Happy fall– well at least the calendar says fall but the weather is not cooperating. We hope you all had a nice summer break and good start to the school year. We’ve been very busy at FSU CARD during this first quarter of the 2019-2020 fiscal year, and we’re just getting started. Be sure to get your calendars out while you read the newsletter so you can mark down all of the trainings and events listed in this edition of our quarterly newsletter. We switched to a quarterly newsletter back in 2016 in an attempt to manage the workload among our limited staff. Because of this change, we have increased our posts on social media and added social media platforms to get our information out to our clients, families, and community in a timely fashion. Our social media accounts are listed below. Please follow us on your preferred social media platform to get the most up-to-date information.
The table of contents of this newsletter is bursting with information about upcoming trainings, events, articles by CARD consultants from all three of our offices, and a unique article featuring the success of one of our adult clients. Several of the upcoming training events will be offered online via the Zoom® platform in an effort to increase participation by reducing the barriers involved with traveling. A few of the trainings/events are happening in the next two weeks, so don’t miss out.
The 2020 CARD Conference is just around the corner and we are excited to be able to offer a limited number of scholarships this year. The application is included in the article and it is a very quick turnaround, so please fill it out if you would like to be considered.
Our 3rd Annual Touch-A-Truck is Saturday, October 12th here in Tallahassee. Last year we had over 400 people attend, and we hope to have even more this year. There is still have room for a few more vehicles and sponsors. If you are interested, please email: email@example.com and ask for a sponsorship packet.
If you are looking for a sensory-friendly alternative on Halloween, please read the article about The Magic of Kevin Spencer. He will be appearing as part of FSU Opening Nights series and will be doing a sensory-friendly show on October 31st in Tallahassee.
I don’t have room to highlight all of the wonderful articles in this newsletter, but I hope you will take the time to read about all of the exciting things happening with FSU CARD. As always, I encourage you to reach out to me and share your experiences, comments, or concerns at any time. We value the feedback we receive and do our best to translate this feedback into improved service.
Don’t miss our 3rd annual Touch-A-Truck sponsored by FSU Card and the FSU Autism Institute. This family-friendly event is for children and adults of all ages. Come get up close and personal with larger-than-life trucks, heavy construction and public safety equipment, cool cars, and specialty vehicles.
WHERE: Edgewater Office Park, 2312 Killearn Center Blvd, Tallahassee, FL
FSU CARD has a limited number of scholarship to award for the CARD Conference in Orlando, FL, on January 17-19, 2020. All scholarships will be in the form of reimbursement for expenses, up to $500. Recipients must submit receipts upon return from the conference. To apply, visit https://app.smartsheet.com/b/form/4e40ad0ad5a1497b8cf2b4aee600197a
APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR SCHOLARSHIP: Monday, October 7, 2019 at 11:59pm.
The 27th Statewide Annual CARD Autism Conference will be on January 18-20, 2020 at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando, Florida.
Parents/Guardians of teens with autism ages 13-17 — We have a few scholarships left for our 1-day Adventures at the National Flight Academy located at NAS Pensacola. Please consider having your teen join us for a day spent learning about flight and planning missions, team building, and, of course, flying in the simulators.
Our 1-day Adventures can accommodate a wide range of abilities! Here are some of the highlights –
– small groups (only 12 teens total) – specially trained and experienced staff – registered nurse present all day – sensory considerations – lunch is provided
The scholarships cover the cost of attending. Travel costs are the responsibility of the family. Preference will go to those who have not attended the National Flight Academy and teens from out of state!
Coffee Talk: Strategies to help women with ASD crush their goals
Emerging research shows women with ASD navigate the social world differently than their male counterparts. Please join us for monthly discussions on how to build strategies for handling social situations. This training will also focus on managing anxiety and improving organization. Coffee Talk will be for adult women who are registered FSU CARD clients.
WHERE: Black Dog on the Square, 567 Industrial Drive, Tallahassee, FL 32310
WHEN: Second Thursday of each month; starting on 10/10/19 @11AM – 12PM
Consider joining our monthly online training series to learn more about key components of quality classroom. This series will last 7 months and will utilize the ‘flipped classroom’ model where participants watch the recorded information sessions before attending the monthly webinar. There will be a CARD Consultant to facilitate each webinar and encourage the attendees to ask questions, share information, and learn from colleagues across the panhandle.
Session #2: Evidence-Based Teaching Tools
WHERE: The trainings will be available via a ZOOM Webinar on the internet
WHEN: 10/15/19 @4-5PM EST/3-4PM CST; Webinars will take place every 3rd Tuesday of each month
Caring for the Caregiver: Keeping Your Pitcher Full – Parent Potluck
Parenting a child with special needs can be a beautifully challenging experience. As caregivers, findings ways to “keep your pitcher full” can seem like an impossible task. FSU CARD – Pensacola invites parents and caregivers to join us for a fun potluck dinner with Dr. Debbie Goldberg, Training Specialist for the Empowerment Power Resource Center, to learn and discuss essential strategies for caring for yourselves as caregivers. Participants are asked to bring a favorite potluck dish or dessert to share!
We will be partnering with FSU’s School of Communication Science and Disorders in offering a five-week training series for college-bound high school seniors and college students. The class will focus on executive functioning, social competence, and other necessary skills to be successful in an academic setting. Each participant will be paired with a social coach for the duration of the series.
FSU Opening Nights Presents: The Magic of Kevin Spencer
A Sensory-Friendly, Relaxed Family Performance
Join FSU Opening Nights on Halloween for a relaxed, sensory-friendly evening of family festivities designed for children of all ages and abilities.
The Magic of Kevin Spencer features the extraordinary magician in a fun-filled show that combines storytelling, stage magic and audience participation. The show is appropriate for children with autism or with other developmental or intellectual disabilities that create sensory sensitivities. Be entertained by baffling magic in a relaxed, judgment-free environment.
Kevin Spencer has earned accolades spanning an impressive 25-year career including 2009 International Magician of the Year, the 2015 Milbourne Christopher Award honoree for advancing the art of magic, and is a six-time recipient of Performing Arts Entertainer of the Year.
WHERE: Opperman Music Hall; Kuersteiner Music Bldg, 32301, 114 N Copeland St, Tallahassee, FL 32304
“The fact that aerobic exercise works immediately to fend off the state of anxiety has been well established for many, many years.”
~John J. Ratey, MD, in Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
We know that exercise is good for us. Huge amounts of research have been conducted on the way physical exercise improves our capacity to learn, remember, and retain information. Research also shows that exercise can reduce stress and anxiety. For people with ASD, finding healthy ways to combat stress and anxiety can make a significant impact on their lives.
In Dr. Ratey’s 2008 book, Spark, he outlines the reasons exercise can have an impact on reducing anxiety:
Exercise provides a distraction.
Exercise reduces muscle tension.
Exercise builds brain resources-releasing the body’s natural “feel-good” hormones.
Exercise teaches a different outcome-it mimics the feelings of an anxiety attack (elevated heart rate and shortness of breath) but allows those feelings to be associated with something positive rather than negative.
Exercise reroutes circuits in the nervous system, sending information to the brain through a new pattern, breaking the trap of waiting and worrying.
Exercise improves resilience-teaching the body that you CAN do something for yourself.
Exercise sets you free. Those who suffer from anxiety tend to immobilize themselves and hide from the world. The opposite of that is getting outside and taking action.
Dr. Tony Attwood, a well-known author and researcher in the field of autism, recommends those on the spectrum work up to participating in 30 minutes of exercise 3-4 times per week. Exercising outside is preferable to indoors, but treadmills are a good place to start. The important thing to remember is that if you are not used to exercising, you need to start slowly and work up to longer increments of time. Many people enjoy walking their dogs, which can be a great motivator to get out of the house and take a walk.
CARD clients ages 16+ are welcome to join us for our Walk It Out training series in Cascades Park every Thursday afternoon. Please see the accompanying flyer for details and email Tammy at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
We were pleased to partner and support Okaloosa County this July with their annual ESE Summer Institute. Ninety-four teachers and paraprofessionals participated in this training covering Trauma Informed Care, as well as Key Components to Create Quality Classrooms. One highlight of the training was the expo that gave teachers the opportunity to see components from quality classrooms and gain more insight on how to implement them into their own classrooms.
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-pace 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 meet up (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
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 (email@example.com) 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.”
Client Feature: Michael Tribble
By: Allison Leatzow
I’m taking a little trip down memory lane back to 2007 and have this fond memory of Michael walking into my office for our first meeting. We started to talk right away about his recent Asperger’s diagnosis and all the signs that were present in his life that had either gone unnoticed or brushed aside. He recounts a story from when he was in elementary school where his teacher tells the class, “I need everyone to put on their thinking caps.” Michael thinks for a moment, gets up, and begins to walk over to his cubby. The teacher says, “Michael, sit down.” He sits down. “Now, Michael, put on your thinking cap.” Michael gets up again to head to his cubby and this routine with his teacher goes on a couple more times. His teacher asks him why he keeps getting up every time she tells him to sit back down and put on his thinking cap. He responded he had a baseball cap in his backpack and thought that must be the “thinking cap” the teacher kept referencing!
Fast forward many, many years later and Michael is an accomplished college graduate, successfully employed, a proud homeowner, happily married, and a new father. The statistics for those with an autism spectrum disorder will tell you that Michael was more than likely to not achieve any of these outcomes, let alone all five of them! “What’s his secret?” you may ask. Michael will tell you that he challenged himself to step outside his comfort zone. The more something seemed difficult or anxiety-inducing to him, the more he realized he needed to do it.
I posed several questions to Michael for this article. As usual, he didn’t disappoint in the responses he gave!
Tell me about your transformation after your diagnosis.
Michael: I learned where my significant weak points were in communication and social interaction, areas that had puzzled and eluded me for so long. It was time to make up for lost time and become the person that I always wanted to become. What followed were years of acquiring missing communication, social knowledge, breaking out of a lot of comfort zones, and doing activities that no one would ever expect an “Aspy” to be doing. I began learning ballroom dancing, read countless self-help communication and social technique books, and joined a public speaking organization. I even took a part-time job as a distributor/salesman for an energy drink company – that’s right, an Aspy working as a SALESMAN. I pushed myself further, broke out of more comfort zones, and mastered areas that I never imagined I could. The Michael many knew as the weirdo and the outcast is no more. In his placed has a emerged a reconstructed, new-and-improved, potential-filled individual. Now I’m ready to go out and become the person that I always wanted to be, because there’s nothing in this neurotypical dominated world that can stop me.
What do you like to do for fun and how has it benefitted you?
Michael: Maybe you play softball, maybe you go rollerblading, maybe you build model ships, or maybe you collect stamps (especially since the post office may not be around much longer anyway). Me? I have a hobby, I have a pastime, a recreational activity. It’s great exercise and it makes me feel alive. By day, I am a computer programmer; but by night (well most nights), I’m a ballroom dancer.
**MASTER OF THE KEYBOARD
**MASTER OF THE DANCE FLOOR!
**I…..AM A BALLROOM DANCER!
That’s right, I’m a computer programmer, and I ballroom dance – go figure. For the past several years now, I have been a ballroom dancer and I tell you it has completely changed my life ever since I went to my first-class years ago and got addicted to it. It’s not like I had a background in dance. Before that first class, I had never danced in my life. Except maybe during the senior prom, but I don’t think that really counts. Ballroom dancing has done so much for me. It’s given me confidence, poise, gracefulness. It’s improved my agility, flexibility, balance, and coordination. It’s done wonders for my social skills, my communication skills, and my attitude. My mom has told me that I’m like a completely different person when I dance (in a good way). Through dancing, I have pushed myself further, broken out of more comfort zones, and mastered areas that I never imagined I could. Ballroom dancing is something that I can’t recommend enough to anyone on the spectrum, especially guys. Guys, in case you aren’t already aware of this…WOMEN LOVE IT!! Women love ballroom dancing and they love a guy who knows how to dance – TRUST ME! Think about it, how many guys do you think can say that they can dance? How many neuro-typical men can say that? It’s amazing how quickly after you start learning how to dance that you get to a point where not only are you comfortable dancing but you can ask a woman to dance without even the slightest hesitation.
The fundamentals of each ballroom dance are very structured. No matter how advanced each dance gets, it always follows a basic pattern. That basic pattern works like the starting point or the foundation of a house. It’s like playing with Legos. Once you figure out how the pieces fit together, you can just let your creativity take over from there.
So, everyone, especially guys, what are you waiting for?
Break out of your comfort zone!
Step out on to that dance floor!
And show everyone what you’re made of!
Before you know it, you’ll see a side of you that you never even knew existed, and you’ll never want to go back!
Not only does Michael ballroom dance, but he joined Toastmasters to help him with his speech, communication, and socialization skills. He didn’t stop there. The next challenge was yoga! Being a technically-minded and structured thinker, yoga felt like a very foreign activity to him. All the more reason he decided he had to give it a try.
As fun and inspiring as all this has been, his greatest life changing accomplishment has been his beautiful family. He got married March of 2016 and he and his new wife settled into their home he had purchased the year before. He told me that when he and his wife first started dating, she didn’t know anything about Asperger’s. She quickly got a crash course from him and has never looked back. In fact, she has told him that if he magically became neurotypical, he’d probably be very boring. She fell in love with Michael and his autism and can’t have one without the other as it adds spice to their relationship.
Michael has been an inspiration to several CARD clients over the years. He has participated in many social skills groups, job readiness training, participated in our Artists and Autism Series, and other various CARD sponsored events. He has served as a mentor to several clients over the years and is interested in coming back to CARD in a mentor capacity.
Michael would love for you to take away from this that although you may have an autism diagnosis, you don’t have to be one of the statistics. Challenge yourself or, at the very least, dance!