UM-NSU CARD forms partnership with Miami-Dade Public Schools

Although the school year has just begun, many Miami educators are celebrating the recent announcement from the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) and Miami-Dade County School Board regarding their fiveyear partnership.

"UM-NSU CARD has a long and successful history of partnering with MDCPS on many important initiatives related to autism spectrum disorders,” said Dr. Michael Alessandri, UM-NSU CARD executive director. “This latest plan represents the next critical step in our organizations’ mutual goal of improving the quality of education and life for all students with autism.”

Under the leadership of school board member Raquel Regalado, on Aug. 1 the MDCPS board approved an unparalleled five-year plan to partner with UM-NSU CARD to better serve the 3,237 students in the school system affected by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) beginning this school year.

“Our school system must ensure that students within the autism spectrum are offered the educational resources they need to reach their full potential in school and beyond,” Regalado said. “We are confident that UM-NSU CARD will help us meet this obligation, given their strong dedication to providing information, resources and support to children and families affected by autism.”

UM-NSU CARD is committed to optimizing the potential of children and adults with autism through services, including individual and family support services, program consultation and technical assistance, parent and professional training, and public awareness and community outreach. This partnership will better support students with autism spectrum disorders, as well as be a more accessible resource to prospective students in need of ASD services. Through this plan, CARD, along with its Family Mobile Clinic, will host autism awareness events at local schools, serving students with autism during which families may register for CARD services. UM-NSU CARD also enables teachers to receive additional and important training to best deal with children affected by ASD. Through this plan, CARD will provide large-scale regional teacher training conferences, an annual administrator’s training and an annual summer institute for teachers and related service providers, while also providing support to the districts in delivering school-based trainings.

UM-NSU CARD will partner with teachers selected to participate in the PEPSA (Partnership for Effective Programming for Students with Autism) program. This program provides teachers the opportunity to be mentored by a CARD clinical staff member to enhance and implement effective practices within the educational programs for students with ASD. Selected teachers also will be funded to attend the annual statewide CARD Conference. As part of the enhanced partnership with MDCPS, CARD will also reinstitute its popular “If I Only Had the Money” contest, which each year gives small grants to teachers for innovative projects to benefit students with an ASD. For more information on UM-NSU CARD, call 1-800-9-AUTISM, ext. 1, or visit online at

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