Layden’s Story

Where Layden Started

Layden would line up his toys in a perfect row. He spent hours gathering similar items, such as trains, spoons or snakes, and he would meticulously place them together into their own line. If you moved his array, he would become distraught and move everything right back where he had originally placed it.

When he was a toddler, Layden didn’t engage in eye contact and made sounds, but he had not developed any words. When there were birthday parties or outings with large crowds and a lot of noise, Layden would cry most of the time and become easily overwhelmed. He struggled to wear his shoes, pants, shirts and coats for extended periods of time as well, making seasonal transitions and public events difficult for Layden and his family.

Layden’s mother, Rachelle Vaughn, realized he may have a developmental delay when his younger brother was hitting milestones that Layden had not. She discussed her concerns with Layden’s pediatrician, who referred the family to First Steps. Layden was in the program for about one year, receiving Occupational, Behavioral and Speech therapies.

At age three, Layden was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Soon after Layden began developmental preschool, Rachelle learned of Cornerstone and began the long process of acquiring the appropriate insurance for Layden so they he may receive services. In April 2013, Layden started one-on-one therapy at Cornerstone.

“From day one, I felt completely comfortable with the team working with him and knew he was in good hands,” said Rachelle. “They understood him, and I never had any doubts that he was safe.”

He began with 19 points on the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment (VB-MAPP). Almost 7 years later, Layden graduated with 166.5 milestones out of a possible 170!!

Upon starting ABA therapy, Layden had little functional communication. He couldn’t express to his family his wants, needs or emotions. When he did start to communicate, he would recite or  “script” lines he memorized from movies repetitively. It was often hard for others to understand what he was trying to tell them.

How Layden Improved

Layden is now able to communicate in full sentences and use “Who/What/Where/When” questions on a regular basis! He even gave his own graduation speech and charmed the room with singing songs in the microphone.

“I’ll never forget the first time he said, ‘I love you mom’, made his first friend, or spelled his name for the first time,” said Rachelle. “Enrolling Layden at Cornerstone was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Leading up to his transition at school, Layden was able to attend 15- 20-minute sessions with peers in a mock classroom setting with minimal prompts from his one-on-one therapists. Layden was also working on spelling, reading and handwriting. He started using a daily schedule and showed an increase in self-management skills.

He was working on mastered targets for up to five minutes without engaging in vocal stereotypy (repetitive language).

“Layden has a giggle that can light up any room,” said BCBA Elle Scanlan. “Watching him learn and grow into the person that he is today has been so much fun.”

Layden also showed major progress in wearing different types of clothing and was able to wear his uniform on the first day of school (khakis and a polo) after practicing at Cornerstone. We are so proud of him and all of his hard work!

“Who would have guessed that by enrolling my son at an ABA center, I would become so passionate about their mission and their company that not only would I end up working there, but my sister Morgan started working there as well. Now here we are, six and half years later and he is thriving in a school setting. None of this would have been possible without the foundation Cornerstone set for him.”

We are so proud of Layden’s progress and how far he has come!!

If you have any questions about enrollment or taking a tour of Cornerstone, you can call 317-888-1557 or email

Watch his graduation Speech here:

Watch his graduation video here: