Peter was just 3 years old when he arrived with his mother and older sister at Catholic Social Services La Salle, a shelter for women and children who are fleeing domestic violence. As a result of both the trauma he had witnessed and his autism diagnosis, doctors believed Peter would never speak. Without the words to say what he was feeling, Peter was frustrated and acted out.
Despite what doctors said, his mother and the team at La Salle refused to give up hope.
Giving Peter and his family a safe place, free from violence, was the first step. As they settled in at La Salle, the constant fear they had lived with for so long began to lift and their anxiety eased. Peter’s mother began working through counselling and classes offered at La Salle to rebuild her self-esteem and confidence. She was happier and calmer, and her children could sense this.
The team at La Salle was desperate to help Peter. They knew many of his challenges were rooted in his inability to communicate, so staff worked tirelessly to find a resource that would help him communicate.
Peter’s team accessed Sign of Hope funding to purchase an iPad with software that allows him to communicate by pointing at pictures and encourages him to use his own words.
The first time Peter said “Hi Mom,” his mother sobbed with gratitude.
Today, Peter can speak a handful of words now and staff expect him to continue to improve. His entire life has changed course, thanks to the support of Sign of Hope donors.
“Peter’s story is a true testament to the power of community support. Not only does Sign of Hope allow Catholic Social Services to fund programs like La Salle, donor dollars also empower us to change lives by responding to the needs of vulnerable individuals when they need us most,” says Dr. Troy Davies, CEO, Catholic Social Services.
Against all odds, Peter is happy, healthy and thriving.
“He’s a kind, loving kid, smiling all the time. He’s just so happy now,” says Holly Taylor, Program Manager at La Salle. “The odds were against him, and he’s overcoming them. The future is so bright.”