Teddi Hollingsworth, Autism Specialist with Sedgwick County Infant/Toddler Services, has been serving Rainbows’ children for almost 20 years. “When I was a little girl, my cousin had a baby that was born with Down Syndrome,” said Teddi. “He received services from Rainbows. I loved that!”
After earning her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and then earning credentials in Research and Education of young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder from The University of Kansas, Teddi joined the Rainbows’ team in 2001.
“Teddi is there to support families as they go through what is often a difficult time, finding out their child may have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD),” said her supervisor. “She provides families with hope by giving them tangible strategies to improve communication and learning for their child. I have often heard from parents and her co-workers, “Teddi has the magic touch.” She makes progress with children when others can’t seem to reach the child and I suspect that is because Teddi really seeks to understand the best way to communicate with the children she works with.”
For Teddi, her hard work, coaching and early intervention therapy all comes down to that moment when a child calls out to their mom or dad and seeing the reaction from the parent as they realize they have made a new connection with their child. Teddi helps parents be the parents they want to be for their child. She helps them understand how their child is learning differently, what they can do to engage in their child’s world and how to meet them where they are to become part of their progress.
Seeing the children as they grow is also another reminder of why she loves her job. “One summer I was working in the office while Camp Woodchuck was in session,” said Teddi. “I remember popping my head out of my office and seeing some of the kiddos that I served in my early days at Rainbows. I will never forget how it felt to look upon their faces and see the pure joy they were experiencing. I was so proud that I worked for an organization that provided them with the opportunity to socialize and participate in a setting with their peers.”
Planning and providing trainings for other professionals interested in the field of autism is one of Teddi’s biggest achievements. She is always willing to share her knowledge and experience with her co-workers, making Rainbows’ services even stronger. “I have the privilege of working with some of the kindest people I have ever met,” said Teddi.
Watching baseball is a family passion, as evidenced in the Hollingsworth boys’ names. Teddi and her husband, Dustin, have three sons who have enriched their lives: Jackson, age 21, Booker, age 19 and Satchel, age 13. Teddi’s sons grew up with Rainbows, not only because of Teddi’s career, but also as children in Rainbows’ Early Care and Education Program.