Monday, Feb 11, 2019
Stories of Success: Maeve and Kenny
Ever since he was a little boy, Kenny loved watching anything featuring animation. Diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum at an early age, he found comfort viewing animated movies, cartoons and video games.
When he was 13, Kenny and his younger sister entered the dependency system when their mother was unable to care for them. Although he was extremely bright, Kenny had difficulty relating to others and making friends. His Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Maeve was no exception.
During their first few visits, the two seemed like polar opposites. Maeve was outgoing and loved sports; Kenny was withdrawn and showed no interest in sports. “I was taking him to all of these sporting events and he wasn’t interested,” Maeve says. “All he wanted to do was watch animated films such as ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ‘Cinderella,’ or ‘Pokémon’. I couldn’t understand it.”
After consulting her CASA Supervisor, Maeve decided to meet Kenny where he was. That meant listening more about his needs and doing more activities that interested him. Maeve recalls one of their first meetings when she took Kenny out for ice cream. She stuffed the trunk of her car with a bunch of board games and taught him how to play dominos. “I wanted to just learn about him. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him. I just wanted to be present and there for him,” Maeve said.
Although the two continue to have different interests, Maeve is always there for Kenny, taking him to see the latest animated movie, playing a round of putt-putt golf, or visiting the Tech Museum. She also offers Kenny educational support by making sure he has the resources he needs to be successful. Maeve worked with her CASA supervisor to make sure Kenny was enrolled in an individualized educational program (IEP) at school that gives him more time to complete assignments and longer time to take tests. “I follow up to make sure his teachers follow his education plan,” Maeve says.
Maeve encourages others thinking about becoming a CASA to jump in. “People worry about the commitment of being a CASA. It’s different from being a foster parent. It’s just being a friend. You get so much more out of that friendship than you give. It’s so worth it!”
As for Kenny, he’s still passionate about animation and wants to be an animator. Recently Maeve has been helping Kenny apply to different colleges. They’ve visited different campuses, discussed cultural differences and requirements of each school, and talked to college students about their experience. Kenny has already been accepted to one school and is waiting to hear back from his first choice.
“He’s very determined,” says Maeve. “I just want to be there to help guide him.”
To learn how you can make a similar impact in a foster youth’s life, start by attending an info session. Sign up here: www.BeMyAdvocate.org/info