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Partner Spotlight

Campaign Champion Makes Sure Early Intervention Resources Available to All

Susan RaySusan Ray
Campaign Champion, Washington State

As a family involvement coordinator with the Washington State Department of Health, Susan Ray works hard to get families the information and services they need related to child development. Realizing that some cultures use different words to describe child development concepts, she took action.

Susan and her team found funding for and translated the Autism Speaks Early Childhood Milestone Map into seven languages spoken in her state—Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Somali, Vietnamese, and Laotian. The milestone map helps parents follow their child's development and gives ideas for parents who want to learn more about developmental milestones and delays. The milestone map also supports the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign materials.

“Making the milestone map into a tool for all families – not just those who speak English – has been a highlight of my career,” says Susan. “It was so important to me to get it right and to work directly with the families.” Susan’s team worked with parents and community members from each key cultural group to help make sure that the milestone map was a useful tool. She found that some words did not translate easily and that ways to communicate information with parents were different for each culture.

For example, parents from Korea and China told her that they did not use the word “development” to talk about a child. The word is only used to talk about construction like building a road or a city. Also, “red flag” did not mean “warning sign” in their language. It means “a flag that is red.”

Susan used this information to create messages for the milestone map that every culture could understand. She then shared these with the “Learn the signs. Act early.” team and Autism Speaks. She hopes that more funding will be available in the future to measure the success of the project and translate more materials into other languages.

Reactions to the materials have been positive. Family resource coordinators with the state’s early intervention program love them. “The first time talking with parents can be very hard, so they like having materials for the families,” says Susan. “And parents are glad to have materials in their native language.”

Susan looks at her job from personal experience. Earlier in her career, she taught special education children and helped license childcare centers.

“Working with special needs children is why I am on the planet,” says Susan.

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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