Ronan A. shines thanks to Keystone STARS
Ronan is a kindergartner who started with Montgomery Early Learning Centers’ (MELC) Keystone STAR 4 (Accredited) Before and After School Program at Ridge Park Elementary in the fall of 2011. Ronan is autistic and had never before been in a setting like ours. In the mornings, our class only has 30 children, however our afternoon class can reach upwards of 50 children. On Ronan’s first morning, his father dropped him off and Ronan did not want to enter our program, which operates out of the school’s cafeteria. He was very upset and noticeably scared and it took a while to get him to come out of the hallway into the cafeteria. In the afternoon, his school aid brought him down to our program, and again Ronan was very intimidated by the size of our program. Ronan could only piece together a few words at a time, and could not always communicate his needs. In the beginning of the school year, Ronan would only play by himself, away from the other children.
One thing that was very evident from the beginning was the amount of love that came not only from Ronan, but his family as well. Ronan tells the MELC teachers, his family, and his aids he loves them very often. Ronan’s parents have been very involved in his progress at MELC, and we always stay in very close contact. As the weeks progressed, we began to see very noticeable changes in Ronan. Ronan can always be seen with a smile on his face, and has adapted very well to our program. He now enjoys playing side by side with his classmates, and has begun to engage in conversations with them. Ronan can now use full sentences to communicate with his teachers, and always lets them know when he needs something.
We have been able to work in collaboration with his parents, his school teachers, and the school district to give Ronan all the support he needs. His physical, social and communication skills have improved at MELC, and he is really enjoying himself in the program! There is an artistic side to Ronan as well. He loves to paint, especially with water colors! He loves to play outside on the playground, and has gotten more adventurous on the monkey bars. He chooses his own activities independently, and can often be found playing with the Speed Stacks, Legos, and Magna Tiles.
The other MELC students have welcomed Ronan with open arms. They do not see Ronan as being different; they see him as a friend. They always ask him to play, they love to color with him, and help to clean up when its time. We have no doubt that Ronan will continue to grow with all of the love and support that surrounds him at home, in school, and at MELC.
Story submitted by: MELC Ridge Park Teachers