Caleb's Story


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.

Unloved and alone

Caleb has experienced a significant history of neglect and witnessed domestic violence in the family home from a young age. He was left in the care of extended family members for long periods of time and was often shuttled between carers. As such, Caleb did not have an attachment to any of the adults in his life.

Destructive behaviour left him isolated

Caleb was placed into care with his older brother and struggled to play alongside other children. His play was destructive, he lacked imagination and the ability to maintain focus on one particular activity. He was unable to sit still for longer than a few minutes and had limited fine motor skills needed for things such as pulling up zips, doing up buttons and drinking from a cup.

How we helped

When Caleb came to Act for Kids he could barely hold a pencil and despised table top activities like writing or colouring in. He was always fidgety and overly energetic, his inability to follow the most basic instructions meant he was a danger to himself.

With access to our Occupational Therapists and Speech Therapists, Caleb is now learning to engage in play for an extended period of time through the use of visual schedules, timers and motivators such as getting to pick the next activity.

Through many visual techniques and modelled behaviour, our therapists are helping Caleb get ready for school this year. Caleb can now transition between activities with ease and is able to sit on his own and complete an activity independently. He can play for several hours without resorting to destructive scenarios or getting bored.

The Bigger Problem

Last year,

over 480,000

reports were made to child protection authorities


174,700 kids

accessed child protective services


1 in every 32

Aussie kids!

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

Soon Caleb will no longer need to see an Act for Kids therapist and will able to smoothly transition into school and keep up with his peers. While the severe neglect he suffered may affect his future relationships, time and consistent kindness from his carers will heal this wound and Caleb will go on to have a happy and productive life.

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.

How you can help