Newswise — STARKVILLE, Miss.--As it has for more than a decade, Mississippi State's T.K. Martin Center for Technology and Disability is continuing a free program for young children unlike any other in the area.
Funded by the Mississippi Department of Health, Project Insuring Mississippi Parents' And Children's Tomorrows--or IMPACT--provides assessments of children from birth to age 3 and interventions for children from birth to age 5.
Each year, the university-based services are provided for more than 40 children who may have delays in cognitive, language, social/emotional, motor, and self-help skills. The IMPACT team includes three teachers, along with a speech and language pathologist and occupational therapist.
Parent Jennifer Allen, formerly of Starkville and now of Leavenworth, Kan., said her family members "are big fans of the T.K. Martin Center."
"When my daughter graduated from Project IMPACT a year ago, she was a whole different person because of this program and its services," Allen said.
Parent and caregiver training and support, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and special instruction all are offered in the family-centered approach
Center director Janie Cirlot-New said the fact that both assessments and interventions are provided in one place makes Project IMPACT unlike any other offered in the area. The wide range of ages and disability levels served also sets it apart from other programs.
"Project IMPACT provides a place where children can have all of their needs met, instead of having to go to multiple places," Cirlot-New said.
She regularly advises parents that "the earlier intervention is started, the better the outcomes," emphasizing that, "If parents see their children seem to fall behind their peers, let someone know."
Cirlot-New also explained that a play-based assessment is used to tailor an individualized family service plan or an individualized education plan for a family's and child's specific needs. Depending on the needs, classroom activities are tailored to help improve fine motor skills, including coloring, cutting and buttoning, as well as large muscle functions, such as learning to walk.
"I always like to say, my daughter Isabella crawled into Ms. Traci's class, and soon after she began walking and talking," Allen said, alluding to center research associate Traci Campbell.
Named for the university's longtime former vice president and leader in efforts to make the campus more accessible to those with physical disabilities and other challenges, the T. K. Martin Center provides comprehensive, multi-disciplinary evaluations to persons of all ages. Its mission is to help remove limitations through the application of assistive technology, allowing individuals to participate in educational, vocational and leisure activities to the fullest degree they choose. For more, visit www.tkmartin.msstate.edu/.