The Center for Autism & Related Disabilities at the Unversity of South Florida (CARD-USF) is one of five regional, university -based CARD centers in Florida.

CARD- USF, led by executive director Glen Dunlap, Ph.D. and co-directors Janine Peck Ph.D and Lise Fox, Ph.D, provodes program development, training and support for individuals, families, proffessionals, and peers of people with autism and related disabilitiesthrought eighteen counties in west, central, and southwest Florida.

Autism & Related Disabilities


Autism is a lifelong neurological disability that affects a person's ability to communicate, understand language, play, and interact with others.

There are diagnoses closely related to autism such as Pervasive Developmental Disorder--;Not Otherwise Specified (PDD--;NOS), Asperger's Syndrome, and Rett's Syndrome that are included in the category of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Every person with autism or a related disability is different. No two people with these disorders experience the world or behave in the same way. The impairment of social skills, communication skills, and cognitive skills can range from mild to severe.

Scientists believe there are biological explanations for autism spectrum disorder, but no specific cause has been identified. There are no parenting styles that cause autism.

Autism spectrum disorder occurs in about 15 out of every 10,000 births, and it's four times more likely to occur in boys than girls. Families of all cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds are affected by autism.

Coping with autism and related disabilities can be complex and frightening for families. At the CARD centers, we provide intervention and services, free of charge, that can help individuals with autism make progress and fulfill their potential to achieve a higher quality.

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The Family Network Project (FAMNET) is a three-year project funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research that offers help to families of children with developmental disabilities. FAMNET helps families by teaching them new ways to deal with their child's problem behavior. As families learn new positive behavioral support (PBS) strategies, they create a behavioral support plan to fit their child and family. They also learn from other parents who have children with similar challenges.

Families from selected communities receive PBS through bi-weekly parent groups. On the weeks in between, members of the FAMNET team visit each family's home to help families practice what they have learned and to fit their child's support plan into their daily routines.

FAMNET has developed PBS training materials and they provide training for organizations that offer services to families as well as providing in-service training for teachers and administrators.

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These are activities undertaken on behalf of a program (e.g., a classroom, supported living, supported employment) that serves people with autism and related disabilities.

The foundation of effective technical assistance is based on developing collaborative relationships between families, service providers, and CARD-USF staff.

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Focused on various aspects of autism and related disabilities is provided through workshops, conferences, in-service training, and college courses.

CARD-USF staff presentations have emphasized many topics including adult services, young children, deaf-blindness, behavioral support, communication, and curricula. Trainings have been conducted for school districts, adult service agencies, college and university courses, family groups, and others.

Public Education & Awareness focuses on developing and disseminating accurate information about people with autism and related disabilities.

A major goal involves accumulating a more actual count of the number of people who are eligible for CARD services.

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