AUCD Convenes Act Early Summits to Enhance Early Childhood Systems for ASD

April 21, 2008

AUCD has recently held two Act Early Regional Summits in partnership with the CDC National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, as a new initiative of CDC's Learn the Signs. Act Early. Campaign. These summits brought together key stakeholders from participating states as teams to address early identification and intervention systems as related to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other related disabilities. Participants were drawn from a wide variety of relevant entities, such as state offices on health, early intervention, special education, developmental disabilities, and Head Start, as well as representatives of community service providers, state legislators, pediatric medical home providers, parents of children with ASD and related disabilities and advocacy organizations. Each state team is coordinated by UCEDD or LEND personnel within their state, who spearheaded the process of identifying stakeholders, facilitating pre-summit state preparation, and will continue to coordinate achievement of goals for the state set during the summit activities.

The Region 7 Summit was held in Kansas City, Missouri and convened state teams from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska; the Region 6 Summit was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico and convened state teams from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The day-and-a-half programs offered a mix of presentations from national experts in early identification and ASD and interactive sessions that cut across state lines and bridged various professional disciplines and perspectives. In the pinnacle activity of the summits, state teams developed action plans for improving coordination and awareness of early intervention service systems within their states. AUCD has developed a web page about the Act Early Regional Summit Project, which contains summit materials and resources relevant to ASD and early intervention and an analysis report of these summits is under development.

AUCD wishes to thank all of the state team coordinators from the participating UCEDD and LEND programs, as well as the logistical support of the UCEDD and LEND staff in the two summit host states: the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities and the Center for Development and Disability of the University of New Mexico. The involvement of all of these participating Centers helped to make the summits successful and has been integral to the continuing achievement of their state team goals for enhancing the best possible system of care for children and their families affected by ASD and related disabilities.