INSPIRATIONAL, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKERS & CONSULTANTS ON AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS
Our names are Matthew and Mitchell. We are identical twins and are now 22 years-old. We were born two months prematurely and experienced many health issues as a result. We were fighting to live when we were in a different room, away from our parents for an extended period of time after we were born. During that time, the doctors did some procedures that saved our lives. Everyone has talked about how blessed we all are because of the great care that we had after we were born. We were strong and developed well physically and intellectually during our first year. However, around the time of our first birthday, we became more interested in things around us such as spring-loaded door stops and toys that made noise than in people. We also loved to spin things! We spent a lot of our time spinning objects and started to show less interest in spending time with other people. We had a hard time with transitioning from one situation to another and liked it better when things didn't change much. When we were 16 months-old, we struggled so much that doctors recommended to start receiving Occupational and Speech Therapy. We weren't talking very much and mostly repeated simple words that were said to us. Our physical skills slowed down and struggled with moving our bodies. Therapists came to our house and to our day care center to do therapy with us almost every day of the week. The activities that we did in therapy were also done with our parents and grandparents at home after the therapists left.
The Birth to Three Director, Occupational Therapist and Speech Therapist suggested to our parents that we had other developmental concerns. When we turned two and a half years-old, the therapists recommended that we get evaluated by a child neurologist to determine if we had Autism. After about six months of evaluations, it was determined that we met the criteria for Autistic Disorder. We were just over three-years-old when we received the diagnosis. We started receiving intensive therapy at our house when we were just over three-years-old. Therapists who were trained to help kids with autism came to our house every day after school. We also started going to school when we were three years-old. We received Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy during school hours. From the time we were three-years-old through six-years-old, our days involved approximately 10-12 hour days with both school and therapy at home per day. From the age of six through our current age of 18, we have received post-intensive therapy and other supports in our home throughout the week. Our typical days have involved going to school and then working on skill development at home for at least three hours per night. Thousands of hours have been spent working on strengthening our bodies and developing new neurological connections in our brain. That's what it takes to get better...enormous amounts of repetition.
We have also benefited from many additional treatments over the years such as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Visual Supports, Sensory Integration Therapy, Auditory training, Vision Therapy, Martial Arts, Chiropractic Care, Reflex Inhibition Therapy, Interactive Metronome, Personal Training and many other interventions which will be further discussed in the story.
We are now in our fourth year in college at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Mitchell earned an Associate Degree in Marketing with an emphasis in Digital Marketing in December, 2018. He also has a Technical Diploma in Digital Marketing and Technical Certification in Promotions and Event Management. He is currently taking classes in Hotel and Hospitality Management. Matthew earned Technical Diplomas in Web Design Technician and Digital Marketing and a Certification in Promotions and Event Management in December, 2018. He is currently working toward earning an Associate Degree in Marketing with a Digital Marketing Emphasis.
Mission Statement: To provide educational opportunities for others related to living and learning with Autism and offer hope and encouragement to individuals with Autism and their families.
Click on Shawano Leader image below to read an article about our experiences living and learning with Autism prior to high school graduation.