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Autism Friendly Tampa

 

Tampa’s Mayor, Bob Buckhorn, delivering his State of the City address where he unveils the city’s new initiative, Autism Friendly Tampa, and the new partnership with CARD-USF.

#LiftingTheLabel

At CARD, our campaign for the 2017 Autism Awareness Month is #LiftingTheLabel. We want to show that there is so much more to these great people than their diagnosis. “Label: n. A classifying phrase or name applied to a person, especially one that is inaccurate or restrictive.” Others see an adult or child diagnosed with ASD, and their minds typically go to one of two places; either the classic “anti-social, genius savant” as portrayed in films and TV shows such as Rain Man, Mercury Rising or The Big Bang Theory, or something far less flattering. When terms like “autist” have become insults in certain corners of the internet, now more than ever we need to strive towards removing the individual from the label.

CARD and The Learning Academy have documented many noteworthy cases throughout the years, highlighting the great contributions to society made by people on the autism spectrum. TLA has a page on their website, where several former students, myself included, have written about the success they’ve encountered since attending the class, and it serves as another testament to the fact that we can be just as successful as everyone else if we put our minds to it. Some of us may have to put in a little more effort than usual, but that only makes the eventual payoff all the more sweet.

Many with autism do have certain issues with social interaction, few will deny that. However, that does not mean that we don’t want to, or are incapable of doing so. I have several great friends who mean so much to me, and they never even mention the fact that I have autism because it’s irrelevant to our friendship. For those of us who struggle with being social, we’re not doing so because we want to be alone; quite the opposite in fact. Because it’s difficult for us to reach out, we yearn for companionship perhaps more than most. If you see someone with ASD in the cafeteria, or at the workplace, who’s sitting all alone, try approaching them, and you’ll discover that they can be some of the best, most loyal friends you can have.

#LiftingTheLabel is about reaching inclusiveness in a world that wants to put a label on any and everything. Lumping entire groups of people into a single category, a single stereotype, only ever leads to ignorance and segregation. Our poster for #LiftingTheLabel proudly states, “I am a daughter, sister, athlete, student and friend,” all of which are so much more important than the autism diagnosis. This year for Autism Awareness Month, let’s make sure to start seeing everyone, autism or not, as an individual, rather than a label.

  • G. Sosso

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CARD-USF Launches Autism & Safety Kits

SafetyKit_Contents

Safety is an important topic for the families CARD supports.  As a result, we launched a campaign to address an array of safety concerns that an individual with an autism spectrum disorder may face.  As a result of a generous donation to our USF Foundation Autism Services Fund, CARD purchased the supplies, created the materials and assembled a kit that is available to eligible individuals at no charge while supplies last.

CARD-USF’s Autism and Safety Kit is designed to provide individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families with tips, information, advice and resources to help those living with ASD stay out of harm’s way.

You may be eligible for a CARD-USF Safety Kit if you…

  • Have a diagnosis of ASD with supporting documentation
  • Have safety concerns around water, elopement, fire, and/or poisoning-the kit includes items that address those safety areas
  • Need assistance from CARD staff to teach safety skills

You will need to register with CARD-USF and provide documentation of an ASD diagnosis and live within our 14 county region.  Please call 1-800-333-4530 to learn more about CARD’s Autism & Safety Kit.  You can also visit our website for additional safety information and resources:  http://card-usf.fmhi.usf.edu/resources/materials/safety.html

If you would like to donate to support special projects, such as the Autism & Safety Kit, please visit our giving page through the USF Foundation http://card-usf.fmhi.usf.edu/community/fundraising.html

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