Health Hero Awardees

Interview with Catherine Crouch (September 2018 Recipient)

How long have you been working in healthcare? How about this specific office?
I’ve been working in healthcare since 1979, so that’s 39 years now. I’ve been at Scripps Clinic Mission Valley for about 5 years. 

How long have you been working the UCSD Autism Center of Excellence's early developmental screening program?
I think I was here since you all started the program since our office was one of your pilot offices. We first used the paper form of the CSBS screener and then transitioned to the iPads, which has been really nice. So I think that’s almost 4 years now. 

What is your opinion of the early developmental screening that our center implements in pediatric offices?
I think it’s good that it gives parents the opportunity to get an evaluation and have an early start on the intervention and education in the case where it’s needed. Overall I like the program and am happy with how its been going!

Did this program raise awareness about developmental delays, such as autism spectrum disorder, at your office?
I think it did help raise the awareness of the importance of screening because now whenever there is an appointment, the Pediatricians are always on top of asking for the iPads to do the screening or whether or not we had done the screening already.  

What impact does this program have on the families at your office?
Sometimes families do feel like it is a struggle to juggle filling out the screen while handling multiple kids and the fathers do tend to be more critical on whether or not their child has performed some of the tasks. But afterwards when the Pediatrician goes over the screen again and re-asks some of the questions it becomes more clear and they are able to answer the questions. 

How has participating in this program changed your perception of Autism? What have you learned from this program?
I think being a part of this program has made me more aware of the signs of autism and has made me more sensitive to it, especially for families in which there are multiple kids that have autism spectrum disorder. It definitely has helped me increase my patience and be more understanding of the difficulties parents may have.



Interview with Dr. Barkley (August 2018 Recipient)

How long have you been working in healthcare? How about this specific office?
Nick has been working in the field of healthcare for 5 years and has been working with Sharp Rees Stealy the entire time.  

How long have you been working the UCSD Autism Center of Excellence's early developmental screening program?
I have been working with the ACE program for about 3 years now. 

What is your opinion of the early developmental screening that our center implements in pediatric offices?
I think it’s great because it is identifying kids that otherwise might have been missed and provides them with an opportunity to receive a full assessment. 

Did this program raise awareness about developmental delays, such as autism spectrum disorder, at your office?
I think the program is helpful in that it allows for more consistent autism screening and allows for us to pick up on delays earlier than we were assessing in the past. 

How has participating in this program changed your perception of Autism? What have you learned from this program?
The program has given me insight into local community services that I did not know about before and that is helpful because I am able to provide my patients with more resources for their benefit.




Interview with Nick Wright (July 2018 Recipient)

How long have you been working in healthcare? How about this specific office?
Nick has been working in the field of healthcare for 5 years and has been working with Sharp Rees Stealy the entire time.  

What is your position?
Nick works as a patient service representative and has daily interactions with dealing with patients and managing the operation of the UCSD Study of Infant Development early developmental screening process using the tablet version of the CSBS. He also helps troubleshoot issues with nurses and keeps in contact with our center in order to maintain optimal performance. 

What is your opinion on early developmental screening programs?
Nick believes that early developmental screening programs are smart because it is important to catch delays early on in order to provide children with the proper services if necessary. 

How has participating in this program changed your perception of Autism? What have you learned from this program?
Though he does believe that it is an early age range (12-24 months) to be screening for delays, whether that be Autism or any other type of delay, Nick once again emphasizes that the benefits of catching a delay early on are significant. He believes these types of programs are necessary in the field of healthcare. 

Interview with Dr. Zaheer (June 2018 Recipient)

How long have you been working in healthcare? How about this specific office?
I have been working in healthcare for 20 years now; In this office, I have been working for 15 years. I fell in love with this patient population [recent immigrants - documented and undocumented, refugees, individuals and families with low socioeconomic status] during my residency at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a community health center dedicated to reaching underserved patient populations.

How long have you been working with the UCSD Autism Center’s Early Detection Program?
Five to seven years.

Do you know anyone who has ASD? Was there a particular reason you were interested in participating in our program?
The UCSD Early Detection Program falls in line with my overarching goal as a physician.That goal is to emphasize prevention by advancing literacy and identifying problems as early as possible. 

Did this program raise awareness about developmental  delays, such as autism, at your clinic?
Yes. Parents, especially those who already face cultural, economic, and linguistic barriers, might say “Oh, none of my kids were talking until age four,” brushing aside concerns of a language delay. The early screening tool is giving parents the opportunity to think about their child’s development relative to a broader population of children at the same stage of development. The population of infants and toddlers that I treat are not necessarily talking and learning to read at the same age and rate that we see in higher-SES communities. As such, a language delay may be seen as “normal” within the context of this community. I want to upgrade that normal so that it matches what you would see in more privileged communities. 

What impact does this program have on your patients and their families?
Referral to the UCSD Autism Center for evaluation allows me to put families on a direct path toward getting specialized treatment and school services for their child as early as possible. 

How has participating in this program changed your perception of autism? What have you learned from this program? 
Participating in the Early Detection Program has further solidified my understanding of autism as a dynamic condition. The evolution of ASD symptoms can vary dramatically as a function of the family’s level of access to treatment and support.  When I was starting out as a physician, autism was still thought of as a very static condition. Now we understand the degree to which early intervention can influence outcomes.

Photo of Dr. Zaheer and his medical team at SDFC

Community Partners

We work closely with professionals and organizations to share information, establish best practices, and gain research knowledge.

NFAR is a not-for-profit organization based in San Diego. The organization was started by Juan and Sharon Leon, parents of a child with autism. NFAR understands the impact autism has on children, families and their communities and dedicates its efforts to promoting the development of innovative treatment programs and options that improve the quality of life for children with autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Get NFAR's brochure: What You Need to Know about Autism (PDF): English  Spanish