Nicholas finds his voiceNicholas B. finds his voice

When CCIU LEARN was looking for a Shining Star, I immediately thought of Nicholas B. In 2010 Nick came to our STAR 3 CCIU Early Care and Education Center and barely spoke a word. He didn't want to talk to his classmates and wandered the playground each day, waiting to go inside. Although his friends and I tried to engage him in conversations, he would usually prefer to play alone. His mom, Liz, was very worried and reached out to the Chester County Intermediate Unit for services. In rapid response, the CCIU arranged an Itinerant and Speech teacher for Nick. Months went by as the entire team worked diligently to create visual cues for Nick as well as opportunities for verbal interaction. Happy to come to school, Nick showed persistence, not giving up and walking away when tasks were difficult. Yet, interactions remained minimal.

His classmates never gave up. They would ask him questions or play next to him. Some would offer him a plastic animal because they knew he'd take it with a smile. Then, just after Easter in 2011, I noticed him reaching out to tickle a classmate on the playground! I was so excited to see him initiate the play and carefully observed without interrupting. He was laughing and running after the kids. He'd stop, wait, and reach out again. It was so beautiful to watch but I had no idea where he got the idea. It wasn't until a week later when I realized our effervescent morning teacher was doing a fingerplay that included a tickle!

From that day on Nick has worked hard to develop his communication skills. His Speech therapist, Elissa, and I would routinely share information on activities he completed. I helped him practice newly acquired skills and educated his classmates on ways to engage him in conversations. This school year has been filled with extraordinary accomplishments. He began to role play in the Dramatic Play center, ask questions during activities and spontaneously respond in Circle Time. His artwork has gone from "scribble scrabble" to shapes showing purpose and intent. He even began to show his sense of humor when the class was learning about hibernation. He told us during Circle Time that his Mom caught a bear and then laughed! I love listening to him at lunchtime. His stories are engaging, eliciting responses from his classmates.

I couldn't be more proud of Nicholas. He has worked so hard and overcome many obstacles. All the while, he smiles and never gives up. His mother, Liz, is his greatest advocate. She maintains regular communication about his progress with all of his teachers and ensures his success by keeping his attendance consistent.

Nicholas is a Shining Star.

Dana Auman, Nicholas' teacher, Chester County 


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