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Background on the Project

Recent research indicates that children with ASDs are not diagnosed, on average, until 13 months after their initial screening by a qualified professional (Wiggins, Bajo & Rice, 2006). This is in part due to lengthy waiting lists for diagnostic evaluations, which ultimately delay entry of children into services. Further, idiosyncratic diagnostic evaluations lead to the need for the replication of an evaluation and 12-09-2013 - Govenor Maloy unnecessary cost and time expenditure, as well as increased worry for parents when both false positive and false negative diagnoses are generated. In order to streamline the diagnostic evaluation of children with suspected ASDs, states have developed standardized yet flexible approaches to evaluating children and have defined acceptable approaches to diagnosis within their state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed Autism A.L.A.R.M. Guidelines, which provide a surveillance and screening algorithm and lay the foundation upon which the work of the Connecticut team will be based. In addition, Missouri and California have convened working groups to define best practice within the context of existing resources so that children who qualify for ASDs diagnosis can move quickly into receiving intervention.

In 2007, a partnership was formed between the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Association for University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) to implement the “Act Early” Regional Summit Project. The vision of the project, supported by the Learn the Signs Act Early Campaign and the Combating Autism Act, was to bring together leaders from the early intervention and early childhood community for the purpose of enhancing relationships and collaborations between key leaders in the state.

Act Early Ambassador for CT Selected
Act EarlyTierney Giannotti has been selected to serve as an Act Early Ambassador for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program. Tierney will play an important role in educating Connecticut’s parents, healthcare professionals, and early educators about early childhood development, warning signs of autism and other developmental disabilities, and the importance of acting early on concerns about a child’s development.

Developmental disabilities are common in the United States. A recent study shows that about 1 in 6 children has been diagnosed with a developmental disability. It’s important that these children are identified early and that they and their families receive the services and support they need.

Tierney was selected as an Act Early Ambassador because of her commitment to improving the lives of children and families and increasing access to services for children with developmental disabilities. The Act Early Ambassadors project is designed to develop a network of state-level experts to improve early identification of developmental delay and disability. It is a collaborative project of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD).

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