Francesca (Chessie) Shaw, Clinical Coordinator at two Somerville elementary schools received a SEF grant to purchase and try out sand tray and social thinking materials and online training to support social emotional skills for special education students. Chessie found that the sand tray therapeutic sessions were particularly helpful and effective. For many of her students, the sand tray work allowed them to express their feelings in emotions in ways that didn't require them to use as much expressive language as is often required of them in other therapies. For example, one student who is working on building his positive peer relations, was able to work through conflicts with sand tray miniatures.
Chessie reported to SEF that as a result of her experience, “I have become particularly interested in the power of sand tray in working with ASD students--so much so that I have sought out even more specific training on sand tray and ASD students on my own. The therapeutic sand tray work with AIM students was very powerful for many of them, and I plan on recommending that it be continued to be implemented next year with students.” In addition to that, the social thinking materials have been used by many of Chessie’s colleagues, and they have all been incorporating many of the materials in their counseling and speech therapy work.