The Power of Early Intervention
Names and details in this story have been changed to ensure confidentiality.
Claire came to Angels of Grace child care center with significant developmental delays. At just over 12 months, she had severe gross motor, mobility and communication delays. Shortly after enrollment, Claire and her grandmother completed a developmental screening to establish a plan to support her learning and intervention.
As the Head Start coach assigned to Claire’s classroom, TFC’s Ayesha Usman was tasked with reviewing Claire’s results and assisting her teacher and the Angels of Grace support staff in developing strategies to address her delays.
In early coaching sessions with Claire’s teacher, Ayesha focused on strategies to address Claire’s most significant delays. One of the first strategies was to introduce a supportive toy walker to help improve her mobility and learn to walk.
The whole team at Angels of Grace rallied behind Claire. The assistant director/Family Advocate played a notable role assisting Claire’s teacher. He quickly became a consistent presence in her school life and she instantly formed a close attachment bond. When she would fall after a few steps, she would reach for him through teary eyes and he would soothe her.
As Claire’s attachment grew with her teacher and the assistant director, they soon learned that she would follow their voices. They began to let her move with her walker down the hall, calling “where are you going Claire?” She would laugh and giggle and would get more excited about walking.
With consistent encouragement, Claire quickly reached important milestones. In a few short months, she was not only walking but making significant gains in gross motor abilities and was able to participate in most of the classroom activities.
TFC Head Start partner programs use a play-based curriculum that focuses on active learning. In Claire’s classroom, children are guided to explore, interact, and exercise their creative imagination through play, and her teacher has been trained to support each child’s learning based on their individual developmental levels.
As Claire advanced and began to catch up with her peers, Ayesha continued working with her teachers to set goals that would address Claire’s developmental progress and interest level.
While old enough to advance, Claire had not yet moved out of the infant classroom because she felt happy with the teacher and her surroundings, and was still gaining much of the independence that would be needed in the toddler room. With Ayesha’s guidance, the Angels of Grace team worked with Claire to develop self-help skills — specifically eating her meals, brushing her teeth and going to the restroom with little assistance.
Claire quickly picked up the necessary skills and advanced to the toddler room. During her time in the toddler room Ayesha worked with her teacher to support Claire’s communication and sensory abilities. Her teachers planned activities that sparked her interests. For instance, after showing an interest in cars, her teacher began asking open-ended questions like, “What sounds is your car making?” and “What other transport toys can you find and what sounds do they make?” The teachers and directors were constantly amazed at her retention level and listening skills. Claire quickly responded to sounds and identified colors easily. The staff noticed changes every day with communication and questioning abilities. After a year in the toddler room, Claire was communicating, such as, “what are we having?” and, “I need more food.”
Now, Claire is blossoming in the 3 and 4-year-old room. Previously, Claire qualified for services through the WYCO ITS Infant Toddler Services but her recent SPED developmental screening report when she transitioned into Head Start classroom demonstrates that she is functioning at the typical skill level as other children in the same age range and will not qualify for services. Claire relates well with other children, picks and chooses her favorite activities and play centers, calls her peers by their names, and won’t hesitate saying “bye” to them when they leave for home.