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Who We Are | Concerns About a Child | Screening | Diagnosis & Treatment
We founded First Signs to give all the children the early and important start they need
Who We Are                   
and What We Do                     

First Signs is dedicated to educating families and professionals about the early signs of autism and related disorders.

Our mission is to ensure the best developmental outcome for every child by promoting awareness regarding the most important and often overlooked aspects of development: social, emotional, and communication.

Our goals are to improve screening and referral practices and to lower the age at which young children are identified with autism and related disorders.


Health care providers are the only professionals who have routine contact with all children prior to school entrance. Although most healthcare providers recognize the value of early intervention, they have significant difficulty identifying children with developmental delays and disorders. An important reason is the increasing time pressure placed on them to improve productivity. Often, healthcare providers will not use developmental assessments because they require more time for observation than allowed; others use them, but choose measures that are not sensitive enough. Study after study show that 70% to 80% of children in need of services are not identified by their primary care provider. Consequently, children often miss all opportunities for assistance during the most critical time of brain development.

Key policy statements have been issued by the American Academy of Neurology, American Academy of Pediatrics, and National Research Council to define guidelines for screening and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

Since 2000, First Signs has been providing professionals with tools and training and families with education and support to help young children stay on a healthy developmental path. Through our model programs and website, we have disseminated critical information to hundreds of thousands of professionals and families throughout the world about healthy development, the need for routine screening, how to detect early signs of ASD, and treatment options available.

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  • Copy: Elinor J. Pierce
  • Design: Andrée Cordella and Brian Dellascio, Cordella Design, Inc.
  • Selected photography donated by: Laura Straus, author of A Child’s World, Hearst Publications. All rights reserved.
  • Webmaster: Steve Barnes

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Last update: 01/06/12
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