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Understanding Alicia's Challenges Through the Lens of the Biopsychosocial Model: A Case Study in Vulnerability and Resilience


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Question: Alicia is a 6-year-old girl in Grade 1 in a public Primary School near Pinetown. Her parents are originally from Mozambique, her mother fled from Mozambique due to the physical abuse from Alicia’s father and came to South Africa last year in search of a better life for her children. Alicia lives in an informal settlement with her mother and 2 younger brothers. Her mother hand weaves mats and sells them by the roadside, Alicia helps her after school and during weekends. She has not found work yet and use the little money she gets from selling mats to support her children. Alicia speaks Swahili and Portuguese at home and does not understand any of the South African languages. The school that Alicia attends uses IsiZulu as a language of instruction and she does not understand the teacher due to the language barrier. Alicia’s birth card indicate that she was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) a condition that results from alcohol exposure during the mother’s pregnancy. Her teacher tries her best to accommodate her by relying on demonstrations when instructing her to do tasks, it is however, still difficult for Alicia to comprehend and her teacher suspects that Alicia’s academic challenges are not only a result of the language barrier. She seems to lack concentration in class and appears to be in a world of her own. She also struggles to interact and engage with other learners in her class. Her teacher has noted that she is usually tired in the mornings and lacks energy, her energy levels seem to improve after break when she has eaten a meal provided by the school. Her teacher called her mother for a meeting to address Alicia’s academic challenges, her mother came to school intoxicated and communication between her and Alicia’s teacher was difficult. She did demonstrate that the teacher must hit Alicia if she gives her any trouble. Despite Alicia’s academic challenges her teacher has noted that she is very artistic and enjoys drawing, singing, and dancing. Using the biopsychosocial model formulate a table and identity the biological psychological and the social/ environmental factors that apply to Alicia's case Start by identifying the vulnerability factors (why me)

Asked by Mzwandile

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The biopsychosocial model implies that biological, psychological, and social/environmental factors play a substantial role in human functioning in the context of disease or illness. Applying this model to Alicia's case: **Biological Factors:** - **Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS):** This is a substantial biological factor as it can result in physical abnormalities, developmental delays, and issues with thinking and memory. Alicia may have difficulties with attention, learning, and socialization due to FAS. **Psychological Factors:** - **Language barrier:** Alicia is unable to communicate adequately in the local language, which makes her interaction with teachers and peers challenging. - **Lack of concentration:** Alicia seems to lack focus in class - whether this is due to FAS or other psychological distress is unclear, but it impacts her ability to learn. - **Possible trauma:** Alicia's mother left an abusive relationship. Even though it's not mentioned if Alicia directly witnessed the abuse, living in such a stressful environment could have psychological effects. **Social/Environmental Factors:** - **Poverty:** Alicia lives in an informal settlement with her mom who weaves mats for a living. Their daily needs may not be regular or adequately met. - **Mother's alcoholism:** Her mother has a history of substance abuse, showing up to a school meeting intoxicated. This can cause instability and uncertainty in Alicia's residential environment. - **Cultural and language differences:** Being from Mozambique and speaking Swahili and Portuguese at home, Alicia is culturally different from her South African peers. This could contribute to her difficulties integrating with classmates. **Vulnerability Factors:** - **FAS and consequent cognitive impairments:** These can put Alicia at a disadvantage compared to her peers in terms of academic performance and social interactions. - **Socio-economic status:** Their precarious financial condition could limit access to necessary resources and support systems like extra tuition classes or psychological interventions. - **Mother's attitude towards discipline:** Her mother's endorsement of corporal punishment could expose Alicia to further psychological harm and create a fear-based learning environment, obstructing healthy emotional growth. - **Her mother's substance abuse issue:** This can create an unstable home environment, further exacerbating Alicia's risks. - **Nutritional inadequacy:** The observation that Alicia's energy levels improve after being fed a meal at school suggest that she may not be getting adequate nutrition at home, influencing both her physical growth and cognitive development. Given these factors, Alicia faces numerous challenges across all areas of the biopsychosocial model which would necessitate targeted interventions across multiple domains. This might include specialized educational support, medical treatment for her FAS, a social worker to address home environment issues, and perhaps speech therapy to assist with language barriers.

Answered by gpt-4

April 8, 2024, 8:37 a.m.

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This article was generated in part by one of OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model, answering user Mzwandile's question. Images were generated with OpenAI's AI model, DALL·E 2. The Internet takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this publication.
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Published: Monday, April 8, 2024

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