The Ability Beyond Disabilities

"I have the unique position of not only being Passionate about my Platform, but living it Everyday.  I have never let others Define my Dreams."  -  Miss Florida International - Rachel Barcellona


Her Passion

"As Miss International 2016, I will continue to create awareness and acceptance for those of us with differing abilities as the International Spokesperson for C.A.R.D.  We may walk a different path, but do not have to limit our Dreams.  I am also an elected Board Member and Symposium Panelist, in which I plan to use this outlet to bring awareness to The Ability beyond Disabilities."

Her Story

Autism also has some positive aspects that many people are not aware of. People with ASC are often hard working and honest.  They can be very capable with high levels of ability and concentration skills.  For some, their ability to focus on a topic means they are excellent researchers and can notice crucial details other people can miss.  They are very attractive to employers in the fields of engineering and IT where great attention to detail and high levels of knowledge are needed.    They also do well in publishing and creative industries where their focused, elaborate imaginations and alternative viewpoints are valued.  There are also a lot of Famously Recognized people with ASC, such as Bill Gates, Gary Newman, Paddy Considine, Susan Boyle, Guy Martin, Darryl Hannah and Miss Florida International herself, Rachel Barcellona.

Live Life To The Fullest

The Surfers For Autism mission is to unlock the potential of people with developmental delays, support advocacy for autism issues and scientific research. Our focus is to eliminate stigma through public awareness and education and to unite communities through volunteerism. 

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."

Walt Disney


Live Life To The Fullest

The Surfers For Autism mission is to unlock the potential of people with developmental delays, support advocacy for autism issues and scientific research. Our focus is to eliminate stigma through public awareness and education and to unite communities through volunteerism. 

Advocate. Inspire. Dream.

Miss Florida International 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes. Some of the behaviors associated with autism include delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. Again, a person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others besides. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity.

Is Autism treatable?

Autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. For more information on developmental milestones, visit the CDC’s “Know the Signs. Act Early” site.

What are the causes?

There is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder, but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Brain scans show differences in the shape and structure of the brain in children with autism compared to in neurotypical children. Researchers do not know the exact cause of autism but are investigating a number of theories, including the links among heredity, genetics and medical problems.

Facts about Autism

It costs more than $8,600 extra per year to educate a student with autism. (Lavelle et al., 2014) (The average cost of educating a student is about $12,000 – NCES, 2014)

People with ASD often have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many people with ASD also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life.

There is currently no cure for ASD. However, research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development.2, 3 Early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills. Services can include therapy to help the child talk, walk, and interact with others. Therefore, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible if you think your child has ASD or other developmental problem.

Recent Projects


Orlando Strong


Advocate On Air


Surfers for Autism

Working Awareness


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Go Red for Women

The International Pageants and Go Red for Women have a continuous alliance with the American Heart Association to fulfill the Goal of bringing awareness about the risk of Heart Disease.  Rachel also is an advocate of this Association and will continue to support this organization. 

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CARD Specialized Outpatient Services (SOS) provides assistance with specific areas of concern for a family and develops and implements strategies to diminish problem behaviors and teach necessary skills.

None of these life-changing programs would be what they are without the work of our exceptional staff which includes PhDs, licensed psychologists, speech and language pathologists, masters-level supervisors, social workers, Board Certified Behavior Analysts, and marriage and family therapists. They are truly committed to helping all of our children achieve their fullest potential.

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Questions about getting started? Find out here!

Rachel has inspired many and encourages you to get involved in your community.