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Marshall twins both on autism spectrum

There are a lot of things about the twins that are very typical for boys their age, such as a love of the outdoors and a penchant for coloring.
However, the pair are also on the autism spectrum and that makes for a whole different set of challenges for the Marshall family.
“They were late (premature births),” Morgan said. “They both are delayed in their development, such as speech and a few other things.”
While Henry and Martin are both on the autism spectrum, there has not yet been a diagnosis as to exactly the type of autism with which they contend. The family has been to see several specialists and hopes that a meeting with a doctor next week will finally deliver a long-sought diagnosis.
“It has been frustrating at times because it can be hard to see a doctor with all the referrals that are needed,” Morgan said. “But a lot of good people have had our back.”
There are challenges aplenty for the Marshalls. It can be tremendously difficult for mother and father to communicate with their children – and vice versa.
“Discipline can be difficult, because they don’t understand,” Morgan said. “There are lots of struggles. It is really hard for them to understand direction. Trying to make them sit still at a table can be exhausting.”
An enhanced tablet, on loan from the Glencoe-Silver Lake school district, is a great help in facilitating communication between parent and child.
“(Henry and Martin) can use it to tell us what they need,” Morgan said. “It has pictures and personalized pages where they can point and tap on to let us know what they are trying to say.”
It is not all about the struggles, however. As with parenthood the world over, there are great joys as well.
“Henry likes to sing and dance to all kinds of music. We’ll have dance parties, which are great,” Morgan said. “Martin loves to cuddle and is obsessed with his dad and granddad. He will watch his dad cook and watch his granddad work on cars.”
Whereas Henry likes to “jibber-jabber,” Martin is non-verbal and very cautious with using his words. However, he sings very clearly and is able to communicate through song. Musical therapy also works to calm Henry down in times of stress.
“Music has been a wonderful thing to bring into our world,” Morgan said.
Morgan is also thankful that, unlike many autistic children, her boys respond to touch and also positively acknowledge their baby sister, Sunny Brooke.
“It is a great thing that they are starting to now play with her,” Morgan said. “That does not always happen with autistic children.”
The outlook for Henry and Martin is a positive one, but there is still much work to do. The road ahead will continue to have its challenges, but optimism abounds.
“Their teachers see great things for their future,” Morgan said. “I hope they can grow in the future without needing all these special things that they need now. We see other kids with autism out there progressing, and that gives us hope.”
Martin has become friends with another of this year’s Tim Orth Memorial Foundation recipients, Charley LaFountaine. Martin’s mother said that her boys are looking forward to joining the LaFountaines at this Saturday’s Jam the Gym event and that she looks forward to assisting the foundation in the future.
“You can really go through the ropes when dealing with children with special needs,” she said. “Saturday is going to be a big, fun day. They’re helping us and I’m going to try to give back as well – it’s just the right thing to do.”