News & EventsDecember, 2018

Thomas & Anita’s Story

Though Thomas spent two and a half years in our foster care program, his story begins and ends with his relationship with his mom, Anita. Today, we know Thomas as a bright 4-year-old who loves eating crispy foods and playing with musical instruments. But when he first came into our programs, he and his mom had faced several traumas.

When Thomas came into our foster care program, he was 2 years old and had developmental delays. While many children speak in full sentences at his age, Thomas had a hard time communicating or showing affection. His mom, Anita, accessed the services she could, but she was unable to meet all of his needs.

“I knew my son had special needs, but I was embarrassed,” said Anita. “I just wanted him to be what I thought was normal. With Kaleidoscope, I learned there were a lot more special needs children, and they were all so cute and special! Y’all showed me that there are a lot of moms and kids with special needs. We’re not alone.”

We placed Thomas in a nurturing foster home while we helped Anita to better understand and care for him over time. Through our comprehensive case management, Thomas got expert care and was diagnosed with Autism. As a result, his care team at Kaleidoscope, his foster family and his mom had a clearer understanding of his needs. We collaborated with his family, DCFS and the other adults in his life to get him extra help at pre-school, occupational and speech therapy, and the tools he needs to feels safe, like sensory toys and a weighted vest.

Still, the biggest barrier for Thomas and his mom was that he could not speak; not knowing how to communicate made it very hard for them to connect. That connection is vital, and Kaleidoscope works with every one of our families to mend the bond and form new, lifelong connections that help children grow.

For Thomas and Anita, that meant specialized therapy beyond what Kaleidoscope’s government contracts allow. We sought and received funding Help For Children foundation to hire a specially-trained therapist to provide in-home, relationship-based therapy for them. Working with their therapist, Catherine, has been life-changing.

Antia said, “Working with Catherine has been amazing. She really has a humble spirit, and you could tell she really cares about her job and invested her care in me and my son. She taught me a lot about Autism, and the cues and signs I noticed before but didn’t know what they were. She really gave me a better understanding of the Autism spectrum, and she enlightened me with all kinds of books about sensory issues, ways to calm him, the benefits of the weighted vest. She has been very helpful, and I’m very grateful for her.”

Through play-based therapy every week, Catherine worked with Anita to understand how his body communicated his needs. Therapy also helped Thomas to more calmly navigate the world and practice connection and reciprocity. He made improvements across the board, including recovery from trauma. At the same time, Catherine worked to empower Anita to feel capable of meeting of his needs on her own and to honor the role that she has played in his healing.

As the bond between Thomas and his mom grew in therapy, she learned how to communicate in a way that works for Thomas, and how to support his growth and show him the love he needed – and vice-versa. The results have been astounding.

“Thomas is calmer, makes gestures and other cues more clearly, and his mom better understands what his sensory and emotional needs are during daily life,” Catherine said. “He feels calmest when he’s with his mom, and she feels so much more confident to give him what he needs in ways that are so sensitive to him! We’ve seen him make strides because of this.”

In August, after 2 and half years in foster care, Thomas was able to return home to live with his mom. In the last few months, they have celebrated many new milestones and are looking forward to spending Christmas together.

“It’s wonderful to have him home,” Anita said. “It was the little things that I missed the most, like picking him up from school or just sitting down and watching T.V. with him. I appreciate just being in his presence.”

That’s what makes Kaleidoscope special: We are committed to going above and beyond for every child, every time. Your gift now ensures that we can provide this customized, loving care and support for kids just like Thomas.

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