When Grace first came to Barnardos, all she had was a plastic bag with two dresses and a shoe
For many children, emotions at home balance on a knife edge. At a moment’s notice, they are thrown into the terror and pain of living in a violent or unstable household.
One of these children is Grace. At almost four years old, Grace hadn’t been toilet trained and was still wearing nappies. Her body was visibly dirty – and smelled – and she’d never been taught how to speak – she was completely non-verbal. Grace didn’t know how to tell anyone what was wrong, traumatised she would just rock alone in a corner.
Barnardos visited her home and discovered a shocking situation. The house smelled of urine, there were dirty nappies on the floor and there was no food in the cupboards.
Her father was involved with drugs and had just been taken into police custody. Her mother suffered a serious mental health disability. She was also often violent, and engaged in self-harm. In their distracted state, her parents were simply not capable of giving Grace appropriate care.
The department removed Grace from this toxic environment, but after such an appalling start in life, this very damaged little girl needed a lot of healing.
Grace went to live with Annie, a Barnardos crisis carer who is also a childhood development specialist. Shortly after, an assessment revealed Grace had autism and developmental delays. At nearly four, Grace was functioning at the level of a child almost half her age.
Annie provided Grace with all the attention, patience and help she needed. She taught her how to use a toilet and after a lot of support from speech and occupational therapists, Grace is now able to speak.
Grace is finally getting the support she needs, but she still has a long way to go. Unfortunately there are many other children who desperately need help, and without it, face a very bleak future.
* Please note: Names changed and models used to protect privacy.