car. During that session, Shane sat with the guinea pigs, holding them close and stroking their soft coats, until he felt calmer and less anxious. Shane shared his thoughts as to how the guinea pigs may feel leaving their cosy hutches and being transferred to their run. We explored with him how it might initially feel scary for the guinea pigs, until they realised the sanctuary of their run. During their next visit, Shane and Vanessa went for a walk down to our woodland, which had transformed during lockdown, engulfed by wild garlic and bluebells. Shane was able to let go of Vanessa’s hand and run, exploring the woodland and searching for the dens he had remembered building before.

Vanessa and Shane are now attending Dandelion Time on a weekly basis and Vanessa has described Shane as “doing much better”. He has been able to allow Mum to do things around the house out of his view for a few small opportunities a day. Vanessa has been able to do things for herself again, enabling her to feel more available to Shane during his times of need. They have now incorporated frequent trips to the park into their routine again, and Shane has even been talking about seeing his friends again at school one day.

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This is a composite case that is indicative of our work, names and images have been changed.

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