April 2020: Becoming His Best Self

tags: Center for Autism Services, Science and Innovation (CASSI™)

When Marcus first came to Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger, he was a two-year-old boy who wasn't speaking and would run laps around the furniture at home for hours at a time.

After being diagnosed with autism, Marcus started therapy at the Center for Autism and joined our achievements program.

Today, years later, Marcus is a friendly and social young man.

In recognition of Autism Awareness Month, Melanie Pinkett-Davis, Clinical Director for the Center for Autism shares his inspiring story.

Dr. Jacqueline Stone: Today, in recognition of Autism Awareness Month, I am joined by Melanie Pinkett Davis, director of clinical operations at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders.

Melanie Pinkett-Davis: Marcus’ mother and grandmother first brought him to Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders on January 19th of 2011.

He was two years old. His mother was concerned because he was not talking at that time. When Marcus was evaluated he would babble and say the word “go”. He would not respond to his name and paid no attention to other children his age. Marcus was inflexible and had some unusual quirky behaviors. Marcus’ repetitive behaviors included hand flapping, jumping and running laps around a table or chair at home for hours at a time while making a humming sound.

A photo of Marcus, a patient with autism who was treated at Kennedy Krieger's Center for Autism and Related Disorders

After we evaluated him, Marcus was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. He immediately began individual therapy services with a speech language pathologist in our center. Eventually Marcus entered our achievements program. The achievements program focuses on the most challenging areas for children who are on the autism spectrum, including communication, socialization and self-regulatory behaviors. Marcus made slow but steady progress in the program.

Years later we hosted an achievements alumni holiday party. It was held in our large conference room, which was filled with holiday music and chatter. Immediately upon entering the room, Marcus boldly announced “Hello everybody! Marcus is here!” He then proceeded to greet and chat socially with every adult in the room. We were in awe. We could hardly recognize this gregarious young man. There he was using meaningful language, making eye contact and responding to the social cues of others. It was an amazing evening for everyone who remembered Marcus. Given all of the progress that Marcus has made, I believe there are no limits to his full potential.

Dr. Jacqueline Stone: Inspiring Moments is produced for WYPR by Kennedy Krieger Institute. I am Dr. Jacqueline Stone.