One of Malcolm’s high school teachers told me that SIAT (Science in Autism Treatment) might be interested in his story, since they publish inspirational articles about the accomplishments of young people on the autism spectrum. The following interview is the result of my submitting a short article about Malcolm’s Tiles.
Franca: Dr. Maria Thompson Corley describes Malcolm, her 16-year-old son who was diagnosed with autism, as a sweet, funny, friendly, loving young man. She is also quick to add that, “although his challenges are great, his gifts far outnumber them.”
Dr. Corley: Thirteen years ago, at the age of three, Malcolm received the diagnosis of PDD- NOS. His particular individual aspects of this condition dictate that expressive language is difficult, although receptive is very good. Malcolm reads fluently, but answers questions best in multiple choice format. He is given to self-talk, typically reciting passages from his favorite videos. He often stims with his hands, or through happy, high-pitched squeals. He demonstrates some proficiency at self-care tasks, but almost always needs a prompt.
Franca: How much involvement did you per- sonally have in Malcolm’s development and his love for the arts?
Dr. Corley: I have always exposed my children to music, even in utero, because of my love of music as a classical pianist. I taught Malcolm piano for a while, took him to violin lessons and music therapy. He still takes voice lessons, and sings occasionally in church (he auditioned for and got into the high school variety show and will be singing Can You Feel the Love Tonight!). He plays the drums in church sometimes and after his dad told me how much he enjoyed playing the video game Rock Band, I sent him for lessons. He is exposed to and hears rehearsals and piano les- sons at my house so basically he has to go out of his way to escape music! As for the visual arts, when he was very small — perhaps as young as three or maybe even younger — he drew things that I came to recognize as the clues he’d seen on the tv show Blues Clues, and I would draw things for him to color by number. He also drew some of the Dr. Seuss characters so many times, he can still do them from memory (Aunt Annie’s Alligator, for example).
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