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First Signs logo

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Who We Are | Concerns About a Child | Screening | Diagnosis & Treatment
Mother reading to daughter
How We Began

First Signs originated from personal experience after the founder’s daughter was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder at the age of two in 1998.

After several years of intensive early intervention, Nancy Rich Wiseman’s daughter is no longer on the autism spectrum. Though we cannot predict the outcome any child will have, we do know that with early detection and the proper intervention, every child can reach his or her greatest potential. Nancy’s daughter was lucky because she received the intervention she needed at an early age. Most children do not.

After leaving a successful career in corporate communications in 1998 to manage her daughter’s intensive treatment program, Nancy conceived the idea for First Signs. As a parent, she knows firsthand how healthcare providers can be slow to heed a parent’s report of developmental concerns. Moreover, she has witnessed the significant progress children can make once effective interventions are in place.

Nancy has made a significant contribution to changing policy, improving awareness, and changing pediatric practice in how we screen, refer, and detect young children today. She is the 2006 recipient of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Dale Richmond/Justin Coleman Award for her outstanding achievement in child development. Nancy is also the author of two books: Could It Be Autism? A Parent's Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps (Broadway Books, 2006) and The First Year: Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed Child (Da Capo Press, 2009).

Today, First Signs is part of the Autism Institute at the Florida State University College of Medicine. Nancy looks forward to developing more web-based tools and courses for professionals and families through her work with FSU. At the heart of her mission is the inspiration for creating First Signs—her daughter, and children like her, who thrive and continue to develop with the help of early, intensive, and appropriate intervention.

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Last update: 01/06/12
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