Dear Friends,
I hope you are all staying safe and dry as we all monitor the impact of Hurricane Ian. In case you did not receive the email we sent out Tuesday filled with hurricane resources, you can view it here. If you didn’t receive the email, please check your spam folder to make sure it did not land there. Take a look at the resources and make sure you and your family are prepared if/when a hurricane comes your way. We are so thankful to have community partners across the state providing resources and involving us in their planning meetings.   
We have a lot to share with you in our fall newsletter, starting with some staff changes. We had to say goodbye to Dr. Cindy Collier who is now enjoying her retirement and we welcomed Ms. Tisha Melton who joined our team in August. Tish will be working mainly with the counties covered by our Pensacola office and will be providing guidance to our entire team on issues surrounding behavior analysis.
This month, we are launching our very own Overdrive Digital Library, giving our clients, their families, and the professionals in our area the ability to check out digital copies of books from our FSU CARD collection. This is new to us so please be patient as we work out the details. We are looking forward to using this new technology to share resources with stakeholders in all 18 counties in our catchement area.
We have several training opportunities coming up that we’ve added to the new Professional Points section of the newsletter. Don’t miss your chance to sign up for these events. Audra Burch put together articles in our Consultants Column section with useful information about communication and executive function. Finally, we have information in our Client Corner from ABLE United about financial resources for families, links on how to request CARD services, a lovely Client Spotlight featuring Michael Caruso, and a nutrition article about how to teach your child to pack healthy lunches.
We hope you enjoy the information in this newsletter.  We are always looking for ideas to share and clients to highlight in our Client Spotlight feature, so please reach out if you have ideas.
Sending all of you well wishes for a fruitful fall and keeping our fellow Floridians in our thoughts as they brace for impact of Hurricane Ian and its aftermath.


Farewell from Cindy Collier

By: Cindy Collier

I want to thank the staff at CARD, the parents of my CARD clients, the adult clients, and the community who have served with me for making the last eight years a blessing. This begins my 40th year in education, and I have had the opportunity to serve students with challenges in many different roles. The students and their families have made it all worthwhile.

I’m going to try for the second time to retire and hope not to fail miserably as I did before. There are several other things that I hope to do and accomplish in the next season of my life. I enjoy writing, speaking, and teaching and hope to continue doing that on a personal level, with a little gardening and traveling thrown in to keep me busy.

Thank you for always supporting our CARD staff as we, now they, work hard to support our clients. As we all know – it takes a village, and I have been blessed to have been a part of this one.

Introducing Our Newest Consultant: Tisha Melton

By: Tisha Melton

I have been privileged to serve young people and their families for over 20 years in roles which include juvenile justice case manager, teacher, and behavior interventionist.  Before coming to CARD, I served as the lead behavior analyst for Okaloosa County School District.

I am an alumni of the University of West Florida where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Masters of Arts in Exceptional Student Education with a focus on applied behavior analysis. I am also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

My areas of interest include trauma informed behavior analysis, supporting disabled students in the juvenile justice system, and assisting educators with identifying and removing barriers to IDEA/IEP compliance. 

New Overdrive Library

FSU CARD is proud to present our brand-new Overdrive lending library.

We have curated a diverse collection of books about autism spectrum disorder and related topics, and to make it more convenient for all of our clients, have made them available online.

We encourage our clients to take a look at the collection.

Happy Reading!

Seatbelt Covers Available

Thanks to our partnership with Leon County Sheriff’s Office, we have seat belt covers for individuals with autism.

Requests from Leon county residents with autism will be given priority.

Professional Points

Autism Navigator Classroom Success for PreK to 2nd Grade Fall Webinar Series

Register today for the 6-week fall series for educators. Starts Wednesday, October 26th!

Join us for this free, 6-week webinar series from our colleagues at Autism Navigator. This series is for regular education and special education teachers, district-level personnel, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, early interventionists, psychologists, behavior specialists, social workers, paraprofessionals, college students, and anyone else interested in learning about students with autism.

Participants will learn about an evidence-based framework to prioritize goals using a lens of active engagement and a layer cake of teaching strategies to promote learning and positive behavior.

PEPSA Accepting Applications

The Partnership for Effective Programs for Students with Autism (PEPSA) is designed to provide training and technical assistance to educators or a school program that aims to enhance the educational profram for stuidents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Each educator or school will be matched to a Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) professional who will mentor the educator or school staff in developing aplan for implementing innovative and effective practices within educational programs for students with ASD. The CARD staff partner will provide support, resources, techincal assistance, and training that is specific to the needs identified by the educator or school.

Application Deadline: Last Friday in September, but there may be applications accepted afterwards if spots are still available.

Transition Conference Hosted by FSU and FAU CARD

We are excited to partner with our colleagues at the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at Florida Atlantic University to bring in Dr. Amie Duncan for Transition Conference 2022. This pre-recorded session is available for FREE the entire month of November. All you have to do is register. This presentation will focus on how to target daily living skills (e.g., cooking, laundry, hygiene, cleaning, money management, waking up) in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using a range of evidence-based strategies at home, school, and in the community.


Seth Perler Videos

By: Audra Burch

You don’t want to miss these two videos with tips on how to make your student’s school year more organized and successful. Seth Perler, Executive Function/ADHD/2e Coach, at shares strategies that aim to smooth out what can be a hectic process.

“DAY 3: Help Students do PLANNERS with 1 core strategy (executive function)”
Click to view video

Click to view video

Communication Corner

By: Audra Burch
  • Tips For Promoting Successful Interactions
    • As we start another school year, it’s a good time to think about how to promote effective interactions with children on the autism spectrum. Consider sharing these tips with your child’s teachers as a helpful reminder and a way to open the door to communication!We know people with autism can have difficulty with social and communicative interactions. Some possible areas of difference may include:
      • Trouble making eye contact
      • Discussing favorite topics thoroughly and often
      • Difficulty with nonverbal communication such as reading facial expressions and body language
      • Difficulty understanding expressions and instead taking them literall
      • Exceptional notice of ordinary sounds, tastes, touches, smells, and sights which could range from soothing to physically painful
  • Try these tips to promote successful interactions:
    • Be patient: It can take a child with autism longer to process information especially in a busy environment. You may need to slow down your conversation, repeat, and increase your wait time for them to respond.
    • Cue and redirect: Watch for difficulty with nonverbal communication and literal interpretations. Cue the student to help them understand. If they’re stuck on a topic, redirect them positively.
    • Keep it positive: Children with autism, like most all children, respond best to positive reinforcement. Talk about or reward good behavior often.
    • Be persistent, yet resilient: Stay calm if the child does not respond to you as you expect. Kids with autism can be blunt in their responses, but don’t take this personally.
    • Believe: A child with autism is first and foremost a child. They are growing day by day with unknown possibilities. Believe in what they can do. Don’t define by a diagnosis.
    • It can be challenging to interact with a child with autism, however it’s one of the most important things you can do to help learning. Research shows that early, frequent, and positive involvement of others is one of the best ways to help children on the autism spectrum.

Adapted from: Ballas, Paul MD; Watson, L Renee MSN RN; Fraser, Marianne MSN RN. “Interacting with a Child Who Has Autism Spectrum Disorder.” University of Rochester Medical Center, 25 Aug. 2022,

Client Corner

ABLE United Program

This quarter we are happy to spotlight the ABLE United Program, which allows individuals and families with disabilities to save money and plan out their financial future.

Please see the Quick Start Guide below to learn more about this program. If you have questions or want to be connected to the program, contact ABLE United and they will be happy to assist you.

Client Spotlight: Michael Caruso

Hi. My name is Michael but I like to be called Mick. I am 25 years old and just moved to Florida from Connecticut last year. Right now, I live with my parents. My aunt and uncle live close by. I was diagnosed with Aspergers when I was 13. It’s been a struggle to learn about people around me and the messages their facial expressions are telling me. I’ve been through 3 years of college and at some point, will finish my bachelor’s degree in Communications or Creative Writing. I am a collector of movies, mainly horror movies but I also collect Disney and a few other genres as well.

My main focus is writing. I love spinning a story and seeing how my characters emerge. Will they really turn out to be how I imagined them before my pen went to the paper? It’s amazing how fictional characters take on a human form as the story progresses. I would also like to wade in the pool of producing my books into movies and possibly trying my hand at acting in those movies. I can finally, confidently, say that I am a writer and my mom, auntie and I are working on getting my first book, Summer of Horrors, ready for self-publishing. It’s been a few years in the making but I’m finally down to the final edits and hope to have the book available in a month or two. Here’s a teaser from the book:

“A local, hopeful man spent his entire life savings on the camp, buying it from the bank and sinking every last dime he had into restoring the cabins and grounds back to the light of its heyday. He, along with his niece, worked their fingers to the bone. They painted, they mowed, they cleaned until they could clean no more. But even their hope and hard work couldn’t save them from the return of the blood and carnage that befell the camp all those years ago.

Aiden Perry returned to his once beloved camp, once his happy place, and resumed his heinous acts of violence. He no longer saw the grounds as a haven for outsiders like he once was. He saw it completely different now. He refused to let anyone remind him of his past. He had a much, much darker reason for returning. This time, he had his sights set on a young girl. This girl was the key to Aiden finally getting his revenge, the key to his true calling.”

A word of comfort: Don’t give up on dreams. Just work at making them come true.

How do I Request Assistance from FSU CARD?
Visit the FAQs Section on our website or
click on the buttons below.

Baby Navigator

Baby Navigator Website

The Executive Director of FSU CARD and Director of the College of Medicine’s Autism Institute, Dr. Amy Wetherby, launched a new website,, that walks parents through early childhood development and alerts them to early signs of autism. 

Click on the button below for more information.

Health & Nutrition

Nutrition Spring 2022

Packing a Healthy Lunchbox

By: Harvard School of Public Health
Whether you prefer school lunch or taking your food into your own hands, it’s great to have a plan when thinking about how to put together a nutritious lunch. In addition, as our kids get older, packing their own lunch is a great way to work on planning out a meal and making good food choices. This article provides some great guidelines for how to do that.

Share with CARD

FSU CARD is continuously looking for clients who would like to share their art, writing pieces, or success stories in our quarterly newsletter. If you are interested in sharing for our next issue, please send a message and image electronically to FSU CARD ([email protected]). All art or writing pieces should be titled. Select submissions will be chosen for each edition of the newsletter; artists and authors will be notified if their article is chosen.

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