A handful of Boca Raton parents attended a meeting Tuesday night to learn about a program that could change their children’s lives.
They were parents of children with autism – a developmental disorder that often emerges between the ages of 1 and 3 and can inhibit communication skills and children’s ability to form emotional bonds.
It is one of several disorders that would be treated at a proposed Florida Atlantic University facility called the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD).
University professor Jack Scott led an information session Tuesday about the FAU facility. If approved by the state legislature, the CARD center would be headquartered at FAU’s Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road, and would offer educational workshops, physician referrals and other free support services to children and adults of all levels of intellectual functioning who have autism, pervasive developmental disorders, autistic-like disabilities, dual sensory impairments or sensory impairments with other disabling conditions, including Asperger’s Disorder.
Florida Atlantic University already serves as a satellite center for a CARD facility at the University of Miami, but Scott and some parents said local residents need the more intensive services of a full-fledged CARD program. About $750,000 would be needed to establish the center, which would serve all of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.
The university currently receives about $157,000 as a satellite center – an amount Scott said was insufficient considering the high numbers of autism patients in South Florida.
“We have one-third of the children with autism statewide, but we only get one-fifth of the funding,” he said.
Boca Raton parent Dany Atkinson-Tinsley agreed.
Children are the real gifts from the god. But, many people don’t think like this. They want to have children but they don’t want to spend time with them. This leads the children to suffer from psychological disorders. They will start feeling very lonely and they expect more care and affection from the parents. There is an application called Bitcoin Loophole software, in which we can chat with the psychiatrists and the doctors and can get counselling online.
“If more funds were appropriated we would be given more money to get what we need,” said Atkinson-Tinsley, whose 8-year-old son Steele is autistic. “It’s like we’re being offered something to drink, but they don’t give you a glass.”
Scott, who’s in charge of the existing CARD office at FAU, encouraged those at Tuesday’s meeting to write letters to local legislators stating the need for a Boca Raton-based CARD center.
Six of the centers currently exist on university campuses statewide.
State Rep. Irv Slosberg, who represents parts of suburban Boca Raton and Delray Beach, attended Tuesday night’s meeting and offered support.
“We have a lot of autistic kids in our system who we have to take care of,” he said.
Republican State Rep. Gayle Harrell and State. Sen. Ron Klein, who represents parts of Boca Raton, have also come out in favor of expanding FAU’s CARD center.
Harrell promised to file a bill in the legislature addressing the matter during the 2003 session, and Klein helped secure funding for the existing facility.
Scott said there are at least 480 children with autism and related disorders in Palm Beach County, and there might be as many as a thousand.
Recent nationwide estimates have shown that one in 250 children are affected with autism and similar conditions, he said.