The Dan Marino Foundation

Our Mission

Inspired by the experiences of raising their son with autism, Dan Marino and his wife, Claire, founded the Dan Marino Foundation in 1992. The vision was bold and clear. The Dan Marino Foundation mission is to “open doors” toward independence for children with special needs, teenagers transitioning from foster care, and young adults with disabilities.

The Foundation fulfills this mission by supporting comprehensive integrated treatment programs, providing outreach services, advancing scientific research, and building independence through employment and daily living transition programs.

Our Programs Include:

MCH Dan Marino Center: All-inclusive facility offering comprehensive medical services, therapies, sensory gym, adaptive aquatics center, orthotics division, and urgent care center.

DMF Campus One: An inclusive campus serving teens and young adults with disabilities where members can acquire vocational skills, learn vital life skills, stay fit, socialize, and most importantly, gain independence. Web channel featuring films on neuro-developmental issues and personal stories

Marino Autism Research Institute : A “virtual institute” comprised of the University of Miami, Vanderbilt University, Nova Southeastern University, and University of Southern California designed to develop and implement cutting-edge research.

Marino Swim Central Adaptive Aquatics : A required certification for swim instructors working with special needs students mandated by the Florida Legislature.

Life Launch and Summer Steps : Programming developed to foster self reliance in adolescents and young adults with disabilities by providing social, life, and job skill training in partnership with Children’s Services Council of Broward County.

Dan Marino, Sr. Resource Library : The first stop a parent makes for guidance after hearing their child’s diagnosis— providing state-of-the-art technology and media delivery to give families the resources needed for their child with special needs.

Foster Care Services: Independent living program providing wrap-around services which assist youth aging out of the foster care system to ensure a smooth transition to self-sufficiency.


  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    How can occupational therapy help people with autism?

    Occupational therapy commonly focuses on improving fine motor skills, such as brushing teeth, feeding, and writing, or sensory motor skills that include balance (vestibular system), awareness of body position (proprioceptive system), and touch (tactile system). 

    After the therapist identifies a...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    How does Asperger syndrome affect speech?

    Unlike most people with autism, individuals with Asperger syndrome experience no delay in the onset of speech. In fact, their speech tends to be formal, pedantic and long-winded. Persons with AS often have monotonous vocal intonation and limited use of gestures. They may have difficulty comprehending...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    How is direct observation used in evaluating autism?

    Information about a child’s emotional, social, communication, and cognitive abilities is gathered through child-directed interactions, observations of the child in various situations, and interviews of parents and care givers. Parents and family members should be actively involved throughout these...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    What special skills do people with Asperger syndrome have?

    Individuals with Asperger syndrome (AS) often have average to above average intelligence. They tend to possess excellent abstract thinking abilities and rote memory skills. One characteristic unique to AS is an intense interest in one or two subjects to the exclusion of all others. Many times ind...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    What are the characteristics of PDD-NOS?

    No two individuals diagnosed with PDD-NOS are exactly alike. However, many individuals with PDD-NOS have some characteristics in common, such as: 
    •   Deficits in social behavior
    •   Uneven skill development (strengths in some areas and significant 
        delays in others.)
    •   Poorly developed speech
    ...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    What is autism?

    Autism is a lifelong neurological disability that affects a person’s ability to communicate, understand language, play and socially interact with others. The first signs of autism usually appear as developmental delays before age three.

    Autism is classified as a developmental disability because it in...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    What tests are commonly used to diagnose autism?

    No test can confirm autism outright, however, doctors may use various medical tests and procedures to help with autism diagnosis. There is not always a clinical need to do medical tests. Your doctor(s) can recommend when, or if, a test should be done.

    The following medical tests may help with di...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    How is autism diagnosed?

    Autism and related disabilities, such as PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified), Asperger’s syndrome, and Rett’s syndrome, are difficult to diagnose, especially in young children where speech and reasoning skills are still developing. A child may be three years old before...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    What is Asperger's syndrome?

    Asperger Syndrome (AS) is considered a pervasive developmental disorder at the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum. It is characterized by sustained impairment in social interaction and the development of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests and activities. In contrast...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    Does autism occur with other health problems?

    Autism occurs by itself, with mental retardation, or with other health problems, such as epilepsy, viral infections, or changes in a person’s growth rate or metabolism.

    Source: Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (CARD) Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    How do I know what kind of therapy my autistic child needs?

    Many individuals with autism and related disabilities require some form of special therapy at some point during their lives. Therapeutic evaluations can help determine if therapy is required to help an individual fulfill their potential.
    • Speech-Language Therapy
    • Occupational Therapy
    • Physical
    ...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    What causes autism?

    Nobody knows what causes autism. Some scientists believe there is a biological cause that affects the
    working of the brain, but this has not been proven. It is possible there are many factors that could interact
    with one another which could cause different characteristics in each individual with...Read More
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  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    How can physical therapy help people with autism?

    Physical therapy can improve quality of life in people with autism. Physical therapy specializes in developing strength, coordination and movement. Therapists work on improving gross motor skills, such as running, reaching, and lifting. This therapy is concerned with improving function of the body’s...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    How does a positive behavior support team work?

    The process of Positive Behavior Support (PBS) begins with the identification of a support team, which consists of the most relevant individuals in the person’s life. The team may include family members, teachers, friends, and/or others who are involved and concerned with the person and the problem...Read More
  • The Dan Marino Foundation

    What test can confirm a diagnosis of autism?

    Although autism is considered a neurological disability, no specific medical test or procedure can confirm a diagnosis of autism. To gather more information that will accurately profile an individual’s strengths and needs, a variety of tests, assessments, and evaluations should be administered.
     ...Read More