Hanna Perkins’ EPIC Early Learning (Exploring Potentials in Children) is for children, 4-6, with difficulties in social communication and emotional regulation associated with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Informed by Hanna Perkins’ relationship-based approach to supporting social emotional development, EPIC is a natural extension of our school’s gentle approach to helping young learners identify, understand, manage and communicate their feelings – basic skills for success in school and life.

EPIC provides an opportunity for parents to work with both a classroom teacher and a family helper on coordinated intervention strategies to support the child’s development. At the same time, it offers individualized preparation for transition into a mainstream classroom, by providing gradual integration into the traditional Hanna Perkins preschool and kindergarten.

The Program Includes:

  • Individualized instruction, incorporating various strategies shown to be effective with children on the spectrum, located in the low-stimulus environment of the EPIC classroom.
  • Gradual inclusion in the Hanna Perkins preschool or kindergarten classroom, according to readiness
  • A 1:2 or 1:3 teacher/pupil ratio, with the teacher assisting the child in both the EPIC classroom and during time spent in the traditional preschool or kindergarten classrooms.


  • In order to have a consistent experience for all children, EPIC strives to have children begin each day in the preschool and kindergarten classrooms – following the same settling-in process as the other children. They then transition to the EPIC classroom for the remainder of the day. As they show readiness, each child’s time in the traditional classroom is gradually extended.
  • Further enrichment is provided through a Music & Dance and Social Skills Group toward the end of each school day.
  • Speech & Language and Occupational Therapy (additional charges) can be arranged on an individual basis.

Program Details

  • Maximum class size of 6 children, ages 4-6
  • Five days/week, September through June
  • Monday-Thursday – 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Friday – 9 a.m.-noon
  • Staffed with two teachers experienced in working with the ASD population
  • An Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) consultant providing up-front training and ongoing consultation
  • Two Hanna Perkins-trained child therapists available to meet weekly with parents and teachers
  • An environment designed to be less stimulating than a traditional preschool classroom
  • Increased emphasis on visual learning
  • Consultation and on-site services, as needed, of a Speech & Language Therapist
  • Classroom materials and techniques designed for the ASD population

Eligibility and Acceptance

Each child is individually assessed for acceptance into EPIC Early Learning, but general guidelines are that the child is:

  • Able to communicate verbally and respond to questions
  • Able to be safe in a group setting, with respect for the boundaries of others
  • Able to use the toilet independently
  • Able to use help in safely managing anxiety, frustration, and anger
Preference is given to children who have an IEP from their local school district and are eligible for an Autism Scholarship through the State of Ohio.

Focus on emotional development
and inner motivation

A child’s behaviors are expressions of feelings that need to be understood, respected and responded to. This applies to all children regardless of limitations or differences in the way they communicate.

Often children on the spectrum show their feelings in dramatic ways that are confusing to those who don’t understand their language. In all Hanna Perkins programs, our specialists work closely with parents and teachers to facilitate better understanding, and to support a child’s gradual ability to know, manage, and appropriately express his or her feelings.

EPIC Early Learning focuses on developing each child’s inner motivation, with particular attention to creating an environment that supports self-regulation. This includes purposeful use of visual cues and social stories, as well as appropriate levels of sensory stimulation. Teaching strategies are chosen with empathy and respect for the individual needs of each child, and exercised with humor and flexibility.

Appropriate behavioral interventions follow a relationship-based approach that includes Natural Environment Strategies, PECS, TEACCH Strategies and Discrete Trial Training. As teachers pay attention to the meaning of each student’s behavior, they share control and incorporate the student’s interest in meeting personal, social and academic goals.

Academic growth is guided by the goals of the Ohio Department of Education, Teaching Strategies Gold and each student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Teachers integrate these goals to meet individual needs.  Academic growth is structured by individual daily activity contracts.

Hanna Perkins is an Ohio Autism Scholarship Provider. For discussion about the suitability of the program for specific children, we’re happy to talk with you directly, and are glad to introduce you to our current Preschool, Kindergarten, and Parent/Toddler programs as well.