Florida Center for Early Childhood changes lives of developmentally delayed children


SARASOTA – It was a heartbreaking piece of news for Christine Robinson.

“When we received the diagnosis, I thought his life was going to be very different,” Robinson said. “I thought we were going to have a very different life.”

She’s talking about her 13-year-old son, E.J.

“When my son was two, over ten years ago, he was diagnosed with PDD, pervasive developmental disorder, on the autism spectrum,” Robinson said. “When you get that diagnosis it’s a blow. You then have to scramble for services and ten years ago, finding services in Sarasota County was extremely difficult.”

Then she found the Florida Center for Early Childhood.

“[It] has been a godsend to my family,” Robinson said.

The center’s mission sounds simple, but it takes a lot of work to get there, says marketing director Kaitlyn Kramer.

“Our mission is building strong families, one child at a time, so we offer services for kids from birth to eight in mental health, occupational therapy, speech therapy, behavior therapies,” Kramer said.

This is something Christine Robinson took advantage of when it came to her son, E.J. He took occupational therapy there and has come a long way.


“My son is fully integrated in a classroom today,” Robinson said. “He’s doing well, and he’s a happy healthy teenager, so it wouldn’t be that way if we didn’t have these services.”

The sxervices are made possible by Suncoast Charities for Children and their promotion of the Grand Prix festival. E.J. isn’t the only one seeing the benefits.

“We’ve been here for over 30 years, so we have kids who are now in college, who have graduated college, and out in the workforce,” Kramer said. “It’s really great to see them coming into their own, and really having that strong foundation for the future.”

This makes Christine Robinson beam with pride.

“I’m so proud of him,” she said. “He turned out to live a very normal life. He will always have challenges, but he knows how to deal with them, and we know how to deal with them.”

For more information on the services the Florida Center offers, visit their website.

For more Race to the Grand Prix stories, visit: snntv.com/race-grand-prix/

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Hallie Peilet
Hallie Peilet is an Indiana University graduate with a degree in broadcast journalism, and a minor in music. She has had experience in several media outlets. Previously, she interned for WCIU-TV in Chicago, learning about production and live reporting. During her senior year at IU, she worked as a reporter and anchor for her campus news station, and as a multimedia journalist for WTIU/WFIU, the PBS/NPR affiliate in Bloomington. She grew up just outside of Chicago in Munster, Indiana, and in her free time she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, discovering new music, and watching Chicago sports. If you have an idea for a story, e-mail her at hallie.peilet@snntv.com.