When a child is severely abused or neglected early on in life, it can lead to a reactive attachment disorder. Children with this disorder are so disrupted they have extreme difficulty establishing normal relationships and attaining normal developmental milestones.
Lost in his own mind
Brodie was just four years old when he came to Act for Kids. He had lived through four long years of being chronically neglected by his parents. His mum suffered from severe post-natal depression and the first six months of Brodie’s life were spent lying in bed next to his mother. There were no games or learning experiences in Brodie’s home. Dad was violent and had a drug problem, and mum’s poor mental health meant Brodie and his five siblings were left to their own devices. In a house full of people, Brodie was completely alone. He disconnected from his parents and his siblings essentially lost in his little mind. It was almost as if he was missing, even though he was standing right in front of you.
He was placed into our Early Education Program, a special kindy for children affected by abuse and neglect to help him one day transition to regular school. To this day, he was one of the most delayed children we’ve ever seen. In class, he would rock back and forth, and the only words he could say were ‘tree’ and ‘bike’.
He wouldn’t look at his teachers or therapists or interact with other kids. He sought out no connection or interactions at all. He could barely understand the instructions given to him by his teachers and couldn’t express his emotions or needs through words. In addition to attending our EEP kindy, Brodie worked with our psychologist, speech pathologist and occupation therapist extensively for over two years.
How we helped
Due to his severe speech and developmental delays, his therapists used lots of play therapy to build his communication and social skills and help him with this emotional regulation. His speech pathologist taught him gestures and used lots of visual aids to help him keep up at kindy and in therapy. Little by little, we began to find Brodie.
This particular year, Santa was visiting Act for Kids and giving the children gifts. At this stage, Brodie was halfway through his intensive therapy and was still very shy around strangers. However, upon seeing Santa, he just about knocked his therapists over to run over to Santa, jump in his lap and look straight up into his eyes. It was a big emotional breakthrough for a little person who had been through as much as Brodie had!
The Bigger Problem
over 480,000 reports
were made to child protection authorities
accessed child protective services
1 in every 32
Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child protection Australia 2019-20.
Abuse and neglect
The majority (54%) experience emotional abuse, followed by neglect (22%). One in five (14%) experience physical abuse and 9% experience sexual abuse.
Abuse and neglect can impact a child’s brain development, how they feel and think about themselves, how successful they are at school, even their physical development and skills. In the long term this can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, difficulty developing and maintaining good relationships, unemployment and all sorts of social disadvantage.
Early intervention makes the world of difference
Brodie continued to make fantastic progress over the next year and his shining moment was indeed his kindy graduation. He went from a lost little boy who could only say two words, to emceeing the graduation, complete with a microphone and all! He introduced all the songs and bossed the parents and carers around telling them exactly where to sit!
Soon after he transitioned to a school nearby and continued to be supported by Act for Kids to help him settle into a big school and help his teacher adjust to his developmental delays. By this time he was no longer diagnosed with autism and was simply a chatty, excitable six-year-old. Thanks to the support of Act for Kids’ generous donors, Brodie now gets a second chance at childhood… so thank you!
How you can help
We can’t do this important work without your help. We rely heavily on donations to support our intensive therapy programs for abused and neglected kids, and early support for families at risk. Your donation will help us keep our doors open and expand our services.
Read More Stories
Summa is an 8-year old girl who suffered the effects of trauma whilst she was in the womb….
Samantha was exposed to a hostile home life and extreme abuse and neglect at the early stages of life….