Mariella Hines is a 9 year-old African-American girl attending the 3rd grade in the JFK School. She was referred to the School Psychologist because she has recently become very withdrawn during class, refusing to speak to anyone, including her teacher and peers. Previously she seemed to have age-appropriate social skills, interacting well at school. Her withdrawal started suddenly. Mariella’s teacher, Mrs. Levine, called Mariella’s mother to find out more information, but her mother said that Mariella seems fine at home.
The School Psychologist faxed Mariella’s mother a Consent Form and discussed with Ms. Hines over the phone a psychological assessment that was planned for Mariella. Ms. Hines understood the reasons for the assessment and what tests would be used with Mariella. She asked several questions, which the School Psychologist answered. Ms. Hines then signed the Consent Form, scanned it, and emailed it back to the School Psychologist.
When Mariella was brought to the Psychologist’s office, Mariella would not speak or make eye contact with the Psychologist. Mariella played silently with some dolls that were in the office. The Psychologist noticed that Mariella seemed anxious, so she said, “Mariella, nothing bad will happen when you talk to me.” Mariella looked at the Psychologist for the first time and tears rolled down her cheeks. The Psychologist offered Mariella a large stuffed poodle, and Mariella hugged it tightly. Then the Psychologist said, “I mean it, Mariella, it’s safe to talk in here with me.” After a few minutes hugging the poodle, Mariella asked, “What’s his name”. The Psychologist responded, “Mr. Friend.” Following this, a more normal conversation and a playtime ensued.
Mariella remained mute, however, in her classroom. So the Psychologist saw her again the next day. During this time, she told Mariella that she had some fun games for them to play, and also some work that was like schoolwork. With this