Mallory Lee was trying to be patient. She was waiting for the “light to turn on” in her daughter Skylar’s brain. That light, her pediatrician had assured her, would turn on like ‘flipping a switch’ and Skylar would begin communicating. But, by two and a half years old, she was not doing the things Mallory saw her friends’ children doing. Not only was Skylar not speaking, but she also wasn’t meeting other milestones and her behavior was becoming very challenging. “None of my friends or my mother had ever experienced anything like these tantrums before; screaming for hours,” she explained. “I’ve never experienced anything like it and I didn’t know what to do.” Mallory was worried. “How long should we wait for the light to go on?”
Mallory has a friend who works at Raising Special Kids. Like many of us, Mallory had a vague idea of the work her friend does. “I just knew she worked with families who needed help,” she shared, “and I needed some help.” So, Mallory reached out to see what advice, if any, her friend could offer.
Quickly, Mallory was guided on how to get Skylar evaluated by the Arizona Early Intervention Program and it wasn’t long before Skylar began receiving weekly early intervention services. A month or so before the end of that school year, she began attending developmental preschool.
For the rest of that school year and for the next two, Skylar attended preschool three days a week riding the bus to and from. With a smile in her voice, Mallory Mallory’s Family recalls, “She began developing this independence. She really enjoyed the structure of school and things just started progressing. It wasn’t all of a sudden overnight, it was little changes. And then she started getting words!” Once Skylar started communicating with words, Mallory started to see a decline in her challenging behavior and tantrums.
For Kindergarten, the IEP team decided the appropriate placement for Skylar was in a general education class with daily pull-out for speech services. She excelled. This year, in first grade, Skylar meets with her speech therapist just once a week. “She loves school!” Mallory exclaimed. “It really is this crazy change. She is such a happy sweet girl who loves reading and writing and all of the things in school. We don’t have any of those behavioral issues we had when she was having communication challenges.”
Mallory shared, “If Skylar hadn’t started building habits of learning through her experiences with early intervention and preschool, she would not be enjoying the success she is now!”