CLEARWATER, Fla. — If Maddox Hammer is playing, then so is Maverick Hammer. In matching Superman t-shirts, the four year-old boys are not just brothers — they are twins.

  • Twin brothers Maddox & Maverick both on autism spectrum
  • CDC: 1 in 59 children on spectrum
  • Learn more about The Arc Tampa Bay

"We got two for one, it’s good," laughs Shaun Hammer, the boy's father. 

At first it was good, for parents Shaun and Alexis, for the boy’s older brother Mason, for the whole family — until it wasn’t.

"They just hung out. Very quiet, ya know how babies make noise, baby talk. It was just quiet," said Alexis, describing when the boys were infants. 

The quiet was an early sign of Autism, not just in Maddox, but for Maverick, too. Twins are rare enough, but for both to be on the autism spectrum came as a shock to their parents.

"It's crazy that it is both of them, but it’s also kind of a good thing, because one is doing better than the other, but the other is learning from the other," said Alexis. 

The boys began receiving care at two years old. They now spend five days a week at The Arc Tampa Bay Richard B. Funk Center for Greater Expectations.

The boys are in an Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy Program.

“We teach language, communication skills, social skills, grooming, hygiene, potty training, we can address picky eating, problem behavior, all kinds of behaviors that they may do,” said Dr. Marc Weeden, Clinical Director. "It's a rapidly growing field. In fact, there is more kids that need help than there are therapists available." 

Weeden said in 18 months the boys have gone from non-verbal to signing and saying some words and phrases. 

“The first time that Maddox actually said, ‘I love you.’ Huge deal," said Shaun. "We waited almost four years until he was able to say that.”

"Oh I cried for like 30 minutes, and it was just a moment that I just, you know, just happy,” said Alexis. "It’s just when you don’t, when you don’t think that you will hear something like that, it makes me really grateful for Dr. Marc and everybody here.” 

The CDC says 1 in 59 children are now on the autism spectrum. The Florida Department of Health also lists several statewide organizations that will help provide resources for families.