Meg O’Connell is not your typical 33-year old. She is an accomplished competitor, having won several State championships in individual track events and team sports in soccer and basketball. She is also a consummate Elvis Presley fan, so much that an Elvis impersonator has performed at her birthday every year for the last ten years. She has the brightest smile in the room and is often the first to greet you with a heart-melting smile. Also, Meg is an adult with autism.
Meg was diagnosed with special needs when she was six months old. As a baby, she had severe crying spells and experienced seizures that left her permanently mentally challenged. As she got older, behavioral issues and a lack of social skills presented challenges for her parents. Acting out, hitting, spitting, and swearing like a sailor caused disruptions in her school and made it difficult for her parents to maintain safe control over her. Last, her independence was minimal and she needed constant monitoring for normal hygiene tasks, bathing, brushing teeth, etc.
Then, in 2003, the unthinkable occurred. Her mother suffered a fatal car accident. Soon after, Meg entered the Residential and Adult Services Programs at the Autism Treatment Center.
Not only had Meg’s behavioral challenges worsened, eating issues had caused her weight to balloon to 260 pounds. Meg soon found companions her age and was placed in a group home with women who shared some of the same interests. ATC changed her medications, improved her diet, and got Meg on an exercise program. With time, patience, and a lot of individualized therapy, Meg’s behavioral issues decreased. She now weighs 135 pounds and counts the other adults in her group home as her closest friends.
Meg’s parents, Jeanie and Bill O’Connell had this to say. “ATC was truly a God send. Today, Meggy is well adjusted, performs normal functions such as laundry, cleaning, personal hygiene, and functioning in the work place. We are very grateful for ATC.”
This year, Meg turns 35. She leads a happy and productive life. She is surrounded by plenty of friends and enjoys volunteering at World of Goods, a local non-profit organization. We are blessed that Meg and her family found the Autism Treatment Center.