Northeastern Educational IU 19: Varying Instruction According to Need

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

The Adam Krott Story: The Boy Emerges
Adam Krott had been in private speech therapy, with little to show for it. Two weeks after switching to Northeastern Educational IU 19 Early Intervention, he was singing and reciting numbers and the alphabet.

His progress has been meteoric ever since. Adam’s teachers and speech therapists are “my angels, like extended family,” says his mom, Laura Krott. “Without help from the NEIU, he wouldn’t be where he is today.”

Adam, diagnosed on the autism spectrum, is now 5 years old, fully equipped to tackle the challenges of kindergarten. Before Early Intervention, the shy boy rarely interacted with adults and often played by himself. Now, he says “hi” to everyone and asks other children to play.

After a day in private therapy, working on a single issue without variation, Adam would come home frustrated. But he comes home happy from Early Intervention preschool, because his teachers and therapists see him as “a big, broad picture” and use a range of means to build his language and socialization skills, says his mom.

The EI Staff communicates regularly, making sure that Early Intervention and the Krott family – Adam, his mom, dad Joe, and big brother Joseph -- work as a team.

Adam is a typical boy who loves puzzles, Spiderman, playing outside, riding his bike, and playing Minecraft and Super Mario Bros. NEIU Early Intervention “has opened him up and found who he really is, and as a mom that means the world to me,” Krott says. “I can’t stress enough, they brought my little boy to life.”

Northeastern Educational IU 19: Customizing instruction
Northeastern Educational IU 19 Early Intervention used to hear from parents panicking because their child was being kicked out of preschool. Many settings were simply unable to handle children with developmental or social delays.

Around 2011, NEIU 19 Early Intervention set a goal of educating more children in the least restrictive setting possible. The effort included providing local Head Start and preschool classrooms with the training and support to educate students of differing abilities.

In those five years, NEIU 19 Early Intervention has seen enrollment in typical preschools rise to 50 percent of its students, up from 43 percent. NEIU staffers observe Early Intervention students in those settings and “offer teachers suggestions and give strategies for what they can be doing differently,” says Director of Special Education, Kelly Dickey.   

With performance grants, the Early Intervention Department was able to work closely with the local Head Start Preschools to implement Positive Behavior Supports and Interventions (PBIS), which focuses on the social emotional learning and creating positive environments for all. 

“With PBIS strategies implemented in both settings, children are seeing a smoother transition amongst settings which in turn promotes more successful learning all around,” says Colleen Penzone, Early Intervention Supervisor. 

“We’re in there on a more regular basis in the beginning to coach them, so typically, the child ends up being successful and is not in danger of losing their placement,” says Dickey.

With help from Early Intervention, teachers understand that children can be taught “based not upon chronological age but their developmental age,” perhaps communicating via gestures and pictures, says Dickey. In the process, every child in the classroom benefits from high-quality learning experiences.

“Our program has supported our local preschools in building their toolboxes and their capacity to educate children with disabilities along with children who don’t have disabilities,” says Dickey.

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