Bella always seemed to be a “gap” kid -- everyone could agree she needed services, but she may not qualify for specific therapies.

At the age of 19 months she started having meltdowns -- different than tantrums -- usually much worse and for lengthy amounts of time. Her meltdowns could last anywhere from 15-45 minutes and would include screaming at the top of her lungs, thrashing on the floor with no regard to her personal safety, and hitting, kicking, and biting anyone close enough to reach. Bella did this daily, but didn’t qualify for occupational therapy, physical therapy, or speech therapy. Due to these meltdowns, there was no way Bella could have been enrolled in a regular daycare.

Thankfully, Bella had access to ECCEL, a Developmental Day Treatment Clinic Services (DDTCS) program, which she attended from the age of 2 months until Kindergarten. She They had trained staff that could take Bella to a sensory room with dim, color lighting, with padded floors, and soft music to help calm her. Their staff did this daily until she graduated from their program prior to Kindergarten. That summer after ECCEL graduation, Bella received the autism diagnosis. It had been suspected since she was 2-1/2 years old, but again she never hit the threshold for the diagnosis until then.

I think back to this time in our life and can’t imagine what I would have done without those services. I would hate for other families facing similar situations to not have access to those services. I would just ask that you consider Bella and the thousands of children like her that need these services when voting on this issue.”
— Lori Coke-Stueart


Cori and Josh Teel are the parents of two fraternal twins with developmental disabilities that attend Friendship Pediatric Services in Bryant, Arkansas. Their family is an example of the many across the state who will be forced to find another child care facility if the one therapy rule requirement passes legislation.

The lower ratio of adults to children in the DDS classroom is one of the many reasons we believe the boys have been successful at their day program as well as the relationships they’ve been able to build with teachers and therapists. This will not be the case in a normal daycare setting.”
— Cori Teel

Building Bridges Developmental and Community Services, Inc.

The proposals that have already been approved to move forward such as the merger of the programs, the developmental screen, and annual
comprehensive evaluation should be given a chance to work before additional savings measures are considered. This proposal that makes therapy part of a qualifying criteria in order to receive habilitation services disregard two critical pieces of early brain development which are the areas of cognitive and social-emotional development. Cognitive and Social-emotional development have been linked to overall health outcomes and future learning potential. Delays in these two areas must be addressed as well as delays in motor, communication, and adaptive (self-help) that are targeted with the therapy intervention.”
— Janie Sexton, Building Bridges Developmental and Community Services, Inc.