ACS helped Jimmy change his life. An ACS clinician linked him with the resources to overcome his troubled past and build a hopeful future. Read his story.
Jimmy was kicked out of school and before the Court.
Jimmy’s case began in February 2010 when he was charged with human rights violations and kicked out of school after he sent a threatening email to self- identified lesbians at his high school. The Juvenile Court first asked ACS for a quick evaluation and for help getting Jimmy some LGBT sensitivity training.
In their very first meeting, Jimmy’s mother, Cassandra, told Colleen, their ACS clinician: “There’s something wrong with Jimmy. He talks to himself... he spends time in his room acting strange and saying the same things over and over.” Colleen reported to the Court that she was concerned there was something else underlying Jimmy’s behavior. The Judge asked her to do a full evaluation.
Colleen learned that 16-year-old Jimmy and his family were recent immigrants from Haiti where they faced political persecution and were still afraid of the government. She also discovered Jimmy’s trauma history: he had suffered serious abuse at age 9 or 10. Jimmy initially spoke minimal English and had a terrible time fitting in. He was awkward and bullied at school. His charges occurred when he was extremely upset about losing a student council election.
“I want him to get proud of himself again.”
In March, Jimmy was in trouble again—this time he needed to be hospitalized. Colleen was fielding his mother’s desperate calls for help every week. Cassandra wanted Jimmy to “get proud of himself again” and “get back to being friendly.” But the professionals assigned to his case had difficulty addressing Jimmy’s fundamental needs. He needed medication, special education, trauma-specific treatment, and a chance to improve his social skills.
So, Colleen reached out and finally managed to connect Jimmy with experts who became champions for his case. A colleague at Boston Juvenile Court Clinic diagnosed Jimmy with Asperger’s spectrum disorder. Dr. Richard Barnum prescribed medication and started therapy with Jimmy. The Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC), experts in advocacy for traumatized youth, agreed to serve as Jimmy’s educational advocate.
Jimmy is finally back on track
In September 2011, Colleen received a phone call from Cassandra. After nearly a year of ACS interventions, Jimmy started to get the help he needed. With all these experts advocating for him at a Team Meeting, he was eventually approved for special education! He began a new program, where he’s getting both educational support and treatment for his trauma.
Cassandra reported that Jimmy is starting his senior year of high school, talking about how he wants to be a doctor, and has visited a few colleges. He admits that he still struggles communicating with others, but is excited to see what the future will bring!