Weekly Therapy helps Luci Thrive

A Healing Bond: Luci Grows with Her Grandmother's Love
September 22, 2023
Kindergartener Luci Burke was recognized as her Student of the Month in her classroom this spring. The award brought tears to her grandmother’s eyes.

“I was really emotional about that,” describes Keni Jefferson, who has raised Luci since she was seven months old. “After a very difficult start to the school year, with days where Luci was sent home because of her inappropriate behavior, it meant so much to see her grow and progress into this accomplishment.”

Luci is a silly, spirited child with a unique personality who loves to sing and have special occasion sleepovers in her grandmother’s bed. She was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder and developmental delays due to the trauma of infant neglect before she was placed in Keni’s care. Aggressive behaviors first presented during pre-kindergarten and escalated the following year. She receives weekly behavioral health and speech-language therapy services at The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh.
“When Luci came to live with me she was malnourished and unloved, and her feet had never touched the floor,” says Keni. “She was behind developmentally in every area. We have been working together since then with help from The Children’s Institute on meeting milestones. I really admire Luci’s spirit and determination, and especially
her resilience.” 

Through evidence-based and trauma-informed talk therapy, Luci is learning new coping skills and emotion regulation strategies to strengthen her self-esteem and social skills. Speech language therapy gives Luci the tools to better understand language and how to communicate with the world around her. At home, Keni reinforces lessons learned and organizes their life together with familiar routines. 

Keni and Luci are closely bonded, and Luci is learning how to express her wants and needs in healthy ways. When she is frustrated, she can regulate her emotions and remember to use her words: “Can you help me?” The colored behavior chart at school, which showed mostly red dots (difficult days) in the early months of the school year, now displays long lines of green dots (good days).

“The Children’s Institute has been there for us during our best and worst times,” Keni explains. “Luci’s therapists are patient, gentle, and compassionate, and they are so skilled at bringing out the best in her. I see the steady growth and progress in Luci, and I trust The Children’s Institute will continue to help her thrive.”

Behavioral health services at The Children’s Institute help children and families develop skills to manage mood, thinking, and behaviors. By moving toward resiliency and healing, children become happier and healthier at home, school, and in the community. For more information, visit our Behavioral Health services page

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