“As a parent, I was struck by several things that make this preschool program different from others. First, it’s an 11-month, half-day preschool. For us, this has provided a consistency that made going back to school after break easier. It’s a secular program with a good mix of students from a variety of backgrounds. They also have smaller than required classes. The most important thing for us was the phase-in program, which allows you to slowly transition your child in at the beginning of the year by staying increasingly shorter periods until the child is comfortable staying on their own. For kids like mine who are incredibly attached and have a difficult time with separation, this is a wonderful thing in making them feel safe and secure. I can’t say enough great things about the Lucy Daniels Center, and I strongly encourage those of you looking for a preschool to consider them.”
-Beth Messersmith, parent of an Early School student
“Finding out about the Lucy Daniels Center changed all of our lives. Not only did we find help for our son, we found a network of child psychologists, phenomenal teachers, and the support of other families with similar issues. We are so proud of our son and know that he is where he is today because of the help we all received at the Lucy Daniels Center.”
-Leslie Huffman, parent of an Early School student
“Contacting the LDC was the best decision I ever made for my son. I can’t begin to thank you and your staff enough for giving us a chance to find out what my son’s real problems were and how to work through them, rather than just putting a band-aid on it.”
-A. Owens, parent of a Family Guidance Service client
“Three years ago, my older child was an enigma- very smart, funny, creative, but also terrified of light fixtures, ceiling fans and bathroom faucets. She was defiant, loud, sometimes very aggressive, constantly talking, interrupting everyone. She had terrible tantrums when things did not go her way. Friends worried. Our family and pediatrician were certain it was simply a discipline problem. I knew my daughter had good reasons for the way she behaved. We searched in vain for practical help that would not entail medication or rewards and punishment as a first line of defense. There is no doubt in my mind that preschool anywhere other than LDC would have been a disaster.”
“At Lucy Daniels, we found a group of experienced, insightful, incredibly dedicated professionals willing to take a very deep look at what was happening in the inner world of our child. Our daughter was treated as a real person with real feelings, a child crying out for help, not a “spoiled brat.” The incredible teachers and clinical staff have worked closely with our family on a daily basis- we are a team working to support her and challenge her growth at the pace that is right for her. Our daughter is now finishing her last (of two) year in Lucy Daniel’s Center Early School program. It wasn’t a quick fix and it hasn’t always been easy. We still have our struggles. She still has her quirks and probably always will but the Lucy Daniels Center has given my daughter back her life and returned sanity to our family. Because of the Center, our daughter has a fair chance at a truly happy, fulfilled, productive life. We are forever in their debt.”
-Parent of an Early School student
“To make a long story short, we had a great many difficulties with our daughter, when my husband and I relocated our family to the Triangle area from Canada. Our daughter and my husband and I worked with one of the Center’s Family Guidance therapists and the result has been an enormous success. The Center provided us with outstanding service, and our daughter has continued to blossom long after we completed our work at the Center.
She is now a safety patroller and very proud of that, loves having the responsibility and looking after the younger kids. She is doing her homework completely and without argument every night. She is cooperating in class. The schoolwork she is bringing home features, for the most part, great grades and comments, lots of reaffirming stickers about jobs well done, etc.
The teacher sent home a note in her Friday Folder that said “She’s a doll!” with a little smiley face. As you can well imagine, my husband and I checked to make sure we had the right kid’s Friday Folder, but sure enough, it was. She is working hard on math and still struggling, but her new teacher has told her and us not to worry, that one day, it will just click, a message being reinforced by her tutor.
We are being firm and fair with our daughter. When we know that she is going to disagree with a decision we are making, we are being calm and reasonable and not backing down on our decisions. We’re finding it much easier to manage her these days. It helps that she is on an allowance system that allows for bonuses for jobs well done or additional jobs around the house. She’s keeping her room and bathroom fairly clean (yay!) It’s working.”
-Parents of a Family Guidance Service client
“I have visited many therapeutic preschools both in the U.S. and abroad, but your program is the most impressive that I have had the privilege to observe. The facility is superb and ideally suited for the care of children. It is, however, the program and the staff that is most inspiring. The Lucy Daniels Center is a model institution destined to touch the lives of countless children. The mental health community and the children of America owe a debt of gratitude to the staff and philosophy of the Lucy Daniels Center.”
-Marvin Margolis, M.D, past president of the American Psychoanalytic Association
“The toll of a loved one’s death, divorce and chronic illness can complicate the lives of a child and his/her family that each day’s burdens feel unbearable for all involved. Aches and pains, aggression and shyness may be so exaggerated that typical daily living feels almost impossible. As a pediatrician I see young children and talk to parents regularly. I often spend time explaining my view of the contributors to illness. It is not “just” a virus, a bacteria, or an accident. One’s emotional state also plays an important role in defining illness. Ignoring this contributor can leave young children inadequately treated. When everyday tummyaches, headaches, aggression, fears of sleep and separation become too exaggerated for a family to move forward, having the Lucy Daniels Center as a resource can feel like a life line on a sinking ship.”
-Kathy Merritt, pediatrician, Chapel Hill, NC
Witness his performance on the stage, and you might never know that, as a three-year old, he was so unnerved by social dynamics that he would bark at people instead of speaking. Watch him put on a costume and assume a British accent, and you’d probably not suspect that he was once unwilling to make eye contact with his teachers. See the young man Peter has become, and you might not quite recognize the struggling little boy he used to be.
For much of that progress, his parents credit the Early School at the Lucy Daniels Center (LDC).
In the early years of his life, Peter—an only child—often behaved in ways his parents found odd. “Our son was a very strange two-year old,” says his mother. “Considering that most two-year olds exhibit unusual behavior, that’s saying something.” She remembers that Peter was easily upset by loud noises and struggled to interpret social cues. Leaving the house took arduous preparation. “We had to micro-manage every outing because his responses could be so unpredictable,” she says. After consulting with Dr. Barbara Snider, an LDC psychiatrist, it was decided a placement in the Center’s Early School would provide the appropriate learning environment with attending psychological support.
It was a crucial intervention at a critical time in Peter’s development. “The Early School provided our son with the help and guidance he needed,” his mother says. “The teachers helped him learn how to navigate a preschool classroom at his own pace.” The low teacher-to-student ratio helped. “They eased him in, accommodated his interests. He was allowed to find his way in dealing with his issues, so that later on he was able to rise to the challenge of regular life and succeed,” she says.
The Center also provided vital support for Peter’s parents. “No one at Lucy Daniels ever treated us like we were weird or strange,” his mother remembers. “They never made us feel like bad parents.” At a time when the public understood little about Asperger’s Syndrome—the neurological disorder Peter was eventually diagnosed as having—the expertise of the clinicians at the Center provided much-needed understanding for the entire family. “Our weekly meetings with Dr. Snider helped us learn coping strategies and created a sense of hope for Peter’s future,” she says.
Now nearly 12 years old and flourishing at a school with an integrated arts focus, Peter is smart and opinionated, loves computers, and relishes theatrical roles that, in his words, are “memorable and make people laugh.” In the school’s drama program he has found an environment that encourages his strengths and helps him cope with his continued lack of optimal social skills. He still struggles in decoding many social cues—it may not always register with him that he has said something that has upset someone, for example—but he is appreciated by his teachers and his peers for his hard work and talent.
Center executive and clinical director Donald Rosenblitt notes, “Some children come into this world with neurological differences that affect their ability to live in conventional society. With early intervention of the type the Center offers, these differences will often be much less extreme, and the children can grow into confident and capable adults, taking great pleasure from their capacities and unique gifts.”
The early intervention and acceptance provided in his preschool years at LDC have played an essential role in Peter’s success, his parents believe. “The Center really helped Peter come to terms with how his brain works, with his version of reality, so he could move forward and feel confident,” his mother says. “He has known for a long time that he has Asperger’s Syndrome and just incorporates that into his unique self-image. He likes to be different than everyone else.”
– Parent of an Early School student