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Clayton & Jeremy: The Effects of Childhood Abuse and Neglect

Each year, for 75 years, it is our privilege and joy to care for children diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who have been rescued from abusive and neglectful homes. Although, regretfully, we are not in a position to prevent childhood abuse, however, we are here to help make our children feel safe, learn to trust again and to know that they are loved.

Today, among the 40 children living safely in our children’s cottages, are two 17-year-old boys, Clayton* and Jeremy*. Both boys walked through our gates as scared, anxious and malnourished tweens. They had both been placed in and removed from more than 15 foster homes each. They trusted no one. Their behavior was erratic and unpredictable.

Due to the abuse and neglect they had experienced as infants and toddlers, they had very limited language and were in constant states of alertness, anxiety, and self-preservation. Their brains had sustained significant physical and chemical injury due to the abuse they endured during these important years of brain development.

Even though there is no cure for their neural injuries, there is always hope.

Since coming to Mission Road, Clayton and Jeremy have lived a very stable life with predictable schedules for the last several years that all our children need and thrive on. They have lived in peaceful homes with loving caregivers, who are now their trusted family. They have not been uprooted or forced to move from foster placement to foster placement since arriving. Thankfully, human brains retrain plasticity well into adulthood. Research confirms that consistency, predictability and loving care aid in the healthy growth of their developing teenage brains, despite the earlier injuries.

The effects of early childhood trauma will always remain a challenge and will require ongoing care and monitoring. Jeremy continues to struggle with anxiety and has a significant stutter especially during stressful moments. Clayton is triggered by loud noises causing him to retreat to quiet corners.

Clayton and Jeremy are now, mostly, calm, thoughtful and trusting young men. They are gentle and loving toward their friends, caregivers and teachers. They enjoy school and enjoy the games and free-time every teenager deserves. They look forward to growing up and living in a familiar group home setting as productive adults, fully included in society.

Clayton and Jeremy will always require full-time care to remain safe, and we will continue to help them experience a life that is as independent as possible. Clayton would like to work as a caregiver’s aide. Jeremy loves watching workers drive and dig with backhoes and is intrigued by any construction project. He is eager to grow up to be a member of our maintenance department. They have hopes and dreams. We are here to help make dreams come true.

It is our joy and honor to have helped turn their lives around and help them become happy, productive, and optimistic men. It’s a journey that defines the mission and importance of the service we provide here at Mission Road Ministries.

* pseudonyms to protect our children’s privacy