Impact Autism


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Florida Occupational Therapy Association (FOTA) Magazine Feature of IMPACT Autism

Posted by IMPACT Autism @ UF on September 9, 2011 at 9:55 PM

IMPACT Autism was featured by the Florida Occupation Therapy Association (FOTA) magazine in their Summer Student Showcase in an article written by Ashley Giddings and Tana Bleser. 

UF Students Make an IMPACT

By: Tana Bleser, M.S., O.T.S, & Ashley Giddings

It isn’t often that students are in the position of being able to create changes in the community themselves, but at IMPACT Autism, a student organization at the University of Florida is doing just that. IMPACT Autism was founded by four college students from diverse backgrounds (OT, pre-med, math and psychology) and their faculty sponsor, Dr. Joanne Foss who share a common mission to educate, advocate and fundraise on behalf of individuals with autism and related disabilities and their families.

In little more than a year, the organization has grown to include over 300 student, faculty and parent members. In that time, IMPACT’s members have raised over $2,000 to directly benefit individuals with autism in the Gainesville community. The student group also educates University students on autism by hosting awareness events such as the Autism Awareness Movie Night which featured the Temple Grandin Movie this year. The organization also hosts various autism experts to speak on campus.

Perhaps most remarkably, the organization hosts an event each month to provide respite care services for local children with autism and related disabilities as well as their siblings- for FREE. Trained volunteers are paired with a child in a 2:1 ratio for an afternoon at the local YMCA or city park where IMPACT provides children with activities and entertainment in a safe, inclusive environment and allows parents a much needed afternoon to themselves.

Currently in the process of becoming a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, IMPACT Autism hopes to expand its scope by starting chapters in other communities and universities across Florida. For more information about IMPACT Autism or how you can get involved, please visit or email us at

About the authors:

Tana Bleser, M.S., OTS,  Driector, Co-Founder of IMPACT Autism is a graduate student in the University of Florida’s Department of Occupational Therapy Master’s Program as well as the Department of Psychology Behavioral & Cognitive Neurosciences PhD Program. She received her B.S. in Neurobiological Sciences from UF in 2007.

Ashley Giddings, President, Co-Founder of IMPACT Autism, is an undergraduate student at the University of Florida. She is pursuing a B.S. in Neurobiological Sciences. Ashley is the recipient of the UF Presidential Service Award for her involvement in the area of Community Health and Wellness. 

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