From the time Craig was a little boy he did not like people getting too close to him or touching him. At school he never could develop close friendships with other children. He had no capacity for empathy, had no way of relating to what his classmates felt.
He would grab other students’ belongings without asking them first. He would have outbursts at school if he felt any negativity toward him. If his teachers weren’t very positive with him, he would shut down. If he could not answer a question on a quiz, it was impossible for him to move onto the next one. Craig was very bright...he read at a fourth grade level when he was in kindergarten. He was fascinated by certain objects —- birds, stop signs, street signs, things in the street with words on them.
As a young boy, he was first diagnosed with ADHD but his symptoms were more complex, and eventually it became clear that he was suffering from Asperger Syndrome, a high functioning form on the autism spectrum.
Asperger Syndrome is characterized by many of the symptoms Craig had as a child...significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Unlike other autism spectrum disorders, neither his speech nor his cognitive abilities were seriously impaired.
When he came to Bradley, he attended Social Skills classes but his real progress began when he started seeing therapists on a one-on-one basis as well as participating in family therapy sessions.
His one-on-one therapy was particularly effective because he knew whatever he discussed with the therapist would not be shared with anyone else. He was able to discuss his compulsions and his difficulties relating to other people without fear that he would be criticized. The therapist was able to help him understand that his syndrome did not change the fact that he was an intelligent, likable youngster with a fine future.
In family therapy his parents learned how to better understand and deal with Craig’s differences. “We were always worried how he would get along in the world, how he would make friends, how he would enjoy his life like other children. At Bradley we came to appreciate the things that Craig could do more than the things he couldn’t do,” said Craig’s mother in a recent interview.
When Craig was in elementary school, he started to play the trumpet. In high school, he became the President of the band. With Bradley’s help and the love and understanding of his parents, he began to achieve despite his disability.
Craig no longer needs to see a therapist on a regular basis. He still comes to Bradley on an outpatient basis for management of his medications and just to talk about what is going on his life.
There is plenty to talk about. Craig is going to Roger Williams University where he is studying Security Assurance in the Criminal Justice School. He is extremely gifted when it comes to computers, and last summer he had a job with a company that deals with computer security. He hopes to one day work for the government in that critical field.
Today Craig is focused, a good listener, and easy to talk to ... a polite and respectful young man with the great future that the therapists at Bradley envisioned for him.