Special needs students benefit from unique early childhood program

Click HERE for Peer Model Program Information

The role models for these a group of 3 and 4 year olds at Farley Elementary School are not the adults.

But their fellow students. A group of nearly 15 of them that help children like 4 year-old Jaxon Vandevord.

They’ve improved his learning and social skills without even realizing it.
Something his mother, Dawn couldn’t help with.

“He’s an only child and so we have a really hard time simulating interaction with other children and he has a lot of learning disabilities so these other kind of are able to do what they do just in play and he’s able to learn from that.”

Jaxon was born pre-mature.

He has cerebral palsy and Hydrocephalus known as “water in the brain” which has caused learning disabilities and problems balancing.

Since putting this kids together, Program Supervisor John Whithorn says it has proven successful.

“Not only do they develop better self-help skills like toileting, dressing and eating but they also develop better socialization skills and those skills also generalize so you know when they’re not with peer models you’ll see them interact with their brothers and sisters or other children they’ll interact with on the play ground.”

Little do these kids know they’re helping each other learn.

” These children come in and they’re very adept with their language and their social skills and many other of their developmental skills. but they never have really interacted with children who may not have the same level of skills. So it really helps them learn to accept others.”

Dawn says, it’s been blessing for her son.

“When he went he didn’t walk, he didn’t talk, so he was able to learn all that in the last year and a half.”

It’s just another day in the classroom, but lessons learned that change lives.

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