Elaine Gabovitch (MA LEND) Provides an Update on her Act Early State Team's Activities

April 30, 2012

Elaine Gabovitch, MPA
Elaine Gabovitch, MPA

In an extension of her role as state team leader of the 60-plus member Massachusetts Act Early state team, Elaine Gabovitch, MPA was appointed to be one of the first "Learn the Signs. Act Early" Ambassadors in the country as part of the first pilot program jointly funded by the CDC, AUCD, and MCHB/HRSA. Gabovitch is the director of Family & Community Partnerships for the UMass Medical School/Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center in Waltham, MA, is an instructor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UMMS, and serves on the Shriver Center LEND program as family faculty. She is the mother of a 17-year-old son with an autism spectrum disorder and has been an active advocate for early identification of autism spectrum disorders since 2000.

Gabovitch has recruited parent partners and representatives from leading agencies to be active members of the state team: UMass Medical School/Shriver Center LEND, Institute for Community Inclusion/UMass Boston LEND, UMass Amherst, MA Department of Public Health, MA Department of Developmental Services, MA Department of Early Education and Care, MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, MA Head Start, MA WIC program, Autism Consortium, a number of MA medical centers, and many other organizations across the state. She has met with and/or spoken before the MA Governor's Commission on Autism, MA League of Community Health Centers, MA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), MA Department of Early Education and Care's Help Me Grow Initiative, the national CDC/AUCD Benchmarking for Early Screening and Treatment (BEST) Workgroup, Northeast ARC, Haitian Health Institute, and the Massachusetts Early Intervention Consortium, among others.

Gabovitch is leading the state team to pursue the following goals:

o Develop affordable and feasible outreach plan to increase public awareness


  • Launched a web site in January 2012 at www.MAActEarly.org
  • Customized LTSAE brochure & booklet for statewide dissemination in April 2012
  • Display and give out LTSAE materials at conferences
  • Currently developing a state program logo & web banner for site
  • Currently disseminating materials to practices and offices across the state that work with children


o Increase training for health care, early childhood and educational professionals


  • Presently writing an early identification curriculum for early childhood educators


o Shorten the wait times between screening, diagnosis and intervention through pediatric pilot programs


  • Have piloted 2-3 fast track identification algorithms in local pediatric practices with more to come


o Reach out to underserved populations whose primary languages are not English or who are from immigrant backgrounds to increase access to timely, high quality screening

  • Developed the free "Considering Culture in Autism Screening" kit which holds important information about screening and referral practices to detect autism and other developmental concerns in young children from immigrant families or from families whose primary language is not English.
  • The kit includes a clinician's tips guide, a MA resource referral sheet, and the validated M-CHAT screening tool in five languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Haitian-Creole) along with instructions, a scoring sheet, and follow-up interview.
  • The MA team translated the Haitian-Creole version of the M-CHAT.