Jen Doris, Early Childhood Manager at LRCS, has been selected to serve as an Act Early Ambassador for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) “Learn the Signs Act Early” program because of her commitment to improving the lives of children and families and increasing access to services for children with developmental disabilities. Jen will play an important role in educating New Hampshire’s parents, healthcare professionals, and early educators about early childhood development, warning signs of autism and other developmental disabilities, and the importance of acting early on concerns about a child’s development.

The Act Early Ambassadors project is designed to develop a network of state-level experts to improve early identification of developmental delay and disability. It is a collaborative project of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities. For more information, visit: www.cdc.gov/ActEarly.

“Developmental screening is imperative to assisting all children grow and develop as close to their expected milestones as possible,” said Doris. “Parents who wish to have their child screened should visit www.watchmegrow.org for more information. Forty-four percent of children identified with ASD were evaluated for developmental concerns by the time they were three years old.”

Developmental disabilities are common in the United States. A recent study shows that about 1 in 6 children have been diagnosed with a developmental disability. It’s important that these children are identified early and that they and their families receive the services and support they need. The newest numbers from the CDC indicate that 1 in 68 children are identified with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is an increase of 30 percent since 2008.

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As the Lakes Region Community Services’ Early Childhood Manager, Jen oversees the LRCS Family Resource Center’s Autism Center of Central NH.  In a natural, child-friendly environment, the Autism Center’s team teaches parents strategies that they can incorporate into their everyday family routines. The teaching model provides measurable goals and objectives. Staff works with each family to meet its specific needs.

“One of the best parts about being involved with the Autism Center for families is not only the support they receive from staff,  but the opportunity they have to connect with other families who have similar needs and experiences.”