USF Expert's Top Ten Things to Know About People with Autism

TAMPA, Fla. (April 1, 2008) – Autism Awareness Month and the first year for the United Nations’-declared World Autism Day inspired the team at the University of South Florida Center for Autism and Related Disabilitiesto help educate the public about the people who live with this health issue.

“Autism need not get in the way of rewarding relationships,” said USF CARD Director Karen Berkman. “Understanding the key differences and needs of people with Autism and the related conditions can help us move past whatever obstacles might arise. The thing to remember is that they are individual people first.”

TOP 10 Things you need to know about people with Autism

• Individuals with Autism ultimately desire what we all desire: choice and control in their lives, valued social roles, and to contribute to their community

• Individuals with Autism often exhibit differences in their communication

• Individuals with Autism often exhibit differences in their social interaction

• Individuals with Autism often exhibit persistence in their thoughts, interests, activities, and/or behaviors

• Individuals with Autism often learn best when using visual supports and hands-on experiences

• People with Autism teach you to open your mind and think outside of the box

• People with Autism want friends, fun activities and meaningful work, just like all of us

• Children and adults with Autism can learn new skills with specific teaching strategies

• Individuals with Autism are lovable human beings

• The tendency of many individuals with autism spectrum disorders to engage in restricted interests and activities need not always be a limitation. Sometimes it is possible push through the initial resistance to new things and find out that the person can actually enjoy a new food, a new form of entertainment, a new restaurant, or a new toy; or he or she might excel in a new skill or a new responsibility. The use of a little creative thinking, some visual strategies, pre-preparation, gentle persistence, and appropriate reinforcement can lead to some amazing results.

The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at USFis a community-based project that provides information and consultation to individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and related disabilities. CARD-USF offers instruction and coaching to families and professionals through a training and assistance model.

In honor of Autism Awareness month, CARD is hosting a number of events and activities. Please call CARD for more information or to register for any of these events or workshops:

April 2 – 5:30 p.m. The Autism Community Leadership Award Reception will be held at the Marriott Waterside Tampa in celebration of a partnership to build a community of inclusion. The event will highlight the shared values and common vision of the USF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities and the City of Tampa Parks and Recreation Department. The Mayor’s Office will read a Proclamation and awards will be given to several staff in the Parks and Recreation Department for implementing inclusive recreation programs.

April 5 – 10 a.m. CARD is hosting a free workshop, Reading for ALL: Autism, Literacy and Learning at USF. The Junior League of Tampa is sponsoring the event which will be led by Dr. Sylvia Diehl of USF’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Registration is required: or call (813) 974-2532.

• April 18 – Fiesta by the Bay hosted by Gaspar’s Grottoin Ybor City, Tampa is CARD’s annual fundraiser. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and admission is $25 in advance or at the door. Contact Christine Rover at CARD for additional information (813) 974-9264 or

• April 22 – 7:30 p.m. Early Signs of Autism will be the topic of a free presentation by CARD Consultant, Neill Broderick, at the Upper Tampa Bay Regional Library, 11211 Countryway Blvd.

• April 25 – 6:30 p.m. Kaleisia Tea Loungelocated at Fletcher Ave. in Tampa is hosting a viewing of the film, Autism is a World. CARD will lead a discussion of the film and information about autism will be available after the film.

For more information please visit: or call (813) 974-2532.

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida's top three research universities. USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The University offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The University has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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