Early Intervention & The De Lowe Family at Beit Issie Shapiro
The Aaron De Lowe Early Intervention Center was established by Helene and Jack De Lowe in memory of their young son Aaron, who was born with a severe developmental disability, and who passed away shortly before their Aliya to Israel. The De Lowe’s commitment to answering urgent needs in Israel for early intervention where there was a dearth of facilities and the lack of expertise in this field, resulted in their partnership with Beit Issie Shapiro. Funds were secured from family and friends and, in 1982, the Aaron De Lowe Early Intervention Center was opened in memory of the late Aaron. Helene De Lowe, a special education specialist, who pioneered infant stimulation, served as the Center’s first director and led the Center’s establishment and continued development until 1996.
Over the years, the Center has become a leader in the field of early intervention in Israel, and has pioneered important developments in the field, including the following:
- The establishment of a “high risk” infant home program.
- A community outreach screening program.
- The development of the “First Year of Life” program for high-risk babies aged 3-9 months.
- The development of a satellite nursery for high-risk children, and specialized afternoon programs.
- Impacting on the social, professional and legal communities to ensure that all infants and young children with disabilities receive the high standard of care they need
- Staff members have participated in early intervention subcommittees at the Knesset, and Beit Issie Shapiro has led a coalition of over 50 organizations in the field, working to improve the rights of infants and young children to services.
- The Center published a Declaration on the Rights of Young Infants to Early Intervention Services, signed by community leaders in Israel and abroad.
- In 2000, Beit Issie Shapiro’s efforts led to the passage of the Rehabilitative Daycare Law, which entitled every infant with special needs to receive therapeutic intervention. Once the law passed, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services looked to the Center’s model of early intervention as a basis for the implementation of the law and the curriculum to be used in the early intervention centers that were to be established throughout Israel.
- Training and knowledge sharing: The knowledge and best practice developed in the Center are shared through Beit Issie Shapiro’s Trump International Institute for Continuing Education: seminars, webinars, courses and ongoing training on specific topics within the field, and through Beit Issie Shapiro’s International Conference in the field of disabilities, held every four years in Israel.
- The establishment of early intervention centers throughout Israel, including the Sindian Early Intervention Center: There are over 110 early intervention centers in Israel that operate based on the model used in the Aaron De Lowe Early Intervention Center. One such center is the Sindian Early Intervention Center.
- The use and development of assistive technology: for the past several years, the Center has been at the forefront of the “assistive technology revolution”, integrating the use of iPads, and other adapted technological tools, into the children’s daily routine for educational, therapeutic and recreational purposes. One such assistive technology tool is “eye-gaze” technology, geared towards young children from the age of 1yr 9 months whose disabilities prevent them from speaking clearly and from using their hands, thus allowing them to learn to communicate with their environment using their eyes. The system also serves as a diagnostic and evaluative speech therapy tool for the Center’s staff.
- Global Impact: The Center’s impact has also extended beyond national borders; and early intervention centers based on the model used at the Aaron De Lowe Early Intervention Center have been established internationally. One such center has been established in Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province, China. The center’s staff were trained by Beit Issie Shapiro’s professional staff. The center today serves 70 children, ages 2-8 years.