Charlie and Max are 10-year-old twins who share a sense of humor and a passion for movies. They also share a diagnosis of autism and a team of Easterseals professionals who support the boys and their parents, Craig and Elizabeth.
Five days a week, Easterseals visits their home for a session of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a methodology that helps children with autism develop skills that will enable them to be as independent and successful as possible.
The boys are very intelligent, but autism causes them to be sensitive to loud noises and changes in their routines. Social skills and communication are also a challenge, but to different degrees for each boy. The focus of Max’s therapy is on increasing communication, while the goal for Charlie is to keep closing the social skills gap that exists between him and his peers.
To maximize their progress, the Easterseals team — led by Liz Kinsella, Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Easterseals ABA Program Coordinator — makes the most of the boys’ natural interests. Charlie, for example, loves to perform. He has dreams of directing a play or movie when he grows up. His therapists will record video of him acting out "scenes" demonstrating appropriate behavior in different scenarios. By showing the video to Max, who picks up language from movies, Max then learns from his brother how to respond in a given situation.
Such individualized attention means the world to Craig and Elizabeth. "Everyone at Easterseals is so professional and cares so much for our boys," Craig says.
The bond goes both ways, Liz says. "We’re really close to the kids and the family in general. What keeps them up at night is what keeps me up."