Nicklaus Children's Hospital Receives 'Autism-Friendly' Designation

Published on: 07/05/2023

On June 27, 2023, the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (UM-NSU CARD), South Florida’s leading resource for autism support, recognized Nicklaus Children’s Hospital as its newest “Autism Friendly Partner” as part of the organization’s initiative to create more inclusive places in the community for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families.

Nicklaus Children’s Adaptive Care Program team was in attendance to accept the designation, alongside leadership from UM-NSU CARD and a family whose son, diagnosed with Autism, went through the hospital’s Adaptive Care Program.

Dr Michael Alessandri presenting award to Adaptive Care Program Team

Nicklaus Children’s Adaptive Care Program, which supports children on the spectrum as well as those with other behavioral or developmental needs while hospitalized, works with families to understand the individual needs and preferences of neurodiverse patients, and helps devise strategies to improve the patient experience.

“We are extremely proud of our collaboration with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and their dedication to becoming an `Autism Friendly’ partner,” said Dr. Michael Alessandri, Executive Director of UM-NSU CARD. “Our UM-NSU CARD Autism Friendly Initiative is aimed at creating more inclusive places in our community for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and related disabilities and their family members. These collaborations with healthcare facilities, museums, airports, arts centers, among others, benefit the businesses as well. When families feel welcomed and accepted, businesses grow in important ways and our communities are stronger for it.”

The long-standing partnership between Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and UM-NSU CARD goes back decades. In 2019, the Nicklaus Children’s and UM-NSU CARD teams began communicating about one of CARD’s signature programs, The Autism Friendly Initiative, which provides training and programmatic support to create sensory friendly places and spaces for families throughout our community. Despite the pandemic, the collaboration continued, and Nicklaus Children’s is now UM-NSU CARD’s latest Autism Friendly Partner.

Sensory Room at Nicklaus Children's

The UM-NSU CARD team provided specialized training and consultation on how to appropriately outfit and utilize a sensory friendly room, the need to create an internal system for identifying and supporting neurodiverse patients in the hospital, and the importance of adopting a proactive and client-centered approach to supporting patients with significant behavioral needs.

“At Nicklaus Children’s, we are committed to creating an optimal care environment for the children of South Florida,” said Matthew A. Love, President and CEO of Nicklaus Children’s Health System, parent organization of the hospital. “Thanks to a team of expert clinicians and generous support from The Frederick A. DeLuca Foundation, our Adaptive Care Program is enhancing the safety and comfort of the inpatient environment for neurodivergent patients and their families. We are honored to receive the ‘Autism Friendly’ designation as a reflection of our dedication to creating a supportive and inclusive care environment. It is one more example of why Nicklaus Children’s is the hospital ‘where your child matters most.’”

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, located at 3100 SW 62nd Ave, Miami, FL 33155, welcomes individuals on the ASD spectrum and their families to access its healthcare offerings. For more information, please visit: Nicklaus Children’s Hospital's Adaptive Care Program.

As the leading not-for-profit resource for autism and related disabilities support in South Florida, UM-NSU CARD has served more than 16,000 families to date.

Organizations and institutions interested in UM-NSU CARD’s Autism Friendly Initiative can learn more about providing helpful services and amenities to better accommodate guests, clients, and customers with autism spectrum disorder, as well as learn what accommodations can be made to host an intern or hire an employee who is diagnosed with ASD.

Autism Friendly UM NSU Card

UM-NSU CARD stands for the University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. UM-NSU CARD’s mission is to provide support and assistance with the goal of optimizing the potential of people with autism and related disabilities.

UM-NSU CARD offers free supports within the natural contexts of settings including the home, childcare programs and schools, businesses, and the larger community, and provides this support across the entire lifespan, from early childhood to adulthood. UM-NSU CARD in collaboration with The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, supports adults on their journey to find meaningful employment and works with South Florida companies to create these opportunities. UM-NSU CARD empowers the community with training and resources to make their places and spaces more inclusive though its Autism Friendly Initiative. UM-NSU CARD serves families and individuals in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe Counties. To learn more, visit

UM-NSU CARD Is part of a statewide network of seven CARD centers at leading universities throughout Florida including the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University, which together form UM-NSU CARD in South Florida.

About Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Where Children Matter Most (2024)

Founded in 1950 by Variety Clubs International, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is South Florida’s only licensed specialty hospital exclusively for children, with approximately 850 attending physicians, including more than 500 pediatric subspecialists. The 307-bed hospital is renowned for excellence in all aspects of pediatric medicine with many specialty programs routinely ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report since 2008. The hospital is also home to the largest pediatric teaching program in the southeastern United States and since 2003 has been designated an American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet facility, the nursing profession’s most prestigious institutional honor. For more information, please visit

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