Where Braxton Started
One of the many facets of Braxton’s personality is that he has an encyclopedic memory. He will remember your name, the date of the first time he met you, when your birthday is and what day of the week in which it will fall. However, he may not initiate conversations with you or look you in the eye. He may need help from his therapist knowing what to do next during a task. This is why the programs Braxton has been working on at Cornerstone are based around building his social and functional life skills.
Braxton came to Cornerstone in July 2013 through the home-services program. Once the center in Columbus opened in June 2014, Braxton began services in the center half-day, spending the other half of the day in a school setting. The VB-MAPP (a developmental curriculum) assessment revealed that Braxton was in the highest level for communication skills; however his conversations needed improvement. For example, he would not pick up on social cues, such as knowing when to start a conversation and when to wait. He would gather facts rather than ask questions based on the topic of discussion. Our functional assessment revealed that Braxton needed assistance with functional life skills such as self-care tasks and household chores. Braxton did not know how to brush his teeth, wash his hands, put on clothes or tie his shoes. Instead, he relied on others to help him through these situations.
How Braxton Has Improved
The Columbus opening has helped Braxton in many ways. He is now able to work on more social programs by interacting with his peers in the center. Jen Riddle, MS, BCBA, said he has many friends that love to follow him around and play games with him.
“He’s like a big brother to them,” said Riddle. “A lot of the younger kids really like having him around.”
His conversations with others are flowing much more naturally. Braxton’s therapists have worked on teaching him how to wait up to 30 seconds instead of interrupting others, asking questions such as “What do you want to play?”, and giving empathetic statements to others.
Functional life skills have also improved dramatically. Since he has gone above the VB-MAPP levels, Braxton is working through the Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS). He can now brush his teeth, wash his hands and face, tie his shoes and put on his clothes. Braxton also has programs that include sorting the recycling and going to the grocery store. Social stories have been essential in helping him with these programs. Going to the grocery store on Fridays has become a motivation throughout the week to work hard and be on his best behavior. They call it “Fun Friday” and it is something he is rewarded with after doing well with his other programs during the week.
These functional life skills have helped him not only in the center, but at home as well.
“His family was afraid to take him out into the community because they weren’t really sure what he would do,” said Riddle. “But because we are taking him out, they feel more comfortable with it. We expanded horizons to help them expand horizons.”