Eighteen schools and nonprofits were recently awarded grants.
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November 2014

In this issue:

HEAL Grants $125,000 for Autism Programs in 2014

Haven Horse Ranch - Physical Therapy on Horses

Henderson Haven school & after school programs

Thanks to the support of our community, HEAL has given over $1.1 million dollars in grants to local schools, camps and organizations across Northeast Florida assisting those affected by Autism. This total includes HEAL's newest initiatives, iHEAL (iPads Helping Enrich Autistic Lives), and HEAL Autism Service Dogs trained by Project CHANCE.
The HEAL Foundation has granted $125,000 in 2014 to support individuals and families living with Autism. Grants are given for local specialized programs, camps and school classrooms assisting children teens and adults on the Autism spectrum.

HEAL Fall Grants

Eighteen schools and non-profits were recently awarded grants:
  • ACCEPTS: Facilitated Communication Technology & Training
  • Best Buddies: School Mentors for Special Need Middle Schoolers
  • Haven Horse Ranch: Equine Therapy Programs
  • Henderson Haven: Free 2 Be Me - School and After School Programs
  • Hope Haven: Autism Evaluations for Low Income Families
  • Jacksonville School for Autism: Piano, Karate & Yoga Enrichments
  • Jericho School: Applied Behavior Analysis Workshops
  • Little Star Center: New Sensory Room Equipment
  • May Institute: Recreation & Educational Projects for Adult Day Training
  • Neptune Beach Elementary: New Sensory Room Equipment
  • PVPV Rawlings Elementary: Sensory Integration & Technology
  • PVPV Rawlings Elementary: iPad Apps for Autism
  • PVPV Rawlings Elementary: iPads & Apps for Pre-K
  • Reach Academy, Inc.: Multi- Sensory Room Equipment
  • Special Nation at CRC: Accessible Playground Equipment
  • Special Olympics Florida, Duval: Athlete Leadership Programs
  • The Cummer Museum: Very Special Arts Festival
  • Gaines Transition School: iPads & Apps for Language Impaired
iHEAL – iPads Helping Enrich Autistic Lives  has gifted 50 iPads to Clay and Duval School Districts for ESE Classrooms. HEAL is currently partnering with Project Autism of St Johns County in donating iPads to ESE Autism classrooms.

iPads Giving A Voice to Local Non-Verbal Students

ACCEPTS, a group of non-verbal students who communicate via iPad
A group of local parents and teachers, including HEAL founder Leslie Weed, recently traveled to Syracuse University to the Institute on Communication and Inclusion for a Facilitated Communication Training course. The institute within the School of Education has been perfecting the means to communicate via typing for individuals who are non-verbal and may have otherwise been living in silence.

A non-verbal panel of young adults held a Q & A discussion and fielded questions from the attendees. Many described how their minds work and being trapped inside with no means to properly communicate. Once introduced and taught to type through a skilled facilitator, all were able to express their thoughts and feelings quite eloquently.

Inspired by what they learned at Syracuse University, Amy Groshell, along with tutors Morgan Tyner and Milly Richardson, spearheaded a social group called ACCEPT (Assumed Competence in Communication for Exceptional Typing and Socialization). The group meets on Wednesday evenings with students communicating and holding discussions via their iPads.

Patty Crosby recently covered a “breakthrough” story on Morgan Tyner, tutor, and Lanier Weed, 16 years old and non-verbal, communicating using an iPad.

Click here to view this video.

Thankfulness in the Midst of Autism

By Janeen Herskovitz

Thanksgiving is a time for family to come together and enjoy one another with grateful hearts—or at least it’s supposed to be that way. For families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Thanksgiving can be a recipe for disaster.

Some of my fondest memories of growing up surround holiday traditions. Unfortunately, once I had my own family, which included a child with autism, the traditions took a darker turn. One year, when my husband and I decided to host dinner for twelve people, my son had a nuclear meltdown as we were preparing to cut the turkey. Spending the evening helping him calm down in his bedroom while my family enjoyed a wonderful dinner, I ended up in tears. I ate my heart out because I couldn’t finish preparing the meal. My sister-in-law, Krisy, reassuringly said, “I’ll finish dinner. Go. Do what you need to do.” It was said with such love, consideration, and confidence—not a hint of guilt—that I will forever remember that moment with gratitude.

Click here for the rest of story.

Upcoming Events in Northeast Florida

Ongoing Social Skills and Support Groups - Dr. Maria Tapia, Licensed Psychologist with the UF/Jacksnville's CARD Program, runs several support groups for adolescents and adults with Asperger's syndrome, as well as for the siblings and mothers. If you are interested in joining any of these groups or gathering additional information, such as date, time and ages, please contact Dr. Tapia at or (904)-633-4330.
Ongoing Dandelion House Offers Opportunities for ALL Abilities - Have a teenager on your hands? Dandelion House offers Saturday workshops for ages 16 and up. Current classes include Training for jobs and life, Recreation with the arts, Socialization with games and activities, and Fitness to try Yoga or Zumba. They are conveniently located in Jacksonville at 1512 King Street, near the Cummer Museum and the Riverside Art Market.
October 9 through December 4 Special Needs Youth Basketball - The First Coast YMCA is hosting a basketball program for children with mild to moderate developmental disabilities. Coaching will focus on success through positive engagement and teaching of fundamentals. For ages 6-12 on Thursday nights from 6-7pm. The cost is $50 per participant. Register online at or by calling 904-543-9622.
October 9 through December 18 Social Skills Group: Sportsmanship Theme - Great Strides Rehabilitation has put together two groups for children with Asperger's or high functioning Autism. Open to ages 6-10 every Thursday night. Skills targeted will be winning and losing gracefully, following rules of games, joining peers, and taking turns. Contact Lauren at or call Great Strides at (904) 886-3228 for more information or to receive an application.
November 19 Girls Circle Support Group - Through CARD - This group is for girls between the ages of 14-19. There is limited space and girls must interview with facilitators in order to join. For more information contact
November 22 DogFest Walk'N Roll - Sponsored by Canine Companions for Independence, this family friendly, dog friendly, accessible, community dog walk benefits people with disabilities. Join them from 10 AM to 4 PM at Riverside Arts Market, 715 Riverside Ave, Jacksonville. Visit for more details.
November 22 Peer to Pier Fishing - Fishing off the Jacksonville Beach Pier. To Register: Mary Erickson-Verdi at or 904-994-1005.
November 22 Gaming Party at the Microsoft Store - Join CARD from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM, at the Microsoft Store at the St. Johns Town Center. Xbox One consoles will be set up in the theater space for gaming. We will have Microsoft & Xbox swag and beverages. Come show us what you got! Parents: a break out session on internet safety, parental controls, and reading game covers will be presented while the kids are at play. 30 spots available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Contact to RSVP.
November 22 Autism & Safety Awareness Day - UF Center for Autism of Gainesville is hosting this event at Kiwanis Safety City of Gainesville from 9:30AM to 11:30 AM. Participants will learn about strategies to prevent wandering and drowning, and promote fire safety. For more information, contact UF CARD at 352-273-0581, or by emailing
November 29 Sensory Friendly Films: Home - AMC & ASA are bringing families an opportunity to go to the movies in a safe accepting environment on a monthly basis. Lights are brought up, sound is turned down, and families may bring their own snacks. Movies are shown at the AMC Regency 24 at the Regency Center Square. All viewings are held at 10am. Click here for more information.
December 11 An Evening with Santa At CARD - Visit Santa from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM at the CARD offices. Bring your wish list and camera! There will be snacks, crafts and activities. For more information contact
December 13 Bowling Buddies - Join Inclusion Solution at Beach Bowl on Beach Boulevard for 4 lanes of fun! Educators and therapists are on hand to facilitate social interaction. This is a great activity for children and teens with Autism, and the parents enjoy connecting with other families. Meet Mary and her team at 12:30 pm. Register in advance by emailing
December 13 Sensory Friendly Films: Paddington - AMC & ASA are bringing families an opportunity to go to the movies in a safe accepting environment on a monthly basis. Lights are brought up, sound is turned down, and families may bring their own snacks. Movies are shown at the AMC Regency 24 at the Regency Center Square. All viewings are held at 10am. Click here for more information.
December 14 Dinner Under the Stars for JSA - Support Jacksonville School for Autism at this fun event at Fantasy Farms, 194 South Roscoe Blvd, Ponte Vedra. Dinner and Wine Provided by Restaurant Medure's and Matthew's. Visit for details.
January 3, 2015 Bring It On 2015 Nocatee 5k Trail - Run Benefitting Special Olympics Florida ~ Duval & St Johns County Athletes! Join Special Olympics Duval and local food trucks for lunch and awards following the race! Register online now at
Jan. 16-18, 2015 22nd Annual Card Conference - Orlando The Annual Statewide CARD Conference is Florida’s premier conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders for professionals and families. National experts and regional professionals offer informative and stimulating presentations on a variety of topics on research, innovation, and effective educational programs for people diagnosed with ASD. This year’s conference will be held January 16-18, 2015 at the Florida Hotel & Conference in Orlando. Registration is now open.
February 26, 2015 Tools for Success Family Conference Save the date and plan to join HEAL at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens! Email us with suggestions at See you all for another fun filled day at the zoo!
April 26, 2015 HEAL Zoo Walk For Autism! Save the date and plan to join HEAL at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens! Email us with suggestions at See you all for another fun filled day at the zoo!
Sept. 7, 2015 The Great Ponte Vedra Paddle! Join us for the 4th Annual Great Ponte Vedra Paddle benefiting HEAL. Stand Up Paddle board races, and an "Anything that Floats" Challenge make this fun for the whole family. See you at Mickler's Landing.
Copyright © 2014 HEAL Foundation, All rights reserved.

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