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CARD Annual Conference 1999

The Sixth Annual CARD Conference, Building a Vision: New Perspectives and Possibilities, exceeded all expectations. Attendance records were broken. Breakout sessions were filled to capacity and in some case were overflowing. The conference was held in Clearwater Beach, January 23-24, 1999 on probably the coldest day of the year but it was still beautiful. The fun highlight was the Wine and Cheese Social where families and professionals were able to network. All six CARD Centers, the Autism Society of Florida and the Florida Outreach Project for Individuals with Deaf-Blindness all contributed to the success of the conference.


The CARD statewide in-service training for teachers kicked off the training season with a statewide teleconference. Dr. Michael Powers, Director of the Center for Children with Special Needs and assistant clinical professor at Yale Study Center in Connecticut, conducted a two-day institute on "Linking Assessment to Intervention in Educating Students with Autism." The presentation was teleconferenced via satellite transmission to 13 sites, with other counties connecting to allow in-school viewing. The 13 down-link sites were geographically distributed around the state. Each site was facilitated by two CARD staff in order to foster team building and enhance relationships between CARD and school personnel. A total of 436 people participated in this first time training event. The evaluations of this event were very positive and participants were interested in continued training with the CARD centers.

Pre-conference Day

The second initiative for the 98-99 training year was a program developed specifically for teachers that was held on January 22, 1999, prior to our Sixth Annual CARD Conference. Educators from all over the state participated in a day for teachers that offered participants an opportunity to gain new perspectives and learn innovative strategies for the classroom. "Social Interaction for Children with Autism: Strategies for School Settings," was presented in the morning by Dr. Gary Sasso, of the University of Iowa. The afternoon program consisted of breakout sessions that featured model school programs from around the state that supported students with autism. These programs addressed instructional components for preschool, elementary, and secondary students.

In planning for this new initiative, CARD anticipated the participation of 100 professionals. The response from teachers was overwhelming with a final registration count of 224 participants. Educators gave excellent reviews regarding the pre-conference day, and there were strong endorsements for continuing this type of training event.

The pre-conference was sponsored by all six CARD centers, and the Bureau of Instructional Support and Community Services Division of Public Schools, Florida Department of Education.