Community advocate appointed Act Early Ambassador

Shriver Center advances early identification of autism

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

June 30, 2011
Elaine Gabovitch
Elaine Gabovitch, MPA 

Shriver Center faculty member and community advocate Elaine Gabovitch, MPA, has been named one of 11 Act Early Ambassadors by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. Gabovitch is the director of family and community partnerships at UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, and an alumna and faculty member of the Center’s Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. The mother of a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), she has long dedicated herself personally and professionally on behalf of all families impacted by ASDs. 

“Learn the Signs, Act Early” is a national campaign promoting early diagnosis and treatment of ASDs and other developmental disabilities. As a national Act Early Ambassador, Gabovitch will participate in a one-year nationwide pilot that will develop a network of state-level experts to help parents and professionals recognize and address developmental disabilities as soon as possible. 

Already the team leader for the Massachusetts Act Early Team, Gabovitch welcomed the call to participate at the national level. "As the parent of a 16-year-old son with an autism spectrum disorder, I have met many parents over the years who, like me, struggled to receive a timely and accurate diagnosis for their children due to a lack of awareness among parents and professionals of the early warning signs of ASDs and other developmental disorders,” said Gabovitch. “I hope our efforts will create a new standard of identification and care for ASDs in Massachusetts and beyond." 

The Shriver Center and the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) 

The Shriver Center’s University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) is one 67 UCEDDS funded by the U.S. Administration on Developmental Disabilities. Its Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC) is one of 19 IDDRCs, most of which are funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Development. Its Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities program is one of 39 LEND Programs funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. All members of the AUCD, these programs are bridges between the university and the community, bringing together the resources of both to achieve meaningful change. Learn more at

Related links: 

Passionate advocate links community to Shriver Center 
Autism at Shriver, part 1: Teens get moving, have fun 
Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center