Developmental delays in children could be stopped with early intervention

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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A non-profit in Blount County is helping kids in East Tennessee reach their potential from birth to three-years-old.

That's when the brain is most impressionable, and that's why the center in Maryville is named "Birth to Three."

The center has helped hundreds of kids throughout the years reach their full potential. One of their greatest success stories goes to a current student named Ben.

At just three years old, Ben can say his alphabet forward and backwards while signing it - and while jumping on a trampoline.

His mother Lauren Stephens said, Ben hasn't always been so impressive, though.

"He wasn't sitting up on his own at 10 months, still wasn't crawling until about 17 months - so we knew there were some delays he was experiencing both verbally and physically," said Stephens.

That's when she took her soon to Birth to Three, where teachers help kids tackle delays in ways they don't even realize.

"We're playing with purpose, so it's almost like a play therapy and they're learning without even knowing it," said Center Director Emily Partin.

Another teacher at the center, Brandy Keller, joined the team after seeing how early developmental intervention helped her daughter.

"We took her in for her 18-month checkup and she actually failed the autism screen they do and we called TEIS immediately, that day. They came in and they tested her and she was 50 percent delayed in all aspects," said Keller.

TEIS, Tennessee's Early Intervention System, is a program to help find children like Ben and Brandy's daughter a place to grow.

"Now (my daughter) is top of her class in second grade, she doesn't take any special education services at all," said Keller.

It also grants mothers like Brandy and Lauren a chance to see their children develop in ways they could not even imagine.

"It was a relief to see, fun to watch, and I look forward to seeing what the next year is going to bring," said Stephens.

Parents can send their children to Birth to Three from 9:00 a.m.- noon. It costs $70 per month for one day a week. The price goes up to $140 per month for two days a week and $210 for three days.