A lot of people have asked me why I would want to combine these two approaches within my work when they are so different. I embarked upon this journey out of necessity about 20 years ago when my first son was not babbling by age 1 or speaking at age 3. Despite us being a stable, loving, and educated family, he had no formal medical diagnosis but was granted an educational evaluation, for which the results qualified him for an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in the local public school district. However, they could not guarantee he would receive speech services, or any help at all. I could see how frustrating it was for him to not be able to speak, and I would have done anything to get him the help he needed. There were no ABA services in our area, and even if there were, our insurance would not have covered it.
We gave up his spot in the special education preschool program, and instead enrolled him into a Montessori school, and he was given a comprehensive, individualized, and caring education with no formalized education plan required – it was all built into the Montessori educational model, and his Guides went above and beyond my expectations. Within a few short weeks, my son began speaking, gained independence, and formed social connections after just a short time there.
Later, during my work as a Montessori assistant, I observed children as they arrived into Primary classrooms with no diagnostic labels but had obvious developmental delays, such as not speaking, similar to my own son. I saw how they progressed developmentally in many areas within a few months in their Montessori Environments, just as my son. It had reawakened my search for evidence-based and experimental research to confirm what I had seen. I began studying autism as it relates to Montessori education, and there were no formal papers written about it at the time. So, I enrolled in an education program at my local university, then a psychology degree program, still searching for scientific validation of this Montessori phenomena I had seen repeatedly.
Once I became a teacher, I saw the same thing year after year. Invariably, one or two children would arrive with developmental delays, and after months of observations and individualized classroom strategies, I would have the difficult talk with parents centered around developmental milestones: The Milestone Checklist is helpful for children ages 2 months to 5 years old. More parenting resources here: HealthyChildren.org – From the American Academy of Pediatrics
Just as we protect the children’s work as adults, my work is to protect your work as a Guide. My aim is to provide Montessori Guides, assistants, admin, and staff, with collaborative strategies, training, coaching, and 1:1 support within the overarching framework of Montessori – it’s already built in! I work from a strength-based model and I emphasize what you are doing right and build from there. Please reach out to me with your questions, comments, or concerns: calendly.com/tier3montessori
~ erin 🙂
Erin Lopez-Brooks, AMI, M.Ed., BCBA, IBA, LBA