Early Intervention Helps Close the Gap
Martina is a happy and playful four year old at SouthSide who was at risk of falling through the cracks in the system of early intervention. As we do with all our students, we assess her developmental progress several times during the school year. It’s the best way for early intervention to work – gather baseline data and see how a child progresses in our program. Martina’s scores indicated she has language and cognitive challenges that make it very difficult for her to learn. Our Care Team (center director, family coordinator, mental health coordinator, mentor teacher and disabilities coordinator) discussed a plan and determined that while Martina doesn’t meet the standards for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), the most intensive type of early intervention, she does need services. SouthSide staff helped Martina’s mom understand what we had learned about these challenges and to feel comfortable about a plan to help Martina catch up to her peers.
We are fortunate at SouthSide to work collaboratively with partners who specialize in early intervention, such as the Belle Center. Belle Center therapists will spend an hour every week with Martina in one-to-one sessions that will address her specific learning issues. With our philosophy of inclusion, most of these sessions will be provided in the classroom. This will help Martina engage in everyday classroom activities and it helps her classmates see the intervention as a regular part of the day. They won’t view Martina and other children who receive early intervention differently, as they might if they were pulled out of the classroom to go to “special services.”
At SouthSide we are guided by best practice in early childhood education – including intervention for disabilities across the spectrum, even those that don’t meet the threshold for an IEP. We have high hopes for Martina to make progress, thanks to the excellent early intervention services provided by our partners, the support of her teachers and the education we provide to her mom so she can be an advocate for Martina in the years to come.