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Rocco's Journey with Devereux

“I cannot begin to express how profoundly grateful I am to Devereux. They have given Rocco the most precious gift of all, a life worth living and a future full of continued stability and success.”

 

I was practically an adult and on my own when my brother, Rocco, was born. My mother had previously lost a child to SIDS, and my parents were so excited that they finally had a son. My family has a history of addiction and mental health problems, and they believed that having Rocco might somehow make up for their many years of heartache. However, as he grew older, my parents needed a lot of help and support to care for him. I immediately stepped in, became a second mother to Rocco, and have continued in that role throughout his entire life.

I could see that Rocco was different from other children. My dad agreed with me that Rocco was beginning to have some significant behavioral problems. My mother remained in denial about Rocco and he did not receive any resources until he began Kindergarten. It did not take his teachers long to realize that Rocco could not thrive in a traditional classroom setting. His behaviors had increased dramatically. He now spent much of his day rocking, banging his head against the wall, scaring everyone with his numerous angry outbursts, and impulsively hitting and pushing the other children. My mother finally agreed to have Rocco evaluated by professionals, who diagnosed him with autism, and advised my parents to find a special school for him. My parents were devastated, but had Rocco’s best interest at heart. After a long search, they admitted him to a residential school in Pittsburgh where he remained for several years. My parents visited often and became concerned that Rocco’s behaviors were getting worse. The school’s treatment was not helping and each day Rocco was becoming more isolated and withdrawn. My mom and dad were desperate to make a change but did not know where to go. Finally, one of the clinicians at the school who had worked closely with Rocco told them about Devereux.

 

Rocco moved to Devereux fifteen years ago, and it was the best thing that ever happened to him! Within a short time, he became much happier. He could sit calmly in his classroom, focus on his assigned tasks, and avoid violent interactions with other students. He showed so much improvement that he was able to come home for weekend and holiday visits. My parents were thrilled and relieved that Rocco was finally getting the excellent care at Devereux that he so desperately needed. As my parents grew older and their health declined, I promised my dad that I would always be my brother’s caretaker. I have tried hard to live up to that commitment and remain very grateful to Devereux.

In 1937, Devereux issued the first Continuing Care Contract, providing assurance to families that their loved one would receive lifetime care. Please consider making a gift to honor Devereux’s commitment to whole-person health in all stages of life.  

 

Rocco lives with several other men his age in a warm and cheerful home. Supported by the outstanding Devereux staff, he has a wonderful full life and pursues many interests and hobbies. Ever since he was young, music has always been very important in Rocco’s life. He is a talented musician and spends many happy hours practicing his keyboard and performing at various Devereux events. His exceptional talent, and Devereux’s encouragement, has led Rocco to a wonderful part-time job. Each weekend he plays the keyboard at a local church. He never misses a Sunday service and accompanies the choir and congregation with his instrument.

Today, Rocco enjoys spending time on his home computer, researching and purchasing remote controlled cars. He has become quite financially literate, saving quite a bit of each paycheck and checking his balance to see how much money he has in his account. Rocco loves participating in community life, and thanks to the dedicated staff at Devereux, has frequent outings to Chinese and pizza restaurants, the movies, and concerts. He is also a highly valued member of the local Rockers Bowling League, and has helped his team place in the top three in the local bowling championship.

 

These opportunities have allowed Rocco to discover his own potential and lead a meaningful life. In the spring of 2017, Rocco was proud to receive The Thomas J. Brookshier Heart of a Champion Award at the annual Devereux Golf Classic, which recognizes an individual for their participation in recreational, art, music, cultural and vocational programs. Rocco is deservedly proud of his many accomplishments and independence, yet he realizes that his wonderful quality of life would not be possible without the selfless dedication and commitment of the Devereux staff. Rocco recently said, “My life at Devereux is pretty good.” Though I will always worry about him, hearing this brings me some peace of mind. I cannot begin to express how profoundly grateful I am to Devereux. They have given Rocco the most precious gift of all, a life worth living and a future full of continued stability and success.

As you may know, a gift to Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health unlocks human potential and is needed now. Please make your gift today by clicking here.

With gratitude,

Barbara Leedy
Sister of Rocco, Devereux Adult