FORT BLISS, Texas - Laughter and excitement filled the air as children partook in food, fun and crafts at the Exceptional Family Member Program's annual holiday party here Dec. 4.
The majority of those in attendance were part of the EFMP's attention-deficit-disorder and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder support group. The party afforded parents an opportunity to talk among others about shared issues and gave their children a chance to let loose and have fun.
Those in attendance were treated to pizza and drinks. Also, there were arts and crafts, such as holiday ornament making, a build your own snowman table and cookie decorating. Several children made extra cookies to give to Santa Claus, who dropped in for a special appearance.
"We try to do recreational events like this once a month," said Beth Ellis, an EFMP manager. "This event is kind of on a smaller scale compared to one of the bigger MWR events; which are great. Yet, for special needs family members who might have sensory issues or issues with being in large crowds, it's a little more difficult for them to feel comfortable and still be able to participate. We offer these events to our families so they can be in a more intimate setting."
In addition to recreational events, the support group has been essential to families struggling with issues related to ADD and ADHD.
"This group has given us a support system where we can meet other families in our same situation," said Sonny Foster, the mother a child diagnosed with ADD. "We share stories and get together for events like this one. Our kids are more active than most and when we get all of our kids together; we don't have to worry about them disrupting everything. We're all in the same boat and our kids can just have fun together."
In addition to special events, the support group also meets monthly to discuss issues, often involving guest speakers who offer needed insight.
"Just the other day we had this speaker who talked about how children with ADD often have gastrointestinal problems," said Arthur Foster, a retired service member. "We learned about different foods that can cause stomach issues. It was very helpful."
The next big series of events for the EFMP will be this January with the start of the Special Olympics Texas, Track and Field season. For more information on the ADD and ADHD support group and volunteer opportunities contact 915-569-4227.