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Partner Spotlight - Alabama


Alabama Team Encourages Referrals, Distributes “Learn the Signs. Act early.” Materials:

Although 2009 CDC data suggested that Alabama children received an ASD diagnosis 15 months earlier than they did 3 years ago, the average age of diagnosis was still 51 months. With 95% of these children’s caregivers noting a developmental concern before the children were 3 years of age, it was clear that a significant lag time remained between the age of first concern and the age of first diagnosis.

Based on this need, the Developmental Surveillance and Early Screening Workgroup of the Alabama Interagency Autism Coordinating Council has been focused on increasing referrals for children with known or suspected delays by increasing awareness among parents, caregivers, service providers, and early child care providers. These groups, which have similar advocacy and awareness goals, are working together so that they are not duplicating efforts. This allows resources to be used much more efficiently. This plan was sparked by discussions initiated in the Region IV Act Early Summit and has resulted in successful applications for $18,000 in grant support.

So far, much of the group’s energy has been focused on modifying “Learn the Signs. Act Early.”materials and enhancing public service announcements to include referral information specific to Alabama. To date, the team has distributed “Learn the Signs. Act Early.”materials at numerous local and state conferences with positive responses from caregivers, early intervention professionals, pediatricians, and other primary care professionals.

Alabama is piloting presentations using “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” materials for child care professionals at child care centers. The goal is to help increase the confidence of child care professionals when they talk with parents about developmental concerns. Building on ideas offered by other Act Early state teams, the Alabama team is seeking to develop a statewide network of Act Early trainers who will be equipped to deliver early identification and intervention messages in their communities in an effort to reach beyond metropolitan areas. Over the next year, the team will develop an Act Early Alabama website and offer webinars for professionals across the state. For more information, contact Sarah O’Kelley, PhD, at sokelley@uab.edu or see www.autism.alabama.gov.

For more information on how you can reach out to health professionals in your area, visit the How to Get Involved page of the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” website.

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