Florida's First Choice for Autism Support

Posts tagged ‘Autism’

Pasco County Sheriff’s Office launches an Autism Identification Card Program

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 partners with Magic 94.9 for Swim Safely Campaign

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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‘Just because I have autism doesn’t mean I can’t shine’

“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’


Survey: Parent’s Stress & Perceptions of Child Well-Being during COVID-19

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’s Water Safety Resources

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



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

Online Events: ASD & Safety Series

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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?


View video here

Special Thanks to Tyler Rover for creating our video!

Guest Blog: The Backstory Of My Magnum Opus: Breakthrough

As I made it clear in my past blogs, my readers, I love to write! Okay, I say I have a love/hate relationship with it. What can you do? That’s enough weird talk about my “relationship”, I’m not here to write a blog with a misleading title, I’m here to tell you the story  about how I decided to write “Breakthrough”.

Now before I do, I’ll make this quick and clear. I can already hear you guys saying, “There’s already a book with that same title!” and “Wasn’t there a movie adaption of the latter?” To that before you start wigging out(I watched too much The Iron Giant, I’d watch it if you’re able, and if you have, watch it again.), I found out sometime after I finished my first collection of Markings by C.R. Gibson journals. I saw the movie in a bargain bin at Walmart.

Okay, now that I cleared that up, let me dive right into the backstory before you get bored from my rambling, I moved back to Albany, Georgia and I’m still not exactly thrilled about it. I had finished my first ten journals, all fictional. I tried to finish my other oodles of journals, but then I got the worst thing imaginable(well, for a writer anyway), a writer’s block!

I was like “Jesus, take the wheel! I can’t bare this pain!” After I got my act together, I went on my phone and checked websites that claimed to have cures for a writer’s block. The first one I checked out had 7 suggestions. Lucky number seven, maybe this’ll help me! I thought. Was it a right? Uh…no. No, my readers I wasn’t.

They listed to go for a walk, I looked outside and then heard my grandma say to grandpa(back when he was still around), “Goin’ to check the mail, Leon!” I decided to slip on my shoes and put on my Poké Ball Plus.  “Wait up!” I would call. Then, I walked with her outside. When we got back, she gave me a small box. “It’s from yer mama, Erica!” She announced, “Phew, it’s pretty heavy too!”

I took it from her and it wasn’t that heavy, I shook my head and tore that sucker open. Inside were ten black leather Markings by C.R. Gibson journals, I hoped that the first suggestion on that list worked, and big shock(not really) it didn’t work! I looked at the other suggestions and they were: “Try finishing your unfinished work, Meditate, sleep, write random sentences.” I did all of these on a regular basis and nada!

I was on the verge of giving up then suddenly on the third website I checked out, there was oodles of posts of writers making their own suggestions. The third one caught my attention almost instantly. It read: “Write a story about a character who is going through the same thing you are going through.” I pondered and wrote a page of this idea so I wouldn’t forget.

Then I went to Tampa, Florida to visit my friends and my CARD family. On my almost last day, I walked with Christine Rover to her car to get my bag of empty journals, and said out of the norm, “I bet there’s a dimension out there, with a male me and a male you.” We cracked some jokes and that’s how the main protagonist Eric Queen came to be, then eventually the story. I hope you enjoyed this blog! Sorry it’s so long!

Ciao for now!


Guest Blog: What Will Your Talent Be?

What will your talent be? It isn’t up to me, be whoever you want to be. If you don’t know what your talent is, don’t be distraught. I used to not know my own talent even when it was staring at me right in the face.

If it were a bee, it would’ve stung me that day. When I was very young; no not three, that’s far too young for me to remember. I was in first grade, where I wrote essays and when I was done, I’d write and draw my own stories without a prompt.

I did this until about grade three, then kind of stopped my doodles. Still I thought I’d be a cartoonist, not knowing all that went in making those cartoons move and talk. Years later, I found out how much work had to be done and decided to pursue a different talent.

I still drew; I couldn’t just say I was through. I didn’t find drawing my passion anymore, but for an assignment or fun, I will draw. I would rather do that then play in the sun or chewing on my plastic straw.

The following year, I ended up in a class I never knew excited; a creative writing class. I couldn’t bear to think of what would my teacher would say if I shared what I wrote. When she liked it a lot, I felt something in my gut.

I found out my talent was indeed writing, I began writing more and more, nobody ever thought they were a bore, especially my riddles that sure were a chore for them to solve. Then one day, my teacher, Ms. Kraft wanted me to do something with them.

She wanted me to write a new riddle every Monday for someone to solve, the riddle’s answer would be revealed Friday unless it was a holiday. I enjoyed going to school ever since that day.

Then during an awards ceremony on May 15, 2015,  I was given a future author award.That was the day that I found out what my true talent and passion was. I stuck by it and I still do.

The moral of this blog is to find your true calling. Sometimes life will throw curve balls, but it’s up to you to be pelted by them or dodge them.

Ciao for now!

Erica King

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