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New Jersey First Signs

First Signs launched its first pilot program in New Jersey in 2001 in collaboration with UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and The New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC). The following provides information about the program and follow-up evaluation study. We provide links to articles in the press and to numerous Web-related disability resources for the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey First Signs Program
New Jersey Evaluation Study
New Jersey First Signs in the News
New Jersey Disability Resources
A Physician's Guide: Referring a Child to Early Intervention in New Jersey

New Jersey First Signs Program

New Jersey First Signs was launched in 2001 in collaboration with the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC). Congressman Chris Smith (NJ), who has actively supported families with children diagnosed with autism, invited First Signs to speak at the First Congressional Caucus on Autism in Washington D.C. in April 2001 to announce the launch of our first in the nation statewide program.

The New Jersey First Signs program was funded by:

  • New Jersey Governor’s Council on Autism at UMDNJ
  • Cure Autism Now (CAN)
  • Parents of Autistic Children (POAC) of Ocean County
  • The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism
  • The Dr. Laura Schlessinger Foundation

The New Jersey First Signs program was endorsed by:

  • American Academy of Pediatrics/NJ Chapter
  • Medical Society of New Jersey
  • New Jersey Pediatric Society

The objectives of the New Jersey First Signs program were to:

  • Improve frequency and quality of screening young children at risk for autism
  • Facilitate timely referral of children in New Jersey to local Early Intervention programs
  • Lower the age at which children are identified with autism and other developmental disorders in New Jersey

The New Jersey First Signs program consisted of:

  • Press campaign
  • Mailing to more than 5,000 physicians inviting them to participate in a research study at UMDNJ, receive CME credit and a free First Signs Screening Kit
  • Self-paced independent study
  • Public speaking engagements
  • Page on our Web site dedicated to NJ resources
  • Mailing to more than 90,000 parents of children between the ages of 12 and 24 months
  • Parent outreach, consisting of telephone support for parents looking for help or referrals

New Jersey Evaluation Study

The evaluation study was conducted by UMDNJ and it measured effectiveness of improving knowledge gained from the First Signs video, comparing results from pre and post tests. In addition, we tracked changes in Web site visitors and, through the NJ Part C program, we are monitoring annual changes in referral rates to Early Intervention.

Evaluation questions

  • Are we improving knowledge?
  • Is video an effective tool for increasing knowledge?

Evaluation strategy

  • Compare results from pre- and post-tests to measure knowledge gained from independent study through the use of the First Signs video “On the Spectrum”
  • Monitor visits to dedicated NJ Web pages
  • Compare annual changes in referral rates to Early Intervention

Evaluation Results
The physician mailing resulted in over 200 participants in the research study. Since the program was launched just prior to 9/11, we can assume that we would have had an even greater response rate without its impact.

The results of the pre and post tests demonstrated that the video was an effective tool—with 90% of participants improving their test scores from pre to post test.

By monitoring NJ Web pages over time, it is clear that the NJ launch is maintaining itself. NJ Web pages have been consistently receiving 2% of our total page hits over the past year. The New Jersey Resource page comes up as one of our top bookmarked pages and the NJ Physician Referral Brochure receives approximately 200 downloads per month.

New Jersey First Signs in the News:

August 2003: New Jersey Governor’s Office recognizes First Signs program as a hallmark of their efforts in autism research and treatment
Press release from Office of James M. McGreevey, Governor of New Jersey
February 2002: First Signs: Educating Parents and Physicians about Autism
National Conference of State Legislatures, State Health Notes, Vol. 23, Number 365, February 11, 2002
Winter 2002: First Signs Launches National Campaign to Inform Physicians and Parents about Autism and Developmental Disorders,
Frances Page Glascoe, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University, American Academy of Pediatrics/ Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Developmental and Behavioral News, Vol. 11, Number 1, Winter 2002
Summer 2001: First Signs Campaign launched
American Academy of Pediatrics/New Jersey Chapter, The New Jersey Pediatrician, Vol. 26, Summer 2001
May 2001: Rep. Doyle Carries Message from Families Dealing with Autism to the House
May 2001: Press Release: Nation’s First Statewide Campaign to Educate Parents, Physicians About Early Warning Signs of Autism Will be Launched in New Jersey Press Release

To read all news articles related to First Signs, visit our Press Center.

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Last update: 03/13/14
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