Evan is a lively toddler. Constantly on the move, he keeps his mom and dad busy chasing after him.

Evan is a lively toddler. Constantly on the move, he keeps his mom and dad busy chasing after him.

As he sweeps through the living room, a small, red-headed dervish, no item is safe and no nook or cranny is left unexplored.

He picks up toys and household items along the way, holding them up to show his dad and a visiting home-based teacher what he has found.

He then bangs them against a table, sticks them inside his shirt in a self-devised game of hide-and-seek, or puts them in his mouth to see if they are edible.

His father talks to him as he plays, describing what he has picked up, “Hat, did you find my hat? What do you do with a hat? A ball? Is that a green ball or a yellow ball?”

Evan puts the hat on his head and grins. He then holds up his fist, thumb and pinky finger extended, and wobbles his hand back and forth as sign language for ‘yellow.’

“That's right, yellow!” the teacher exclaims. Evan drops the ball, claps his hands and squeals with glee at his accomplishment. Dad and the teacher enthusiastically join in. “Yeah!”

Another word mastered, another step forward.

This is fairly typical play and exploration for a 2-year-old, but Evan is not typical, and if not for early intervention services, he might not be as lively, curious, engaged and cognitively advanced as he is.

Home-based services have been provided to Evan and his parents since his diagnosis of a disability at birth.

Evan’s parents said they are pleased with his progress and grateful to his home-based teachers for providing them with training and support to help maximize his learning potential, a news release stated.

Thanks to these services, Evan will start school prepared to learn and will require fewer special education services down the road, the release stated.

The infant and toddler stages of development are a critical time in the life of a child. From birth, children begin learning and absorbing everything around them.

During these first few years, children develop the skills they will need to learn and succeed in life. The earlier a delay is caught and addressed, the better a child's chances at academic and social success, the release stated.

The Birth to Three program, which is based in the Cooper Early Education Center, offers free developmental screenings and appropriate services for children with suspected developmental delays.

These services are individually tailored to each child’s specific needs. For Evan, this means bi-weekly visits from his primary provider, Shelly Crisler, an occupational therapist. She may periodically be accompanied by a speech language pathologist, physical therapist or vision consultant. This team of specialists helps Evan’s parents by conducting assessments with each visit, measuring Evan’s physical and cognitive progress, and suggesting effective exercises, games and activities that will help him reach his maximum learning and developmental potential.

Anyone may refer a child for a free developmental screening.

Parents may contact the Early Education Center to set up an appointment or can bring their child to one of the monthly free Child Find developmental screening days. For more information, call 284-6510.