APOLLO BEACH, Florida - These days, little Liam is all about the numbers as he carefully fits the numbers 0 through 9 into a wooden puzzle. But when Liam was about 20 months old, mom suspected something wasn't quite adding up.
"He had some words, but he wasn't using as many words as I thought he should be," says Lauren Crawford, while sitting on the carpet with Liam at their Apollo Beach home.
Any mom would be worried, so Crawford took Liam to a developmental screening session. Every month, the Early Childhood Council (ECC) provides screening sessions free of charge to Hillsborough families. Basically, it's a room full of experts checking on everything from growth, to hearing, to mental development all in a fun atmosphere.
And even though Liam had been seeing a pediatrician, the screening session caught a problem. "Much to our surprise, he actually failed his hearing screening in one ear, which we were not expecting," explains Crawford.
The goal of the program is to identify problems and get kids help early on. "Early identification is key," says ECC's executive director, Stephen Martaus. "Because if children enter kindergarten without having a developmental delay or disorder identified, they're going to be behind the eight ball right away."
As for Liam, now three, he's doing just fine and the screenings are number one in mom's book.
"I think it's an invaluable resource for parents and the community."
The Early Childhood Council is a not-for-profit agency that receives funding from the Hillsborough Children's Board and from private donations. This week, ECC celebrates it's 30th anniversary.