Finding Kirk's Words: An Infant Mental Health Approach to Preschool Intervention
AbstractThree-year-old Kirk arrived for his 1st day of preschool in November. Initially reluctant to let his parents leave, Kirk suddenly accepted their goodbyes and assumed a space near the library area. Staring past everyone, Kirk's eyes appeared vacant and fixed straight ahead. Occasionally his gaze would shift in response to a loud noise or someone's sudden movement. However, Kirk maintained the same blank expression and a rigid posture. As these early days turned to weeks, Kirk sustained the same blank gaze, flat facial expression, and rigid posture throughout the 4-hour preschool day. When he was calm enough to engage in an activity, it was almost exclusively solitary play, and Kirk had begun to growl at children who approached him directly. In addition, none of the staff had heard Kirk speak. There were grunts and growls, pointing and gesturing, but never a word spoken to his classmates or teachers. Interestingly, early conversations with Kirk's parents revealed that unlike the preschool environment, home was a place where Kirk spoke freely.