What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?


What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. Although people with ASD don’t look physically different, they may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from others. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving skills of people with ASD can range from gifted to low functioning. Some people with ASD need varying degrees of help in their daily lives; others can live fully independent lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.

Early Screening

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for ASD as early as 18 to 24 months. Screening doesn’t diagnose Autism, but flags behaviors associated with the disorder. According to Federal law, if the screening identifies developmental delays or learning challenges, then parents don’t need to wait for a diagnosis for their child to receive services. Research shows that early intervention may lead to positive outcomes later in life for people with ASD.


The transition from adolescence to adulthood (ages 18-25) is usually associated with becoming a full participant in the social, civic, and economic life community in which we live. However, because of the lack of resources and supports devoted to this phase of their life, the transition to adulthood remains a significant challenge for teens and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to create an Intellectual Educational Plan(IEP) and provide services to students with disabilities. The IEP does not apply after a student graduates from high school, and therefore special accommodations will cease. Students will then fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. When students apply to college, they must self-identify as a person with a disability and be an advocate for themselves to determine what accommodations they need to help them be successful. The Summary of Performance is a document that must be provided to students with disabilities when they leave high school. Colleges will require additional materials, and many will require a recent evaluation. To make sure these accommodations are in place before beginning classes, students should contact the disability services office at the technical center, college, or university they want to attend as far in advance as possible. Find contact information for disability services providers on the Florida State University System page. https://www.flbog.edu/universities/admissions-transfers/students-with-disabilities/

The 2020 United Nations observance of the World Autism Awareness Day draws attention to issues of concern related to the transition from adolescence to adulthood, such as the importance of participation in youth culture and the community, self-determination, and decision-making, access to post-secondary education and employment, and independent living.

HDS Foundation Resources for Transitions

The HDS Foundation, Inc. is a 501 (C)(3) Non-Profit Organization founded to provide mentoring services and opportunities to Teens and Young Adults who have Autism-related disabilities. The primary focus of the Organization is to promote the development of work and daily living skills, build socio-educational transitional experiences via specific school-based partnerships, and support the post-secondary journeys for this growing population. Bridging the gap that can support the diverse abilities of young adults and facilitating college-level and other post-secondary education will strengthen this population’s chances for meaningful, long-term employment and self-sufficiency. Teens and young adults can be better prepared to meet these demands when they are addressed utilizing a spectrum of solutions. The HDS Foundation supports and partners with various community-based groups, aiming to enrich the lives of this special population by providing an array of social opportunities. These are designed to further develop personal growth and independence. The HDS Foundation is poised to help educate and provide information related to available, safe and affordable housing options, that can further the possibilities of attaining independent or semi-independent housing. This will be done via Private, Federal, State and Community-based programs and assistance.

For more information, please contact Liz Falk, Program Manager at liz@hdsfoundation.org.

HDS Companies Shines a Light on Autism

April is World Autism Awareness Month! World Autism Awareness Month was initially implemented in 2007 by the United Nations to help educate society about Autism and how this global health issue is rising over time. Each year, the HDS Companies joins thousands of individuals worldwide to stand together and support the Autism community. This year, we are commemorating Autism Awareness Month by hosting a “Shine a Light on Autism” digital celebration on April 2nd, World Autism Awareness Day. This celebration is followed by a company-wide participation in community events and campaigns throughout the month.

Campaigns like our “Shine a Light on Autism” help spread information across the globe of the outcomes of Autism. They also help distribute appropriate information regarding matters such as early diagnosis, therapies, transitions, post-secondary education, employment, and the journey to independent living. About 1 in 54 children have been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) according to estimates from the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Autism and the Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.

Today, our Autism Awareness banner went up outside of our new office building in the Town of Miami Lakes, and we lit up the exterior of our building blue. Our HDS team members, the HDS Contenders, proudly wore blue shirts along with their HDS Autism Awareness Ribbon and got their selfies on.

Wondering how you can help Shine a Light? Here’s how! Share your stories and show your support of inclusion by swapping out your standard (front) outdoor light bulb(s) with a blue colored light bulb(s) and keep them lit for the entire month of April! Make sure to tag us, @HDSFoundation, on your posts for a chance to show up on our social media feed.

How can you Shine a Light on Autism and help the HDS Foundation? It’s easy! If you are a frequent Amazon shopper, sign in through AmazonSmile.com and select the HDS Foundation as your charity of choice. From there, any purchases made through AmazonSmile will donate a small proceed to our nonprofit. For more information about how the HDS Foundation celebrates Autism Awareness, follow our social media pages @HDSFoundation!

National Fair Housing Month Awareness

National Fair Housing Month Awareness

Each year during April, we commemorate National Fair Housing Month by increasing efforts to end housing discrimination and raising awareness of fair housing rights. The Fair Housing Act was enacted over 50 years ago, and is designed to protect Americans from discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on color, race, national origin, and religion. The act later extended to gender, disability, and family status.

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and fair housing became law.  By signing the Civil Rights Act, President Johnson declared, “Now, with this bill, the voice of justice speaks again. It proclaims that Fair Housing for all, all human beings who live in this country, is now part of the American way of life.” Co-sponsored by Senators Edward Brooke and Walter Mondale, the Fair Housing Act sought to end residential segregation and ensure all Americans had access to safe and decent housing.

As advocates for individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder and related disabilities who seek safe, affordable housing, HDS Companies proudly promotes and supports this extraordinary campaign to end the housing discrimination. Everyone deserves to live in a safe and comfortable home. We invite you to join in our efforts; together, we can help keep the American Dream of homeownership stay alive for future generations. For more information on Fair Housing, please visit nationalfairhousing.org.

To Our Valued Agency Clients

During this difficult time for so many, we are reaching out to you and your staff to convey that the HDS Companies (HDS Software and eHousingPlus) successfully transitioned to a Complete Remote Operation BCDR Plan.  Through the hard work of many on the HDS Management Team and our amazing staff, we deployed this plan in a very short time, with minimal issues, and no down time.  The most important and difficult task was to make sure that we supported our HDS Families and kept our employees safe, while maintaining a full operation for our clients.  I’m proud to say that we accomplished that and more, and that the HDS Companies Team rose to the occasion, as we knew they would.

We know that most of you are trying to support your Agency and your Community right now, and your plans and priorities for the months to come will change.  For that reason, we felt it was best to postpone the HDS NEXTGEN 2020 Conference which was scheduled for later this year.  Our goal in re-launching our 2020 Conference had been to focus on the HDS NEXTGEN Technologies and Services, and the work we have been doing in the re-development of our tools for the past few of years.  This work will continue as planned, and we will re-schedule the Conference when it is appropriate, so that your team can join this effort.

Our HDS Business Team will be creating web-based events in the months to come, which will provide insight into different areas of re-development of our Software, Services and Platforms.  This will provide your team with valuable information so that you can address potential new programs and continue to support your existing business.   Our plans to move the HDS Conference to 2021 are in the works, and we know that the effort and goals of the same will be achieved then.

Technology is one of the many strengths we have as an organization and our ability to deploy that within our organization and for our Agency clients is unparalleled.  The need for remote solutions is critical right now, and our organization can assist you in different ways.  Our Management Team contacts are listed below should you have the need to address your current challenges.  We have the capacity to support your HDS Applications in our environments and help you with any remote accessibility needs you have. Additionally, any on-gong services you might need to support even if on a temporary basis can be assessed, and we will work hard to assist you with those needs as well.  If your staff must work remotely, and you do not have a viable solution to have them access the systems, we do.  We know you need to continue to operate and support your initiatives, so please let us know how we may be able to assist.

Our Agency Clients and Partners in Affordable Housing are part of what we call our HDS Family.  We hope that your organization and family members will get through this as best possible and wish you the very best.


Cristina Miranda Gilson

Abdul Mondol,
President HDS Software

Paloma Miranda,
Sr, Vice President eHousingPlus

Elena Miranda,
V. P. Business Development

Andrew Moffitt,

Debora Stevenson, Director of Finance/HR

Wings in Weston

Wings in Weston

The Cypress Bay High School B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class took their weekly community-based instruction trip to Wings in Weston where they were able to practice their budgeting, independence and social skills.

Students were seated, and as they looked over the menu, they were surprised to find that the menu had a variety of options to choose from besides wings. We had students order chicken, hamburgers, and even shrimp! After they ordered, the class practiced their patience skills due to the length of time the food took to come out; so, students socialized with one another and laughed at stories being told. Once the food arrived, students quickly devoured their delicious meals and finished off by ordering either a cheesecake or chocolate cake.

Once students finished, they quickly paid for their lunch using their debit cards and headed back to Cypress Bay. Even though the restaurant took longer than expected, it was a blessing in disguise allowing students to really engage and practice a variety of skills. Stay tuned for the next CBI!

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