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Twins Give Brotherhood a Whole New Meaning

Mt. Gilead RESIZEDSince we are an ultra-connected society, technology proves to be a love-hate relationship for many of the people we support. Late last year, Monarch spotlighted Daniel who has successfully incorporated technology to enhance his schoolwork knowledge and help him cope with his emotions. But in the case of Jacob and Braydon, 13-year-old twins who live at Monarch’s Mt. Gilead boys home, technology turned out to be the culprit of negative behaviors setting them farther away from the goals they wanted to achieve.

For more than three years, technology was the key barrier between the brothers. Not only were they surpassing firewalls and parental controls set by the house staff, the twins had to, at one point, be transported on different buses to different schools and group activities because they didn’t get along. They were each other’s ‘triggers’.

And that all changed one day in September 2016 when the house T.V. finally broke. Instead of putting in a technology ticket to replace it, the staff decided to incorporate more activities to explore the residents’ interests away from video games and TV shows.

When the house computer broke, the staff started to see an even greater shift in the house. Jacob immediately started drawing and Braydon showed an interest in taking a new cooking class in school.

Braydon lead aShelia Brown, residential team leader, admits “It has been incredible to see the boys playing together. Even more amazing is watching Jacob and Braydon grow into these two individuals who are now able to express their fondness of each other and enjoy each other’s company.”

The six residents gradually stopped being hyper-focused on when their next turn for the electronics were, they all started engaging and interreacting more with each other. After seeing such positive shifts, the staff has replaced the TV exactly one year later, and have gradually re-introduced some screen time.

“Having minimal focus on technology in the house continues to be our goal since it has allowed the twins to continue building respectful relationships with each other,” said Brandy Byrd, residential manager at the home. “There are still no computers and tablets in the home and they get that screen-time at school with their teachers.”

The free time away from technology at home has helped the twins discover interests of their own and hobbies they share with each other. While Jacob loves movie logos and drawing, Braydon has taken an interest in cooking and playing games. But, they both love reading and comic books, and part of their after-school activities is writing screen plays together.

Jacob lead2Staff have even received calls from teachers and school personnel commending the boys for their improved behavior in class, and therapists have also said the boys are far more engaged in active treatment.

“The everyday world can be over stimulating for anyone on the spectrum, and unfortunately, TV and video games start becoming a controlled reality,” adds Brown. “By the luck of some devices breaking, we discovered how much of a hindrance technology was to the boys’ socialization and behavior. I’m so proud of the strides they’ve made, how they have embraced self-regulation, and how they continue to explore their talents.”

Photo: Top Left - Braydon; Bottom Right - Jacob

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