Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS helps family overcome challenges, find comfort in care
Carmela and Anthony Zelli, Sr., struggled to find a residential behavioral healthcare facility that could meet the unique needs of their son, Anthony, who has autism and intellectual disabilities. Then, they discovered Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Pennsylvania.
When Anthony became a teenager, he faced significant behavioral challenges, and certain schools and foundations declined to accept him. In July 2018, the Zelli family turned to Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services (CIDDS) center.
“Before Devereux, we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t leave the house. My son, Zach, lived in the basement because he was a source of frustration for Anthony,” Carmela said. “Devereux helped us get our lives back. We were disconnected. Life centered around Anthony – and only Anthony. When he went to Devereux, we were sad, but we felt like we got part of our family back. It was good for us because we could focus more on our other children who took a back seat for many years, and it was good for Anthony because he needed a set schedule and we were unable to give him one with our busy lives.”
Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS Executive Director Carol Anne McNellis, Psy.D., BCBA, also noted, “Families play an integral role in achieving successful treatment and outcomes for the individuals we serve. Team members have worked closely with the Zellis to ensure Anthony receives the care and support he needs to flourish and lead a more fulfilling life.”
Receiving support; making progress
Since arriving at Devereux, the Zellis say Anthony has made progress and, most importantly, he is happy.
“Anthony loves his routine. He knows what’s happening almost every day. He is very comfortable, which is nice,” Carmela explained. “Team members have learned his quirks and moods. For us, the open communication with staff is the best. I talk to his behavior therapist and clinicians and ask them how he’s doing. When you’re a parent and you don’t have regular communication, you feel like you’re out of touch and don’t know what’s going on.”
Carmela says employees told her one story that warmed her heart.
“Anthony has a DVD player that allows him to watch his favorite shows,” Carmela shared. “One day, a new kid sat down next to him and started watching his show. Eventually, the kid put his head on Anthony’s shoulder, and Anthony let him sit there. Team members said they were blown away because Anthony likes his space and doesn’t like to share. Now, the two are buddies.”
Hopes for the future
Anthony, who is 22 and loves arts and crafts, puzzles and spending time outdoors, graduated in June 2021 from the Devereux Pennsylvania CIDDS Learning Center. The Zellis are working to transfer him to Devereux Pennsylvania – Adult Services, where he will live in a group home.
When that happens, the Zellis understand it will take some time for Anthony to adjust, but they remain hopeful for the future.
“I hope one day he can come home,” Carmela shared. “I just want him to be happy.”
Make a donation today!
If you have a passion for helping people living with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences – like Anthony – please consider making a donation to Devereux. Your generous gift will support our programs and services, and help those in our care achieve their full and unique potential.
Learn more about Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services, and learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.
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