A longtime martial arts instructor, Mark Kreuzman uses his vast experience as a trainer to also work with his 12-year-old autistic son, Marcus.
“Naturally, it’s on a different level and in a private setting,” Kreuzman said. “Marcus responds well to my commands. It’s a trial and error setting, and I’m happy with his progress. I don’t know if I work with him as much as I should, but he gets eight hours of therapy every day at school, and I think that he is sometimes ‘therapied-out’ when he gets home.
“I call his seven or eight hours of school at the Cornerstone Autism Center boot camp,” laughed Kreuzman, whose son receives a lot of intense one-on-one therapy. “It’s working, and I am absolutely pleased with what he is learning.”
Kreuzman’s daughter, Maria, 9, who often works with her 12-year-old brother, knows that if he’s unresponsive then he’s not in the mood for therapy. “Maria is a good little girl, and she tries hard,” her father said.
Kreuzman and his wife, Sharon, meet with Marcus’ therapists regularly and incorporate their suggestions into at-home therapy sessions.
The couple realized something was wrong with Marcus when he was about 18 months old. “We didn’t know what it was,” said Mark. “He wouldn’t respond to his name. At first we thought he was deaf, but when he would hear the ‘Barney’ song, he would come running.” Testing diagnosed the behavior as autism.
Marcus’ degree of autism is a little more severe than most, as he does not talk, but language is beginning to come out, and he is learning life skills at school. “He can do laundry, and he’s good at cleaning up. He knows his colors and numbers,” a proud dad said.
If the couple weren’t busy before with their two children and their careers, they are now that they are the parents of a precious 2-month old baby, Makaylee.
Mark owns Life Systems Martial Arts Academy (889-5556) in Greenwood, and Sharon is a teachers aide at the Perry Township Early Childhood Academy.
Mark, who has been involved in the martial arts for 30 years, takes pride in knowing that his instructors are trained professionals at teaching the character-building traits that develop black belts from the inside out. All classes, which are offered to children and adults in the afternoons and evenings, focus on self-control, courtesy, integrity and perseverance.
“Our classes are a dynamic way for kids to build their physical fitness and learn an effective, practical system of self-defense, all while building character and having a blast,” said Kreuzman, who added that adults will the classes to be an excellent source of personal enrichment.
“Martial arts training has been proven to increase discipline, concentration and other traits in children. All of this translates into better grades, improved social skill, respectful behavior and an overall sense of well-being.”
Kreuzman said he believes in giving back to the community, as evidenced by him volunteering his services to provide training at Easter Seals functions.
And while Kreuzman knows that his lovable son will never be a black belt, martial arts training will remain on their agenda ... unless Marcus is therapied-out.