If the solution was easy, this would have been solved already.

Introducing a new system of care to improve early detection and family access to care.

Welcome to our Gallery, where we showcase innovations of the FIRST WORDS® Project, Autism Navigator®, and the intersection of these two initiatives.

We listened to you and we understand. Screening in primary care is challenging and the early intervention system is overburdened. Yet, 80% of school-age children who qualify for special education missed the opportunity for early intervention. Together, we can do better.

We introduce to you our family ECoSystem, an integrated system of care with automated screening to improve early detection of communication delays and autism. Our system of care also offers an array of cutting edge, evidence-based online tools and resources for families to get started right away.

Explore our Gallery to learn more about our ECoSystem, its key components, and how collectively they will provide you and your families with a new system of care. You can browse our Gallery in a carousel — or from a grid view — drilling down to see how each component works.

If you invest just 20 minutes to screen for social communication delay at 9 months of age, you can change a child’s developmental trajectory!

The most critical period for learning is from birth until a child’s 3rd birthday.

Families are counting on you to leverage this opportunity. Our integrated system of care starts with automated screening at 9 months.

The Smart ESAC is a brand new validated online screening tool designed as a universal screen based on parent report for children 9-30 months of age in primary care settings.

Here’s how it works:
  • The Smart ESAC begins with a brief 10-question broadband screen for communication delay.
  • If the ESAC-10 screen for communication delay is positive, smart technology offers 20 more questions that seamlessly follow to screen for autism.
  • The ESAC-30 is a screener for both communication delay and autism.
  • Parents view a brief video before screening to explain the Smart ESAC and Family ECoSystem.

Watch the video parents see before screening with the Smart ESAC

Our Family ECoSystem uses digital technology to help make this easy for you and families in our provider and parent portals:
  • Universal screening is done online in-office or at-home
  • Screening results and reports are available immediately
  • Scripts to share results and make referrals are available in our professional course
  • Automated invitations to rescreen at each target age
  • Offers monthly e-monitoring check-ins and auto-remind function
  • Facilitates secure communication between parents and their care team
  • Links to resources in our Seamless Path for Families tailored to screening results
  • Monitors parent utilization of resources so you can encourage and celebrate progress

Supporting parents in the most important role of their lives.

It takes a team to provide the kind of care families need. We’ll support and guide you and your families.

Our Seamless Path for Families offers a unique collection of digital tools and online resources for families of children who are typically developing and for those whose children may have a delay or are suspected of autism.

For all families…

16 x 16 Series

For all families—the 16 by 16™ Lookbook series helps families and others learn critical social communication skills children should reach by 16 months to help their child learn to talk.

  • Language Learning: 16 Gestures by 16 Months
  • Imagination: 16 Actions with Objects by 16 Months
  • Social Connectedness: 16 Ideas to Communicate by 16 Months
  • Cooperation: 16 Ways to Manage Emotions by 16 Months
  • Critical Thinking: 16 Messages to Understand by 16 Months
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Social Communication Growth Charts (SCGC)

For all families – the Social Communication Growth Charts teach families of infants and toddlers between 9 and 24 months about the five domains of social communication development: Language, Play, Social Competence, Emotional Regulation, and Self-Directed Learning.

Families can explore video clips to learn how to support key social communication milestones and answer questions to chart their child’s social communication development.

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For families of children with a positive screen for autism…

About Autism in Toddlers

For families of children with a positive screen for autism—to learn about the early signs of autism with video clips of over a dozen toddlers with ASD at 18-24 months of age and see early intervention in action.

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ASD Video Glossary

For families of children with a positive screen for autism who want more information—see hundreds of video clips illustrating diagnostic features and many different interventions.

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Autism Navigator How-To Guide for Families

For families who suspect their child has ASD— get started right away, learn evidence-based intervention strategies to use in everyday activities, and support their child’s learning and development.

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Sharpen your observation skills.

Don’t be the one who said, “let’s wait and see,” when you had the chance to help a family act early.

The hallmark of our courses is the extensive use of video footage to illustrate early learning and development, early signs of delay, and early intervention.

Autism Navigator for Primary Care—the gateway to our family E•Co•System

Designed for providers who work with the general pediatric population to increase the capacity for universal screening to improve early detection of ASD, make referrals for children with or at risk for ASD, and help families access resources, support, and early intervention sooner. This 8-hour course offers a rare collection of videos of two-dozen toddlers with autism at 18-24 months, so you can learn what autism looks like before it is usually diagnosed. Now our 90-minute JumpStart Unit is available for busy professionals who want an abridged or “lite” version of the full course.

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Autism Navigator for Early Intervention Providers— for providers who coach families

Designed to build the capacity of early intervention providers from diverse disciplines to coach families of toddlers with autism in the natural environment. This 30-hour self-paced course integrates current research with extensive video illustrations covering 5 topics: 1) Improving Early Detection, 2) Collaborating with Families, 3) Developmental Perspectives, 4) Evidence-based Intervention Strategies, and 5) Addressing Challenging Behaviors. The Mastery level course offers extensive video libraries with application exercises. Join our Autism Navigator Learner Community and attend monthly webinars.

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Social Communication Development in Infants and Toddlers — learn about social communication milestones, a critical window into healthy development and school readiness

Geared for any discipline that works with young children and families, including child development, communication science and disorders, psychology, social work, early childhood education and special education, nursing, pediatrics, family medicine, or other related fields. This self-paced 15-hour course has an Explore function with side-by-side video players to illustrate 80 social communication milestones that develop from 9 to 24 months of age organized into 5 domains—language, play, social interaction, emotional regulation, and self-directed learning. The Study Guide function of the course has self-guided lessons to provide opportunities to study how the social communication milestones shift and change over time, how reaching these milestones culminates in school readiness indicators by 24 months, and how the developmental interaction of reaching these milestones across domains has a cumulative impact that leads to 5 critical paths to learning.

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Helping parents start early and make every moment count.

Together, we can encourage families to treasure their role in teaching their child and celebrate each milestone.

The FIRST WORDS Project Family ECoSystem was developed by the Florida State University Autism Institute.

Research and development initiatives of the FIRST WORDS Project and Autism Navigator are in the Florida State University Autism Institute in the College of Medicine. Autism Navigator LLC deploys the courses, tools, and resources developed by the Autism Institute.
The mission of the Autism Institute and Autism Navigator LLC is:
  • To promote interdisciplinary research that advances scientific knowledge of autism spectrum disorder
  • To bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and community-based practice
  • To build the capacity of primary care physicians and other community-based service providers, educators, employers, family members, and individuals with ASD to improve outcomes through research and training
  • To maximize use of innovative video and information technology in research, education, and services related to ASD

Learn About Our Team

Amy Wetherby, PhD, CCC-SLP: Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences; Laurel Schendel Professor of Communication Disorders, Florida State University; Director, Autism Institute, College of Medicine, Florida State University, Managing member of Autism Navigator LLC.

Juliann Woods, PhD CCC-SLP: Professor and Associate Dean of Research School of Communication Science and Disorders, Florida State University; Past President, International Division for Early Childhood, Member of Autism Navigator LLC.

Renee D. Holland, MS, CCC-SLP: Assistant Director of Early Intervention Services Research and Lead Intervention Coordinator for the Early Social Interaction Project, Autism Institute, College of Medicine, Florida State University

Charly Nottke, MS: Assistant Director of Early Detection and Prevention Research and Lead Diagnostic Coordinator for the FIRST WORDS Project, Autism Institute, College of Medicine, Florida State University

Nancy D. Rich Wiseman: Content Developer, Autism Institute, College of Medicine, Florida State University; Founder and Director, First Signs; Writer and Author

Steve Barnes: Media and Technology Coordinator, Autism Institute, College of Medicine, Florida State University

Diana Jones-Ellis: Learner and User Engagement Manager, Autism Institute, College of Medicine, Florida State University

Tia Walton-Walker, PhD: Community Engagement Coordinator, Autism Institute, College of Medicine, Florida State University

Cara North: Director of Operations for Autism Navigator, Autism Institute, College of Medicine, Florida State University

Askia Jones: Website Design, Plaid Park, LLC

We Hope to Hear from You

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