Overcoming Anxiety - Nicholas' Story

A 16-year-old male with a history of anxiety that traced back to childhood, Nicholas was having a hard time with routine activities such as attending school. And now, it was getting worse.

When faced with social interaction, Nicholas was overwhelmed by a sense of dread and apprehension which resulted in him withdrawing and growing more and more isolated. He would sit silently in class, watching the minutes tick by, too scared to interact with his teachers when he was having difficulty understanding the course material.

On the rare occasion that he would participate in a classroom discussion, Nicholas spoke in a voice so soft, it was almost inaudible. Because of his inability to communicate his academic struggles, his performance suffered and his grade plunged. 

As if severe anxiety wasn’t enough for this young man to endure, Nicholas had some dental issues that only complicated his ability to communicate with others.  His challenges were affecting every aspect of his life.

Feeling helpless and out of options, Nicholas’ mother decided to home-school her son but soon realized that being out a socialized school environment wasn’t helping her son’s mental health needs.

She enrolled him in Believer’s Academy in West Palm Beach – a charter school with a highly individualized and supportive learning environment. Slowly, Nicholas began improving, and appeared to be more comfortable in a classroom setting.  

Soon after, Nicholas came to Community Partners of South Florida and started therapy and Wraparound Case Management services.

A referral to a local provider for a psychiatric evaluation was submitted and Nicholas began a medication regimen which has helped with his anxiety considerably.

Additionally, Community Partners of South Florida worked with a local charitable organization to procure a new mattress for the young man, dramatically improving his quality of sleep. Nicholas confirmed himself that the support he gets from his new bed has regulated his sleep pattern and that he sleeps more soundly now, leading to better overall mental and physical health.

Devising a treatment plan which addressed his fears and anxiety, Nicholas’ therapist and Targeted Case Manager capitalized on their client’s love of cars to facilitate communication and socialization. Every month, Nicholas, his mother and his Targeted Case Manager attend a local “Coffee and Cars” event. Thanks to having trusted adults with him and the consistency of this exercise, Nicholas’ has been exhibiting less anxiety around others and improving his communication skills with each monthly car show.   Nicholas has even expressed an increased willingness to communicate with others at the car shows because of a shared common interest.  

He has also begun orthodontic treatment to address the communication challenges which stem from his oral health and will be recommended for speech therapy when appropriate. 

Teachers and administrators at Believer’s Academy have noted the considerable progress from Nicholas over the last academic year – both socially and academically - and report that he is an asset to the Believer’s Academy community. 

With the current course of action, Nicholas is expected continue to do well and continue to improve. He is working on towards finding a part-time job and getting his driver’s license. He is excited for the prospect of a brighter future and is enthusiastically making upgrades to the family’s Ford F-150 pickup truck – his vehicle once he gets his license.

Thanks to the collective support of his family, his school and the therapists and case managers at Community Partners of South Florida, Nicholas is no longer buckling under the pressure of anxiety and welcomes the promise and challenges the future holds for him, knowing he can meet and match them without fear.