The Brenden R.: Learning to communicate
New parents Merleen and Alan Reppert knew little about child development, and they wondered why their 2-year-old son wasn’t speaking or pointing. Their pediatrician’s referral for Early Intervention assessment led to speech therapy, and the classic signs of autism began to emerge.
In Infant/Toddler Early Intervention, Brenden learned to communicate through pictures and basic sign language. At age 3, he was ready for Central IU 10’s Early Intervention preschool, where he developed communications, socialization, and self-control skills that helped him thrive.
“If it was not for Early Intervention and the CIU, and those teacher and those therapists, I don’t feel this kid would be where he is, because we didn’t know anything,” says Merleen Reppert. “What a world of difference it made.”
Today, Brenden Reppert is an active first grader. He loves math. He struggles sometimes, but his EI teachers and therapists taught him to calm himself after any meltdowns. Plus, with the social skills he learned in CIU’s preschool classrooms, he seeks out playtime with other kids.
“We would do anything for Early Intervention and the CIU,” says Reppert. “We feel like he’d be so far behind without it, and he’s not because of all the steps he took. We followed what the therapists and evaluators told us, and the reward has been 10-fold.”
The Central IU 10 approach: Familiar settings
At Central IU 10, Early Intervention services start with one question to parents: What would you want for your child if he or she did not have a disability? Whether parents envision the child in the home, with relatives, or in the same preschool or child care that siblings attended, CIU’s staff do their utmost to deliver developmental services in the family’s preferred setting.
CIU saves money on its preschool EI services by contracting with three agencies that operate classrooms, including the local Head Start provider, says Karen Krise, CIU 10’s Director of Preschool Early Intervention Services. The collaborative effort in “reverse mainstream” classrooms, where students with and without special needs are equal in number, assures children any needed Early Intervention services within Head Start’s quality early learning environment.
Many children progress through CIU 10’s preschool continuum, from special education classes, to reverse mainstream, and finally to kindergarten. Many “go right into regular kindergarten,” says Krise. “Some kids make amazing progress.”