Monday, June 26, 2006

A Week of Miracles

This was the week that school ended, and because there were many awards and celebrations, it became the week of miracles.

A nine year old boy who has such terrible aggressive outbursts in the morning got an award for most improved reading as he has actually learned to read this year.

A shy and social uneasy girl got a drama award for her small part in the Wizard of Oz which represented such courage on her part.

Tabitha is thirteen year old girl with no active family connections. When she came to us she was entrenched in a pattern of running away to the most self destructive and dangerous situations she could find. She had already endangered her health and her life. She hasn’t run for several months now, and is even beginning to express doubts as to whether the 30-year-old man she met up with “really loves her”. She has a new relationship with a boy her own age. She received three school awards, including most improved in her class.

Then there is Mark. His background included some of the most horrific abuse I have ever heard. He came to us at fourteen so primitive, eating with his hands, unable to handle bathroom and self care, socially inept, demanding and aggressive. Yesterday he received the Principal‘s Award! He is helping younger kids, working in the vocational program, and learning computer skills.

Of our four high school graduates, two were kids we didn't even think we could keep at various points. I have written about Sandra and Rob previously in this blog. Another child has lived three quarters of his life in residential, and had no sense of autonomy and no ability to make choices. Now he is an assistant to the PE teacher and may have found a vocational direction. Bob has a history of problem sexual behavior, and has grown partially through participating in the Poetry Club.

These children changed and grew because they were able to relax. They grew through developing trusting relationships, through being noticed and validated. They changed because the gradually shared their hearts, their fears, their dreams, and they were met with encouragement and understanding. The structure and safety around them were essential. People- staff, therapist, teacher- engaging them around their behaviors and emotions was an expression of caring that drew them out of their isolation. In some cases the family work played a huge part in the child’s recovery.

We all had tears in our eyes and new sense of hope and commitment in our hearts

Of course, some other younger kids, dysregulated by the end of school with its losses and changes in the routines, had a big crisis in the afternoon, lest we think we could spend our whole day resting on our laurels. But some of them had received awards as well, and although they had a bad afternoon, the healing has begun.

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