On a day like any other day, Marcus goes through his usual routine. He walks around the center with his therapist, staring out windows and flying through programs with incredible ease, all while taking special care to clean up after every activity – a trait many parents would be envious of. On this day in particular, Marcus stops his regular activity of playing with putty and something new catches his eye.
Therapist Emily Lepore quickly tells me, “He’s never shown interest in the train set before. I’m excited to see how he’ll interact with it.” For the next two minutes, Marcus is enthralled in the train set. For a typical child, he or she may take interest in new toys on a regular basis. However, for a child with autism, interest in something new is not as common.
On this typical and normal day, Marcus meets and overcomes challenges without knowing it and continually reaches goals. We have chosen to spotlight Marcus for his stellar improvements in mastering programs along with improvements in social interaction. Clinical Lead Olivia Eickhoff and therapist Emily Lepore have answered questions to provide insight into Marcus’s development since arriving at Cornerstone.
Olivia: “Marcus started about a year and a half ago. I became his lead last October.”
Emily: “I started working with Marcus about 5-6 months ago.”
Emily: “Some of his favorite things to do are staring out windows, swinging, solving puzzles, and he loves being tickled. Another big thing for him is jumping on the trampoline.”
Olivia: “He is overall improving socially. He’s a little sensitive to loud noises, so we have been working with him to ease his sensitivity, but other than that, he’s good. Last month, he completed 290+ programs! He’s taking off!”
Emily: “Since I’ve been with him, he’s gone from using only one to two word phrases to three and four word phrases regularly. He’s amazing at mastering programs. He regularly goes through 200 per month.”
Olivia: “Marcus has made significant amounts of progress. Six months ago, we were only looking for one word phrases, like “tickles”. “Tickles” was our only word, but now we are using full sentences and describing words with adjectives and adverbs depending on what he’s manding for. He’s come a long way with his social interactions, too. He will come into my office and say “Hi!” and if I tell him I got to go, he will say “bye” back to me. He initiates the response after I say I have to leave, which shows he’s picking up and understanding that I have to leave, and that is an appropriate time to say “bye”. That’s a very hard thing to teach a kid in the first place!”
Part of Cornerstone’s mission is to “maximize those who struggle.” Marcus Kreuzman’s improvement since joining Cornerstone has been nothing short of excellent. His improvement in social interaction and mastery of programs has been maximized through his increased interest in different activities along with his ability to pick up on social queues. Little things like realizing when to say “bye” are steps that show that there is no limit to Marcus’s potential, and he will only get better as he continues his journey.
June 24, 2014, sheila