VICENZA, Italy - Educational and Developmental Intervention Services (EDIS) is the Army's interpretation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which ensures free and appropriate public education to all children.

Early Intervention is for children from birth to age 3 with, or at risk for, developmental delay, and Related Services for children ages 3 to 21 receiving school educational assistance on an Individualized Education Plan. Providing these interventions ensures that children are given the best opportunities to overcome delays and reach their greatest potential.

As babies begin smiling, making eye contact, babbling and crawling, parents tend to count the milestones and take every opportunity to post the new accomplishment to social media. However, parents may instead notice a delayed milestone or other developmental concern. If this is the case, making an appointment with the child's primary care provider is a great opportunity to discuss their child's developmental skills development and identify potential delays.

The child's primary care provider, using the Ages and Stages Questionnaire and discussion with the family, may identify concerns and suggest a referral for early intervention services through the EDIS Program. These services are available at the U.S. Army Health Center-Vicenza on Caserma Ederle to all command-sponsored families within the garrison. EDIS serves two populations: children who qualify for Early Intervention and those for Related Services. Related Services are provided to support children receiving special education services at Department of Defense schools.

The services are educationally based occupational therapy, physical therapy and behavioral health support services. Children needing Related Services are referred to EDIS through the school programs.

Referral for Early Intervention can be through the child's primary care provider. Families may also contact EDIS without a referral to ask questions about their children younger than age 3 by calling 0444-61-9230.

"EDIS providers frequently see parents who ask for assistance saying 'I don't know how to get her to talk' or 'how do I get him to walk','' said Mary Jo Rooney, EDIS program manager at USAHC-Vicenza. The EDIS providers are available to answer simple questions over the phone and provide full assessments and educational services.

EDIS offers screening, evaluation and service provision in the child's natural environment. Using a play-based assessment and intervention model, the EDIS provider will assess the child's motor, cognition, communication, self-help and social skills development. The whole family will be involved in the assessments and planning process.

"If they are in our services and receiving weekly home visits, we let the family guide the services. We help develop goals for their child and find out where in their day they are having some issues. Then we provide strategies and activities to help build a skill as well as calm the frustrations they and their parents may be experiencing" said Rooney.

The services offered are voluntary, with the exception of Family Advocacy referrals.

Depending on the needs of the child, services may include home based early intervention services for young children under age 3 or coordination of related Occupational therapy, Physical therapy and behavioral health assistance for older children.

Once a child reaches the age of 3 or leaves this duty station, the EDIS coordinator and primary care provider will assist the family's transition to the DODEA elementary school services or, if there is a PCS, provide information on early intervention services at the next duty station. (Passut is Patient Health Advocate and Public Affairs representative, USAHC-Vicenza)