A young man diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, who has been achieving impressive academic and personal goals in high school – an engaging young man in high school with a passion math and karate.
A diagnosis of Autism was a difficult time for Jace’s family. Tammy, Jace’s mom reflected on her son’s challenges prior to the diagnosis that were worrisome. “He wasn’t speaking and was having difficulty eating. Also I was concerned about his behavior, it was just unusual, and not at all like other children. While I thought it might just take time and things would be ok, my family and my pediatrician suggested that he be evaluated, so I took that step. ” Tammy was determined to find the help that Jace needed and she chose teli to provide Early Intervention therapy based on the results of his evaluation.
“I felt scared, worried and confused. I began to search for whatever would help our son,” remembers Tammy. ” teli was incredible and led the way! Occupational Therapist, Debbie Fekos started immediately! And we were so lucky to have her!”
THE teli IMPACT
When Jace began his Early Intervention therapy teli , the therapists initially focused on daily support to help him with speech and feeding. The therapists created valuable tools and activities for the whole family to incorporate into their routine which helped to insure that these activities were repeated on a regular basis. “One particular tool helped Jace begin to identify objects and verbalize words. It was a ring of laminated picture cards and it went everywhere with us,” remembers Tammy. Another difficulty Jace experienced was his dislike of soft food textures. teli therapists developed a reward system that helped Jace to gradually tolerate a variety of foods.
JACE TODAY – Update
A few years ago, Jace shared his successful story in which he highlighted his progress through an essay he wrote about his personal journey and appreciation of his diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“From a young age growing up, acceptance was always something that didn’t come easy for me. Age three gave me the diagnosis of being on the Autistic Spectrum… Wow, what was that??? It was a long journey I found myself on along with my supportive family and teachers, and many others along the way. I have been working on overcoming challenges my whole life to make me the success I believe I am today. I am proud of my accomplishments, and grateful for all the help I received along the way. Still to this day, acceptance is still something I hope for and strive to have on a daily basis. Being socially accepted into a group is something many people take for granted. I have learned in my first two years of high school social acceptance is still a difficult task.
Everyone has different looks, abilities, beliefs, and outlooks on life. This is something relevant society has to understand. You may not agree and accept everything your peers do, but having an open mind, positive attitude and just showing respect for others will make our time her a better experience for all.”
So fast forward to today, as Jace has now graduated from high school, with High Honors, and has entered Robert Morris University (RMU) where he is studying sports management and finance. One would say that would be quite a lot for any student, but how stellar for one with an Autism diagnosis. Jace’s exceptional motivation has helped him focus on very impressive goals.
In addition to academics, Jace has found a sport that he thoroughly enjoys. Since beginning to study karate at 7 years of age, he now holds a fourth-degree black belt. He has won 60 medals, of which 50 were first place. Jace has earned 25 trophies over the years traveling throughout the country to various competitions. Most recently, Jace traveled to Seoul, South Korea to compete in the 2019 World Mulimpia tournament, as a member of Team USA. Under the guidance of his instructor, Rachael Cipriani, from Tang Soo Do Karate in Robinson Township, Jace won two gold medals; one in board breaking and another in sword forms.
“Since he was a little boy he has always been driven. I think we instilled that in him when he was going through his therapy with his Occupational Therapist. A certain level of pushing is required and before long he was self-motivated,” remembers Tammy.” While it was exhausting and tough at times, as parents you need to provide every opportunity possible to help your child, any child. “