Life for Max was very lonely. He was shown very little love and affection.
Withdrawn and alone
During the lockdown period – which resulted from the global pandemic – both of his parents lost their jobs and were at home with Max.
There were no games, fun or learning experiences in Max’s home. Max’s abuse increased significantly. He was left to his own devices, with no adult supervision or interaction with his parents on most days.
Due to the seriousness of Max’s situation, he was removed from his parents’ care and placed with his grandmother, Shirley. As a result of the trauma he had suffered at the hands of his parents, Max had severe developmental delays. His speech and language was limited, and he was socially withdrawn. Max only communicated using simple gestures such as pointing and using single words.
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for children who are abused and neglected to find it difficult to interact positively with other people or express themselves using words. They struggle to understand their own feelings and frequently feel overwhelmed.
Max became very attached to his grandmother, and he struggled to safely leave her side. He would suffer separation anxiety whenever he was away from her.
Desperate to help Max heal from the trauma he had experienced so that he could lead a happier life, Shirley contacted the team at Act for Kids.
Every Monday, Max and Shirley visit Act for Kids, where Max receives speech therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological support to build on his relationship with his grandmother, encourage safe separation, and develop speech and language skills. After two months of intensive therapy, Max had a breakthrough.
One Monday morning, the normally very reserved and anxious little boy had a big smile on his face. He told his therapist that he “loves Mondays” because he can spend time with his grandmother doing fun activities, and that makes him feel really happy.
Max is now communicating using phrases and short sentences with a range of vocabulary and expression, resulting in improved outcomes at home and at school.
However, due to Max’s complex learning needs, his therapy has become more intensive from one session to the next, and so the Act for Kids team have been working with Shirley to help her develop a range of skills and activities so that she can engage with Max at home and keep him busy, interested and entertained, while also promoting his language and overall learning – on days that aren’t Monday.
The Bigger Problem
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
Max and his team of caring adults still have work to do. And that’s where you come in.
Although Max continues to improve, he still struggles with anxiety and will need long-term support to help him overcome his past experiences. He has experienced a lot of trauma already in his short life, but with continued support and positive reinforcement, Max will go on to achieve his full potential, expressing himself with confidence, and he will no longer be filled with fear and apprehension in the future.
In a recent therapy session, Max said that every day is starting to feel like Monday – happy and fun.
How you can help
We rely heavily on donations to support our Integrated Therapy Services, and provide help to children and families who have experienced or are at risk of harm. With your support, we can continue to help keep kids safe, heal from trauma and lead happy lives.
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