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ACT! Autism Training for Health Professionals

Photo: Young girl outdoors

Learn about CDC’s training to help health professionals identify autism and provide quality care.

One Mother's Frustration with "Wait and See"

"I just had a gut feeling, from the time my son was maybe 10 or 11 months old, that there was something wrong. I had spoken to my pediatrician about my concerns, but my pediatrician knew nothing about autism or how to diagnose it. She told me to "wait and see"—that it was probably just a phase and that he would grow out of it. I should have gone with my gut feeling because I waited about another five months before taking him for a hearing test to rule out hearing problems. Then I had him evaluated and that's when I finally found out that he showed signs of autism."

– Mother of Ryan, Maren, and Liam

ACT: Helping Doctors Take Action

"CDC's Autism Case Training (ACT) empowers primary care practitioners to take timely and appropriate action in response to a parent's concern about their child's development. This training helps doctors identify appropriate alternatives to "wait and see" so that no time is wasted in getting a child and family on the right track toward the early care and support they might need."

– Dr. Georgina Peacock, Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician, Co-editor of Autism Case Training (ACT).

Autism Case Training (ACT)

CDC's "Learn the Signs. Act Early." program offers a free online continuing education training called "Autism Case Training (ACT)" for self-study, as well as a downloadable curriculum for in-classroom training.

The self-study ACT CE course educates primary care practitioners about finding, diagnosing, and managing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and has been accredited to provide CME, MOC (Part 2; 20 pts), CNE credits and CEU.

One Instructor's Experience

“I use the ACT curriculum on a regular basis with my pediatric trainees. Its case-based format allows for learner participation, and the videos bring the cases to life. This comprehensive teaching tool equips my trainees with a wealth of knowledge about autism spectrum disorders, ensuring a solid foundation that will improve their ability to care for children with ASDs and support the needs of their families.”

– Dr. Shanna Kralovic, Developmental/Behavioral Pediatrician, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

The ACT curriculum for in-classroom training, which includes facilitator's guides, supporting presentations, and videos, can be integrated into developmental-behavioral pediatrics training and other medical and resident training programs. All instructor-support materials can be accessed online.

Both the self-study ACT CE course and the ACT in-classroom training curriculum use real-life scenarios and cover the following topics:

  • Early Warning Signs
  • Screening
  • Communicating Concerns
  • Making a Diagnosis
  • Early Intervention and Education
  • Treatments for Autism
  • Autism-Specific Anticipatory Guidance

Sample of Training Videos:

Screen capture from videoEarly Warning Signs: Nathan and Ben (1 year, 7 months)
This video shows the difference between twins, one with early warning signs of having an ASD and one without, as they interact with their mother.

Screen capture from videoABA Therapy: Wells (2 years, 8 months)
This video demonstrates an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy session focusing on imitation, joint attention, and following instructions using positive reinforcement.

Learn the Signs. Act Early.

CDC's "Learn the Signs. Act Early." program aims to improve the early identification of ASD and other developmental disabilities so that children and families can get the early services and support they need.

The program provides free resources and tools to help parents and professionals track every child's early developmental milestones and to know how and when to take action on developmental delay.

Visit "Learn the Signs. Act Early." now for more information and free resources.