Our Mission: The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities provides support and assistance
with the goal of optimizing the potential of people with autism and related disabilities.
CARD Overview Video
A brief overview of support and assistance available through CARD-USF.
CARD is a free community based program funded by the Florida Department of Education through an annual grant. Services are delivered wherever families, professionals, schools, agencies or businesses are located within our 14 county region in southwest Florida. There are seven regional CARD centers in the state of Florida. Visit the state-wide CARD Regional Site Directory for their locations and contact information.
CARD-USF provides free training and guidance to individuals diagnosed on the autism spectrum across their lifespan. We connect individuals, families, and professionals to services and resources. As a community-based program, we work across all settings where people live, work, learn, and play.
Services for families and self-advocates
We know that finding and using services can be overwhelming. CARD helps is by sharing lists of resources personalized to your area and insurance. Our provider database is filled with recommendations from others we have served; we strive to offer options familiar to our community. Consultation can take place over the phone, through video chat, in the community, through email, or in your home.
CARD works with people at all ages of their lives regardless of the age of diagnosis. CARD consultants can assist families through the early days of diagnosis, help you find and use community resources, teach strategies and evidence-based practices for skill-building and behavioral concerns, create visual supports, prepare for IEP meetings, and more. We provide school observations of individual students and offer support and recommendations to staff only with permission from both the district and the family. Our consultants can help with various aspects of transitioning into adulthood including, but not limited to: community integration, lifestyle planning, self-advocacy, empowerment, preparations for independent living, understanding benefits, understanding relationships, and identifying supports for quality of life.
Although by statute we are not permitted (statute) to provide the following services directly, we can refer you to appropriate providers for:
Legal or educational advocacy
We provide short-term services. You will need to contact us when you need further assistance.
Services for professionals
CARD offers training on a wide variety of autism topics for groups of professionals and businesses. Click here to request a free training. We can also provide consultation to educators, child care providers, and employers to help them understand and support the needs of the people they serve, as well as set up their environments to promote success for people on the autism spectrum. Consultation can be requested here.
The Autism Friendly Business Initiative is a comprehensive training and consultation program for community businesses who would like to increase their capacity to welcome families and individuals with autism spectrum disorders. For more details on the Autism Friendly Business program, please visit our page here.
CARD serves children and adults of all levels of intellectual functioning who have autism spectrum disorder; an autistic-like disability (documented on an evaluation that describes the characteristics that are being considered "autistic-like" by the evaluator); a dual sensory impairment; or a sensory impairment with other disabilities. It is a requirement of the legislation that created CARD that we have documentation of a qualifying diagnosis in order for an individual to receive our services. For children aged 0 to 5 years, we may accept a developmental disability diagnosis with documented evidence of autistic-like behaviors.
Any document from the following list of examples can be accepted as documented evidence of a qualifying diagnosis:
Most recent descriptive report written by a licensed mental or medical health professional (psychologist, psychiatrist, pediatrician, physician, neurologist, or a neuropsychologist) based on direct observation
Most recent descriptive report written by the school evaluation team (school psychologist, diagnostician)
Most recent descriptive multidisciplinary team report from an early intervention program
Most recent Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) - children 0 to 3 years of age
Most recent Individual Educational Plan (IEP) - individuals 3 years to 22 years of age if the IEP indicates an eligibility of an autism spectrum disorder.
The CARD Physician’s ASD Diagnostic Check List. Ask CARD to provide this form to your doctor who has given an ASD diagnosis if an evaluation report is not available.
If you do not have any of the above documents, you would need to contact the person and/or agency who conducted the evaluation and request a copy of the report. If the individual is in an early intervention program, the coordinator can provide you with a copy of the Individual Family Support Plan (IFSP). Likewise, the school in which the individual is enrolled can provide you with a copy of their most current IEP.
The following documents will NOT be accepted:
A diagnosis written on a prescription pad
Treatment notes from hospital or physician visits
Therapy evaluations or treatment notes
Letter from doctor that does not specify characteristics on the autism spectrum that lead to a diagnosis.
Families and self-advocates can register by calling, emailing, or using our online registration form.
Tampa Main Office (813) 974-2532 (English) |
(813) 974-2297 (Español)
CARD has a policy of self-referral to ensure that all parties are consenting to services and are fully aware of the scope of CARD’s work. Please have your client or their guardian contact us using one of the methods described in the question above.
Please note that we are happy to collaborate with you in providing services to the client as long as you are included on their release form.
Unfortunately, Florida State statute prohibits CARD-USF from providing diagnostic evaluations. Our resource team can help you locate an appropriate provider.
Unfortunately, Florida State statute prohibits CARD-USF from providing any therapy. Our resource team can help you locate an appropriate provider.
Each CARD site operates independently and offers different services depending on the needs of their local communities and the departmental structures of the universities that house them. Some services may be funded by additional grants at that particular location. When you transfer your registration to CARD-USF our resource team will ask you to sign a release form so we can obtain your records from the previous CARD site. Our consultants will review your files and work with you to address your needs.
You can expect your CARD consultant to be responsive to your requests, however we cannot provide regular case management or weekly follow up. You will need to contact us when you need further assistance.
Yes. CARD often participates in agency or school meetings where a child’s needs and programming are being discussed, however we serve a consultative role rather than a role of advocacy. We can meet with you prior to the meeting to prepare you to be the best advocate for your child, or refer you to a professional advocate. If you invite a CARD consultant to attend an IEP meeting, you must inform the meeting coordinator.
We do not provide funding for treatment, private schools, medicine, or other needs.