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UCF Autism Expert Applauds Governor’s Call for Autism Task Force

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By Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala

Recognizing the growing health crisis that autism represents, Governor Charlie Crist announced the creation of the Task Force on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The task force has many responsibilities and will provide a report on the status of resources for families to the governor by March 20, 2009. The University of Central Florida is home to the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD). The center is a resource for the community.

"We were part of the discussion and fully support the creation of the task force and the work it will be doing," said CARD Director Tery Daly.

The Orlando center, one of seven in the state, acts as a local resource for family members of children and adults diagnosed with the disease.

CARD at UCF serves more than 2,700 people in Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter and Volusia counties. The seven other centers in Florida serve about 12,000 people altogether.

While CARD services are free, the child or adult must already be diagnosed with autism or a related condition before the agency can help. CARD staff members work with families, initially by phone and then with a home visit, to evaluate their needs and help ensure that they are met.

The state agency serves as a clearing-house of sorts. It provides information to parents and those who care for people with autism and offers workshops on a variety of topics, including how to deal with the behavior and estate planning. Clients are also referred to federal, state and local agencies that can help with education and transportation needs.

CARD also offers a library of materials, including resource books, training manuals and videos of workshops, that people can borrow.

For information about the center call 407-737-2566 or send an email to ucfcard@mail.ucf.edu.

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Mentioned : Teresa Daly

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