Case of J.V.

J.V. was a high school student with agoraphobia, depressive anxiety, generalized anxiety and bipolar disorder whose primary issue was school (as well as other social setting) avoidance. In fact, J.V. had been unable to attend school for five months due to the severity of his agoraphobia and anxiety issues. Despite having knowledge of this issue, J.V.’s school was doing little to assist him, despite their legal obligations to do so under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Aaron Nissen (’11) and Allysun Atwater (’11) counseled J.V. and his family, and reviewed volumes of special education, cumulative education, and mental health documents and reports. Additionally, Allysun and Aaron interviewed school officials and mental health professionals in preparation for J.V.’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting. Their investigation revealed that through a combination of miscommunication, inattention, and misplaced efforts, J.V.’s disability was being miscategorized and treated as a truancy and drug issue. Allysun and Aaron were instrumental in negotiating a transitional support plan for J.V. that addressed ways to help him overcome his anxiety about attending school, placed J.V. in a therapeutic classroom setting with in-school mental health support, and alerted his mental health providers of the family’s needs and of the severity of J.V.’s mental health issues. Aaron and Allysun were also able to help secure additional wraparound mental health support for J.V. through the county mental health agency. J.V. is now attending school again with the appropriate mental health supports in place.