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      ECI helps families find hope during developmental delays

      Early Childhood Intervention provides services to children from birth to three years of age who live with developmental disabilities or delays. The program has proven to be successful in enhancing dozens of families lives.

      For parents, when they hear their child doesn't have a clean bill of health, it can be devastating. But ECI is giving dozens of families hope through therapy and counseling services. For the Stevens family, they said their daughter Blake is thriving due to their care.

      "So we're going to get her pulling up on her hands and arms and we're going to keep these knees tucked under," said ECI Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Vicki Calvery.

      To a grown up involved in an ECI therapy session, it may look like just that, therapy. But for 11 month old Blake, it's play time.

      "The neat thing that they've showed us in ECI is that you can use things just around your house to show her how to do things she's behind on and it doesn't always have to be work or considered therapy time," said Blake's mother, Reaghan Stevens.

      "She's still having a tough time keeping those knees up under her. So I'm going to show you how to use your sofa cushion," said Calvery.

      Blake was only a few weeks old when her parents said she started spitting up more than what's considered normal for an infant, that lead to a specialist.

      "She was diagnosed with reflux and a little bit of a milk allergy so from there we got on several different kinds of feeding tubes and we ended up actually doing a permanent feeding button," said Reaghan.

      Without those vital nutrients, Blake wasn't able to reach her developmental milestones.

      "It's been nerve racking. The whole time there's been a lot of unknowns," said Blake's father, Heath Stevens.

      Enter, ECI.

      "I spend a lot of time with families really just empowering them and giving them the tools to show them what to do with their child," said Calvery.

      Empowering families who's children have developmental disabilities or delays through speech, physical, occupational, vision, behavioral, and feeding therapy. ECI also offers counseling services.

      "The first three years of life are the most opportune window for learning. We set our learning patterns prior to age three," said ECI Program Director, Cynthia Bischeof.

      Blake has been with ECI since January and her family said they're already seeing improvements and only hope for continued progress. If you suspect your child is developmentally behind on reaching milestones, ECI encourages you to call them for an evaluation at 358-1681. ECI is a non-profit organization and their budget once funded by the state has been cut so they're also looking for donations so they can still give back to the community.