Where Austin Started
In December 2012, Austin began therapy at Cornerstone. He had a lot of energy and would spend time in the motor rooms. Peers would play around him, but he wouldn’t engage with them or give any eye contact. He had a difficult time in group settings. At times he would scream “no” and throw his chair.
When he started therapy, he had very little functional communication. His language skills were significantly below the expected levels for a child his age. Austin struggled with waiting, and he would only wait for short amounts of time before becoming upset. This has gradually improved during his time at Cornerstone.
When Austin experienced changes in his routine, he expressed maladaptive behaviors.
How Austin Improved
Austin still has loads of energy. This year, he would often be found riding his bike around the gym with his therapist, while laughing the entire time. He also would line up three yoga balls in order to make a hammock out of them that he could lay across. His creativity and play skills have really grown!
Now, Austin can wait and transition appropriately. This has greatly improved his ability to function in a school setting. Austin is able to transition between classroom activities with little preparation. He can engage in a variety of group activities with relative ease.
Austin is more interested in engaging with his peers. Before his graduation, he would meet with friends daily to play basketball. “Austin is a sweet boy who was always happy to see his therapist and his peers,” said Kathryn Kintner, MA, BCBA. “Cornerstone has been fortunate to see Austin’s happy and excited personality develop over the years.”
His team was impressed by his improvement in group skills. Before graduation, he would follow directions with minimal redirection to complete all group activities, with his therapist there to guide as needed. When Austin moved through the various level groups at Cornerstone, his therapists were able to fade back more, allowing him some independence and autonomy. When he graduated, he was able to follow instructions, wait for his peers to finish their work, respond to instructions from various session leaders and to respond to questions from his peers. This has aided in his ability to follow instructions from multiple teachers/staff members at school with ease as he switches between subjects throughout his day!
“When I think of Cornerstone, I think of Austin,” said Melissa Maggard, ABA therapist. “So many of us have been a part of his story, so it will not be the same without him here. It’s bittersweet because we will miss him, but it’s so exciting he’s going to middle school!”