Florida's First Choice for Autism Support

Pasco Sheriff’s Office has introduced an autism identification card program, otherwise being called Autism Assistance Cards. Assistant Program Director, Christine Rover, was interviewed and provided her thoughts on the launch of this new program.

“Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has really been a leader in their efforts to include residents with ASD for a long time, so it’s kind of no surprise that they’re adding to sort of the elements here, and we really appreciate that,” – Christine Rover, Assistant Program Director of CARD-USF

read full article here

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CARD-USF has partnered with Cox Media Group’s Tampa Bay radio station, Magic 94.9, for a Swim Safely Campaign. On air morning show personality, Danielle, will promote water safety strategies and resources for children and families for twelve weeks. The messaging for social media and radio spots will cover water safety, but with an emphasis on individuals on the autism spectrum. CARD-USF is excited for this opportunity to reach a broader audience and help promote the importance of water safety. Visit Magic 94.9’s website to learn more about the campaign.

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“Everyone has a mountain to climb and autism has not been my mountain, it has been my opportunity for victory.”

– Rachel Barcellona on Instagram

Read original article via Step Up For Students ‘Just because I have autism doesn’t mean I can’t shine’

 

stressOur colleagues at CARD-FAU are researching how COVID-19 is impacting parents’ levels of stress and perceptions of child well-being during COVID-19 by taking the following survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NQB2FLM

The goal is help understand how children with autism and their parents are now reacting and have reacted to the prolonged break. This is an unpredictable time and understanding how children with ASD are coping will allow us to better prepare for other life changes they may encounter. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NQB2FLM

We thank you for the time to provide your input.

CARD-USF

May is Water Safety Month.

The topic of safety is extremely important to us here at CARD as individuals with autism are more susceptible to danger particularly drowning. Drowning is one of the main causes of death for individuals with autism and the leading cause of death for all children ages 1-4 (CDC, 2019).

At this time, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of drownings has significantly increased during the the stay-at-home orders. Many factors can be attributed to this correlation which is discussed in further detail, along with recent statistics, in an article provided by SafeKids Worldwide, Safe States & YMCA.

CARD-USF works year round on water safety education and provides resources and tools to families and other organizations in the community. At the same time partnering with  various agencies throughout our 14 counties, as well as, national organizations whose mission is to educate and empower caregivers. Thanks to donations to CARD’s Autism Services Fund, CARD has provided life jackets, swim lessons, and Josh the Otter materials to classrooms. CARD created Strategies for including children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)and created a visual with  Water Safety Rules. These strategies are designed to be utilized in collaboration with the Josh the Baby Otter book and Josh the Otter Program/Presentation Guide.

Donations allow CARD to have the opportunity to help our community further by covering the cost of printing and distribution of our created materials along with our ASD and Water Safety brochure. These same funds also provide Safety Kits to families which include items such as door alarms, stop signs and various resources.

Here in Florida, water safety is important year round; however, having a designated month to really push the initiative is a great way to prep for the Summer ahead. Below we’ve created a quick video with some of our favorite tips to practice water safety.

Video clip

 

Adrian Ruiz

 

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, February 6). Drowning Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/drowning/index.html

Elmo’s Dad Sends a PSA to Overwhelmed Parents at Home: “You Are Doing an Amazing Job”

elmo dad

View full article from POPSUGAR Family here

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We miss seeing you at public awareness events and hope you and your family are doing well.

Since we can’t be out in the community, we still wanted to provide resources and information related to specific topics. We have many virtual events around safety coming up! The series is named: Welcome to the CARD Table

These live public awareness events are to provide families resources and tips regarding autism and safety. Below you will find our upcoming schedule for the month of April.

Our full schedule of events can be viewed on our Community Calendar at anytime. Please visit our website for many resources regarding safety and other topics.

View full list of upcoming events here.

All In for Inclusion

At CARD-USF we wanted to go beyond an autism awareness campaign. The reality is autism awareness and acceptance should be year round. True acceptance, in our eyes, is rooted in the action of inclusion.

Individuals with autism WANT to be included. Their families WANT them to be included as well. It is important to remember that individuals with autism, and varying disabilities, have needs and goals similar to you and me. However, to achieve success, they need their community and support system to include them.

So what does inclusion look like?

The beauty of inclusion is that it is objective and fluid throughout each person’s life. As people grow and change, their needs for inclusion will change too. For small or school age children, include them in play: birthday parties, organized sports, play dates and school activities that their neuro-typical peers would all experience. As children grow up and become more social they too will seek the social aspects of middle and high school. Make sure to include them in clubs, social outings, celebrations and rites of passage, like prom and graduation.

Adulthood, particularly, inclusion is vital! Everyone, regardless of ability, has the desire to live a life that brings them happiness and purpose. Finding a job that gives them confidence and builds upon skills that they already possess will foster positive self-esteem and allow them to be successful in the workforce. Some may take a bit longer to figure out what it is they want to do; but with guided expertise from resources such as, The Learning Academy Employment Services, they can certainly achieve their goals of employment.

So our question to you- the reader, the parents, the educators, and the community as a whole, what can YOU do to support inclusion?

Are you ALL IN?

If so, be sure to like and share our posts for this campaign to highlight the importance of inclusion.

 

Are You ALL IN?

ALL IN HEADER(2)

View video here

Special Thanks to Tyler Rover for creating our video!

Blue Speech Bubble World Health Day Facebook Post(2)

CARD-USF’s catchment area covers 14 counties here in Florida. We work closely with all 14 counties’ school districts and district personnel. As a professional at CARD, I see the great work that CARD-USF and all of our districts put in each and every day through out the year for  constituents and teachers to be successful. However today, I am writing as an appreciative mom.

As a mom of two children who are currently in public schools (1 in Hillsborough, 1 in Pasco who has an IEP for Autism) I had a moment today where I stopped and took a moment to reflect on just how great the school districts (not just the 14 we cover; across the state) have been trying to navigate this crazy time.

What would have been a leisurely Spring Break quickly turned into a mad dash to get set up for distance learning. The districts quickly went to work and were timely setting up the meal program which allowed them to distribute meals to children. I’ve seen many parents report how simple it has been pulling up in the car line at their local school, picking up the bag lunch and carrying on with their day.

Additionally, the districts have been hard at work preparing laptops and other devices to hand out to students for remote learning. Again, another enormous task that has transpired quickly and effectively. School districts, in my case, Hillsborough & Pasco, have been emailing, robocalling, and using social media to get information out as much as possible. It can be a bit of information overload but a necessary evil as they are trying to do so much, in so little time and trying to reach every parent they can.

For me, I am fortunate enough to work remotely during this crisis and while that is taking place, I’m also working to get the kids set up for their new online education. My son’s teachers in Hillsborough County have been absolutely amazing. Through emails, Classtag App and even phone calls (yes, just got off the phone with one as I’m writing this) they have been so helpful and positive during this time.

Schools and teachers have been doing parades through their local neighborhoods just to see the kids and provide some fun. My neighborhood’s parade was today and teachers were honking their horns, waving and the kids in the neighborhood absolutely loved it as they waved and displayed their signs they made for their teachers.

During this crisis, I know much emphasis is on the medical professionals fighting the virus head on in our hospitals. As well they should be! I can’t even imagine the chaos in hospitals right now. However, I just wanted to give praise and kudos to the teachers and district personnel who are working hard as well in order to help our children adjust, stay positive and be successful.

So to ALL the school districts, the leaders seeing these plans through and to the teachers… THANK YOU!

 

Adrian Ruiz

CARD-USF, Communications & Marketing Specialist

 

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