The Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that Ann Gionet was selected to serve on a national campaign to improve the early identification of children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) selected Ms. Gionet to join their network of state-level experts called Act Early Ambassadors to support the "Learn the Signs. Act Early" campaign. Created by the CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities and other federal partners, the campaign aims to educate parents, caregivers, and providers about childhood development - including early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders - and encourage developmental screening and intervention.

Developmental disabilities are common in the United States. A recent study shows that about one in six children have been diagnosed with a developmental disability. An estimated 140,000 Connecticut children have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional condition and require health and related services beyond that required for children in general.

"Many children with a developmental disability are not identified until after entering school," said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. "Early intervention before school age can have a significant impact on a child’s ability to learn new skills as well as reduce the need for costly interventions over time. As an Act Early Ambassador, Ann will play an important role in educating Connecticut’s parents, healthcare professionals, and early educators about the importance of acting early on concerns about a child’s development."

Ms. Gionet, an Ellington resident, is a Health Program Associate with DPH’s Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Program and serves as the co-coordinator for the Connecticut Collaborative to Improve Services for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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