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Children’s Therapy Center in Eagan and Apple Valley has been open for 20 years.

Children’s Therapy Center founder Sue Fuller is aware there’s been an increase in autism diagnoses.

“I don’t know if it necessarily means that more kids are (autistic),” Fuller said. “I just think they’re identifying it in more milder cases.”

That’s a good thing because children can get the resources they need, she believes.

“The diagnosis helps people understand some of the issues these children may have,” Fuller said. “It just became more visible. Teachers and parents are more educated. It’s being identified earlier, which is a huge plus. The earlier you treat it, the better. The easier for the child.”

Children’s Therapy Center provides help for children ages birth through 18 who are on the autism spectrum but also those who experience speech delays, sensory defensiveness/sensory processing disorders, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, attention deficit disorder, hearing loss and articulation deficit.

The center provides occupational, speech and physical therapy services at its offices in Eagan and Apple Valley.

“We help children with things that interfere with their everyday activities like playing with their peers or getting dressed in the morning,” Fuller said. “Some kids are absolutely brilliant with their skills, but a lot of it is just sensory issues. Going on the school bus or going to the movies might be too stimulating.”

The Children’s Therapy Center has been in business for 20 years.

Fuller never expected the program to grow as big as it is today.

Children’s Therapy Center opened its doors in the fall of 1999 when Fuller, an occupational therapist, was herself was overwhelmed. She was driving all over the Twin Cities meeting with children in their homes.

With a young family and frustrations with winter and rush hour driving, she wanted a home base.

She rented some office space in Eagan with hopes of hiring another therapist or two.

After six months her practice outgrew the office.

In 2001, Children’s Therapy Center opened a second office in Apple Valley at 14635 Pennock Ave.

By 2004, Fuller said they realized they needed their own building, so they built one at 2795 Pilot Knob Road in Eagan.

“With the child’s needs in mind, we were able to build exactly what we wanted,” Fuller said. “A lot of our kids have difficulties with transitions, so that’s one of the pluses about the buildings. We’re a one-story building. It was designed to be kid-friendly and feel like home.”

Today the practice has 38 employees, from therapists to insurance specialists.

There have been a few other startups in the area, but “we’re probably the main provider in this area,” Fuller said.

As for another 20 years?

“I’m hoping that it continues with or without me,” Fuller said. “I wasn’t planning on it turning into what it has. The legacy is that I would like to continue helping kids that need it.”

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