The Little Troopers Blog


8 year old Alfie*

Alfie is 8 and his Dad serves in the British Army.

Two and a half years ago, Alfie’s family decided to move home and settle in one location. Alfie was on a waiting list for both autism and ADHD assessments and the family knew that moving could disrupt this process and wanted the stability of being in one place to help see it through. Even during this final move, the family went through a complex process to ensure that Alfie wasn’t moved back to the bottom of the list.

The house move was very stressful for Alfie. He didn’t want to say goodbye to his old friends, he didn’t like the change in routine and he found it hard to make new friends as he struggles in social situations and often shuts down. He’d also moved from a school with lots of military children to a school where he was the only military child which made him feel the odd one out at times.

The move led to Alfie having meltdowns at home and in school which were regular and intense. He started to refuse to go to school, especially following school holidays or periods of illness and he was eventually temporarily suspended from school for his behaviour. On top of this huge change at home, Alfie’s Dad was also due to be posted to a new location and the uncertainty about where his Dad was going to be living exacerbated Alfie’s anxiety to new heights.

Alfie’s Mum explains: “All the change and uncertainty related to forces life added to this big melting pot of different things that made Alfie’s anxiety worse than I’ve ever seen it. The school weren’t used to dealing with military families and it felt as though they didn’t understand the link between the pressures Alfie was experiencing at home and how this was impacting on his behaviour in school. When he was suspended, it had a huge knock-on affect on his relationship with his teachers and we reached a real low point. Because we weren’t living in a military community anymore, we were also detached from any welfare support and I felt alone and didn’t know where to turn for help.”

It was at this time that Alfie’s Mum saw a post about the Little Troopers Therapy Programme online and decided to apply.

She continues, “While I knew that the therapy programme wouldn’t directly support his autism or ADHD, I also knew that the underlying cause of a lot of Alfie’s anxiety and the frequent meltdowns were related to forces life.”

Within a few weeks, Alfie’s family were contacted by a therapist who talked through the programme and what to expect before arranging to come to Alfie’s home every Wednesday afternoon for six weeks.

Alfie’s Mum was concerned that Alfie, who is usually very wary of new people, would not engage with the therapist, but the pair connected from the first session and Alfie soon opened up to her. Each week they covered a different topic which was tailored around Alfie’s experience and his interests. As Alfie struggles with reading and writing, many of the sessions involved practical and playful tasks outside or using Alfie’s toys at home.

Alfie’s Mum says: “He engaged far more than I thought he would and was really engrossed in the activities for the full hour, something he’s never done before, even at school. My husband and I were amazed. The therapist created this safe environment where Alfie felt able to communicate his feelings and emotions about being a military child. Simply using colours, he was able to explain how he felt fear, sadness and anger when Daddy goes away but a sense of calm and happiness when he returns. It was a really emotional moment to see that he clearly feels such depth of emotion but has been unable to express it before.”

The sessions also touched on the journey that Alfie had gone through moving home and school several times, as well as exploring what makes a good friend and how to make new friends.

After the six weeks, the therapist emailed the family worksheets that they could continue to use at home and Alfie’s Mum also shared them with the school.

Mum says, “I can’t thank Little Troopers enough for the programme. It has made such a difference to Alfie’s anxiety levels and his general wellbeing. He’s even made a small group of friends at school. It’s also empowered us as parents with new tools to continue to support Alfie in the future. I honestly don’t know where we would be right now if we hadn’t had these therapy sessions.”

* Names have been changed

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