Learn the Signs. Act Early. Ambassador Project
By Rebecca Grau
The Act Early Ambassador project is designed to develop a network of state-level experts to improve early identification practices. It is a collaborative effort on behalf of CDC's National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), the Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs (AMCHP). Act Early Ambassadors serve as state liaisons to the “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” Initiative. State liaisons work as community champions with programs that serve young children and their parents; such as, Head Start, Early Head Start, WIC, home visiting, health and child care professionals, and others. Liaisons work to improve early identification of developmental delay and collaborate with state agencies and campaign partners to improve policy and programs for early identification. The current cohort of Ambassadors represents 25 states. Kentucky is represented by Scott D. Tomchek, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Assistant Director/Chief Occupational Therapist, University of Louisville, Autism Center, and Department of Pediatrics.
Dr. Tomchek has provided three training opportunities to healthcare and childcare professionals to promote the CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” campaign message to encourage health care providers to be proactive in conducting developmental screenings and referring children with potential delays for more tests or treatment. Along with Dr. Gail Williams, a behavioral pediatrician at the University of Louisville, Dr. Tomchek addressed attendees at the Infant/Toddler Institute on the importance of screening, early referral and diagnose of young children. In addition, Dr. Tomchek collaborated with Dr. Myra Beth Bundy, psychologist from Eastern Kentucky University, and University of Louisville psychiatrist , Dr. David Lohr to provide the "Autism Case Training (ACT): A Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Curriculum". The training was designed to educate future healthcare providers on fundamental components of identifying, diagnosing and managing autism spectrum disorders through real life scenarios.