Monthly Archives: April 2017

April News Round-Up

What’s Next for Parent Support in B.C.? Parent Questions for MCFD

ACT continues to receive questions from parents and professionals confused about the new service the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD ) is planning as of July 1, 2017. This service will replace those ACT has been providing under contract to MCFD since 2005, including the individualized information and support function provided by ACT’s Information Officers and administration of the Registry of Autism Service Providers.

ACT has requested that MCFD provides details of their plan directly to the autism community, to enhance the transparency of this process. The lack of information makes it difficult for families to ask questions of election candidates about whether they support this initiative.

The results of the independent survey Identifying Need, Delivering Service – The Autism Community Satisfaction Survey Report’ commissioned by ACT and released in April indicates that only 9% of the 1600 respondents support a move of services to MCFD. ACT is especially worried that many vulnerable families, aboriginal and immigrant families in particular, may decide not to approach this new service because it is part of MCFD.

For a list of questions from the autism community and more background on this issue see Parent Questions for MCFD and ACT’s Transitioning Information page.

ACT will update the autism community via ACT’s Facebook page when information becomes available. In the meantime, ACT is maintaining services and welcomes calls from parents, adults with autism and professionals.

Donate to ACT & Support Free Resources for the Autism and Special Needs Community

In June 2017, the Ministry of Children and Family Development is ending funding for a community-based contract to support families with children with ASD.

While ACT is disappointed at no longer being able to provide individualized support to families, our commitment to the autism community remains strong. ACT’s online, community-focused, information and training offer unique evidence-informed resources for the autism community nationally and internationally.

We are seeking sponsorship and donations to support our free online resources. These include Autism Videos @ ACT and the Autism Information Database.

For more information on how to support ACT’s work and to donate see www.actcommunity.ca/donate

Participating in the Political Process on May 9th

There are many organizations that have put together campaign information focused on the needs of families in British Columbia. See a comprehensive list at First Call BC.

Inclusion BC has created an information and participation guide to empower British Columbians with disabilities to vote. Download the guide here.

Report from CAN Family Festival

Despite the cold wind blowing off the Burrard Inlet, there was a great deal of warmth at the ACT Information Table and across the CAN Family Festival event on April 9th – though many of us were wishing that Autism Awareness Month was in July! ACT staff enjoyed seeing familiar faces and meeting new parents. While we are saddened that we will not be able to provide individualized support after June 30, we handed out our two latest publications: ACT’s 2017 Event Calendar and the 2017 Autism Videos @ ACT Guide.

CAN Volunteers Receive CAN/ACT Training Scholarshipsimg_560X250

Congratulations to this year’s recipients of the CAN/ACT Volunteer Training Scholarship! Fariba Davoody, Ricky Tsang, Angelo Graffos and Maria Stolyarova were selected for the amazing level of support that they have provided to CAN programs as volunteers. This scholarship will provide each recipient with a $500 credit to be used towards registering for ACT’s live events. Find out more about the CAN/ACT Volunteer Training Scholarship

ACT’s Board of Directors is Seeking a New Treasurer – Volunteer Opportunity

ACT- Autism Community Training’s current treasurer will be stepping down this summer. We are seeking qualified candidates with a CPA designation and, ideally, experience in serving as a board member for a not-for-profit society.

The role of Board Treasurer is to provide oversight and provide the Board of Directors with guidance in maintaining their fiduciary responsibility to the society. ACT employs a chartered professional chartered accountant who completes all accounting procedures and prepares monthly financial statements; we have recently sailed through our 12th annual audit with a clean opinion. The workload for the Board Treasurer would average about 2-3 hours a month, with meetings being held about 4-5 times a year.

If you are interested in this opportunity to join a dynamic not-for-profit, with a commitment to building our considerable autism information and training resources, nationally and internationally, please send your resume to Deborah Pugh, Executive Director at dpugh@actcommunity.ca

Upcoming ACT Conferences

The Focus on Research Conference this Friday and Saturday is sold out (there are spots available for web streaming) but ACT is hosting five training opportunities this Spring and Summer with more booked for the rest of the year. Register soon to ensure your seat and take advantage of early bird rates.

A special thanks to our presenters and volunteers who make it possible for ACT to continue providing excellent training opportunities at a reasonable cost. 

Applications of CBT to Address Emotional Functioning in Youth with ASDimg_265X130

July 24 & 25 – Vancouver
Jonathan Weiss, Ph.D., CPsych, Chair in ASD Treatment and Care Research, York University

A professional development opportunity for those who are involved in the mental health field and have a background in Cognitive Behavior Therapy. View Event +

Introduction to ASD – Practical Applications – POPARD

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July 31 – Aug. 4 – Surrey
Aug. 14 – 18 – Vancouver

Kenneth Cole, Ph.D., RPsych

“Amazing and useful information. I wish our whole staff could attend!!”

View Surrey Event +
View Vancouver Event + 

Cutting Edge Strategies to Improve Executive Function Skillsimg_265X130

Aug. 10 & 11 – Sidney
Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP (Boston)

I learned strategies I can use with all of my students right away.”

View Event +

Integrating ABA Methods in Schools: Supporting School Aged Children

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Aug. 24 & 25 – Vancouver
In person & via live web streaming
Richard Stock, Ph.D., BCBA-D

“Powerful and easy to implement IEP suggestions”
(CEUs for BCBAs and BCaBAs are available. See event page for details).

View Event +

New MCFD-funded Event Bursaries for Parents of Children with ASD

MCFD has provided ACT with funding for a bursary program for parents and caregivers of children with autism to attend ACT events at reduced registration rates ($35 a day*) until March 31, 2018. Seats will be filled on a first come, first registered basis. Each parent is eligible to receive one in-person event bursary up until March 31, 2018. Additional bursaries are available to register for web streamed events.

*Learn more about how to register using the MCFD event bursary program.

Two New Free Videos – Autism Videos @ ACT

ACT added two new videos to Autism Videos @ ACT (AVA) in April. There are over 25 free online videos now available. Visit AVA for evidence-informed presentations on a wide-range of practical, autism- related topics aimed at improving the quality of life of individuals with ASD and their families. www.actcommunity.ca/videos/

img_560X250 Family Quality of Life and ASD Funding in BC: Opportunities for Culturally Responsive Research

Grace Iarocci, PhD, R.Psych & Emily Gardiner, PhD, BCCH
Drs. Iarocci and Gardiner present findings from a study in which participants reported on their satisfaction with available funds and resources for autism in BC. This research revealed important insights into the strengths and challenges associated with the BC funding model, as perceived by service users. The video concludes with a discussion on the implications for provincial policy and practice, and strategies for including under-served families in research. Watch Video img_560X250

Building a System of Culturally Sensitive Family Centred Positive Behavior Support

Parbs Bains, M.Ed., BCBA & Noreen Dunn, M.Ed., BCBA
As professionals working in culturally diverse communities in Metro Vancouver, Parbs Bains and Noreen Dunn are part of a working group on how to best deliver culturally-sensitive services to the many families for whom English is a second language. Their goal is to improve the quality of life for families and their children by empowering families to use culturally acceptable Positive Behaviour Support strategies effectively. This presentation describes a summary of the group’s work. Watch Video 

A Parent’s Handbook – French and Japanese Translations Ready Soon!img_185X240

Since last summer, ACT has been working on a project on behalf of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, translating A Parent’s Handbook: Your Guide to Autism Programsinto eight languages. French and Japanese translations of the handbook will be ready the first week of May. The handbook is already available in Chinese, Korean and Spanish; they can all be found on ACT’s website. ACT is working with teams of proof-readers and translators on the remaining translations into Farsi (Persian), Arabic and Punjabi , they will be available by June 30th. See MCFD’s original News Release for details of this project. View all translations +

Free SFU Camp & Parent Workshop – Registration is Open!

Join the 6th Annual SFU Social Science Camp – a FREE, fun, and educational camp for children with and without ASD. At SFU Burnaby campus on July 15 & 22 (9am-3pm), the camp will offer a mix of social games and an opportunity to participate in research using fun activities. This year’s theme is “Celebrating our special interests and skills” and all children will receive a SFU Social Science Camp T-shirt! Parents can also attend a FREE workshops while children attend the camp. Spots are limited so sign up today.

Special Needs Community Events in B.C.

What to know what is happening in the autism/special needs community in B.C.? Browse ACT’s Special Needs Community Events Calendar

Post your community events, and reach a new audience. This listing is a popular part of ACT’s monthly newsletter, which reaches over 7,300 individual, schools and agencies each month.

Post-Secondary Opportunities: Upgrade your Skills

Looking to upgrade your skills or seeking professional certification? ACT lists B.C. Post-Secondary Programs for Professionals on our website. Capilano University and Douglas College are taking applications for programs that begin in September 2017. 

RASP Updates for April 2017

A New RASP Category – Supervised Occupational Therapist

The new Supervised Occupational Therapist category for the RASP has been approved by MCFD and came into effect April 1, 2017. For details, see the ACT website:

Sharp Increase in RASP Applications and Approvals

12 RASP professionals have been added or had their status updated since March 30, 2017. As of April 26, 2017, there are 696 professionals on the Registry for Autism Service Providers: www.actcommunity.ca/rasp/search/

Compared to the first four months of 2016, applications and approvals are up significantly in 2017, in part because ACT has urged new applicants to apply before May 1 (see Reminder below). ACT has received a 73% increase in the number of applications submitted, and a 47% increase in the numbers approved. We are working hard to process applicants quickly to ensure that families have access to as many qualified professionals as possible during the transition to MCFD management of the RASP.

Behavior Consultants (Category B –Supervised)

  • Cherry Truong – Burnaby, North Vancouver, Vancouver

Speech-Language Pathologists (Non-Supervised)

  • Abbey Massar – Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission

Speech-Language Pathologists (Supervised)

  • Melanie Carrick – Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam
  • David Herb –Vancouver
  • Andrea Rushton – Burnaby, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Richmond, Vancouver

Occupational Therapists

  • Jennifer Kennedy – Campbell River, Comox, Comox Valley, Denman Island, Hornby Island, Quadra Island, Tofino, Ucluelet, Victoria
  • Andrea N. Schneider – Surrey, Vancouver
  • Pamela Hood-Szivek – Victoria

Occupational Therapists (Supervised)

  • Naomi Hill – Vancouver
  • Tiffany Kobbero – Abbotsford, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Port Moody, Surrey, Vancouver
  • Kimberly Long – Kelowna, Lake Country, Oliver, Osoyoos, Peachland, Penticton, Summerland, West Kelowna
  • Sarah Tamosetis – 100 Mile House, Williams Lake

Professionals no longer listed on the RASP

RASP service providers may leave the RASP due to retirement or moving to a different job or province. Since March 30 listings for Kate Fitzherbert, Jeanine Harper, Louise Hill, and Stephanie Sywak have been removed from the RASP.

Reminder: New RASP Applications Received after May 15th will be processed by MCFD.

ACT will hand over the management of the Registry of Autism Service Providers to MCFD as of June 30, 2017. ACT advises that all new applications should be submitted by Monday, May 1, 2017. RASP applications which arrive after May 15, 2017 will be processed by MCFD.

Please note that the RASP application process will remain the same after July 1st as it is a MCFD-regulated process, which ACT has managed on MCFD’s behalf since 2005. For more information on the RASP application process see: www.actcommunity.ca/rasp/sp-info/

Autism in the News

For more news and stories, follow ACT on Facebook

Two New Free Videos – Autism Videos @ ACT

ACT added two new videos to Autism Videos @ ACT (AVA) in April. There are over 25 free online videos now available. Visit AVA for evidence-informed presentations on a wide-range of practical, autism- related topics aimed at improving the quality of life of individuals with ASD and their families. www.actcommunity.ca/videos/

img_560X250Family Quality of Life and ASD Funding in BC: Opportunities for Culturally Responsive Research

Grace Iarocci, PhD, R.Psych & Emily Gardiner, PhD, BCCH
Drs. Iarocci and Gardiner present findings from a study in which participants reported on their satisfaction with available funds and resources for autism in BC. This research revealed important insights into the strengths and challenges associated with the BC funding model, as perceived by service users. The video concludes with a discussion on the implications for provincial policy and practice, and strategies for including under-served families in research. Watch Video

 

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Building a System of Culturally Sensitive Family Centred Positive Behavior Support

Parbs Bains, M.Ed., BCBA & Noreen Dunn, M.Ed., BCBA
As professionals working in culturally diverse communities in Metro Vancouver, Parbs Bains and Noreen Dunn are part of a working group on how to best deliver culturally-sensitive services to the many families for whom English is a second language. Their goal is to improve the quality of life for families and their children by empowering families to use culturally acceptable Positive Behaviour Support strategies effectively. This presentation describes a summary of the group’s work. Watch Video 

New MCFD-funded bursaries for parents attending ACT Events

ACT is hosting several upcoming training opportunities this Spring and Summer. Register soon to ensure your seat and take advantage of early bird rates.

Special funding from MCFD will allow ACT to provide 50 bursaries for each of our larger events to allow parents and caregivers (including foster parents) to register for $35 a day (details here).

  • Access will be provided on a first come, first registered, basis.
  • Each registrant will have access to only one in-person bursary until March 31st, 2018.
  • Additional bursaries will be available for web streamed events, including this month’s Focus on Research Conference, accessible province-wide.

Details on the MCFD-sponsored bursaries for parents of children with ASD

Details on ACT’s bursary program 

Upcoming Events include:

Applications of CBT to Address Emotional Functioning in Youth with ASD
July 24 & 25, 2017 – Vancouver, BC
Jonathan Weiss, PhD, CPsych

Introduction to ASD – Practical Applications – POPARD (Surrey)
July 31 – August 4, 2017 – Surrey, BC
Kenneth Cole, PhD, RPsych

Cutting Edge Strategies to Improve Executive Function Skills
August 10 & 11, 2017 – Sidney, BC
Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP

Introduction to ASD – Practical Applications – POPARD (Vancouver)
August 14 – 18, 2017 – Vancouver , BC
Kenneth Cole, PhD, RPsych

Integrating ABA Methods in Schools: Supporting School Aged Children
August 24 & 25, 2017 – Vancouver, BC
Richard Stock, PhD, BCBA-D

Picturing Success: Visual Support Strategies for Individuals with ASD
October 20 & 21, 2017 – Vancouver , BC
Brenda Fossett, PhD, BCBA-D

Two Social Thinking® Days for Young Children 
November 16 & 17, 2017 – Vancouver , BC
Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP & Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP Social Thinking Training and Speakers’ Collaborative, San Jose, California

Survey Results: BC’s Autism Community Rejects MCFD Take-Over of Support Services

ACT thanks all 1,621 people who took the time to fill in our recent survey. The survey report, released today, clearly demonstrates that there is widespread concern about Ministry of Children and Family Development’s (MCFD) decision to take over the information, support and RASP services that ACT has provided for over a decade.

Only 9% of respondents endorsed the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s decision to take on this role as of July 1, cancelling a 25-year history of  the province contracting with a community-based service provider to provide information and support to the autism community in B.C.

71% of survey respondents indicated that they prefer to access autism information and services through a not-for-profit organization. The survey was commissioned by ACT and carried out by Reichert & Associates, an independent research firm, and points to many areas of concern.

“Reasons for this concern range from respondents’ past negative experiences with MCFD to their present perception of MCFD as a ministry that is “too slow to respond,” “too far removed from front line support,” and one that already has “too much on its plate”, according to the report, Identifying Need, Delivering Service: Autism Community Satisfaction Survey (pdf).
 
The results strongly endorsed the work of  ACT – Autism Community Training:

  • 86% of respondents indicated that they would be comfortable contacting ACT if they were facing an autism-related challenge, compared to 35% who would be comfortable contacting MCFD.
  • 93% of respondents were satisfied with their access to services and resources through ACT.
  • 96% of respondents were satisfied with ACT’s website, compared to 43% satisfied with MCFD’s website.

“Minister Stephanie Cadieux told a delegation from ACT’s Board on February 27th, that ‘some’ parents may not contact MCFD for autism services but this report reflects our concern that many will not”, says Deborah Pugh, ACT’s Executive Director.

“If government is serious about supporting all families they should reconsider this short-sighted decision. On average, aboriginal and immigrant children receive a late diagnosis compared to the general population. Very few of these children are benefiting from early intervention and we know from our work with vulnerable communities that they will be especially reluctant to seek support from a government service,” explains Pugh.

MCFD has explained the decision to cancel the 2016 Request for Proposals issued in August 2016 as a way to save money and streamline services, by having MCFD provide information and support services directly at the Pacific Autism Family Centre (PAFC) for the nearly 13,000 children with an autism diagnosis in B.C.

PAFC was opened by Premier Christy Clark in November 2016 and was funded by a $20 million grant authorized by her predecessor Premier Gordon Campbell. The centre is still seeking tenants; because of high costs, most will likely be private companies charging parents for services.

Since 2007, the funding that ACT receives per child with autism in BC has dropped from $133 to $50 per child, because of the increase in the numbers of children being diagnosed. ACT’s core funding from MCFD has been frozen since 2010.

“We don’t see how MCFD will be able to maintain the necessary technology, pay unionized staff, cover the high operating costs at PAFC and ensure service quality while at the same time saving taxpayer dollars,” said ACT’s Board President, Dr. Christian Duff, Professor Emeritus at Royal Roads University.

While losing two-thirds of its income has been a financial blow, ACT is heartened by the high approval ratings received from all sectors of the autism community in the survey.
 
“ACT will continue to provide training in 2017 and expand our free, community-focused, online training and information resources. We are working to find alternative sources of funding and sponsorship to expand our reach across Canada and internationally”, says Pugh, adding, “We were surprised when MCFD provided us with $150,000 at the end of March, to support our bursary fund for parents. These one-time-only funds are appreciated but we will need to diversify our sources of funding.”

ACT’s highly committed staff will continue to deliver our information and support services to the best of our ability until June 30th. From the survey comments and calls we get at ACT, we know that parents and professionals are confused about what MCFD will provide. We hope that MCFD will soon share a detailed plan for its new program at PAFC with the autism community. ACT will post the plan on the new Transition Page of ACT’s website when available.

For updates on the transition of ACT’s services to MCFD, please visit: www.actcommunity.ca/transition

Download the survey results: 

Identifying Need, Delivering Service:
Autism Community Satisfaction Survey (pdf)

ACT’s Quick Facts (pdf)

March News Round-Up

Celebrating World Autism Awareness Day and Month!

Sunday, April 2, 2017 is the 10th Anniversary of the United Nations designating World Autism Awareness Day. At the UN in New York today (March 31) , a conference on ‘Towards Autonomy and Self-Determination’ highlights the need to protect the rights of adults with ASD. Here in B.C., all of April is Autism Awareness Month. The biggest fun day of the month will be the Canuck Autism Network’s Annual Family Day event on April 9 – CAN Family Festival . ACT will have an information table at the event. Please drop by and say hello.

Autism Speaks Canada is calling on us all to wear blue on April 2nd and many buildings around the world will be “lighting it up blue” to celebrate autism awareness and acceptance on World Autism Day. Events are happening around B.C., including Vernon’s 4th Annual Autism Awareness Walk and BBQ.

ACT’s April Awareness Event is our 13th Annual Focus on Research conference when we will bring together leading researchers with members of B.C.’s autism community to tackle the issues that present barriers to meaningful inclusion. This April we are digging deep into many facets of mental health and autism. This will be web streamed to encourage participation from across B.C.

Is there an April Autism Awareness/Appreciation event happening in your community? Submit your community event online so we can share your information via our website and Facebook page.

$2.85 million Parent Coaching Project Awarded to UBC

ACT is very pleased to announce that a decision has been made to award funding for a three year $2.85 million project focused on researching parent coaching in diverse communities in British Columbia. The project will be led by Dr. Pat Mirenda and Dr. Anthony Bailey, of the University of British Columbia, both well known to B.C.’s autism community for their knowledge of autism and commitment to the need for families to receive quality intervention services that support the best outcomes for children. “This will be one of the largest-ever studies of parent coaching,” said Dr. Bailey, the Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the UBC Institute of Mental Health. “It also breaks new ground in its inclusion of rural and disadvantaged families in the parent coaching model, and in the degree of choice that will be given to parents as to where coaching is delivered, including via the internet.”

For more details on the project please see the UBC press release here.

ACT has been holding the project funding, which was provided by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and will continue to play a role in receiving reports from the project until it completes in three years’ time. ACT would like to thank all members of the Steering Committee who have contributed to this innovative project. In particular, we recognize the important role of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research in convening an international panel of expert researchers who evaluated the applications and made the selection.

Supporting Autism Awareness for All, Year-Round

As Canada’s leading provider of online community-level autism training, for parents and professionals, ACT has met the challenge of B.C.’s linguistically diverse community by developing Autism in Punjabi and ACT in Chinese, holding conferences to highlight the need to support all British Columbians affected by autism, including the videotaping of key presentations. In addition, we have made it possible to ‘Search the RASP’ by language as well as adding resources to the Autism Information Database in multiple languages.

We are releasing a number of videos from last year’s Focus on Research Conference. Below are two offering – more will be released in April.

Explore Autism Resources on www.actcommunity.ca +

Two New Videos – Autism Videos @ ACT

Since January we have added five new videos to the AID; these are our latest addition for March:

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Bilingualism and Language Development in Children with Autism

Many bilingual families are told by professionals to speak only one language to their child with autism. This important presentation summarizes the research in this area, much of which calls into question the one language recommendation. Presented by Professor Pat Mirenda, UBC.

Watch Video +

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Parent Support for Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Communities – a Global Perspective

The empowerment of caregivers is increasingly recognized as a critical component of intervention for children with autism; the World Health Organization recommends parent skills training. McGill University is undertaking a local adaptation and evaluation of a new evidence-based, affordable, PST program that can be delivered by non-specialist providers in a wide range of community settings. Presented by Mayada Elsabbagh, Ph.D., McGill University.

Watch Video +

MCFD’s – A Parent’s Handbook – Now in Chinese, Korean & Spanish

ACT has long been concerned at the disadvantages faced by children with autism whose parents struggle in English – and the negative impact on their children. In 2016, B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development agreed to translate their handbook, A Parent’s Handbook: Your Guide to Autism Programs funding ACT to carry out the translations into eight languages. The handbook is now available in Chinese, Korean and Spanish and can be found on ACT’s website.

The remaining translations into Farsi (Persian), Arabic, Punjabi, Japanese, and French are in the proof-reading or the design phase and will be available by June 30th. See MCFD’s original News Release for details of this project.

Seeking Farsi Proof Reader

ACT is seeking a Farsi (Persian) proof reader to review the draft Handbook in Farsi. If you have knowledge of autism and are fluent in Farsi, please contact Christine at chung@actcommunity.ca.
ACT offers an honorarium for this work.

Celebrate Autism Awareness Month – Donate to Support ACT’s Online Resources

ACT remains committed to our online training and information resources, including Autism Videos @ ACT and the Autism Information Database, despite MCFD’s cancellation of funding for individualized information and support work, as of June 30. ACT online resources are nationally recognized as important tools for families who need to make informed choices for their child’s development. ACT has a growing library of 26 online videos, allowing ACT to serve the autism community, both parents and community professionals, no matter where they live:

  • Free, with no login required
  • Divided into short chunks to aid navigation
  • Professionally filmed and edited with links to resources
  • Accessible on smart phones and tablets
  • For technical questions: www.actcommunity.ca/videohelp

As a federally registered not-for-profit society, ACT can provide tax receipts for donations over $10. ACT’s Charitable Tax Number is #861691236RR0001.

How to Donate:

  • By cheque (send to office, made out to ACT – Autism Community Training)
  • Via the United Way (search for ACT- Autism Community Training Society, Burnaby)
  • Online via CanadaHelps or Chimp
  • Call the ACT office and donate by credit card (604-205-5467 or 1-866-939-5188)

Donors and sponsors are listed on our donations page. Thank you for contributing to non-commercial, evidence-based, online information and training resources.

Donate Online

Time to Re-Focus on Special Education in B.C.

The CBC reports that the B.C. government is meeting the Supreme Court of Canada order to restore class size and composition to 2002 levels by allocating $330 million in funding. School districts are now set to hire 2,600 new teachers with the additional funding. The CBC also reports that there are a staggering 65,000 fewer students in the public school system when compared to 2002. From ACT’s experience supporting families, over the past 12 years, we believe that many of these children likely have special needs that were not being met in the public school system. View Article +

ACT provides information and support to families across B.C. who struggle to find appropriate supports for their children with special needs in B.C. schools – almost 10 percent of the calls we receive relate to education issues and these are often very tough to resolve for parents. We have seen a trend where an increasing number of families decide to homeschool or enrol their children in private schools because the public system is not meeting their child’s needs. There is no Ministry of Education data about why children leave the public education system but frequently parents contact us because their child has been repeatedly excluded from school or is only allowed to attend a few hours a day or less. Parents are concerned that public schools suffer from insufficient specialized teachers with training in special education and a lack of teaching assistant support. This point was made passionately earlier this week by Maggie Milne Martens of the Parent Advocacy Network: View Article +

There is evidence to show that all students with disabilities are facing significant challenges in B.C., especially Aboriginal families. A report published earlier this month, by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Left Out: Challenges faced by persons with disabilities in Canada’s schools, points to the high numbers of children with disabilities denied an education – and B.C. comes out higher than the national average in the key findings: approximately 10% of persons with disabilities across Canada stopped their education altogether because of their disability. The proportion is especially high in British Columbia (14.3%): View Report (pdf) +

There are other worrying indications that students with special education needs are not receiving the expert attention they require in B.C. The Special Education Branch within the Ministry of Education has lost its entire senior staff with experience in special education in recent years. The branch is now being ”rebranded” as Inclusive Education – Learning Division and is led, not by a special educator, as in the past, but by a Master’s in Business Administration. Responsibility for special needs policy is increasingly delegated to individual school districts, raising concerns among parents that the already poor level of accountability at the district level will further deteriorate. The Left Out report points to an Ineffective Dispute Resolution Mechanism forcing parents to turn to the courts. In B.C., ACT sees a link between the inhospitable climate in the public schools for children with special needs fueling their withdrawal from the public school system.

In 2016, 44% of calls to ACT pertained to the many needs of school-aged children. As ACT will no longer have the staff to provide individualized support to these families as of June 30th, we call on the B.C. Ministry of Education to pay particular attention to the specific requirements of children with special needs, and to invest in having teachers trained in special education, as they ramp up their staffing. It is disappointing that in recent years there has been zero growth in the budget designated to the Provincial Resource Programs, which are intended to build capacity for teachers and provide specialized supports to students with exceptional needs. In addition, there has been a shift away from Ministry leadership of these programs, towards handing responsibility over to the host district where the program is located which downgrades the importance of province-wide standards.

The time is ripe to invest in Provincial Resource programs, including the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders, the organization responsible for in-service training of teachers and supporting schools, as well as increased special education training for teachers prior to their graduation from B.C. universities.

Special Needs Community Events in B.C:

These upcoming events and more are listed on our Special Needs Community Events Calendar.

Browse Community Events

Upcoming ACT Conferences – New! MCFD Bursaries

ACT is hosting six training opportunities this Spring and Summer. Register soon to ensure your seat and take advantage of early bird rates.

Special funding from MCFD will allow ACT to provide 50 bursaries for each of our larger events to allow parents and caregivers (including foster parents) to register for $35 a day.

  • Access will be provided on a first come, first registered, basis.
  • Each registrant will have access to only one in-person bursary until March 31st, 2018.
  • Additional bursaries will be available for web streamed events, including this month’s Focus on Research Conference, accessible province-wide.

View more details about this new MCFD bursary program.

Mental Health – Looking Beyond Autism:
ACT’s 13th Annual Focus on Research Conference

April 28 & 29, 2017 – SFU Harbour Centre – Vancouver
Attend in person or via live web streaming! Early bird deadline – April 7th.

Applications of CBT to Address Emotional Functioning in Youth with ASD
July 24 & 25- Vancouver
Jonathan Weiss, Ph.D., CPsych, Chair in ASD Treatment and Care Research, York University
A Professional Development Opportunity

Introduction to ASD – Practical Applications – POPARD
July 31 – Aug. 4 – Surrey
Aug. 14 – 18 -Vancouver
Kenneth Cole, Ph.D., RPsych
“Amazing and useful information. I wish our whole staff could attend!!”

Executive Functioning Conference
Aug. 10 & 11 – Sidney
Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP (Boston)
“I learned strategies I can use with all of my students right away.”

Integrating ABA Methods in Schools: Supporting School Aged Children
Aug. 24 & 25 – Vancouver
Richard Stock, Ph.D., BCBA-D
“Powerful and easy to implement IEP suggestions”

(CEUs for BCBAs and BCaBAs are available. See event page for details).

View Upcoming Conferences

Participate in Research

ACT lists university-affiliated research projects which parents and community professionals may be interested in exploring. Some of the more recent postings include:

Post-Secondary Opportunities: Upgrade your Skills

Looking to upgrade your skills or seeking professional certification? ACT lists B.C. Post-Secondary Programs for Professionals on our website. Both Capilano University and Douglas College are taking applications for programs that begin in September 2017.

RASP Updates for March 2017

Twenty RASP professionals have been added or had their status updated in March 2017. There are 688 professionals on the Registry for Autism Service Providers as of March 31st:
www.actcommunity.ca/rasp/search/.

Behavior Consultants (Category A – Non-Supervised)

  • Shaheen Bhagudi – Ladner, New Westminster, Richmond, Surrey, Tsawwassen, Vancouver, White Rock
  • Renee Chong – Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, North Delta, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver
  • Elyssa McKee – Burnaby, Coquitlam, North Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, West Vancouver
  • Tana Richards – Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Surrey, Vancouver
  • Lillian Wong – Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Vancouver

Behavior Consultants (Category B –Supervised)

  • Thea Brain – Burnaby, North Vancouver, Richmond, Vancouver, West Vancouver
  • Rosa Gonzales – Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Vancouver
  • Kourtney Rasmussen – Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, White Rock
  • Kyla Swanston – Chemainus, Cobble Hill, Crofton, Duncan, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan, Mill Bay, Shawnigan Lake
  • Phung Van – Burnaby, Coquitlam, North Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver

Speech-Language Pathologists (Non-Supervised)

  • Jennifer Buckley – Abbotsford, Langley, New Westminster, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver
  • Stacie Donison – Victoria
  • Shelley Gelineau – Chilliwack
  • Michele Lacroix – Cranbrook, Golden, Invermere

Speech-Language Pathologists (Supervised)

  • Tess Fairburn – Burnaby, Delta, Langley, Richmond, Surrey
  • Leeann Flood – Kelowna, Keremeos, Okanagan Falls, Oliver, Osoyoos, Peachland, Penticton, Princeton, Summerland, West Kelowna
  • Marie-Elise Marcoux – Castlegar, Rossland, Trail

Occupational Therapists

  • Rebecca Bjorklund – Black Creek, Campbell River, Comox, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Gold River, Quadra Island
  • Lisa Holowaychuk – North Vancouver, Vancouver, West Vancouver
  • Elizabeth Ullrich – Victoria

Professionals no longer listed on the RASP
RASP service providers may leave the RASP due to retirement or moving to a different job or province. William Brandon was removed in March.

Supervised Occupational Therapist launches April 1, 2017

This new category has been created to help Occupational Therapists, new to the field of autism, to acquire enough experience to qualify for the RASP. Note that MCFD is in the process of updating their forms. Applicants and their supervisors may use the existing RASP application and Supervision Verification Record to apply for this category.

Reminder: New RASP Applicants must have all documentation in by May 31st.

ACT is preparing to hand over the management of the Registry of Autism Service Providers to MCFD as of June 30, 2017 when our contract ends. In order to minimise delays for those planning to apply to the RASP, and to provide an efficient transition, ACT advises that all new applications should be submitted by May 1, 2017.

To ensure that new applications can be fully processed before the transition, all documentation must be provided to ACT by May 31, 2017. If documentation is received after this date, the file will be transferred to MCFD for processing.

All new RASP applications which arrive after May 15, 2017 will be processed by MCFD.

Please note that the RASP application process will remain the same after July 1st as it is a MCFD-regulated process, which ACT has managed on MCFD’s behalf since 2005. For more information on the RASP application process see: www.actcommunity.ca/rasp/sp-info/

Autism in the News

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Celebrating World Autism Awareness Day and Month!

Sunday, April 2, 2017 is the 10th Anniversary of the United Nations designating World Autism Awareness Day. At the UN in New York today  (March 31) , a conference on ‘Towards Autonomy and Self-Determination’ highlights the need to protect the rights of adults with ASD.

Here in B.C., all of April is Autism Awareness Month. The biggest fun day of the month will be the Canuck Autism Network’s Annual Family Day event on April 9 –  CAN Family Festival . ACT will have an information table at the event. Please drop by and say hello.

Autism Speaks Canada is calling on us all to wear blue on April 2nd and many buildings around the world will be “lighting it up blue” to celebrate autism awareness and acceptance on World Autism Day. Events are happening around B.C., including Vernon’s 4th Annual Autism Awareness Walk and BBQ

ACT’s April Awareness Event is our 13th Annual Focus on Research conference when we will bring together leading researchers with members of B.C.’s autism community to tackle the issues that present barriers to meaningful inclusion. This April we are digging deep into many facets of  mental health and autism. This will be web streamed to encourage participation from across B.C.

Is there an April Autism Awareness/Appreciation event happening in your community? Submit your community event online so we can share your information via our website and Facebook page.