CDC's Learn the Signs. Act Early. in the University of Tennessee Boling Center LEND Program

The incorporation of the CDC's Act Early FREE research-based, parent-friendly resources has proven beneficial to our LEND program on multiple levels. We have utilized many of the Act Early program components in teaching, clinical encounters, and community outreach to assist in developmental surveillance for young children.

Clinically, we use the Act Early family educational materials regularly, particularly in our medical settings, to assist in developmental surveillance. Whether families are seen for screening or more extensive developmental assessments, providing family-friendly information is a valuable way to extend our reach beyond the visit time. FREE references such as the Milestones Moments booklet, the Milestones Checklists, the Milestones Tracker smartphone app, and more provide evidence-based guidance to parents to monitor developmental skills. Materials are typically presented in a way that celebrates achievements, but information is also provided on what families should do when there are concerns. We do teach our students to briefly orient families to the information contained in resources such as the Milestones Moments booklet, rather than simply hand it out as they depart. This interaction can be a brief, but valuable, way to connect with caregivers on developmental monitoring.

The CDC materials may be downloaded and/or reproduced. There are additional options for obtaining printed materials FREE as well. There are some quantity limits, so it may be helpful to review the available materials to decide which may be most useful in a particular setting. Take a look at bulk ordering options as well. We find the Milestones Moments booklet to be so useful in completing anticipatory guidance that we have partnered with our local children's hospital to print larger quantities of the booklets through their onsite printer (a print-ready file is available, and personalization can be added).

The "Autism Case Training (ACT): A Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Curriculum" is designed by an expert team to train healthcare providers on essential points in identifying, diagnosing, and managing autism spectrum disorder through case-based scenarios.
In our LEND program and beyond, we have used a combination of the live facilitated course and the similar online version in several ways to meet the needs of our trainees and faculty. The live facilitated course, which includes 7 modules, can be tailored to suit the educational needs of many types of learners. Resources include case-based teaching in an interactive format with a facilitator's guide, slide sets, video library, handouts and other supplemental materials. The time needed to prepare for and facilitate particular sessions varies, but the course is laid out in a way to allow for flexibility. Time estimates for content delivery are provided and content can be delivered in limited or more extensive sessions. I have used this curriculum in a Grand Rounds setting and in smaller group settings. Interaction in the larger group setting is a bit more challenging, but it is possible!

Our monthly rotating Pediatric (2nd year) and Medicine/Pediatric (3rd year) medical residents complete at least one of the 3 modules (Identifying, Diagnosing, and/or Managing) of the online version of ACT Curriculum. Your faculty may appreciate the FREE continuing education credit themselves as they check it out for trainees. Depending on the array of educational offerings we may have in a particular month, we have the flexibility of altering the components we request that residents complete. A combination of face-to-face and asynchronous options has proven helpful for scheduling. I do like to have some sort of follow-up with them after completion to check that appropriate points are understood. We have had excellent feedback from residents on the inclusion of this course into our curriculum.

Additionally, we have used a few methods of offering the ACT Curriculum to our interprofessional long-term LEND trainees and other community clinicians. One interesting format we enjoyed included providing the online ACT Curriculum to LEND trainees with an online message board exchange facilitated by a faculty member. This proved to be a successful way to debrief the assignment after allowing the trainees to complete at a time that was convenient for them.

Learn more about the program at and/or connect with your state Learn the Signs. Act Early. Ambassador for additional assistance (

Toni Whitaker, MD
Director, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Program
University of Tennessee Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities
CDC Ambassador to Tennessee for the Learn the Signs. Act Early. Program