NORTNORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Cameron has lived a life much different than most kids his age. The autistic 11-year-old is non-verbal and is in foster care.

“He was extremely malnourished when he came into care, so he currently is eating double and trying to get his calorie intake up,” said Makayla McCarthy, his adoption specialist with the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services.

When KNWA met Cameron to learn more about him, he devoured rice cakes and chugged Gatorade in between going down the slide and climbing around at the Georgia Mae Smith Memorial Park in Hindsville.

It was because of environmental neglect, his adoption specialist said, that led to him being removed from his biological home in July 2019. Cameron’s lived with the same foster family for some time, but this placement is only temporary.

Because his parental rights have been terminated, Mccarthy said he needs a family to adopt him or he’ll just live out his life in the system. “I think that he has a forever home out there. We just have to find it.”

She believes he would do best in a two-parent household that can give him a lot of that one-on-one attention. Currently, Cameron is in individual counseling and play therapy which will need to continue even after he’s adopted.

“It’s hard enough to find families for kids who don’t have any disabilities, or any therapies, any mental health issues or anything like that. So to find a family that is going to put in that time and that work to deal with something that they don’t have to deal with. They have to have the desire to want to deal with a kid that has those things.”

Makayla McCarthy

While he can’t speak, the fourth grader communicates through touch. “He immediately wants to grab your hand and walk with you and hold hands.” McCarthy continued, “I know what he’s needing without him having to say it. He’s very good at communicating through his body language and shaking his head and just going to what he wants.”

11-year-old Cameron

Cameron is full of energy. As he played on the playground he seemingly didn’t even get tired out. Though he is a bit unpredictable and likes to take off running, it is easy to capture his attention.

McCarthy said, “he loves anything that spins fidget spinners, the little spinney things here at the playground, anything that he can move. He likes to swing. And I believe he likes to swim, too.”

He also likes listening to music. Cameron bobbed his head to all the Cocoa Melon songs McCarthy played for him in the car.

Cameron is eligible for adoption through DCFS. If you’re interested in learning more about him, visit Project Zero’s website.