So, here is the big question: How does the Dawn Program work anyway? Well, it is very simple. If a child is ages 2-5 and has either an official diagnosis of autism from abroad or a recommendation given by our local developmental pediatrician, Dr. Helen Leonard, then that child is eligible for the early intervention portion of the program. The diagnostic report is then sent to Ms. Tameika Meadows, Dawn's Supervising Therapist, for further review. Email, phone or Skype chat interviews would then be arranged between the parents and Ms. Meadows. During these conversations, a time would be set for a face to face meeting with Tameika. She then flies in to conduct detailed environmental observation on the child. A behavioral assessment is assembled to determine the strengths and deficits of the child. Also, extensive interviewing of the parents (and/or others involved with the student candidate) is conducted to get details of the child's history, the family construct and to set desired goals (both short and long term) for the child in need of intervention.
A brief, user friendly training manual on Applied Behavior Analysis using the Verbal Behavior method is given to the caregivers and thoroughly drilled with them. Once this is complete, specific programs are written by Tameika that individually address the deficits that each child may possess. The programs are detailed and walk the executor through step by step method to accomplishing the target of the program. This will then become an ongoing process of program execution and close monitoring of progress for the extent of the time the child is with Dawn. Weekly correspondence between the parents and Ms. Meadows keeps both parties up to date with any additions or alterations needed to the student's program of study. This is also an emotional support system to keep families in focus while tackling their challenges head on! On island visits are scheduled every 3 months to ensure that the programs are being executed properly and that the family is growing in education, understanding and a positive outlook on the challenges they face.
The Dawn Program is designed to give the most therapeutic support to families on TCI at the least possible cost. What we are attempting to do is groundbreaking as prior to the organization of this program there were no means of obtaining ABA therapy in our country. We advocate individual accountability with each family as they are responsible for utilizing the mountains of information that will be placed at their fingertips. It is, by no means, an easy task. But it can be rewarding beyond belief to see what light can be shone into the darkness when you are given the tools with which you can work.