A family of five children entered the abuse and neglect system when one child, Susan, appeared at school with bruises, allegedly resulting from her mother striking her with a broomstick. Susan had led a solitary life — she was the only person with a hearing disability who lived with a hearing family. No family member learned sign language or other alternative forms of communication to accommodate Susan’s needs. Since the family members never effectively connected with her, Susan has suffered from lack of communication and appropriate bonding with her caretakers. In addition, she disclosed to the guardians ad litem assigned to her case that she has experienced physical and sexual abuse by close family members. Due to the persistence of the volunteer attorney, Susan was placed with a foster mother who teaches at a school for hearing impaired children and Susan has begun counseling sessions with a therapist who knows sign language and specializes in attachment disorders. For the first time in her life, Susan is learning how to communicate with others and, consequently, is developing close relationships with adults who care for her.
*Not real names