Screening program helping kids in unaccompanied Area I
March 13, 2008
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Speech pathologist “J” Munoz Schaefer opens up the coloring book and asks the 2-year-old girl if she can point to the bird.
The girl knows what a bird is, her mother says, but she isn’t saying the word.
The girl, who in all other respects seems normal, may just be distracted by the new surroundings inside the Pear Blossom Cottage’s administrative office, or by the children talking in the next room.
Munoz Schaefer, who works for the Educational and Developmental Intervention Services, can’t say for sure. She recommends a follow-up within three months.
“I’ll see her again, but in a different setting, on the floor. And we’ll just play,” Munoz Schaefer said.
EDIS screens children for difficulties with motor skills, communication, problem solving, socializing and cognitive skills.
Its employees travel to homes all over the peninsula but say they spend a considerable amount of time in U.S. Army Garrison Red Cloud, also known as Area I, despite the official stance that the bases north of Seoul aren’t for families.
EDIS takes care of children up to 3 years of age. After that, children who need their services usually get them through the Department of Defense Dependents Schools system.
But in Area I, there are no base schools because the command does not sponsor families of most soldiers assigned there.
Nevertheless, workers at the Pear Blossom Cottage, which provides help for spouses and children, say they’ve seen the number of families in Area I rise over the past five years.
Area I data showed 723 families in 2007, all but 47 of whom were not command sponsored.
There are ways to help some children in Area I receiving EDIS help past their third birthday, including administrative waivers and referrals to other services, Munoz Schaefer said.
“We definitely do as much as we can to help the families out,” she said.
The screenings span a wide range of abilities and EDIS provides questionnaires and general guidelines for parents to help them understand the development process.
Parent Jane Durden said she brought her child J.J., 2, for screening after talking about it with her husband.
“He’s not worried about something wrong with our son,” Durden said. “But as a parent, you’re always a little worried.”
EDIS is free for Defense Department identification card holders, as well as U.S. Embassy employees. For information, call DSN 738-6792.