BLaST IU 17: A Focus on Learning

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

The Daniel Wilson story: Moving into mainstream education

Can a child with Asperger’s Syndrome, once isolated and inexpressive, blossom into a chatty student with high grades?

In the case of Daniel Wilson, the answer is yes, and Early Intervention helped make the difference. 

By the time he was 2 years old, Daniel talked very little. He would express frustration with a “diga-diga” sound. He seemed isolated. His parents “didn’t really know what to do,” says his mom, Jamie Wilson.

At-home speech therapy with Infant/Toddler Early Intervention helped Daniel express his first words. Then, at age 3, BLaST IU 17 Early Intervention helped him enroll in preschool, and “the floodgates opened.”

“He talks a mile a minute now,” says his mom, laughing about her 8-year-old son who loves math, spelling, and drawing. “I guess he had so much to say that he’s still saying it.”

After his Asperger’s diagnosis in first grade, Daniel needed only a few short-term, targeted services. “He’s been completely mainstream education since, and he holds high-90s grades,” says Wilson. “He was given the social butterfly award in school.”

The socialization and behavior modification of Early Intervention – as simple as a box taped on the floor to show Daniel where to sit – “unlocked the puzzle that we didn’t have the keys for,” she says. “God brought the right people and the right tools. It’s been quite the experience seeing Daniel blossom into what he is.”

The BLaST IU 17 approach: Collaboration eases transitions

BLaST IU 17 Early Intervention strives to “deepen collaborative relationships” with Infant/Toddler Early Intervention, preschools, child cares, and schools – the places where children receiving services are coming from, attending currently, and heading in the future, says Supervisor of Early Intervention Programs Angela Sees.

The regular communication “makes it easier for families in the transition process,” says Sees.

Among its services, BLaST IU 17’s Early Intervention staff will make suggestions that help Head Start teachers improve student behavior and refocus the classroom atmosphere on learning. They are also brainstorming methods for increasing parent engagement.

“If the parent and the preschool are on the same page, you’re still going to have some challenging behaviors, but they decrease significantly if everybody is on board,” Sees says.

See all IU Spotlight Articles