SUCCESS STORIES

Autism Spectrum Disorder

About the Client

Name:

Chatman

Age at Intake:

13

Diagnoses:

Chatman's Story

Chatman and his family came to Jacob’s Ladder desperate for support and services after experiencing repeated challenges with emotional regulation and academic performance. Chatman’s family previously enrolled him in various therapies and services to address sensory processing, reading abilities, and overall academic performance; however, he continued to experience significant difficulty. 

 

Chatman’s family described a history of significant behavioral challenges, including high frustration levels, meltdowns, extreme language, vocal threats, removing his clothes outside of the home, aggression, and destruction of property. These outbursts were triggered by extreme anxiety and frustration when he didn’t get his way or believed tasks were too difficult, and Chatman could not calm himself down when he was angry. Further, he could not engage appropriately with peers and was significantly behind in academic performance, working at a kindergarten level in some areas despite being an 8th-grade student

 

Chatman attended Jacob’s Ladder for more than six years in the Ladder and Hope School programs. He worked hard to address the root issues of his challenges, working in therapeutic and educational environments that allowed him to build coping strategies, address his anxiety, and increase his academic scores by more than six grade levels. The Interpersonal Whole-Brain Model of Care® (IWBMC™) worked to understand Chatman’s whole picture rather than solely focusing on his difficulties. It highlighted his strengths rather than weaknesses, allowing him to actualize what his family, community, and team at Jacob’s Ladder knew he could achieve.

 

Chatman went on to gain independent employment and transitioned to the Georgia Institute of Technology EXCEL program, where he participated in the program and lived on campus independently.

Challenges Before Enrollment

Successes After Enrollment

Incoming Evaluation Results

During Chatman’s initial evaluation, he spoke with poor articulation, displayed severe challenges with distress tolerance, and had significant challenges completing his academic work. He was restless throughout the assessment and had difficulty sitting for more than a few minutes at a time. Chatman engaged in significant movement-seeking through pacing and rocking. The vestibular functioning assessment indicated a severely hypoactive response to rotary vestibular stimulation, as noted by zero and two seconds of involuntary eye movement (nystagmus) after receiving 13 seconds of rotary stimulation to the right and left, respectively. This result was far from the normative response of 13 seconds of eye movement and functionally impacted Chatman’s attention, language processing, and self-regulation. 

 

Chatman’s academic performance was between kindergarten and third grade, despite his status as an 8th-grade student. Chatman had struggled for years to make academic gains. Through the evaluation process, many areas of neurodevelopmental challenge were identified, allowing us to address his academic performance from the root issues. 

 

Chatman experienced significant difficulties with his visual abilities, including visual pursuits and more complex visual processing metrics, such as visual figure-ground and visual closure, which are essential for fluid reading and comprehension. He also showed significant barriers to communication between the two hemispheres of the brain, as seen by his inability to complete cross-lateral movement. 

 

Functionally, when Chatman became anxious or emotionally heightened, he did not have the appropriate neural pathways to access logic and reasoning to self-regulate. Further, Chatman struggled with working memory and could not successfully complete the lowest-level working memory assessment at the time of his evaluation. These root challenges created significant barriers to learning, self-regulation, and social engagement. 

 

Additionally, Chatman experienced severe and extreme behavioral challenges. When frustrated, he frequently used extreme statements and inappropriate language and could not self-regulate or cope with his frustrations. Chatman could not remain regulated in the presence of peers, frequently lashed out verbally and physically, and was so addicted to technology that he could not transition from screentime without extreme meltdowns.

Results at Program Completion

Chatman’s family came to Jacob’s Ladder lost and hopeless, desperate for a path forward for their son that would help him grow and thrive. Chatman attended Jacob’s Ladder for six years and started in the Ladder program, where he required close oversight of multiple providers and significant safety measures in place due to his extreme dysregulation. 

 

As success was shown, Chatman blended into the Hope School class incrementally and ultimately showed the appropriate skills to immerse and excel fully in a low-ratio classroom setting. Chatman worked diligently to overcome his neurodevelopmental barriers within a safe, loving, and accepting environment by completing his individualized program, which included highly specified neurodevelopmental, academic, and emotional-behavioral-relational aspects. 

 

Chatman’s daily program emphasized increasing his mind-body connection, which helps an individual to self-reference rather than react, allowing them to be in the present moment and pay attention to their thoughts, feelings, physiological sensations, and corresponding behaviors. Chatman worked to increase the awareness of the feelings and energy within his body, allowing him to anticipate bodily responses to triggers or stressors, thus allowing him to take control of the moment and engage in adaptive coping mechanisms. In tandem, Chatman increased his ability to take perspective, allowing him to engage and relate with peers and providers successfully. 

 

Upon his transition, Chatman showed significant improvement within the assessed neurodevelopmental indicators. Within the vestibular assessment, Chatman’s score had improved from significantly impaired to the normative range. Further, Chatman’s working memory abilities skyrocketed, and he showed mastery at an above-average level for both the Auditory and Visual Working Memory assessments. Additionally, Chatman’s academic levels improved drastically. 

 

After years of limited academic growth in his previous educational placements, Chatman finally addressed the root issues and participated in a therapeutic and educational placement that allowed him to increase more than six grade levels in some areas. Chatman began his time at Jacob’s Ladder with reading comprehension scores at a kindergarten level, and at the time of his transition, he had improved to a seventh-grade level.  

 

In his senior year, Chatman got a paid position working in a restaurant. After graduation, he transitioned to the Georgia Institute of Technology EXCEL program, where he successfully lived on campus independently and completed his coursework. Chatman is an incredibly personable young man who thrives on meaningful interactions with others and finds great pride in his accomplishments.

These qEEG images show the electrical activity occurring within the brain. Areas with insufficient activity are noted by cool colors (blue and teal), whereas areas with too much activity are indicated by warm colors (lime green, yellow, red, and orange). The blank spots or white colors indicate any areas with activity occurring within the normal range. All data is collected from raw EEG data and is compared to a normative database based on the client’s age, gender, and handedness.

At Chatman’s initial evaluation, significant dysregulation was noted in the brain’s right frontal and temporal regions, which correlates to heightened anxiety, impulsivity, volatility, non-compliance, emotional processing, social appropriateness, anxiety, and attention. At the initial evaluation, these dysregulated areas were more than three standard deviations from the mean, as shown by the red colors in the high beta frequency. Further, within the Coherence measure, Chatman showed significant under-development of the neurological pathways in the right frontal and temporal regions. The thick blue lines note these and indicate an absence of the neural pathways required for the corresponding brain regions to communicate. Chatman’s initial map shows these blue lines in the brain’s emotional and executive functioning areas and Broca’s area, which is responsible for spoken and written language. 

 

At the time of Chatman’s graduation from Jacob’s Ladder, his brain maps show significant progress. Chatman participated in intensive programming and Neurofeedback therapy, which contributed to his success. Within the final brain map, remarkable improvement is seen within the first row of Absolute Power, as evidenced by the drastic decrease in bright red, orange, yellow, and lime green colors throughout each frequency. Further, within the row of Coherence, communication patterns increased, as noted by the decrease in the amount and thickness of blue lines. While deficient patterns are still noted under the alpha frequency, the significance decreased, allowing Chatman to demonstrate continued functional improvement. 

Listen to how Jacob's Ladder helped Chatman.

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