James’ Story

Where James Started

Meagan didn’t see the early signs of autism her son, James, was exhibiting until she became a therapist at Cornerstone. She noticed he was not playing with the other children. Instead he was content with lining up his cars on the table, flipping them on their backs and spinning their wheels over and over again. He also had a speech delay and was not able to communicate his wants or needs. James was able to start services in February 2014, which was only a few months after diagnostic testing with Dr. Jessica Bissey and going through the insurance process.

When he began services, his clinical leader observed that he was a picky eater. He would only eat eggs, pancakes, yogurt, mac ‘n cheese, bananas and pizza. Therapists also saw James was non-verbal, and he did not do well participating during group with the other kids his age. He was also not potty trained at the time.

Meagan said she hardly knew her little boy. He was lost in his own world, but she was hopeful therapy would help bring him out into our world.

How James Has Improved

James is now at Level 3 in the VB-MAPP, showing his communication has dramatically improved, and he masters over 300 targets monthly. James does not get as frustrated because he is able to communicate with others, and he is growing into a social butterfly.

At the grocery store, Meagan said James likes to say hi to everyone and asks what their names are. She said he is able to talk in complete sentences that usually bring out his sense of humor. The new phrase he likes to say is, “Oh my gosh!” This holiday season he walked around telling everyone, “Merry Chrimas!” when he meant “Merry Christmas.”

In his food program, James has made significant improvement. He will now try foods such as oatmeal, broccoli, celery, grapes, oranges and string cheese. At home, he often surprises Meagan by asking for foods he would not eat in the past.

James is also more independent and is now fully potty trained. He also surprised Meagan during his first martial arts class by listening and following directions without needing prompting from her. Recently, Meagan has learned that James loves to draw and is becoming an amazing artist.

During group time, James is able to sit and participate for up to 10 minutes without any tantrums. He also plays with other kids his age in the imagination room, where he pretends to be a chef with an apron and chef’s hat.

Meagan said at home James plays and interacts with his little brother, Jonah, and also gets excited to see his older brother and sister, Nate and Natalie. She believes therapy has brought him out of the little world he was trapped inside.

When asked how Cornerstone has helped their family, Meagan said it has given her hope. She now sees the possibility of James graduating and transitioning into a school setting.

“I think that’s something that I was really concerned with before, I didn’t see how that would happen,” said Meagan. “Now I definitely see the bright future my son has ahead of him.”