There are two sides of ten-year-old Marquis. The first is shy and reserved; he takes a while to warm up to people. “When you start asking him how he feels about things, he struggles,” says his mother, Rosie. Then there’s the side he shows to his Big Brother, Matt. “I was surprised by how quickly he opened up and how willing he was to try and do new things,” Matt says of his Little.
Now, the match can be found playing baseball, football, hockey, laser tag or going bowling or snowboarding just to burn off the seemingly endless supply of energy within Marquis, things that Rosie says she probably wouldn’t be able to do with her son. “It was great for him to get somebody that likes to do the stuff he likes,” she says. “He does stuff with Matt that I, as a mom, wouldn’t do.”
Marquis was in a different mentoring program for a few years, but was never placed with a match. Frustrated, Rosie switched over to BBBS, where Marquis was matched within a couple of weeks. Because he has a high-functioning autism diagnosis, Rosie was worried that not many people would be up for the challenge. But Rosie says Matt was the perfect fit for her son. “This kid can be a handful,” she said of Marquis, “but Matt didn’t even blink an eye.”
When the match first met, Matt says he didn’t know what to expect. “I wanted to do something where I had an ongoing relationship with someone,” he says, as opposed to a one-time experience.
At first, Marquis “was shy, but since then he’s become somewhat outgoing,” says Matt. “He’ll open up a lot quicker” to new people and new experiences now that he has a supportive role model in his life.
But the experience has changed Matt for the better, as well. “It’s given me a little more perspective on being an adult male and learning to be patient,” he says. “Because of him, I’m trying to be more conscious of everything I do so I can be a good example.”
And Matt sees even better things for the future in regard to his relationship with Marquis. He hopes that by giving Marquis an example of a supportive adult, Marquis will emulate that support toward his peers.
“I hope we continue in the program and later retain the relationship for years. I hope to have a positive impact so he relates well to adults growing up.” Matt sees a bright future for Marquis, in school, college, and a career. “I hope to help him establish trust in adults and in other people and later become supportive of his friends.”