Children who have been abused or neglected can often be developmentally delayed, operating at a level well below their peers. This can severely impact their education and future prospects, and their ability to form positive relationships.
Severely neglected and beaten
Thomas’s short life had been one of abuse and neglect. He was frequently hit by his parents and when he wasn’t being beaten he was completely ignored. No one played with Thomas, no one spoke to him, and he was fed only once a day. He ate with his fingers, gulping down food so quickly that he often made himself sick. Eventually Thomas was removed from his parents and placed with a caring foster family.
Three, going on two
Thomas was referred to Act for Kids with scars on his little body telling a tragic story of physical abuse. Equally heartbreaking were his developmental delays, a result of severe neglect. While other kids his age would laugh, run and play together, Thomas only had the development and coordination of a two year old.
Thomas never smiled
He could barely walk a few steps without falling over; he had mastered a few words but could not string a meaningful sentence together. He avoided eye contact, never smiled and his vacant stare revealed his torment.
How we helped
Our integrated therapy team including an Occupational therapist, Speech and language therapist and Psychologist helped Thomas address both his developmental and emotional needs. He particularly enjoyed the large play room at our centre where he could play and move freely, developing his motor skills and coordination as he progressed through therapy.
Our team also worked with Thomas’ foster mum to help her understand his behaviour and develop ways she could encourage his independence and confidence. Together we helped alleviate his separation anxiety and he’s making great progress, picking up new skills each time he visits his therapist.
Making positive progress
Though still underdeveloped compared with other kids his age, we are so proud of Thomas’ achievements. His foster Mum is confident he will thrive when he starts prep next year. Our team will carefully transition Thomas to prep, and work closely with his future teacher to ensure his progress is positive.
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
With early and appropriate support, children and young people can overcome their experiences, and go on to have happy and productive lives.
Our team of experts works with kids like Thomas every day. We have waiting lists for our critical services; thanks to your support we can help many more.
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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