Berks County IU 14: Early Intervention does What Is Best for the Kids

A profile in the PAIU series, "Early Intervention Changes Lives:
Pennsylvania Families and the Intermediate Units that Serve Them"

The Davy Craft story: One step at a time
Measuring progress one step at a time isn’t just a figure of speech for Davy Craft. Born with an extremely rare condition linked to brain abnormalities, Davy at age 4 and a half is reaching new goals in mobility and communication, with help from Berks IU 14 Early Intervention.

Davy was diagnosed at 9 months with Baraister-Winter Syndrome. He has epilepsy, plus cognitive, vision, hearing, and mobility challenges. By the time he turned 3, he had just become ambulatory, pushing a toy stroller that his parents weighted down with bags of flour. He was nonverbal. He lacked the fine motor skills to use sign language to express his needs.

That was when he entered Berks IU 14 Early Intervention preschool, receiving a range of therapies. Before long, his parents, Amanda and David Craft, could see measurable progress.

“He is fully ambulatory now,” says Amanda Craft. “He walks ridiculously fast. It’s hard to keep up. That was a huge, huge goal that he met shortly after coming to the IU.”

After a few months, Davy was moved to a classroom that focused on sign-language communication. Soon, his fine motor and verbal skills showed distinct improvements.

“We are definitely making progress,” says Craft. “There are a few words he says. ‘No’ is one of them.”
In class, Davy is “one of those kids that likes to hug and play with the other kids,” says his mom. He adores his big sister, Aubrey, and he loves anything to do with music, trucks, and trains. “He’s very much a boy.”

The IU team has been “fabulous,” working with the Crafts and Davy’s nurses. “Everyone’s interacting and trying to do what’s best for Davy.”

Looking ahead, Craft hopes that her son can be happy and able to do the things he wants to do. “I know that Davy would never be where he is today without the IU,” she says. 

Berks IU 14 Early Intervention: Everyone on the same page
In its full continuum of services, from specialized preschool classrooms to fully supported community settings, Berks IU 14 Early Intervention uses a model that surrounds children with consistency. The approach assures that children hear and comprehend the same messages at home and in school.

For instance, some children with developmental delays enroll in IU 14 Early Intervention inclusive preschool, playing and learning among typical children. The Early Intervention students get targeted speech, occupational, or physical therapy, and help with vision and hearing impairments.

From there, classroom teachers are trained in additional skills to help their Early Intervention students succeed. Finally, parents get the same materials and instruction for use in the home.

“Providing that coaching for everybody involved with that student really helps to make them a success,” says Program Administrator of Early Intervention Christi Weitzel. “It crosses all the areas they are working through.”

IU 14 also offers a unique program targeting children with similar learning deficits. Students meet in groups, once or more a week, and get specialized instruction from highly trained teachers targeted specifically to their developmental delays, including socialization, developing play skills, or improving behavior. It’s like practice time for skills they need to succeed amid their typical peers and at home, says Weitzel.

“We target those skills they need, and they carry them to the typical environment,” she says.

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