Twins with autism inspire their middle school

November 4, 2019
Keanen and Keion Evans are one dynamic duo. The twins make up the award-winning Viking mascots from Winship Middle School in Eureka. “Our dance routine was from Just Dance 2018,” Keanen said. “And we danced to 24 Karat Magic from Bruno Mars.” But there was a time when Keanen and Keion could not be in a gym, let alone perform a high-volume dance routine. “They couldn’t do assemblies,” the boys’ mother, Faye Prudhomme, said. “Do band concerts. Parades. Things like that just weren’t going to happen. The sensory [stimulus] was just too much for them.” Prudhomme was just 23 weeks pregnant with Keanen and Keion when doctors at University of California, San Francisco Medical Center delivered some heartbreaking news. She was diagnosed with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a condition where identical twins share the same placenta and there is uneven blood flow between the two babies. “I was in tears. I was distraught. My whole world was crashing on me,” Prudhomme said. Neither twin was expected to survive. But on May 30, 2005, eight weeks before their due date, Prudhomme give birth to Keanen and Keion. “I started checking their limbs,” Prudhomme said. “And I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, they’re OK.’ And then I just started bawling. I’m like, ‘My babies are OK.’” But as the twins grew older, Prudhomme noticed they were not hitting normal child development milestones. “I did notice, right about a year old, I still wasn’t getting the eye contact,” Prudhomme said. “I wasn’t getting the speech. It was hard because there were quite a few times where I got choked up and I was like, ‘My babies don’t even know who I am.’ We got the diagnosis it was autism.” Autism is a disorder that impairs social interaction and language development and is often accompanied by sensory issues. There are more than 200,000 cases each year in the United States. The autism spectrum is as wide as it is complex. “I don’t want them to feel like they have to grow up to be that label,” Prudhomme said. “I want them to be Keanen. I want them to be Keion. I don’t want them to be, ‘Oh these are the boys with autism.’” Keanen and Keion were non-verbal until the end of first grade. “It was back in that time in 2010, 2011 when we didn’t even talk,” Keion said. “So we communicated by using whiteboards.” Thanks to early intervention and dedicated educators like Tina Kastler, the twins are blossoming as they get ready to enter high school.  Winship Middle Principal Teri Waterhouse attributes the boys’ success to the school’s close-knit community. “I think it’s just a testament to how far they’ve come and how comfortable they feel around students and faculty here at our school,” she said. There are still challenges ahead for Keanen and Keion. There is no cure for autism, but Prudhomme says she’s ready for whatever comes next. “I’m going to keep encouraging them to reach beyond the stars.” Prudhomme said.
Keion and Keanen Evans dressed in their Viking mascot costumes to encourage school spirit.
Keion and Keanen Evans are looking forward to high school.

© 2019 Association of California School Administrators