Teddy's* mom felt her son, at nearly five years of age, was not reaching milestones at a pace that he should. This became especially apparent to her as she watched the development of Teddy's younger sibling. Teddy's mom brought him to see their pediatrician and she was concerned as well, so she referred Teddy to the Early Childhood Department at Northwest Area Education Agency (AEA).

After a few initial home visits, it was evident that more information was needed to understand Teddy's educational needs. An I-Plan was quickly started in order to document the intervention strategies that Teddy's mother could implement in the home setting. A formal evaluation also began in conjunction with the I-Plan. Throughout the evaluation period, interventions in the home were developed for bedtime routine and meal time food choices.

Concluding the evaluation, the team determined that Teddy is "a child who learns like a child with autism." Based on this evaluation, the educational team created an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) with interventions and communication strategies to help Teddy with his language and social skills. The positive results of the interventions in the home provided information to help formulate the IEP goals and strategies.

This whole process moved at a rapid pace before the holiday break in December so Teddy could begin interventions, which brought progress each day. He has responded positively to the visual schedule in the home setting.

Many employees offered their help and expertise throughout the evaluation and placement process: Julie Tucker, early childhood special education school social worker; Linda Cron, early childhood special education teacher/consultant; Terri Porter, speech-language pathologist; and Jessica Niles, special education strategist/early childhood special education behavior strategist; were part of the evaluating team. Julie Cunningham, early childhood special education teacher/consultant, helped transition Teddy to the Early Childhood Special Education Preschool; and Sara Klingensmith, early childhood special education teacher/consultant; Jan Turbes, challenging behaviors consultant; and Cesar Narvaez, special education strategist, helped Teddy and his family connect with the local Autism Support Group.

In addition to AEA staff, several dedicated and talented educators from the Sioux City Community School District helped to coordinate meetings, placements, and an educational plan for Teddy. They include Kim Burrack, preschool administrator; Jade Manker, early childhood special education teacher; and Susana Mendez, family communication specialist through the ESL Office.

"I was proud to be a part of such a great team of people that worked so hard to help Teddy and his family," said the AEA's Julie Tucker. "Teddy's mother has noted that he is making improvements in the home setting, and she is excited for him to start preschool."

"Mom also expressed her appreciation of seeing staff go the extra mile in such a positive and nurturing way for her son," Tucker added.

Teamwork, efficiency and timing were critical elements that came together for Teddy with the hope that next year's transition to kindergarten will go smoothly…taking it one day at a time.

* Not his real name and the photo is from stock photography (it is not a photo of the child).