YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When a child is diagnosed with Autism, it can be a scary time for parents who aren’t sure what the first step is. Potential Development School for Autism is there to help.

“If your child has just been newly diagnosed with autism, the parents and family should work with their medical team to develop a plan,” said Kim MacDonald who is the coordinator for Potential Development’s preschool. “One of the most important things to do is make sure the children have a comprehensive evaluation.”

MacDonald says the evaluation can include the child’s pediatrician, a developmental specialist, a psychologist, a therapist and whoever is part of that medical team.

Part of that evaluation should include early intervention services.

“Early intervention is very important for many children, but especially for children who are diagnosed with Autism,” said MacDonald. “One of the main things we know about kids with Autism is that they lack social language communication skills. The best way to provide that early intervention is to immerse them in a language-rich environment.”

MacDonald says a natural environment is also important.

“One of the most natural environments we know is preschool. Everybody goes to preschool,” said MacDonald. “These early intervention services can play a very important role in having the children begin to respond to therapeutic interventions such as speech and occupational therapy.”

With a team in place, the early services can also help with sensory issues and fine and gross motor-delays as well.

Potential Development’s Preschool examines a child’s medical diagnosis, determines if there have been any early intervention services through the school or school-based team report and if an IEP is in place. Once they determine what has been done, staff works with families to enroll their children in its program and start to offer early interventions.

Potential Development also stays with the child all the way through his or her high school years and helps find programs when students transition into the workforce.

For more information about Potential Development call (330) 746-7641 and visit them online at