Meet Dillon Parrish. Known for his big personality and affectionate nature, Dillion is a student in our VPK Art Classroom. However, he had a difficult time adjusting when he entered this new environment in the Fall of 2021. Coming from a smaller environment, the new routine and the hustle and bustle that many pre-kindergarten classrooms are known for can be a bit more overwhelming for a our sensory-avoidant friends. Trying to adjust whilst not being able to communicate posed a big issue for Dillon, and as such he began to lash out at his peers and withdraw from his teachers when prompted to engage in activities that he didn’t like. At morning drop-off, Dillon would often run towards the car instead of towards the building as he could not verbally communicate that he was feeling overwhelmed.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, face-face communication posed an additional challenge and creating an action plan on how to better assist Dillon required some creativity. Together, his teachers and therapists utilized the ProCare app and hosted frequent phone conferences to find different tools to aid Dillon in becoming more comfortable at school. We added noise-cancelling headphones during loud activities such as music and movements, provided soft stuffed animals during transition periods, and created visual schedules so that Dillon could anticipate which activities would occur next. Our administration also connected Dillon’s family to the Family Empowerment Scholarship, which they now utilize for additionally therapy. Dillon is currently enrolled in Speech and ABA therapy through our independent contractors which has truly helped him thrive in VPK.
With patience and a loving team of therapists, teachers, and, of course, parents, Dillon has proven a great success story for the VPK Art classroom. He now happily runs through the front door at drop-off and excitedly enters his classroom with a big smile! His verbal and non-verbal communication skills have greatly increased. His teacher, Mrs. Avion, shared, “Dillon is a pleasure to have in class. He is always reaching out for hugs and we love his silly personality.” His ABA therapists, Ms. Yami & Ms. Lauren, both have noted an exponential increase in his vocabulary and that he can now ask peers to share unprompted and can label items without being asked. Dillon’s true potential has been unlocked through the right academic program paired with the right therapy program. He has officially adjusted well into his new environment and functions throughout the day with little redirection. Dillon participates in circle time and responds to questions being asked. He loves outside time, people, and, his most favorite, blocks! As a team, we love Dillon’s fun personality and silly smiles that he shows us each day and we are excited to see how he continues to grow before entering Kindergarten.