The Early Stimulation Programme (ESP) is an early intervention programme for young children (0-6 years) with various types of developmental disabilities. The Programme commenced operation in 1975 as a project, but subsequently became integrated into one of the Ministry’s social programmes. Since its inception in 1975, the Programme has benefited well over twenty thousand children with various types of disabilities across the island.
Among the disabilities managed by this programme are cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities ranging from sensory impairment, autism, down’s syndrome, developmental delay, secondary to psychosocial deprivation and co-morbid behavioural problems; including attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder also known as (ADHD).
Children are referred to the programme by health care workers, educators, social workers, parents and other agencies serving young children. The assessment process includes a comprehensive history taking of social, medical and developmental history; the administration of developmental screening tests to comprehensively identify potential developmental problems; medical examination to identify potential neurological and sensory deficits. Once a developmental delay is identified, an individual intervention programme is designed for each child. Consultation is held with parents to define roles and to ensure parent participation in the process.
Some of the services offered include:
- Developmental Assessment, special early childhood education/community based intervention within the homes, schools, day care centres and other institutions.
- Parents/staff training and public education on matters regarding disabilities.
- Full time physiotherapy and part time speech therapy for children with speech impairment.
- Counselling and support for families/caregivers who have difficulties coping with the challenges of their children’s disability along with support groups.
The Early Stimulation Programme operates from (4) four centres, (2) two in the KSAC Metropolitan Region, (1) one in Portland and (1) one in St. James; however, children are seen from all across the island. The programme has grown immensely over the past decade, as the number of clientele has increased significantly. Each year an array of sixty (60) children with special needs transition to the regular or special education school system.
The Early Stimulation Programme has benefited from local and international partnerships and is currently the only fully publicly funded service for young children with disability as well as their families. The main objective of the programme is to assist children who are often times disregarded by society to develop mentally, socially, physically and to reach their maximum potential.
95 Hanover Street
Stimulation Child Development Centre
1a Ostend Close
Low Layton District
Randolf Lopez Building