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Student Spotlight: See How Landon Went From Silence to Success

“I want to hear his voice again. I want to hold a conversation with him,” says Solina, talking about her son Landon who attends early intervention preschool at Connections.



An Unexpected and Stressful Turn

During the first 15-18 months of his life, Landon was developing on schedule and building language skills, but then he experienced a period of significant regression. He stopped responding to his name or making eye contact. The Covid shutdown soon followed, and during that time, Landon regressed to the point of becoming nonverbal and completely withdrawn from social interactions. Following extensive and time-consuming evaluations, Landon was diagnosed with autism. 


Despite attending what seemed like an ideal preschool, Landon struggled to make progress. Solina says, “It seemed like a dream school with a beautiful playground and nice facilities. But it wasn’t conducive to Landon, and he wasn’t making any progress.”


The family struggled to get support and the stress mounted daily as Landon remained in his own world. The school expected kids to be further along with potty training and wasn’t flexible with lunch foods even for extremely picky eaters, which is common with autism. “He seemed overwhelmed and was alone even while surrounded by many kids,” says Solina.


Discovering Hope at Connections

She learned about Connections through a family member and scheduled an in-depth tour for herself and Landon. “We spent a few hours in a classroom and when it was time to go, he didn’t want to leave. I knew right then — this is where we’re going to call home,” says Solina.


This was a turning point for Landon and his family. “Since Landon started at Connections, we’ve had a streamline of help from an abundance of people — Ms. Kristen, parapros, therapists, Aura, Jason, Melissa and others,” Solina says. “I believe these people are placed at Connections by God himself. So many of them can relate to our experience and understand how to help. Landon feels comfortable with every single one of them.”


She says that the staff at Connections has taken the time to get to know Landon and has identified strategies that help him learn and grow. “Landon is soaring academically,” says Solina, gratefully. “His teachers are patient while at the same time pushing him to learn. They know you have to push him because he is capable of more. And they’ve seen that he loves to be rewarded, so they give him prizes for working hard at school.”


“I believe these people are placed at Connections by God himself. So many of them can relate to our experience and understand how to help. Landon feels comfortable with every single one of them,” Solina says.

“Landon is so happy and energetic — he’s my little energizer bunny,” Solina says. “He has learned to identify his shapes, colors, alphabet and numbers. He does his best to communicate with those around him and is currently using one- to two-word sentences."


"He gets along well with the other kids in the classroom; they act like a little family," she continues. "And he loves interacting with kids on the playground, even if he doesn’t know them yet.”


Beyond Academics

She raves about Connections’ nutrition classes where Landon is expanding his diet to include a wider variety of foods, including more fruits and vegetables. “He has been a very picky eater and often won’t try new foods at home,” Solina says. “In nutrition class, though, he’s eaten apples, oranges, bananas, muffins and more. His teachers are good about telling me what he’s eaten at school so I can continue with those items at home.”


She appreciates how Connections offers the option for after-school care for students so that working parents can know their children are well cared for while parents finish the work day. “Extended care is really unusual for a preschool, especially one for children with special needs,” Solina says.


A New Chapter Filled With Hope

Looking ahead, Landon’s family is filled with optimism for his future. They’re excited about his progress in academics, social skills and communication and look forward to him meeting additional goals.


“Landon is soaring academically,” says Solina, gratefully. “His teachers are patient while at the same time pushing him to learn.

“Ultimately, I would love to see him graduate out of special education and thrive at a mainstream school. And I believe that’s possible,” Solina says. “During his time at Connections, he has excelled academically. He enjoys learning and continues to make great improvements. He’s my social butterfly, and I hope he’ll be able to hold conversations soon and continue connecting with others.”


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