Dear Friends,
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and were able to take some time to relax and celebrate with family safely. This year has been filled with so many challenges, I know I am ready to start fresh in 2021. COVID-19 has changed so many things, including the way we serve our constituents. I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, whether you are a client, family member, or professional who we’ve worked with this year. Everyone had to learn how to adapt and find new ways to interact and we at FSU CARD all appreciate your flexibility, kindness, and creativity that helped us shift to the new way of business.
We will continue to operate remotely until we feel it is safe for everyone to start interacting face-to-face again. With the vaccines now in the initial phases of distribution, we are all hopeful that we will be able to slowly shift things back to “normal.” We still have a ways to go, so we will continue marching forward and reaching out virtually.
One great way to take advantage of this virtual outreach is by joining us in our first ever virtual Statewide CARD Conference January 15-17, 2021. Registration is still open and you can find all the information you need below.
Another valuable resource we encourage you to explore is the Autism Navigator® website and the variety of online courses available for families and professionals. This fall, we collaborated with the Autism Navigator team at the FSU Autism Institute to offer the first 6-part companion webinar series to the new Autism Navigator Classroom Success for Pre-K to 2nd Grade course. We have two more webinars in January to finish the series and look forward to repeating it in early 2021.
Despite all of the challenges we’ve faced, we are all reminding each other to celebrate the successes. Please be sure to check out the uplifting stories of success in our Client Corner section.
Thank you again for your collaboration and support during 2020. Here’s to a new start in 2021.
Catherine Zenko, M.S., CCC-SLP
Director, FSU CARD
Our social media accounts are listed below. Please follow us on your preferred social media platform to get the most up-to-date information.
PEPSA 2020-2021- Application Deadline Extended to January 7, 2021!
The Partnership Program is designed to provide training and technical assistance to educators or a school program that aims to enhance the educational program for students 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 a plan for implementing innovative and effective practices within educational programs for students with ASD. The CARD staff partner will provide support, resources, technical assistance, and training that is specific to the needs identified by the educator or school.
2021 CARD Conference
Registration is now open for the 2021 Statewide CARD Conference — held virtually this year on January 15-17, 2021. The CARD Conference is the largest autism-related conference in the state of Florida, linking autism research with autism intervention for professionals, parents, and individuals with autism. With 55 sessions and over 72 presenters, this year’s conference promises something for everyone. The Partnership for Effective Programs for Students with Autism (PEPSA) Pre-Conference Day for Educators is Friday, January 15. There is no charge for this day as the virtual fee is paid through the PEPSA grant. Saturday and Sunday (January 16 and 17) offer a series of keynote presentations and breakout sessions. Some of the internationally recognized keynote speakers include Catherine Lord, Jessica Minahan, Christine Reeve, and Matt Savage. Conference participants will learn about current research findings and their implications, as well as practical strategies related to communication and social interventions, transition to adulthood, early intervention, and school/community inclusion. The cost for the conference is $130 for those wishing to earn Continuing Education Units (CEU’s). CEU’s are available for APA, ASHA, BCBA, and OT in the state of Florida. For those wishing to attend who do not need CEU’s, the cost is $75. Students and adults with ASD can attend all sessions for $45. Please visit the link below for more information about registration, the complete schedule, and presenter biographies. We hope you will join us in January!
If you have any concerns or questions at this time please contact the CARD conference organizer Judee Samuels at [email protected], and she will respond as soon as possible.

Diana McLendon Excellence in Teaching Award
This award is being offered in the memory of Diana McLendon who lost her battle with Leukemia in December 2019. Diana was the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Program Coordinator for the Department of Education, the statewide Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) centers, Partnership for Effective Programs for Students with Autism (PEPSA), and Autism Navigator.
FSU CARD is proud to set up this memorial award to honor our colleague Diana on behalf of all seven CARD centers around the state. We are presenting this award to honor Diana and her passion for students with ASD.
During Diana’s first year of teaching students with autism, she won the prestigious Florida Council of Exceptional Children Dr. Jack R. Lamb Rookie Teacher of the Year award in 2008. The ideal candidate would possess many of the characteristics and qualities that Diana had in her professional career.
Diana was an individual that demonstrated a positive attitude and faced each day with extreme energy. She was highly motivated and approached the ASD world with a kind and genuine heart. Diana approached teaching students with ASD with an open mind and lived by the motto “No child is left behind.” In the classroom you could see her passion and dedication as she interacted and taught her ASD students. Diana was innovative, finding new techniques and strategies to improve teaching in her classroom. As an ASD Program Coordinator, Diana was committed to improving the lives of ASD children throughout  Florida. In her role as liaison she helped manage discretionary projects such as CARD, PEPSA, and Autism Navigator. Diana  p rovided critical technical assistance and worked professionally with many of her statewide ASD contacts and school districts. She had solid leadership qualities that enabled her to work as a team player. Diana considered working as an ASD educator and coordinator a privilege. Her family and colleagues want to continue to honor Diana and live out her legacy.
As an applicant, tell us about yourself and how you feel you best portray similar characteristics that are recognized by Diana McLendon’s family and colleagues as the traits of an excellent teacher.
Requirements for the Award:
Must be an educator teaching in Florida — Any grade level
Must have at least one student with ASD in the 2020-2021 school year
Must have contact with regional CARD center
Upload Curriculum Vita/Resume
Upload two letters of recommendation (professional, family of student)
Application Deadline: October 30, 2020
Winner(s) will be notified by 12/31/2020
Making Connections: A Parents Series for Supporting Your Child with ASD

Week 1 – Where to start with social skills?

Join our weekly online series to learn ways to help your child learn the foundation skills of social skills. During the webinar, you are encouraged to ask questions, share information, celebrate successes and problem solve challenges specific to your particular situation, to the extent you are comfortable.

WHEN: Every Thursday in October; Beginning October 1st @11:00AM – 12:00PM CST/12:00PM – 1:00AM EST

WHERE: Will be held online via Zoom; Invitation will be provided after registration is complete.

Please register by clicking HERE<<<

Coping with COVID-19 While on the Spectrum

FSU Center for Autism and Related Disabilities is partnering with the LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library System to provide a webinar on how COVID-19 affects families that have an individual on the autism spectrum and how to support them and help maintain their physical and mental health.

Topics will include how to reduce behavior challenges related to hygiene and PPE usage, talking about the pandemic, supporting pandemic-related educational challenges, and how to access available resources, including those offered by FSU CARD.

When: Thursday, October 1, 2020 @ 6pm EST/ 5pm CST

To join the webinar: 

Facebook Event Page: 

***Posting on behalf of FSU College of Education***

Free Virtual Tutoring for Students with ASD
Students in FSU’s special education program, under the direction of Dr. Mary Frances Hanline and special education doctoral students, are offering academic and/or enrichment support to students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Families will be assigned to tutors as available to tutors on a first-come, first-served basis.

Register for two 20-30 minute weekly sessions at

Family Responsibilities:
  • Provide basic Wi-Fi connection with ability to access Zoom
  • Complete consent form and agree to have you child’s tutoring videoed for supervision purposes
  • Collaborate with assigned tutor to determine tutoring schedule and focus
  • Share appropriate school materials and information with tutor when applicable
  • Provide a quiet spot for child to receive tutoring with parent/guardian available if needed
  • Be available to communicate with tutor’s FSU supervisor if needed
If you have any questions please contact Dr. Mary Frances Hanline at [email protected]
 ***Posting on behalf of The LeRoy Collins Leon County Public Library System***
Virtual Sensory Storytime 
Join us for an inclusive and interactive storytime filled with songs, stories and fun! Children of all abilities are welcome, especially those with autism or sensory integration issues.
Once you have registered, a Zoom link will automatically be sent to you. You only need to register once for all future meetings.

***Posting on behalf of FSU Multidisciplinary Center***

Virtual Social Skills Group for Teens
 PEERS (Program for the Education and Enrichment of Relational Skills) is a 14-session evidence-based social skills intervention for motivated teens who are interested in learning ways to help them make and keep friends. 

This intervention focuses on skills related to making and keeping friends, handling arguments, and managing difficult situations. Parents attend separate Lunch & Learn meetings (at no charge) the day before their teen’s meeting and are pre-taught the lesson for the teen group so that they can assist their teens in making and keeping friends by helping to expand their teen’s social network and providing feedback through coaching during socialization homework assignments. 

The participation fee is $25 per session for each teen enrolled. Enrollment is limited. Parent attendance at the weekly parent meeting is REQUIRED.
Participants must participate in an interview process prior to actual enrollment in the group. 
Please register to participate in this interview at

If you have any questions please contact Dr. Amber Farrington at [email protected] or 850-644-2222

***Posting of behalf of Arts for All Florida***

Forty 4 Forty: A Celebration of Art4All Florida
To honor its 40th anniversary, Arts4All Florida will select 40 works of art on paper for this juried exhibition that will be held at the Florida Capitol 22nd Floor Gallery. 
Theme: Celebration
We invite Florida artists of all abilities to submit works that reflect the theme of celebration – a celebration of the joy of art, personal accomplishment, professional achievement, or a celebration of perseverance during challenging times.
Medium: Paper 
A primary medium for art, paper is universal and accessible. Its simplicity taps creativity for painting, drawing, photography, collage, and calligraphy.
Awards: 1st Place – $500 2nd Place – $250 3rd Place – $100 
We will accept up to three submissions per artist. Each submission must be accompanied by an artist’s statement that describes how the artist works, what the work means, and any other information that will help the viewer interpret the work. All artwork must be flat and 11″ x 14″ in size.
Arts4All Florida will mat and frame selected works in 16″ x 20″ black modern gallery frames.
Artists are responsible for shipping their art, however, Arts4All Florida will reimburse selected artists up to $20. Artwork shipped to us by mailing tube will be return shipped to the artist, paid for by Arts4All Florida (frames not included). Shipping information will be provided to selected artists.
For specific access information, accommodation requests, and alternative formats, please contact Jennifer Sabo at [email protected].

Summer Trainings
By: Cindy Collier
The Summer of 2020 was a busy one! The Centers for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) around the state of Florida, working with PEPSA (Partnership for Effective Programs for Students with Autism) had the pleasure of being involved with several wonderful trainings this summer. Taking advantage of our new reality in terms of social distancing, these trainings were exclusively virtual. This afforded more people with the opportunity of attending and gaining instruction in several different areas. The topics of these trainings included Executive Functioning, Differentiated Instruction and Inclusion, and Setting up a Classroom using Evidenced-Based Practices.
Here is a summary of three of those trainings:
Practical Interventions for Improving Executive Functioning Skills in ASD 
Presenter: Sarah Ward, M.S., CCC-SLP 
Hosted by: UM-NSU CARD
Sarah Ward M.S., CCC/SLP is the co-director of the Cognitive Connections Resource Center and has over 25 years of experience in diagnostic evaluations and treatment of executive dysfunction. She is an internationally recognized expert on executive function.


During the multiple day training, participants learned how to clearly define what the executive function skills are, how they develop, and what is meant by the term “executive dysfunction.” Sarah also discussed how to create effective interventions for executive functioning by incorporating dozens of functional, ready-to-use strategies. These strategies are aimed at teaching students to devise plans to achieve their goal, to use self-talk, to self-initiate, to transition to the next task of higher priority, to control their impulses and emotions, and to successfully self-regulate to complete a task.


You can visit Sarah Ward’s website for additional information and resources at: 


In July, as part of PEPSA’s Autism Summer Institute 2020, Paula Kluth held a two-part training.


Presenter: Paula Kluth, Ph.D. 
Hosted by: PEPSA Autism Summer Institute 2020
The topics covered were:
  • Don’t We Already Do Inclusion?
  • From Text Maps to Memory Caps: Differentiating Instruction in K-12 Classrooms
  • Dwelling in Possibility: The Values, Beliefs, & Habits of Inclusive Schools
  • The Problem with Behavior Problems: Supporting Students with Autism & Other Disabilities
Dr. Paula Kluth is a consultant, author, advocate, and independent scholar who works with teachers and families to provide inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities and to create more responsive and engaging schooling experiences for all learners. Paula is a former special educator who has served as a classroom teacher and inclusion facilitator. She is the author or co-author of more than 15 books and products.


Dr. Kluth’s training included information on:


  • How to make interactive classroom materials that engage a variety of learners
  • Ways to adapt the classroom for a variety of learners
For additional information about Dr. Kluth’s training and resources visit: 
In July Dr. Christine Reeve also presented a wonderful training:
Setting Up the Classroom to Support Evidenced-Based Practices for Students with ASD
Presented by: Christine Reeve, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Hosted by: FAU CARD
Christine Reeve, Ph.D., BCBA-D provides consultation and professional development to school systems to support students with autism spectrum disorder and related disabilities and is the author of several different educational materials and resources.
This workshop focused on the systems that must be set up in a classroom in order to facilitate the implementation of evidence-based instructional strategies. Christine discussed classroom organization, engagement, and instruction. Topics included: instructional planning for each student, setting up the schedule, designing the physical environment, and organizing the staff. During the training Dr. Reeve also reviewed tools and strategies for initial classroom set-up.
For more information about Dr. Reeve and the resources that she offers, visit:

Tips to Stay Organized and Create Independence

By: Debi Cassidy
Starting the school year off on the right foot is very important.  We know that our kids are systematic thinkers and that is why routine, structure, schedules, and lists are proven strategies that are effective in their daily lives.   We all want our kids to be independent and this can begin at a very young age.  If you implement and follow systems in your home or classroom, this will increase your child’s independence and make everyone’s life better.
Here are some ideas that may be helpful for you.
Use a visual support to provide instructions to your child.  You may need to use pictures to ensure comprehension.
Odd/Even Day Schedule at school:  On the days your child doesn’t have a class they keep their books in their basket.  Before switching the books out for the next day, they complete their homework.   This keeps them from putting homework off and allows them to be prepared for the next day. They also have a folder with all of the teachers’ notes/policies for the year in their basket so they can check that if needed.

Baskets or bins can be great organizational tools.

Law Enforcement Trainings

By: Allison Leatzow

At one time or another, we all need the assistance of law enforcement to help us in a time of need. Sometimes this need involves someone who may be on the autism spectrum.

For the past three years, FSU CARD has been partnering with the Florida Sheriff’s Association to provide autism education to law enforcement as a part of their Crisis Intervention Training (CIT).

During CIT week, law enforcement spends a total of 40 hours learning about various local and state health and human service agencies and the populations they serve. More importantly, during this time, they learn about how to adapt their responses to these specific populations to better serve, support, and protect them and the community. During the autism segment, officers learn about all the characteristics of ASD, communication strategies, de-escalation techniques, and other precautions. This is demonstrated through viewing multiple videos, participating in hands-on activities, and relaying details of actual incidents where law enforcement has assisted someone with ASD. Another important aspect covered is what to do if someone with ASD were to go missing due to elopement or wandering. Highlighted are cases of those who’ve wandered who either had an unsuccessful outcome versus a successful outcome and how to increase the odds that the individual is found safe.

If anyone involved in law enforcement is interested in learning more about this training, please reach out to FSU CARD via our online training request form and we will be happy to discuss how we can help!

Hyperlink to our Training request form:

Taylor Fabrega’s Farewell Letter

By: Taylor Fabrega

Dear friends,

It has been an absolute honor and privilege to serve my community through the esteemed Autism Institute in the College of Medicine. This decision is bittersweet as I am following my dream to move to New England for new opportunities and personal growth but will deeply miss the people that have made this work so fulfilling.

My hometown of Tallahassee and alma mater of Florida State University will always hold a special place in my heart. I would like to thank each and every member of the organization, including clients and collaborators, that have had such a profound impact on my life and career path. There were many lessons learned in addition to the true comradery I have been lucky to share throughout my time in this role.

It’s hard to believe that the middle school clients I first took on when beginning this job are now adults, with many now looking for their own jobs or starting school! I look forward to receiving updates from my soon-to-be former colleagues and “seeing” everyone at the annual CARD Conference online in January.

With immense gratitude,
Taylor Fabrega
Autism Consultant

Autism Navigator
Free access to the Autism Navigator® How-To Guide for Families

FSU CARD is pleased to continue to offer free access to our CARD families with young children not yet old enough to enroll in kindergarten to the online Autism Navigator®  How-To Guide for Families course. This self-paced course will teach caregivers how to use strategies and supports in their everyday activities as well as provide them with access to a variety of “tools” to chart their child’s developmental growth and monitor meaningful outcomes.  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 visit their  website .  If you are a parent of a young child 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, parents that enrolled in the How-To Guide for Families, will be invited to join a weekly meetup (a Guided Tour) where parents will have the opportunity interact with other families with similar issues from the convenience of their computer, phone or tablet.  We hope to start the next CARD facilitated How-To Guided Tour as soon as 10 to 12 families express an interest in getting one started.

Learn More >>

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 article below for more information. HERE →

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 Tammy Dasher ([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.

Health & Nutrition

Emotional Eating in the Time of Coronavirus

Taken from the article: “The anxiety and worry about coronavirus can trigger eating. The public health restrictions limiting social contact could have the unintended consequence of increasing emotional eating. Typically, when you’re at work the opportunities to snack are limited but if you’re working from home the goodies in the refrigerator or pantry are only a few steps away. A two-pronged approach would help to minimize emotional eating. This entails reducing emotional distress and altering the environment to reduce the opportunities to snack.” in-the-time-coronavirus

Comments are closed.

Close Search Window