INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Editor's note: This article is part of a series designed to provide in-depth information to both current and future members of Team Incirlik about topics specific to Incirlik and Turkey. The goal is to assist Airmen and families in making informed decisions about their move to the area and to provide guidance about local policies, procedures and quality of life matters.
As children, we begin to understand the workings of the world and how to interact with it. We grow and are nurtured and educated during this critical developmental period.
To assist families with children, the Department of Defense conducts the Education and Development Intervention Services program.
"EDIS is a military program that screens and provides services to children who have developmental delays, special needs or special education needs," said Capt. Michael Brunson, 39th Medical Operations Squadron pediatrician.
Brunson also serves as the installation's EDIS coordinator. He manages the program and coordinates early intervention services for infants and toddlers from birth to three years of age, as well as related services for eligible students enrolled in Department of Defense Dependent Schools between ages three and 21. However, the entire process starts with screening for children who need a hand.
"It really is true that the kids who you find with delays sooner, and give them the needed therapy sooner, have the most improvement long term," said Brunson.
Incirlik has a unique EDIS model, Brunson said, noting the quarterly visits from an occupational therapist to conduct evaluations and therapy.
"I've been practicing for 34 years, and I try to be as integrative as possible and support the natural setting the child is in," said Joan Quinn, 65th Medical Operations Squadron occupational therapist. "The therapy model now is about working as a team in the natural environment and supporting the child."
The visiting therapist also helps conduct mass screenings and evaluations with Brunson during her visits.
"Typically EDIS is run by a number of providers and is its own entity," Brunson said. "Here, because of contracting issues, we lost all our EDIS providers. So we're doing something very few other bases do."
While Brunson recognized the situation is not ideal, he pointed out that it is a temporary set-up and permanent solutions are in the works.
"For now, the best thing is that it is working," he said. "Over the past year we've identified a number of families we've been able to help without significant delays other than the formal evaluation. If a child has a really significant developmental delay we won't wait, we'll send them to Germany to get their evaluation."
The most important thing is ensuring the child receives the help they need, Brunson said. To keep with that philosophy, the pediatrician works with families to provide choices.
"If a child has a delay that needs more services than quarterly visits, we talk with families about options," Brunson said. "If it's better for them to go to another base, members can request EFMP (Exceptional Family Member Program) reassignment."
The EDIS coordinator also works with the Incirlik Unit School to coordinate related services to eligible students through their speech therapist and two special-needs teachers. Incirlik is one of six Air Force bases in Europe with an EDIS program according to https://www.edis.army.mil
"This is where I send patients to," said Brunson. "Even though it says 'Army,' it's really the same thing. It falls under the same DoD instruction and tells you everything you need to know about the program."
To those reviewing the information and trying to decide if a move to Incirlik AB would be right for them and their child, Brunson reemphasized that the program is working.
"We do have EDIS here, we're here to do that job," said Brunson. "We don't have all the services a typical EDIS site does. We're limited on the services we can provide, but we're not limited on our ability to screen and evaluate for developmental delays."
To contact the EDIS Coordinator call DSN 676-3141.