Research shows that growth and development are most rapid in the early years of life. The earlier problems are identified, the greater the chance of reducing the impact of them. Early intervention responds to the critical needs of children and families by:
Many children with developmental delays are not being identified as early as possible. As a result, these children must wait to get the help they need to do well in social and educational settings (for example, in school). In the United States, about 13% of children 3 to 17 years of age have a developmental or behavioral disability such as autism, intellectual disability and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder1. In addition, many children have delays in language or other areas that can affect school readiness. However, fewer than half of children with developmental delays are identified before starting school2, by which time significant delays already might have occurred and opportunities for treatment might have been missed.
Hatch Ahead: This program is provided by Hatch Learning Habitat and Consulting Firm, located in rural Weimar, TX. This is an early childhood intervention program for children with developmental disabilities ages two and three. Children with developmental disabilities include but are not limited to those with Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Delays. The program is designed to increase functional language and appropriate social behaviors while concurrently reducing challenging behaviors. As a result, the children participating in the program will be more successful in home, school, and community settings. The Hatch Ahead curriculum and strategies employed will be research-based using the principles and practices of Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior Development.
Developmental Screenings: Developmental screening is a short test to tell if a child is learning basic skills when he or she should, or if there are delays. Developmental screening can done by your pediatrician or other professionals in health care, community, or school settings. The doctor might ask you some questions or talk and play with the child during an examination to see how he or she plays, learns, speaks, behaves, and moves. A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of a problem. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for developmental delays and disabilities during regular well-child doctor visits at 9, 18 and 24 or 30 months. Additional screening might be needed if a child is at high risk for developmental problems due to preterm birth, low birthweight, or other reasons. If your child’s doctor does not routinely check your child with this type of developmental screening test, you can ask that it be done (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/screening.html). Turtle Wing Foundation offers the opportunity for targeted developmental screenings as part of its early intervention programming.
Day Care Collaboration: Turtle Wing in collaboration with the Schulenburg/Weimar Area Parents as Teachers program received a Monogram Loves Kids Foundation grant to support the Early Childhood Care Provider Early Intervention Pilot Program. Turtle Wing and PAT understand the early years of a child’s life are critical for optimal development and provide the foundation for success in school and life. Along with providing critical support to childcare providers, working parents and their families, Turtle Wing spotlights the importance of developmental screenings, early detection and intervention when developmental disabilities are identified.
Mobile Learning Labs: Along with assistance from other non profits and Title I funding, Turtle Wing supports targeted learning opportunities for children performing below academic expectations who may benefit from more direct, small group instruction designed to help with math, reading and language skills. Currently Turtle Wing supports Learning Labs at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Schulenburg, St. Michael’s Catholic School in Weimar, and Flatonia Elementary School in Flatonia.
Scholarships: Turtle Wing Foundation provides assistance to families seeking supplemental services for their children beyond what ECI (http://www.dars.state.tx.us/index.shtml) or their school’s Special Education Department are able to provide. Scholarship applications are available from local service providers and on the Turtle Wing web site.
Turtle Teens & Tweens: Turtle Wing provides a chance for children with social skills needs to spend a Saturday participating in fun activities, working on social skills, and establishing and maintaining friendships. The social skills coaching is underwritten by Turtle Wing (participants’ families may be asked to pay for activity expenses). Participants with social skills, communication, sensory, and behavioral needs who can function in a group of up to 12 children are encouraged to attend and to invite a friend to help provide balance to the interactions. There are two groups. Turtle Tweens is for children 8-12 years of age and Turtle Teens is for children 13-17 years of age.
Specialized Child Care Training: Turtle Wing is working with Hatch Learning Habitat and Consulting Firm to provide specialized training for babysitters who care for children with special needs and may assist with underwriting the added expense that hiring a properly trained care provider may require.
Local Provider Network: Turtle Wing has relationships with local supplemental service providers who provide quality care for children within the Turtle Wing Service area. Currently, the providers working with Turtle Wing include Hatch Learning Habitat and Consulting Firm (http://www.hatchlearning.com) and Beyond Therapy (http://goingbeyondtherapy.com). Local providers work closely with Turtle Wing to ensure collaborative care, parental involvement and guide families through the process of managing the care and development of their children with learning challenges.
Seminars: Turtle Wing hosts continuing education workshops for families, day care providers and educators to assist in their ability to understand and manage issues faced while working with and raising children with learning challenges. Additionally, Turtle Wing supports In-Service Training for Educators at area schools.
Autism Awareness Games: In order to highlight the growing need for concern and awareness about autism, the Autism Society has been celebrating National Autism Awareness Month since the 1970s. The United States recognizes April as a special opportunity to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community. Turtle Wing works with area high schools’ baseball and softball teams to coordinate Autism Awareness Games to help bring awareness to the community and raise critical funds to support families facing the challenges that managing Autism may present.
Turtle Wing Days: Turtle Wing Foundation works with area schools to bring elevated awareness to Autism and the issues surrounding living with Autism. This special day highlights the efforts that Turtle Wing Foundation puts forth to help families facing this challenge along with the challenge of other learning and developmental disabilities.
Parent Support Network: Turtle Wing provides support and assistance to families managing the issues that commonly are faced when raising a child with learning challenges. This includes parent trainings, local provider network and scholarships for supplemental services, and access to trained Parent Leaders to assist with questions regarding the special education process.
Does Turtle Wing only help children with Autism?
No – Turtle Wing was founded in memory of Jackson Allan Hooper, who was diagnosed with high-functioning Autism. However, the mission of Turtle Wing is to help all children within our service area who face learning challenges. This might mean a child who has Autism, a child who has Down Syndrome, a child who has learning or other developmental disabilities, or a child who is simply is struggling with reading.
Which communities does Turtle Wing serve?
The primary service area for Turtle Wing is Fayette, Lavaca & Colorado counties. Exceptions may be made beyond those borders if services are unavailable in the rural community the child resides in and it is more practical for them to drive to one of our approved local providers rather than drive to a provider in a metro market.
Who can apply for Turtle Wing scholarships?
If a family has a child with a learning challenge and it is difficult for them to afford the necessary supplemental services that their child needs in order to maximize their development and reach for goals realistic for their unique needs, then the family should apply. Applications are available on the web site and from approved local providers.
What therapies will Turtle Wing consider assisting with?