Preschool is the gateway to learning for toddlers. They gain independence, begin to forge friendships and begin to understand the value of learning. Research suggests children that attend preschool have an academic and developmental advantage over children that do not attend preschool. But where do you turn when you have questions about your child acting out at preschool?
At home, three-year-old Alexander Yakle would chat with his mom, but when he entered preschool he had trouble communicating. He would act out, move to the corner of the classroom and completely shut down. Before long, his mom, Alexis, knew she had to find a solution to the problem or she knew it was bound to get worse.
If you are like Alexis and have a preschooler who needs developmental help or special needs services, there are places you can turn to for help. The New York State Department of Health and the New York State Department of Education can help you to find the necessary evaluations and programs for your preschooler, no matter what their needs.
“We are very lucky in New York State to have such a fine delivery system of evaluations and program options,” said Jamey Wolf, program director at The Children's Annex in Lake Katrine. Wolf encourages parents who are concerned about their preschooler’s development to take advantage of free developmental and special needs evaluations and programs. “Parents can even be reimbursed for gas from the state if they don’t want their child to take the bus to their special needs facility,” said Wolf.
Michael Musante, Assistant Executive Director in charge of education of the Association for the Help of Retarded Citizens (AHRC) at Orange County said the key to a special needs child’s success in school are both early diagnosis and provided services. “The earlier these things are done, the greater the chance the student has for being part of the general education program,” said Musante. “Early intervention and experience in the pre-school setting, like AHRC and others, are essential to giving the student the opportunity to reach his or her potential. Parents of three-year-olds come in all the time and tell me they wish they knew about our programs when their child was 15-months old.”
Jennifer Warren is a freelance writer who lives in Dutchess County. She has a vested interest in special needs children, as she has been tutoring them in English for the past twenty years.