MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Susannah Poe, Ed.D., associate professor in the West Virginia University Department of Pediatrics and director the intensive Autism Service Delivery (iASD) Clinic at the WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities, is one of 32 professionals nationally to have been selected to serve as an Act Early Ambassador for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” program.
The CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, in collaboration with national partners, created “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” – a public awareness campaign that aims to educate parents about childhood development, including early warning signs of autism and other developmental disorders, and encourages developmental screening and intervention.
Act Early Ambassadors were selected on the basis of their experience and training to serve as a state and national resource to parents, healthcare professionals, and early educators about early childhood development. Dr. Poe will focus her efforts on educating West Virginians on the warning signs of autism and other developmental disabilities and the importance of acting early on concerns about a child’s development.
The CDC estimates that one in 68 children have an autism spectrum disorder. Boys are four times more likely than girls to be affected by autism, which is the fastest growing developmental disability with a growth rate of 10 to 17 percent annually.
Early identification and access to appropriate services and support is important for these children and their families. Although West Virginia has a long history of screening for developmental disabilities and other health conditions, improved access to screening for autism is a welcome addition. It is for this reason that the WVU Department of Pediatrics and the WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities have joined forces to address autism in West Virginia.
Poe has been a diagnostician at the WVU Klingberg Neurodevelopmental Center for the past 15 years. She was selected as an Act Early Ambassador because of her commitment to improving the lives of children and families and increasing access to services for children with developmental disabilities.
The WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities provides leadership in the development of services and support for persons with disabilities in West Virginia. For more information about CED programs and services, visit www.cedwvu.org.