Providing Early Intervention for Special Needs Children
On the corner of Ohio and New York Avenues on the U.S. Oval in Plattsburgh, you’ll see chalk drawings on a brick building that houses the imaginations of young children served by North Country Kids, Inc.
North Country Kids is an Early Intervention and Preschool agency that offers the earliest possible support for infants, toddlers and preschool children (birth to five years of age) with special needs and developmental disabilities, particularly those along the autism spectrum.
Families can access early intervention services by contacting the local Health Department. A core evaluation will determine eligibility, and from there, services that target the goals and needs outlined for the child will begin in the child’s natural environments: their home and/or childcare center.
Families can access preschool services by contacting their school district’s Special Education department. An evaluation is conducted to discover whether or not the child is suspected of having a disability that impairs his or her learning and development. If eligible, these services will also be provided in the child’s natural environments and/or an available classroom.
North Country Kids is dedicated to providing the highest quality services to children with special needs and developmental disabilities, particularly those along the autism spectrum. Over the past 50 years, thousands of published studies have documented the effective- ness of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) for increasing a wide variety of skills and decreasing challenging behaviors. ABA can be utilized to teach communication, social interaction, cognitive skills and self- help skills. ABA strategies reduce inappropriate behaviors for people with autism and other developmental disabilities while teaching more appropriate replacement behaviors.
Makenna Dubay, mother to Cooper and Ada Dubay, became familiar with these programs and techniques after Cooper was diagnosed with autism in 2014. At the age of two, Cooper received support services through both Clinton County’s Early Intervention Program and Preschool Program in his home until being placed in a classroom at North Country Kids at the age of three. Ada received similar services at 18 months old until her classroom placement at the age of three.
“I find the work they do with and for our children is, in a word: exceptional. Their presence in our home, while plentiful, is well received by each member of my family. They are kind and considerate, prompt and patient; their devotion to this work knows no limit. We have grown so fond of each one of them, and it is their guidance that has brought Cooper and Ada so far,” said Dubay of her experiences with North Country Kids’ therapists in a 2014 letter to the Clinton County Health Department.
The staff at North Country Kids believes that the partnership between therapists and parents, including the collaborative efforts of caregivers and specialists, is the most important foundation to set for a child’s success. Parents find comfort in the knowledge, patience, and support of the staff at North Country Kids, and staff rejoice in watching children meet their milestones.
Krystal Lewis has been a special educator at North Country Kids for 16 years. She says of work- ing for the agency, “There is absolutely nothing in life that I find more fulfilling than helping others. I’ve always been one who would rather give than receive, and my job with these kids has allowed me to give in more ways than I can count. Working with children with varying needs in a variety of settings has provided me the opportunity to change lives. In turn, my life has been changed, too. Watching children learn and grow over time is my greatest reward.”
It takes a village to raise a child, and parents and caregivers alike can count on the dedicated and articulate staff at North Country Kids, Inc. to help their children reach their fullest potential.