The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 1-in-6 children in the U.S. have some sort of developmental disability ranging from mild speech delays to serious conditions such as cerebral palsy and autism.
In an effort to meet the demand, one local rehab center in Mandarin is now expanding its reach to help kids in need in Clay County.
It's called Great Strides Rehab Center. Their mission is aimed at enhancing the quality of life for kids and young adults with autism and special needs.
The program was started back in 2004 and operates as a one-stop shop providing multiple therapy treatments.
Dr. Jon Edenfield is the executive director and founder.
"Some of the services we offer include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, applied behavior analysis, music therapy and I can go on and on," he said.
When it comes to special need kids in Clay County, he said the numbers continue to rise. More than 850 kids live in Clay County with autism and there are least 8,000 kids with some form of developmental disability.
Edenfield stresses the importance for parents to be on the lookout for warning signs and triggers associated with autism and developmental disabilities.
"They may focus on particular parts of a toy versus playing with the whole toy, they may not play back and fourth with other children, or their communication may be delayed," Edenfield said.
Laura Henry is a parent who lives in Green Cove Springs and has been traveling back and fourth to the Mandarin location for the past seven years. The new location in Orange Park will now make getting treatment more convenient. When her daughter Chelsea was 2-years-old, she knew there was a problem based on Chelsea's behavior.
"She was completely non-verbal, that mean she wasn’t talking, she wasn't making no sounds no coos or nothing," Henry said.
Chelsea is now 9 years old and continues to make significant strides an improvements.
"Now she can be able to go up to anybody and say do you want to play let's play so that’s made the biggest impact the center has made on my child's life," Henry said.
She added that the facility continues to bless Chelsea and her family and she encourages other parents to seek help for their children if in need.
"Don’t give up there is a program out there for you and even if it's not this program Dr. Edenfield will help you find a program for you," she said.
Many insurance companies offer coverage for Great Stride's treatment services.
In addition to Clay County and Mandarin, Great Strides has also opened a clinic within the Hope Haven Children's Center in Arlington.
For more information, the rehab visit their website or call 904.886.3228
Clay County Location
430 College Dr Suite 101, Middleburg
12276 San Jose Boulevard, Suite 508
4600 Beach Blvd Inside the Hope Haven Facility Skinner Building, Jacksonville