My eyes have recently been opened to a new challenge that parents of children with disabilities face. I’ve seen, heard and experienced many of these struggles firsthand, but during the August holiday there was an incident with Rose, one of our students at Precious Kids School, that broke my heart.
Rose is twenty years old, her little brother Collins is fourteen, and they both have Autism. Rose is now in the first grade and is getting better and meeting her reading, writing and math goals every day. She is great with the other students. She enjoys playing and laughing with the other girls and often volunteers to help feed some of the students at meal times. She is a great big sister to Collins and is always looking out for him.
Collins is also making great improvements at school. When he first came he couldn’t tolerate noise and could only focus on a task for a few minutes. Now he is getting into the routine of things and is able to sit in the classroom and focus for most of the morning. He has learned to feed himself since coming to school and is getting better at communicating his wants and needs. Collins also has epilepsy and we were able to get him a sponsor to help the family be able to provide him with the medication he needs.
Their mother, Judith, takes great care of them and was thrilled to have a school that would accommodate their individual needs. When the schools were closed in August, Judith left the kids at home and went to town to buy a few things for dinner. While she was gone a neighbor knocked on the door and Collins opened it. He came in and raped Rose; and Collins was forced to witness the whole attack.When Judith came home she found both of her children were traumatized and deeply distraught. They were unable understand or express their feelings about what had happened. The man was taken to the police station, but was let out after only a few weeks because he has connections to people with influence and had the money to pay his bail.
We went to visit Rose and she tearfully talked about what happened and Judith told us that it is difficult with that man still living so nearby. Every time Rose sees him, those memories and fear come rushing back and it is overwhelming and hard for her to endure. A few weeks ago Rose came back to school and is doing great. It is good for her to have a safe place to go and play with her friends and get back to her normal routine. We will continue to monitor her closely and provide counseling to help her work through and express her emotions.
The challenge that I’m encountering are those that look to take advantage of children, or even adults like Rose, who have disabilities. What happened to Rose, happens too often. What Collins had to witness will never leave him. What Rose had to endure will never leave her. I cannot pretend that this attack is something I can fix. There are people all over the world looking to take advantage of others, disabled or not, and that is out of my hands. So, while counseling and a safe place to learn and play will help to heal, what I ask for is prayer. Please pray for Rose and the rest of her family as they continue to process and heal from this horrible attack. Please pray for strength for Rose, Collins and Judith as they continue to live so closely to the man who traumatized them. Pray for Judith to have the knowledge and the right words to help counsel her children and work through their emotions. Pray for the PKC staff to have the wisdom and words of encouragement as we work closely with Rose, Collins and Judith. Pray that we, the PKC staff, can lift this family up in support and love.