Lancaster-Lebanon IU 13: Customizing Early Intervention for Children and Families
A profile in the PAIU series, "Early Intervention Changes Lives:
Pennsylvania Families and the Intermediate Units that Serve Them"
Changing lives: The Phoebe Roe story
That’s what Phoebe Roe’s delighted classmates say every day when she arrives at child care.
“They protect her,” says her mom, Kim Roe. “She was always like their little sister.”
Born with Down syndrome, Phoebe’s first interventions began at 6 weeks old. Now at age 4, she receives special education and speech, occupational, and physical therapy, all delivered by Lancaster-Lebanon IU13 Early Intervention in her child care classroom.
Phoebe is thriving in her full-day, typical environment. She makes pretend meals with her classmates and is “a sign maniac” when it comes to communicating, says her mom. Early Intervention specialists advise the classroom teacher on working with children with Down syndrome. They also helped Phoebe’s parents understand and celebrate the developmental milestones that came in small increments – 20, it seems, for every one reached by her older brother and sister.
“It was nice to have people who knew what they were talking about lead us through the steps of how we can best help her,” says Roe. “I wouldn’t have had a clue with 90 percent of it.”
The intensity and timeliness of Early Intervention prepares Phoebe and all children with Down syndrome for meaningful lives, says Roe. “They know what it’s like to work hard. They have that extra help they need. It makes all the difference. I can’t put into words the difference it’s made.”
The Lancaster-Lebanon IU13 approach: “Irresistible” services
Can Early Intervention be “irresistible”? Yes, says Lancaster-Lebanon IU13, which offers services driven by the individual needs of children and families.
“The program has a strong emphasis on high-quality professional development for all staff,” says Ann Rieker, Preschool Special Education Supervisor. “Our professionals are knowledgeable about effective strategies, resulting in a stronger capacity to serve eligible children.”
Families, teachers and caregivers work collaboratively as IEP (Individual Education Plan) teams. They plan activities, review progress, and discuss strategies. The approach yields consistent and successful intervention, no matter what setting the child is in.
Customized initiatives include:
“We pride ourselves on developing individual programming for each child’s unique situation,” says Rieker. “Our staff is truly dedicated to supporting children and empowering families.”
- An Autism Committee that focuses on evidence-based practices and increased parent engagement.
- A Feeding Team and Assistive Technology Team that support IEP teams as they ponder how to increase children’s participation in their least restrictive environments.
Phoebe’s success is a shining example of this important work of Early Intervention and the dedicated team at IU13.
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