Elaine Gabovitch – Considering Culture in Autism Awareness
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disorders (DD) from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds are significantly less likely to be identified for evaluation and services and are also diagnosed at later ages than children from English-speaking families.
The reason for this may be that concepts of screening, early identification and early intervention may be unfamiliar for families from diverse backgrounds. For many families, these concepts are culturally bound and they may perceive that their children will be stigmatized in their communities by participating in these practices.
Recognizing the need for health equity in early identification of children with ASD/DDs from culturally diverse backgrounds, Elaine Gabovitch has led the development of the Considering Culture in Autism Screening Kit and Curriculum for pediatric and early childhood professionals and the 1, 2, 3…Grow! cable television series for parents of young children, which is available in seven languages. This presentation will share lessons learned from these projects, using video interviews of parents of children with ASD across cultures to illustrate some of the key issues.
Elaine Gabovitch, parent of a young adult son with autism, was advised to “wait and see” back in 1997 when she questioned her son’s developmental delays at the age of two. After hearing the same from other parents, she decided that public awareness was the answer and has worked ever since to promote early identification and health equity.
Ms. Gabovitch is currently the Director of the Division for Children & Youth for Special Health Needs at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Prior to her work at DPH- from 2005 until late 2016- she served as Family Faculty at the UMass Medical School-Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program (LEND) and University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) and as an Instructor in the UMass Medical School Department of Family Medicine & Community Health.
She continues to serve in these roles as adjunct faculty. From 2011-2016, she was the CDC’s Act Early Ambassador to Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Act Early State Team Leader.