Transition services for disabled Mississippians expanded - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Transition services for disabled Mississippians expanded

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Whitfield, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippians with intellectual and developmental disabilities have new options for community involvement. This new program was prompted by a 2011 Department of Justice visit to Mississippi. There's a move across the country to help disabled individuals live more independently.

"It's essential that the doctors,dentists and nurses and all the folks that care for our children, feel comfortable and capable of serving them," said Jerry Gray-Lewis.

Gray-Lewis had a daughter with down-syndrome. She saw first-hand the challenges of going to doctors outside an institution with specialized training.

"Talking special needs to the person himself or herself with your verbal language, your nonverbal language, your touch, your eye contact," explained Gray-Lewis." And that can either be threatening or inviting to somebody that he is the world and processes messages little bit differently."

The new program is called DETECT. Its clinical director says many folks with intellectual or developmental disabilities have lived for years on specialized campuses.

"That's not a bad thing in and of itself totally cause they've had a lot of their needs," described Dr. Craig Escude.

The state is creating a better pathway to integrating those folks into communities across the state.

"Having the supports and services we currently provide here on a campus setting, have them provided in a home setting," said Escude.

The DETECT clinic will help educate and train healthcare providers across the state. The focus is on how to handle special needs patients who've transitioned out of an institution. There's also a telemedicine room that will broaden the scope of services to areas across the state.

Gray-Lewis says added prep for providers will be invaluable for special needs families.

"That dentist will be more capable and comfortable. And if that dentist is comfortable, mom is comfortable," she described.

The program is funded by a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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