First Signs logo
First Signs logo
First Signs logo

ASD Video Glossary | In Your State Research | Products

Who We Are | Concerns About a Child | Screening | Diagnosis & Treatment

Mother tickling daughter
Pennsylvania First Signs Fact Sheet

Pennsylvania First Signs to Educate Healthcare Professionals, Educators, and Parents on Early Detection of Autism and Other Developmental Disorders

Program description: A statewide program designed to educate health care professionals, early childhood educators, and parents about early detection of autism and other developmental disabilities in early childhood will be launched in April 2005. More than 10,000 Pennsylvania physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, clinicians, and early childhood educators are being invited to attend one of six regional training sessions and Grand Rounds at 20 major hospitals about developmental surveillance and screening for autism and other developmental disorders. Attendees will receive a First Signs Screening Kit and continuing education credits through University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. The program will be supported by professional training, parent outreach, and public education over a multi-year time period.

Program instructors: Frances P. Glascoe, PhD, adjunct professor, Vanderbilt University, researcher and expert on how to screen young children during well-visits; Jennifer Pinto-Martin, PhD, director of the Pennsylvania Center for Autism and Developmental Disability Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE) in the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing; Susan E. Levy, MD, director of the Regional Autism Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Jack Nardone, MSW, EI Regional Coordinator for the Northeast, Office of Mental Retardation, Department of Public Welfare; Anastasia Antoniadis, MA, CCC-SLP, MPH Consultant, Early Intervention Technical Assistance, Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network, Department of Public Welfare, Department of Education; and Nancy D. Wiseman, founder and president of First Signs, Inc., and the mother of a child diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

Statewide need: (1) According to Pennsylvania’s Autism Task Force Final Report (December 2004), there has been a 2000% increase in autism diagnoses in the last 15 years. (2) Pennsylvania is recognizing the need for identifying autism spectrum disorders (ASD) during toddler and preschool years when interventions are most effective. (3) Enrollment in Pennsylvania’s Early Intervention (Part C of IDEA) is only 2.64% of eligible children (Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare). (4) State and federal education departments spend about $36 billion each year on special education programs for individuals with developmental disabilities who are 3-21 years old (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Goals: The goals of the Pennsylvania First Signs program are to increase knowledge of early warning signs among health care providers and raise their level of awareness; to improve frequency and quality of screening young children; to facilitate timely referral of children to local early intervention programs; and, to lower the age at which children are identified with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Funding: The majority of the funding, $240,000, will be provided by the Department of Public Welfare. The balance of funds comes from the Pennsylvania Center for Autism and Developmental Disability Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE), Community Care Behavioral Health Organization, Chester County Intermediate Unit, Serving Autism and Families Everywhere (SAFE), and Autism Society of America, Philadelphia Chapter.

Collaboration: Pennsylvania First Signs is a collaboration between First Signs, Inc and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, the Pennsylvania Center for Autism and Developmental Disability Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE) in the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, and Chester County Intermediate Unit.

Contact: For more information, contact Brenda Eaton, Pennsylvania First Signs Administrator at Chester County Intermediate Unit, (484) 237-5354; or Nancy D. Wiseman at First Signs, Inc., (978)-346-4380, or go to their Web site at


Read the press release about the Pennsylvania First Signs program.


©2001-2014 First Signs, Inc. All rights reserved. | | Please do not copy, post, distribute, or create derivative work without permission from First Signs.
Last update: 01/06/12
SecurityMetrics for PCI Compliance, QSA, IDS, Penetration Testing, Forensics, and Vulnerability Assessment