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Center's mobile screening program will visit Atoka on May 30

(May 15, 2014)

Families in southeastern Oklahoma who have children with disabilities can learn about services to assist their children during a mobile screening program offered by the J.D. McCarty Center on May 30 in Atoka.

Families will have the opportunity to meet with the center's screening team to find out about resources available through the J.D. McCarty Center for children with developmental disabilities in Norman and through state and federal programs.

The center's team will offer free screenings to children, including autism spectrum disorder screenings, to determine what services are available at the center and throughout the state that could benefit them. Screenings will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kiamichi Technology Center-Atoka, 1301 W. Liberty Road. Screenings will be done by appointment. To register, call 405-573-5352 or 800-777-1272, Ext. 5352.

The mobile screening program aims to reach more families in the state who have children with disabilities. Typically, a family must travel to Norman for a screening. Now, the mobile program brings that service to them.

“We want to create opportunities for more of Oklahoma's children with special needs to be reached and served by our staff,” said Vicki Kuestersteffen, director and CEO of the McCarty Center.

The McCarty Center provides medical care and physical, occupational, speech and language therapy for children on an inpatient and outpatient basis and serves children from birth to age 21.

The center's mobile screening team members are a nurse, social worker and psychological clinician. During the screening, the team meets with parents and their children to talk about the child's medical, social and behavioral history. Team members also share information about the center's comprehensive inpatient evaluations, inpatient respite care and outpatient services and programs available throughout the state.

Reaching out to more families

The center started the mobile screening program in 2012 to reach out to more families, including those who live in counties that have not received center services within a year. The McCarty Center, which is a state agency, provided services last year to children from 64 of Oklahoma's 77 counties.

Atoka marks the fifth stop for the mobile screening program. The screening team also has visited Holdenville, Tishomingo, Okmulgee and Perry.

A goal with the program is to provide information to families in areas of the state that may have limited access to services for children with disabilities, said Darcie Ware, the center's director of social services and a member of the screening team.

“As the only hospital of our kind in Oklahoma, reaching out to these areas through the mobile screenings has allowed children to receive services that might otherwise remain unavailable to them,” Ware said.

The program can also help save families time and transportation costs since they can meet with the screening team in a community near them, instead of traveling to the center's location in Norman, Ware said.

“The mobile screenings help the families save time and resources that may be challenging to come by when there is a child with special needs involved,” she said.

Families who have participated in the mobile program said they appreciated getting to meet with the screening team and receiving information about services that can assist their children.

Cindy Barnes, of Milburn, came to visit the team in Tishomingo to learn about resources for her son, Tucker, who is autistic. Barnes said she felt comfortable meeting with the team and was excited to hear about services available at the center.

Tucker, 13, came to the center as an inpatient last year, and Barnes said she has noticed improvements in how he listens and communicates. He also has shown more independence, such as it when it comes to feeding, bathing and dressing himself.

“I think it was a great experience for us,” Barnes said about her son's stay at the center. “I definitely want him to come back.”

She also encourages other families who have children with special needs to take advantage of the mobile screening program.

“I just think it would be a great experience for them,” Barnes said. “I think it will be an opportunity for them to learn about more resources.”

Info box:

What: The McCarty Center's free mobile screening program.

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 30 at the Kiamichi Technology Center-Atoka, 1301 W. Liberty Road, Atoka.

Registration: The free screenings will be done by appointment. To register, call Darcie Ware at 405-573-5352 or 800-777-1272, Ext. 5352. You can also email Ware at

Mogan and DCS Tabitha

The center's mobile screening team includes Saundra Myers-Johnson, left, Darcie Ware and Susan Long.

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