They look like four guys in high school just hanging out in a living room in Evans.
As different as they are, though, the Mann quadruplets have been through a lot together, including battling autism, and are looking forward as they set off on different paths after graduation Saturday from Lakeside High School.
The Mann brothers caused a stir from the beginning, born during a remarkable 24 hours at University Hospital in 1999 that also saw the birth of triplets and a pair of twins. They were diagnosed with varying levels of autism at an early age, and their parents spent years looking for innovative treatments and working with their children to help them overcome difficulties.
There is nothing in Mark, Alex or Michael that would suggest they ever faced such issues as they prepare for graduation; Aidan, who had bigger hurdles, will continue in special classes at Lakeside but continues to do job training and skills development with Easter Seals and companies such Kohl’s.
There are some lingering elements of their childhood personalities from when The Augusta Chronicle profiled the family nine years ago. Alex, for instance, seems to be the most extraverted, readily answering questions for his brothers about their lives now.
“Mark would be the most outgoing,” Alex insists, “the easiest to walk up and talk to.”
“Michael is more on the quiet side,” Mark says. “He’s got to get to know someone to be comfortable with them, and that’s a good thing. He picks his friends wisely.”
Some things are different. Mark, once a voracious reader, acknowledges he rarely cracks a book now even though he will graduate with honors.
“We were one of the last parents to break down and buy them a phone,” says their mother, Leslie. “It was sixth grade.”
“It was seventh grade Christmas,” Alex corrects her.
Mark is headed to the University of Georgia to study pharmacy in hopes of following in his mother’s footsteps. Leslie Mann is a pharmacist at Doctors Hospital of Augusta. and Mark and the other boys volunteered there.
“He’s really good at science,” Alex says.
“I had a previous interest in the medical field,” Mark says. “I really like biology. I figured I would have the experience with pharmacy from my mom. I like science.”
Alex and Michael, who wears an Augusta University T-shirt as they speak, are headed to AU but with interests in different fields.
“Once I get there, I am probably going to study accounting; that’s what I am planning on doing,” Alex says. “The statistical part of math, I like all of that.”
Michael is less certain of his plan but says he would probably take core classes and computer science with an eye to transferring in a couple of years perhaps Kennesaw State University to study mechanical engineering to follow in the footsteps of his father, Doug.
“Doug has been talking to him,” Leslie says. “Doug is a mechanical engineer. He just, knowing Michael, thinks mechanical engineer technology would be a good fit for the things he says he likes to do.”
The boys have shared everything together, from birthdays to the same bedroom to the same friends.
“If I would meet somebody, they would in turn meet Alex and Michael,” Mark says. “We hang out with all of the same people.”
“I think all of our interests and friends are similar,” adds Alex.
“Somewhat, at least,” Mark puts in.
Three of them work at Pizza Central.
“I’ve been there a year, and then Alex and Michael hopped on the bandwagon,” Mark says.
Like many siblings, the boys are yearning to get out on their own.
“We’re close,” Mark says, “but I’m glad to be moving.”
Alex recently got a jump-start on that by moving his bed to the basement.
“I’ve lived 18 years with my brothers,” he says. “I want some space.”
That move has taught Alex what it will be like without them.
“I felt kind of lonely because I was sleeping by myself and nobody was down there,” he says.
Their status as quadruplets has always given them a certain celebrity that is unavoidable. When he is asked how many brothers he has, Alex always says three and then adds, “We’re quadruplets.” And he always gets the same reaction.
“Everybody always freaks out,” Alex says.
“It gets old sometimes,” Mark adds.
“It gets to be a little much,” Alex agreed.
Now they are setting off on their own.
“It’s been a long road,” Leslie says. “I’m really proud of them, I’m very proud of all of the things they’ve done. They’ve overcome a lot of obstacles and they’ve worked really hard. I’m excited to see what’s next and see them go out on their own and see what they can do.”
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.