Florida's First Choice for Autism Support

Posts tagged ‘card’

Meeting Donovan Smith

I had the amazing opportunity to have a private meet and greet with Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting offensive tackle, Donovan Smith. As someone who has loved football my entire life, I was very excited to meet a player for the first time in almost 15 years.



Donovan Smith and I at One Buc Place




Me with the Bucs’ Lombardi trophy

Donovan Smith was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft by the Bucs, and in that short time has already become one of their best young stars; and he’s not that much older than me! I didn’t get to speak with him for too long, but he seemed like a genuinely good guy who cared what we had to say.



Raymond James Stadium on a beautiful Friday night.


It was a really great game, and an even better experience overall. I brought along one of my best friends, and we had fun cheering on Donovan and the Bucs against Cleveland. The Bucs ended up winning 30-13. I was even on the Jumbo-tron at one point, which has never happened before at any sporting event I’ve attended.



Me with front row tickets to see the Bucs dismantle the Browns

Thank you Donovan for this great opportunity!

  • G. Sosso

Technology & Autism

It’s no secret that technology has completely changed the face of society, especially in the boom of the past 20 years or so. We have things like smart phones, tablets, notebooks, smart watches, etc. which have made things so much easier for all of us. But how does this affect those on the autism spectrum? In what ways can we utilize this new amazing technology to improve life for people with autism and their families? It can act as either a learning tool or a great source of entertainment depending on the context.

Perhaps the most prevalent use of technology in regards to people on the spectrum is that of “assistive technology.” The Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act of 1988 describes assistive technology as “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, off-the-shelf, modified or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities,” in this case autism. One good example I can think of is an app that one of my mom’s good friends uses with her son called “First-Then Visual Schedule.” Oftentimes visual learning is the primary method for those with autism, and this $10 app helps present a visually stimulating schedule that will help people keep better track of their lives. This is just one example, there are many more out there that do a myriad of different things; here’s a convenient list on parenting.com that features 11 apps including the aforementioned First-Then Visual Schedule.

Technology is not confined to the assistive variety, in fact many use it as a way to stave off boredom. It’s no secret that children with autism particularly love video games, as they talk about here, and with the rise of casual gaming brought about by tablets, there’s a never-ending supply of fun to be had. While tech addiction is a real thing and should be avoided, sometimes as a parent you just need some time to yourself. One of the best ways to keep your children occupied is to get your kid a video game system, or even just an iPad with Candy Crush, Crossy Road or Angry Birds, and they can keep themselves busy for hours at a time. Trust me, I speak from 21+ years of experience.

One interesting thing I would like to highlight is this little gem: Project EVO. It’s a therapeutic tablet game made specifically for kids with autism. Here’s what CBS said about Project EVO: “As they [the kids] go through the game they are supposed to skirt around certain objects while choosing others. The idea is to condition the brain to sift through and organize information in real time, requiring a player to stay focused on the task at hand.” It’s a very interesting concept. The game has not yet been released, but I look forward to tracking its progress.


  • G. Sosso

Water Safety is Critical

water safety tip

There are a number of swimming lessons and water safety education resources throughout the communities we serve through CARD-USF. They may or may not have expertise working with students with autism spectrum disorder. CARD-USF staff provide trainings upon request to various recreation programs, but even with our training, you need to make sure the instructors and programs you choose are right for your family. Please let us know if there are some terrific programs that worked well for your family so we can share the good news with other families. Here is a list of resources for all 14 counties we serve: swim lessons

Disclaimer: As a policy, CARD will not lend its name to the endorsement of any specific program, practice, or model that is offered for service to people with autism and related disabilities. However, the sharing of information and training opportunities are key functions of the CARD program.

Early Childhood Training Series

We have had great success with our “Early Childhood Training Series”. We originally geared this training for new parents of children diagnosed with autism, but we have had numerous professionals and parents join us. Participants joined us from CARD-USF’s 14-county region as well as from various other regions in Florida and even from other states! Our topics have included
“Positive Collaborations with Schools”, “Addressing Challenging Behavior”, and “Enhancing Communication”. Coming up next on our list of topics are “Creating Visuals”, “Addressing Feeding Issues”, “Addressing Sleep Issues”, and “Preparing for Summer”.
These trainings run on the first Tuesday of every month from 6:00pm to 7:00pm. To participate online via adobe connect visit http://usf.adobeconnect.com/card_ect at 5:45pm on the night of the training. Or you can join us in person. Please RSVP beverlyking@usf.edu one week before the date of the training as space is limited. We look forward to keeping this project an ongoing opportunity and welcome all feedback. If there are other topics of interest that you would like to see in the future please let us know.
Your Early Childhood Team

5th Annual Autism Health & Wellness Symposium

2014 CARD's Autism Health and Wellness Symposium Save the Date


Register today for this FREE one day conference packed with education, resources and screenings.

Saturday, November 1st 12-4pm

Tampa, FL

For more information and to register click here



Starting Transition Planning


Children will experience many transitions within the school system. For children with disabilities, they may transition from early intervention to preschool to elementary school to middle school to high school to a specially designed transition program to adulthood. For children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, each transition brings its own challenges and rewards. Did you know that transition planning becomes a systematic process when your child enters high school?

Transition planning usually begins at age 14. Transition services become an integral component of the Individual Education Plan (IEP). Transition planning involves the student, the family, school staff, and outside agency staff. The transition process continues until the student graduates or ages out of program.

Think of transition planning as the pathway to adulthood. What are the desired outcomes? What steps are necessary to achieve the outcomes? In the next several issues of CARD Connector, we will share tips and guidelines for effective transition planning. The following documents will help get you and your family started on the “yellow brick road to adulthood”.

“Start Exploring Now for Tomorrow: A Family Guide for Vocational Planning”


“FAAST General Self-Help Resources to Promote Effective Transition Planning with Students with Disabilities…”


“Transition Planning for Students with Disabilities: A Guide for Families”


Water Safety & Autism

In the US, drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death and disability among children (Monteiro, 2010). It has been shown that children with ASD are at an increased risk for this dangerous event (Shavelle, Strauss, & Pickett, 2001), and, unlike typically developing children, this risk persists even as the children get older (Scott, 2014). In response to this information and a number of drownings in their service area, we have launched our water safety initiative.
Our first step was to develop the Autism Spectrum Disorder & Water Safety brochure which includes information about this important issue as well as a number of drowning prevention strategies that both caregivers and professionals can take to help keep individuals with ASD safe. We are also partnering up with other organizations to help meet the water safety needs of the autism community. CARD-USF has provided free training to recreational staff at a few local YMCA’s and the Katelyn Foundation, which provides swimming lessons (http://www.katelynfoundation.org/). We also recently became a Pool Safely Campaign Safety Leader and are collaborating with the Hillsborough Water Safety Team and SafeKids Tampa Bay.

View the entire brochure here


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