By Mark Nielsen and Julie Asamoto, Room 15 and 16 teachers
Benji came to Morgan Autism Center in August 2008 as a highly energetic 9-year-old boy who had challenges sitting in a chair or attending to a given task.
He was very playful and enjoyed climbing on the playground and exploring his environment, although he did not always take safety into account. Many people remember him as the daredevil on a Razor scooter.
Benji began in Room 19 with teacher Brian, who worked hard to develop functional skills that would serve him down the line. Benji’s overflowing energy stayed with him through his transition to Room 15 with teacher Jason, where he began going out into the community more and learning how to control his impulses. However, he continued to be fascinated by jumping off high structures.
Benji’s love of jumping led to an unfortunate incident where he jumped from an unsafe height and broke his foot on the weekend.
It was a challenging time for him, because his mobility was greatly hindered. However, being forced to slow his body down seemed to have a lasting effect on him.
Over the course of his time in Room 15, Benji matured into a very personable, mellow young man, who greatly enjoys spending time with his family while going for long walks and to the beach.
He is often found with a magazine, looking at pictures of cars and landscapes — perhaps planning future travel. He is wonderfully cooperative and easy-going, and a reliable helper when shopping at the store.
Benji began his move to Room 16 in the summer of this last school year. Room 16 is a transitional setting for students ages 16 to 21, providing them increased opportunity for small group instruction, and vocational training on and off the school campus.
Benji has been a most welcome addition to our classroom and fits in well with the active, social and community-oriented aspects of our program. He seems to be very comfortable and happy since his arrival, and has jumped right in to help out with tasks such as washing dishes, grocery shopping and gardening.
We have only known Benji for a short while here in Room 16, but we get the feeling that he recognizes his accomplishments and how far he has come, and is ready to move on to the next stage of his experience here at Morgan Autism Center.