UM-NSU CARD Partners with Miami-Dade County Public Schools

New Five-Year Collaboration will Feature Autism Awareness Events, Training and Mentoring for Teachers

Coral Gables (September 17, 2012) — A University of Miami center dedicated to serving people with autism and related disabilities is partnering with the nation’s fourth largest school district on a new initiative that will bring autism awareness events to local schools and provide training and mentoring to teachers.

The new five-year collaboration between the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) and Miami Dade County Public Schools will help improve the support system for students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), giving them easier access to the resources and assistance they require.

“UM-NSU CARD has a long and successful history of partnering with MDCPS on many important initiatives related to autism spectrum disorders,” said Michael Alessandri, executive director of UM-NSU CARD. “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.”

More than 3,200 students in the Miami-Dade public school system are affected by ASD. “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,” said Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado, who was instrumental in helping to win board approval for the five-year partnership. “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.”

As part of the partnership, autism awareness events at local schools will serve students with ASD and allow families to register for CARD services. Regional teacher training conferences, an annual session for school administrators, and a summer institute for teachers and related service providers will also be offered.

UM-NSU CARD will support the PEPSA (Partnership for Effective Programming for Students with Autism) program in which teachers are mentored by a CARD clinical staff member to enhance their ability to offer effective services to students with ASD. Selected teachers will also be funded to attend the annual statewide CARD conference. In addition, UM-NSU CARD will reinstitute its popular “If I Only Had the Money” contest, which rewards grants to teachers for innovative projects aimed at helping students with ASD.

UM-NSU CARD is committed to optimizing the potential of children and adults with autism, offering individual and family support services, program consultation and technical assistance, parent and professional training, and public awareness and community outreach.

For more information on UM-NSU CARD, please call 1-800-9-AUTISM (extension 1) or visit

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