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CARD Sites Come Together With Their Constituency

The new year certainly got off to a big bang with CFS co-sponsoring conferences and meetings during the month of January.

CARD Sites Come Together With Their Constituency

The CARD (Center for Autism and Related Disabilities) eighth annual conference for people with autism, deaf-blindness and related challenges was held January 12-14 in Fort Lauderdale. Co-sponsored by Florida's CARD sites, Florida Outreach Project for Individuals with Deaf-Blindness, and the Autism Society of Florida, the conference continues to grow, and this year 600 attendees were provided information on state-of-the-art practices in areas promoting inclusive life-styles.

On Saturday, keynote speakers were Phillip Strain, PhD, who discussed Myths and Realities Related to the Inclusion of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities and Jay Klein, MSW, who discussed A Home of One's Own: A Dream, A Challenge, A Reality. Sunday's keynote speakers were James Partington, PhD, who presented Teaching Language to Children with Autism: Capturing the Motivational Variables, and Sally Ozonoff, PhD, who presented To a Different Drum: Remediation of Social Difficulties in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Breakout sessions also provided information on a variety of topics including Peer-Mediated Interventions for Preschool Children with Developmental Disabilities, Improving Sensory Integration and Self Regulation in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Medical Issues in Autism: Searching for Autism Susceptibility.

The pre-conference teacher day included 441 educators and was sponsored by the Bureau of Instructional Support and Community Services Division of Public Schools, Florida Department of Education and CARD. Keynote speaker Linda Hodgdon provided useful information on visual strategies for improving communication. 52 educators were recognized who will be working with CARD in the DOE's Partnership for Effective Programs for Students with Autism. The Department of Child and Family Studies' (CFS) Rochelle Lentini, who was a teacher in the program last year, was one of six teachers from across the state who presented this year. Her presentation, I Can Do It!: Creating a System to Facilitate Students to Understand and Track Instructional Goals, included information on allowing children to understand what was expected of them through the use of visual cues and goals written in "I can..." child friendly language.

CFS's Dave Guido attended a Networking Meeting on Supports for Adults, which provided an opportunity to share information regarding service agencies supporting adults with autism. "The information that comes from other families and teachers is great because it comes from people actually being served," added Dave.

Trained respite workers and teen volunteers provided 73 participants with developmental disabilities a fun child care program that included a variety of activities while respecting the sensitivities unique to each individual.

For the first time, a special activity was scheduled the night before the conference to allow staff from all the CARD sites in Florida to get to know one another. "This was an opportunity for the growing staff at each site to connect in a unique way," said Glen Dunlap. "Each team was responsible for being creative in a five minute performance that provided a history of their particular site."

Promoting Best Practices in Community Based Care

Along with the Florida Department of Children and Families, CFS co-sponsored Florida's 1st Annual Community Based Care Conference in St. Petersburg. "It was a great success, culminating with Governor Jeb Bush speaking to the conference, as well as an article on the conference highlighted in the Tampa Tribune" said CFS's Mary Armstrong. "Participants were from all over the state, with good representation from providers, state and district DCF staff, and community alliance members. Patricia Sokol coordinated the conference and is personally responsible for its huge success."

National Association of RRTCs Comes to Tampa

The Strategic Planning Meeting for the RRTC Directors was also a great success. The directors of Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers around the country met the first weekend in January to plan for the future of the National Association of Rehabilitation Research and Training Centers. "A real commitment was made to promote a national campaign for people with disabilities in this country," said Krista Kutash, deputy director of the Research and Training Center for Children's Mental Health in Tampa. "The work accomplished at this meeting will continue in April."

Both CARD and RTC are located within the Department of Child and Family Studies, a division of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida. Since its inception in 1984, the Institute's mission has been to improve service delivery systems for children with serious emotional or behavioral disabilities and their families.

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