Lyster offers program to nurture child development
Darla Darty, Educational and Developmental Intervention Services speech and language pathologist, and Elizabeth Marriott, Early Childhood special educator and EDIS program manager, work together in Marriott's office in the EDIS department at Lyster Army Health Clinic July 10.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 12, 2012) -- Caring for children can be a job in itself, but Lyster Army Health Clinic is looking to help make that job easier for some Fort Rucker Families.

Educational and Developmental Intervention Services is a program designed to serve military Families living on Fort Rucker that have children with medical, biological or educational risks, or special needs, according to Elizabeth Marriott, Early Childhood special educator and EDIS programs manager.

"[The child] may be behind in certain areas … like language, we will give [the Family] the tools to help him or her speak more," she said. "We talk with the parents about what they want their child to achieve because the parents have to set what we call the functional outcomes."

The care providers for the program work with children from birth to 3 years old to help them develop during a crucial time in their lives, said the special educator, adding that they work with children with various developmental disabilities, whether physical or mental.

Care providers first do an assessment of the child to see where the child is in his or her developmental stage and from there they can decide what, if any, type of therapy is needed, said Marriott.

"We'll start out with a screening to see if there are any areas that there may be some concerns with," she said. "The parents may [tell us] that their child is 14 months old and not walking and that they are worried, so we'll do a motor assessment and see where [the child] is at and talk to the parents about what they need."

The program is completely voluntary and the need for it comes from concerns of either the parent or care providers at Lyster that may notice that a child may be behind in his or her social, emotional, mental or physical development at an early age.

"Most of [the children that we work with] are under 3," said Marriott. "[The program] is for any child that is behind in any area," like a child that may lack the ability to properly communicate, which can cause the child to become frustrated, and lead to tantrums and outbursts, she added.

"Sometimes children have trouble communicating at a young age, so we'll work with them with signing," she said. "We give the children and the parents a way to communicate to stop a lot of frustration that the child may have."

All therapy sessions take place in the home of the child, said Marriott, because it's the child's natural environment and reduces any added stress that a child may experience.

The program is designed for the parents and Family to be very involved in the developmental process since the care providers have only a limited time to be with the Families.

"We may do a lot of demonstration and show them [how to help their child], but the parents are the ones that teach the children," said the programs manager. "I can tell them 'this is how we do this,' but unless the parent does it, we can only make a small effect."

Marriott said the program is as much for the Family as it is for the child in need, adding that the earlier a Family voices their concern, the better the chances are to get their child to start catching up.

"We just want [the children] to be able to work up to their full potential and the earlier we start, the more likely they can do that, whatever that potential may be," she said. "It's just wonderful to be able to watch these children grow and see how they change and to be able to see the parents smile when their child is doing what they wanted them to do or accomplish. It's extremely rewarding."

For more information, call 255-7237.

Page last updated Thu July 12th, 2012 at 10:32