Director’s Letter: December 2018

Dear Friends,
Seasons greetings to you and your family. We hope those of you who were affected by the devastation of Hurricane Michael are slowly putting the pieces back together. We had several families affected and our Panama City Office was closed for a few weeks. While we are happy to report that our Panama City office has re-opened in full working order, our thoughts continue to go out to our Panama City staff as they, like many of our families in the panhandle, continue to rebuild their own homes.

As we enter 2019, plans are in the works to provide a variety of training opportunities and resources to best serve you. Several of our upcoming trainings are listed in this newsletter and more are in the planning stages. In mid-January, we will be asking for your help gathering information about what  services you feel are most helpful. Be on the lookout for our online survey. 

We hosted our first Artists and Autism series in Pensacola this past fall, and it was a huge success. Be sure to read Isiah Taylor’s first-hand account of the event and see the pictures from our Facebook post listed below. We also hosted our first Transition Summit in Pensacola thanks to the collective efforts of so many professionals and agencies. 

This Fall has thrown our area some major curve balls, but watching the resilience of our communities and the kindness shown by so many of our neighbors has made this holiday season even more meaningful. We hope to carry this spirit of determination and kindness into 2019. 

Catherine Zenko, M.S., CCC-SLP
Director, FSU CARD


PEPSA Partner Announcement
Announcing our 2018-2019 FSU CARD PEPSA Partners!
PEPSA (Partnership for Effective Programs for Students with Autism) is an initiative to support educators and schools’ professional development and training, designed to enhance the educational program for students with ASD. 

Brittany Geiger, Blountstown Elementary School, Calhoun County will be partnering with Lerena Fleck. Tasha Neel, Blountstown Elementary and Middle School, Calhoun County will be partnering with Lerena Fleck. Charles Robshaw, SAIL High School, Leon County will be partnering with Tammy Dasher. Taylor Whittle, Leon High School, Leon County will be partnering with Allison Leatzow. 
If you would like more information, please contact Lerena Fleck at We are already recruiting partners for the 2019-2020 school year.
Middle School PEERS – Social Skills Workshop for CARD Clients in Pensacola
The Pensacola office will be offering a 14-week social skills workshop for teens with autism in grades 6-8 who are interested in developing methods to make and keeps friends. Parents will attend separate sessions at the same time and will be taught how to assist their teens by providing feedback through coaching. This workshop is free of charge, but enrollment is limited. 
When: Begins January 29, 2019; 6:00PM – 7:30PM CST
Where: TBDWho to contact: Dr. Chrissy Ogilvie, 850-324-6245

View Flyer >>
Middle School PEERS – Social Skills Workshop for CARD Clients in Tallahassee in partnership with FSU Multidisciplinary Center
PEERS (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) is a 14-week evidence-based social skills intervention for motivated teens who are interested in learning ways to help them make and keep friends. 
Enrollment is limited. Parent participation is REQUIRED. Participants must participate in an interview process prior to actual enrollment in the group. Please register to participate in this interview at

When: Meetings are on Thursdays from 6:00-7:30 pm EST 
     Beginning January 31, 2019

Where:  FSU Multidisciplinary Center
2139 Maryland Circle, Suite 1200
Tallahassee, FL 32303

Who to contact: Dr. Amber Farrington
Phone: 850-645-8945

View Flyer >>
Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees: Managing Checking and Savings Accounts 
Managing money can be challenging for anyone. Please join your Pensacola FSU CARD office for an interactive training presented by Florida State Employees Federal Credit Union that includes smart money management skills, how to manage transactions, balance a checkbook, and understand monthly statements. This training will provide participants the opportunity to take a hands-on approach to their finances as well as the option to open a teen checking account with a parent or guardian as a responsible owner until they are 18. RSVP is required by 2/5/19.
When: February 21, 2019; 6:00PM – 8:00PM CSTWhere: TBD

For more information, contact Dr. Chrissy Ogilvie at or 850-324-6245.

View Flyer >>

Articles: CARD Consultant Column

Life Stories Transition SummitBy: Christine Ogilvie
In January 2018, Dr. Chrissy Ogilvie and Cindy Golden Collier gathered together local support organizations and businesses to answer the question, “My child is turning 18. What do I do now?” Present at the meeting were representatives from the Florida Diagnostic Learning Resource Systems (FDLRS), CareerSource Escarosa, Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD), Children’s Medical System (CMS), SEDNET, PURE Friendship Ministries, and the Empowerment Parent Resource Center. Out of this meeting came the “Life Stories Transition Summit”, a one-stop-shop for individuals with special needs, the families, schools, and community organizations.
By the time the summit arrived at Marcus Pointe Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL, on Friday, September 15th, 2018, more than 25 local, state, and community resources were on board to be part of an informational panel and a breakout session. The summit was divided into four main tracks including college planning, vocational and career planning, supported and independent living, and mental health and community supports. There were almost 150 people in attendance, including individuals with special needs, family members, education personnel, community organizations, statewide programs, and other professionals and groups from the area.

The summit was opened by Sonya King, professional comedian, blogger/podcaster, and parent of an adult with autism. The audience was quickly engaged in Mrs. King’s tales of living with and loving a person with autism, laughing and shedding tears together with the knowledge that they were surrounded by people who’ve “been there” when it comes to loving one with special needs. Sonya was joined on stage by her son, Josh, who then stole the show and began answering the audience’s questions through his eyes as an adult with Autism. Mrs. King writes a weekly podcast entitled Josh has Autism that is accompanied by a blog entitled Clearly Muddled, which presents stories about adventures of loving and raising a son with Autism. The website can be found at

Following Sonya King was Willie Davis, a local Master’s level Special Education Teacher, who captivated the audience with his account of life growing up with the disability, how he was told on more than one occasion that he “wouldn’t amount to much,” and everything he conquered to be where he was. Mr. Davis told the audience of trials and tribulations, successes and celebrations in a way that touched every heart in the room.
The remainder of the summit was filled with brief panel discussions, a delicious lunch, and an afternoon of breakout sessions. Lunch was provided by Autism Pensacola, Inc, catered by 5 Sisters Blues Café. In the afternoon, summit participants were given the opportunity to choose breakout sessions featuring each of the organizations. The breakout sessions repeated so attendees had the possibility of seeing more than one track.The local, state, and community organizations featured at the Life Stories Transition Summit included the following:

  • Florida Diagnostic Learning Resources Systems (FDLRS)- Florida State University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (FSU CARD)
  • Pensacola State College-University of West Florida-Programs for Adult Learning and Supports (PALS; Pensacola State College)
  • Locklin Technical College
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Global Connections to Employment (3 divisions)
  • CareerSource Escarosa (2 divisions)
  • ARC Gateway (2 divisions)
  • Neighborhood Lighthouse
  • Empowerment Parent Resource Center
  • PURE Friendship Ministries
  • Inland Seas Aquaponics
  • Mr. Kleanz
  • Capstone Adult Programs
  • Students with Emotional / Behavioral Disabilities Network (SEDNET)
  • Children’s Medical Services
  • Agency for Persons with Disabilities
  • Center for Independent Living (3 divisions)
  • Epilepsy Florida

Summit participants were overwhelmingly positive about their experiences and left comments such as “Wow! So many great conversations with such willingness to work together, to refer to each other, etc.” and the “motivational speaker gave me more hope to not give up. And I learned lots of new resources” and “Great speakers, educated and informative. Multiple resources, many opportunities, involved communities, independence, jobs, hope, future goals.”

The FSU CARD Pensacola office is very thankful to the local, state, and community organizations who came together to bring a day full of transition information for individuals with special needs as well as to the numerous participants who joined us to share their knowledge as well.

Artists & Autism Series: Inside Out. Outside In: Living on an Infinite Spectrum- A Huge Success
By: Cathy Zenko
Thank you to every one who participated and came out to the Artists & Autism Series: Inside Out. Outside In: Living on an Infinite Spectrum exhibit and reception at the Pensacola Museum of Art. Check out some of our talented artists and their amazing work in the pictures from our Facebook post. A huge thanks to our partner Arts4All Florida for helping make this Artists & Autism Exhibition a success!
View Photos here >>>

Sensory-Friendly Santa 
By: Debi Gunter Cassidy
Once again we partnered with the Autism Society of the Emerald Coast to provide a yummy pancake breakfast and a sensory-friendly visit with Santa.We were delighted to have about 100 family and friends take advantage of this opportunity. Families were able to enjoy breakfast, make ornaments and stockings, and go home with professional pictures of their family with Santa. It was a great way to celebrate the season!!!

Client Corner


Intake/Referrals >> 
Request for Technical Assistance >>
Public Awareness Request >>
Training Request Form >>
Annual Update Form >>
Free access to the Autism Navigator® How-To Guide for Families
This online course is full of video libraries to illustrate how to promote learning and development of their child with ASD.  For more information about the Autism Navigator® How-To Guide for Families, please view this brochure or visit the website:  If you are a parent of a young child who is registered with FSU CARD and would like to request a code to the How-To Guide for Families, please click this link. In addition to the online course, we will be offering the How-To Guided Tour which is a series of weekly online meetings led by FSU CARD and Autism Institute Staff. Caregivers can log in every week with other families and enjoy the guided tour through the online course, discussions about the topics covered, and an opportunity to ask questions. A new How-To Guided Tour will start this spring as soon as we have enough interested families, so be sure to get your FREE code and enroll before the Guided Tour starts! LEARN MORE
Share with CARD!
“CARD is continuously looking for clients who would like to share their art or writing pieces in our quarterly newsletter. If you are interested in sharing your work for our next issue, please send an image electronically to Tammy Dasher ( by February 4, 2019. All pieces should be titled. Select pieces will be chosen for each edition of the newsletter; artists and authors will be notified if their piece is chosen.”
Artists & Autism Series: Inside Out. Outside In: Living on an Infinite Spectrum
– A Personal Account
By: Isiah Taylor
Whether it be singing, coloring, sculpting, or digital. The Inside Out. Outside In: Living on an Infinite Spectrum art show in Pensacola had it all. Nestled amongst the ever present reminders of Spanish Monarch-tinged cityscape was the show at the museum. The artsy place and cosmopolitan jazz a unique departure from the city’s conservative military and Southern culture and is here to offer an intriguing and creative perspective on a group of individuals society still struggles to understand, people with autism. Some of the clients expressed their artistic expression through sculpture, some through print, some through photography while others used more classical mediums of art display such as color pencils and paint. One man even made a 3-D model of what appeared to be a space probe that he said went to Saturn while another man even sang to the audience; passing out business cards of his art to clientele and spectators alike. All in all, a lovely display of art and entertainment from a truly unique set of people.
Health & Nutrition
NUTRITIONAL FACTORS IN AUTISMPresented by: NSU Brain Research and Integrated Nutrition (B.R.A.I.N.) CenterNova Southeastern University on October 19, 2018 
Explore various experts share their knowledge about nutrition and autism spectrum disorder from the Nutritional Factors in Autism Conference in October, 2018. Click on the link below to access all of the conference resources. 

Autism-Friendly Business Initiative

We are excited to offer partnerships through our Autism-Friendly Business initiative. This program was started at USF CARD, and they have graciously shared their information with us to bring this opportunity to the panhandle. The Autism-Friendly Business Initiative aims to increase the number of places families feel welcome in our community and encourage conversation with local businesses about hiring individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Community partners interested in becoming an Autism-Friendly Business will go through an initial interview, receive training for all staff, and follow up assistance from FSU CARD. Upon completion of the training, businesses with receive an Autism-Friendly Business window cling and logo to post on their website. Additionally, these Autism-Friendly Businesses will be listed on the FSU CARD website.

We would like to extend special thanks to our trailblazing pilot businesses: The National Flight Academy (Pensacola, FL), The Satori Foundation (Pensacola, FL), and Paisley Café (Tallahassee, FL).

For more information about how to become a community partner in the Autism-Friendly Business Initiative, please email us at


Special Needs Registry for Emergency Management

The Florida Division of Emergency Management, in coordination with each local emergency management agency in the state, developed a registry to allow residents with special needs to register with their local emergency management agency to receive assistance during a disaster. The registry also allows facilities that provide assistance to individuals with special needs a system to register. The statewide registry provides first responders with valuable information to prepare for disasters or other emergencies. Click here to register >>