Promoting Learn the Signs, Act Early in the Latinx communities of Minnesota

May 10, 2022

Andrea Castillo is a Family and Caregiver Empowerment Specialist at CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio) and University of Minnesota LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities) fellow mentored by Dr. Jennifer Hall-Lande, CDC Act Early Ambassador to Minnesota. Andrea's LEND project was to promote the public health campaign Learn the Signs, Act Early (LTSAE) to improve early identification of developmental delays and disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

During her time with the project, she has tailored the LTSAE curriculum for Latinx families participating in Sembrando Exitos pilot program to empower them to utilize resources to advocate for their children’s needs and concerns. She has also adapted the curriculum for use by professionals working in education, mental health, and social services. She has presented to El Consorcio, an interdisciplinary group of service professionals, about the prevalence of ASD in MN and the importance of monitoring development using tracking tools, such as checklists, milestones tracking apps and questionnaires. Not only has she presented to Twin Cities Latinx community but has also reached rapidly growing Latinx communities in rural Minnesota. She co-presented with Dr. Jennifer Hall-Lande information about the prevalence of ASD, early supports services and Act Early to the Worthington Latinx community in partnership with 10,000 Families Study and Unidos and at the 2022 Autism Symposium as a panelist.

Professionally, Andrea has distributed LTSAE materials at community family programming services and food shelf drive in the Twin Cities. Andrea has provided books, milestones booklets, and screening information that inform parents on child development monitoring about 300 families with young children. She has made LTSAE materials more accessible to the community her organization serves by disseminating to programs that focus on helping families with young children.