Act Early Summit Brings Autism Stakeholders Together

April 6, 2009

By JoLynne Lyon, Center for Persons with Disabilities, Utah State University

Stakeholders from five different states gathered in Salt Lake City in March to discuss issues surrounding autism spectrum disorder.

The Association of University Centers on Disabilities' Act Early Region VIII Summit brought together professionals, educators, parents, policymakers and advocates who represent different states and different points of view. The event was hosted by Utah State University's Center for Persons with Disabilities.

It was the first summit of its kind in the Department of Health and Human Services Region VIII.

"Getting together with people who have a general, common goal is always beneficial," said George Wooton, a family nurse practitioner at the CPD who attended the summit. "The dialog is good, and it gets people thinking."

During the summit, national entities that deal with issues surrounding ASD shared information with state teams. Later, presenters from Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming reported on their states' plans to improve the outcomes for children with autism spectrum disorder. AUCD will continue to assist and help coordinate the achievement of goals set by the states that attended.

The CPD-hosted summit is part of the Learn the Signs. Act Early. Campaign launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Act Early Summits seek to increase awareness and develop a common understanding among its participants, develop effective state teams and enhance the coordination between services and families. They also provide an online forum on issues surrounding ASD.