Autism Center’s Adult Programs Flourish Thanks to Major Gift

With this major gift, CARD’s Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Transition and Adult Programs can continue its supportive projects for adults with autism.

‌Linda J. Walder, founder and president of The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, visited the University of Miami this month and graciously delivered a second installment of a $100,000 major gift to The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD) of the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences. Their generous donation named CARD’s adult services as The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Transition and Adult Programs.

“The support from Linda and The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation validates what we are trying to do regarding expanding our adult services program,” said Dr. Michael Alessandri, professor of clinical psychology in the College of Arts & Sciences and CARD’s executive director. “The gift is a means to achieve our mission to provide adults with autism the skills and social connections they need to have a fulfilled life.” The naming gift supports CARD’s current and essential programs for adults with autism, like Project SAIL (a sailing program for individuals on the spectrum); Project EAARN Employment Boot Camps; social skills groups for adults; and an annual Transition to Adulthood Conference, among other important and vital adult programs.

UM-NSU CARD is a state-funding resource in the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences’ Psychology Department supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families. The program also assists individuals with deaf-blindness and pervasive development disorders.

According to an article in The New York Times, there are approximately half a million children with autism who will be adults in the next 10 years, and with fewer adult services and government budgets decreasing, challenges loom ahead for adults with autism. CARD currently supports over 9,200 clients, with 40 percent over the age of 16, and is currently focused on addressing unemployment and underemployment rates of its clients, which is approximately 90 percent. 

“It’s important to create awareness of these continuing educational opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum. The more we can talk about it and share what is being offered here, the more we can encourage people to get involved,” said Walder. “We established this commitment and partnership because we feel that the CARD program is poised to be the leader in adult services as they serve a diverse population of adults living with autism.”

Established in 2002, DJFF is the first national non-profit organization focused on adult autism. The organization’s mission is to develop, advocate for, and fund programs, resources, public policy initiatives, and support services for the diverse population of adults on the autism spectrum.

In an effort to increase employment opportunities for individuals with autism, UM-NSU CARD received a small gift from Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and a cure for autism while also increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. The organization helps CARD with entrepreneurial programs and workshops aimed at closing the gap that prevents business owners and local businesses from hiring adults with autism.

For more information about UM-NSU CARD, visit www.umcard.org.

December 15, 2015