When a child is severely abused or neglected early on in life, it can lead to a reactive detachment disorder. Children with this disorder are so disrupted they have extreme difficulty establishing normal relationships and attaining normal developmental milestones.
Suffering in silence
Lisa is 17 years old and she grew up experiencing severe physical and emotional abuse. She was hit, slapped and forced to perform physical labour. When she came to Act for Kids, Lisa was initially seeing our psychologist where it was identified that her poor communication skills were impacting her social relationships and she was referred to our speech pathologist as well. As a result of her abuse, Lisa is very shy and withdrawn and she suffers poor self-esteem because of her struggles to communicate.
Finding the words
Our Speech Pathologist worked with Lisa and conducted assessments to determine the developmental level of Lisa’s communication skills. Sadly, she was severely delayed across all areas. Together, Lisa and her therapist decided that improving Lisa’s conversational and social skills would have the most impact on her wellbeing and they set out some therapy goals to track Lisa’s progress. In sessions they focused on skills such as eye contact, turn taking, asking questions, making comments and extending and ending conversations appropriately.
How we helped
Throughout Lisa’s therapy journey, she recorded some of her sessions and would listen to them back with her therapist and discuss her progress. At the end of one of these sessions, Lisa exclaimed “I can talk!”.
Now remember, Lisa is 17 years old and until only recently, had felt like she wasn’t able to talk properly. Many other teenagers her age were working part time jobs, finishing up high school and heading off to university but this poor girl, never got the nurturing, or the support or the encouragement that other kids receive. Instead she somehow made it to 17 without learning how to properly interact or communicate with those around her.
Now, Lisa is getting ready to transition out of Act for Kids’ services as she will soon be turning 18. We are working to connect her with other services so she can continue her communication development. Lisa’s aspiration is to attend TAFE where she can utilise her improved communications skills to have conversations with her teachers and other students and make friends. Something she never could have done without your support
The Bigger Problem
reports were made to child protective auhtorities
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
With early and appropriate support, children can overcome their experiences and go on to have happy and productive lives. With continued support and positive reinforcement Ethan will be able to overcome his traumatic childhood experiences and achieve his full potential. Thank you for helping us give these kids the childhood they truly deserve.
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.
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