by Shantigra “Shae” Williams, MS, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern Clinical Support Administrator/ AMC Project Leader/ FAU Consultant
1 in 59 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and this rate has been increasing due to various reasons. The University of Miami Psychology Department is a world leader in Autism research and support, marshalling the forces of scientists and clinicians to develop the latest knowledge about Autism and implement cutting edge programming to support children and adults with autism and related disabilities as well as the professionals who serve them. Nearly 12,000 South Florida families receive support from our clinics and resource centers every year.
What is CARD?
CARD stands for the Center for Autism & Related Disabilities. Our center, UM-NSU CARD, is based at the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University is part of a network of state-funded, university-based outreach and support centers in Florida. UM-NSU CARD’s constituency has grown from 88 families in 1993 to nearly 12,000 families today in Monroe, Miami-Dade & Broward counties.
The NSU CARD Satellite serves residents, schools, and other agencies in Broward county at their main offices in Davie and in a branch office in Miramar. Currently, over 5,400 Broward families affected by autism are registered with CARD and eligible for an array of services.
UM-NSU CARD services are designed to build on the capacities of state and local resources, not to duplicate them. CARD provides interested stakeholders with supports specific to their needs, including:
• Individualized client and family case management assistance
• Training for families and professionals
• Public education, awareness, and community outreach; and,
• Consultation and technical assistance to schools, municipalities, businesses, and other agencies.
What is the cost of UM-NSU CARD services?
All UM-NSU CARD services are free.
Whom does CARD serve?
All CARD centers work to optimize the potential of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), dual sensory impairment, sensory impairments with other disabling conditions, and related disabilities (e.g., Fragile X Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome). In addition, CARD serves children under 5 with developmental delays and autistic-like behaviors, and individuals of any age with deaf-blindness. While CARD is required to obtain documentation of an eligible diagnosis for an individual to be assigned a case manager, we can guide individuals and families in their efforts to obtain appropriate diagnostic evaluations.
What do families or people with ASD need to do?
Individuals or families must officially register with UM-NSU CARD to receive our services. This requires completing a brief online registration form. If you are not yet registered or not sure if you are registered, just give us a call at 954-262- 7111 and we will be happy to sort that out for you. Once registered, you may access our support groups, trainings, & events. If you need a case manage one may be assigned at your request provided your family meets the eligible documentation requirement for this service.
How often can families contact UM-NSU CARD?
You can call us as often as you need. We only have a small staff to serve 3 counties in South Florida, so we may not always be immediately available, but we will get back to you as soon as possible. Individuals or families may call us whenever they need support, information or to share something (we especially love to hear your success stories!). Schools or other organizations that serve individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or related disabilities may also call us when they need training, information, or consultation and assistance. All services are provided at no cost.
Can my child be diagnosed at UM-NSU CARD?
No, we are not able to perform diagnostic evaluations, but we will help families find a qualified professional if they are seeking a diagnosis. We are also happy to talk with families after a diagnostic evaluation, to explain results, to answer remaining questions, or to provide other information.
How is UM-NSU CARD funded?
UM-NSU CARD is funded primarily by the Florida Legislature through a grant to the University of Miami (UM) from the Florida Department of Education. Our Broward team works collaboratively with UM CARD through a subcontract. Support is also provided through the Taft Foundation and fundraising events, such as our annual gala, Tropical Nights.
How can we get started?
Call us at 954-262-7111 or email us at CARD@nova.edu. You can also sign up for our weekly e-newsletter with information about autism-related events and supports at https://bit.ly/3e0klTo.