While she has been working to guide the education of SCAN’s first preschoolers at the Circle Preschool Program, Denise has also been working to publish a book she has authored with colleague Deborah Lickey. The book was published this summer, titled Starting with their Strengths: Using the Project Approach in Early Childhood Special Education. Denise and Deborah will be presenting the research outlined in the book at national conferences.

Denise has been writing the book for the past six years. She and Deborah taught together at the Sabot School, now Sabot at Stony Point. The book was initially an article, but as they outlined the article, they quickly realized the content was too vast, which covers the basics of a strengths-based approach to early childhood education for children with special needs.

“Too often special education focuses on remediating children’s ‘deficits’ versus employing their strengths to meet any needs,” Denise said.

The book’s audience will be practicing and preparing teachers, but it is also reader friendly enough that she hopes families may use it to advocate for their young children in school.

“Our strengths-based approach, which includes the project approach, aligns beautifully with therapeutic settings, such as our Circle Preschool Program,” Denise said. “It allows for children to use their multiple intelligences, learning styles, and interests to form relationships with others and materials in the class. These strengths and affirming relationships permit the children to face and meet their challenges.”

The book has already received several positive reviews. One such accolade is below.

“This book captures the essence of development.  It is a journey of discovery for the child and a guide to educators, therapists and families who want to tailor their interactions to each child’s individual differences and strengths while providing the essential experiences that move development forward.  The focus on establishing the foundations for learning is infused with respect, engagement and the promise every child holds.” – Serena Wieder, Founder, Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders


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