Northwest AEA offers many professional development opportunities for early childhood professionals. One is called, “Preschool Classroom Strategies for Student with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)/Behaviors.” 

Akron-Westfield Preschool teachers Theresa Brent and Annie Bartels Solberg attended this class this past August, which was taught by Sara Klingensmith and Jessica Niles, early childhood special education consultants at Northwest AEA. 

According to Jessica, “Annie and Theresa took the strategies and ran with them! They really invested the upfront work to create the materials necessary to have a successful start to their preschool year for all their students.”

The Akron-Westfield duo created a video to model the expected morning arrival routine for students, as well as several pictures of items they made from strategies that Jessica and Sara taught in the class. Both teachers agree the start to this year has been a much smoother transition to structured class because of some of these newly implemented strategies.

“The pictures are referred to often in the beginning and then when they are struggling, we refer back to them,” said Theresa. “The video was shared with parents, as well, so they not only felt like they knew what their kids were doing in class; but, they could talk to their children about it.”

In addition, when they hear the kids say, "What should I do?,” it lets the educators know they need to cover those items with the group.  They use a common and consistent language to reinforce the messages with students.

Theresa and Annie are very glad they attended the class at Northwest AEA. They find the AEA’s help to be valuable.

“Any time I have asked someone from AEA to come to the classroom to observe and offer their suggestions, they come quickly and have great suggestions,” added Annie.

Jessica noted that Annie and Theresa have “amazing” assistants that totally understand the strategies they encourage and teach. 

“Without the support of our parents, principal and paraeducators, we would not be successful,” stated Theresa. “It does truly take a village to help raise or teach a child, and we are just one small part of that village.”