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Partner Spotlight

Christine Breunig
Project Coordinator for the National Medical Home Autism Initiative, Wisconsin

Christine Breunig
As the project coordinator for the National Medical Home Autism Initiative (NMHAI), Christine Breunig knows the importance of early intervention. Throughout her professional career, she has dedicated her life to children, first as an educator and an elementary school principal, then as an executive director at a Child Care Resource Referral Agency. “It was clear when working with young children that early identification and intervention provide those children experiencing developmental challenges the best opportunity for developing to their full potential,” said Christine.

When she heard about NMHAI 2 years ago, she knew this initiative could help children with autism throughout the country. Through NMHAI, Christine helps promote quality assurance and improvement to pediatric practices involved with this national initiative. “We make sure that the primary care practices know how to facilitate and provide the best services to families who have children with ASDs (Autism Spectrum Disorders),” said Christine. “One of the ways I help practices improve their services to families is by distributing the ‘Learn the Signs. Act Early.’ campaign materials to them,” she added.

In 2004, Christine attended a “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” training in Chicago and learned about materials to help educate parents and health care professionals about developmental milestones. After the conference Christine began her outreach in Wisconsin and Illinois to autism and family support organizations, as well as local community health clinics.

“We began distributing the campaign’s materials at all outreach events and delivered them personally to 10 clinics within the greater Madison area. We also shared information about the Health Care Provider Resource Kits and Parent Resource Kits with local and state autism groups and health care systems to make sure they knew about the campaign. We have encouraged them to order materials through the website,” said Christine.

When talking with individuals in clinics and community autism groups about developmental milestones, Christine takes the campaign’s information and integrates it daily into all aspects of her own work. “Whether we are training health care professionals, child care providers, special education teachers, other service providers, or families, we make sure to have the campaign’s kits and flyers on hand,” said Christine. “It is important that everyone understands that we need to be aware of more than just physical milestones when measuring a child’s growth,” Christine added.

Christine was contacted by an early morning show as part of their local coverage of the national autism awareness promotion, to provide local information about autism resources. Christine used this opportunity to also promote the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign materials.

“Parents should understand what key milestones to look for as their children develop, and they need to feel comfortable talking to their child’s health care professional if they have concerns or suspect a delay,” said Christine. “The ‘Learn the Sign. Act Early.’ materials are one of many great educational sources for the public, families, and professionals.”

The National Medical Home Autism Initiative is a national initiative designed to promote quality care and services for children with ASDs and their families through their primary care physician. This Health Resources and Service Administration/Maternal and Child Health Bureau initiative is at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

If you would like to learn more about the National Medical Home Autism Initiative visit: http://www.waisman.wisc.edu/cedd/NMHAI/INDEX.HTML.

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