Capital Area IU 15: Tailoring Early Intervention to the Needs of Each Child

A profile in the PAIU series, "Early Intervention Changes Lives:
Pennsylvania Families and the Intermediate Units that Serve Them"

Brode lost his sight from a seizure at 9 months old, but on the day he reached for a toy, his mother knew that his vision was back. Ian needed nine months of intensive physical therapy after surgeries for hip dysplasia, but he grew into an active 17-year-old. Cameron, thrown against a wall at 7 months, is now a thoroughly typical kindergartner.

As for Tanner – his mother says she was told he was “severely neurologically damaged and didn’t deserve to live. And you can quote me on that.”

“Tanner is 5 years old now, and he knows all his numbers. He knows all his body parts. He is speaking like there’s no tomorrow,” says his mom, Lori Engle. “He needs assistance to walk, but everybody I’ve spoken to says he will walk. They’re just not sure when.”

The four boys are siblings in a family of eight children, all adopted from foster care. Their parents, Lori and Steve Engle of Mechanicsburg, PA, have found a reliable partner in Capital Area IU 15 Early Intervention.

“I truly believe that if any of my kids were not in my home and didn’t have Early Intervention, they would not amount to anything,” says Lori Engle.

Engle is a pediatric nurse who has seen occupational, physical, and speech therapies in action but “needed that extra leverage” of learning from trained specialists in their fields. Most have been with CAIU 15 “for years and years and years, and they know their craft very, very well,” says Engle.

“All my kids are unbelievable,” she says. “Nobody has ever given up on my kids. ‘No’ is not in my vocabulary, so it’s so nice that they don’t have ‘no’ in their vocabulary.”

The Capital Area IU 15 approach: Keeping skills sharp
Capital Area IU 15 Early Intervention’s seasoned staffers go “above and beyond the call of duty,” says Preschool Early Intervention Supervisor Terry Kennedy.

“They are so passionate about early childhood special education,” she says. “They believe in the program.”

Staff works with families and preschool teachers to craft solutions for the unique needs of each child. They also devote considerable time to professional development, honing their skills and sharing lessons learned with each other. The system ensures that therapists and teachers know what they’re doing and stay on top of innovations in their fields.

Says Kennedy, “Our people give it their best every day, and their expertise and dedication show in the delivery of quality services.”

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