Author Archives: ACT

New video: INVESTing in Women and Girls with Autism

INVEST: Identify Needs, Validate, Educate, Strengthen and Thrive

Dori Zener, MSW, RSW

Girls and women with ASD largely camouflage their characteristics in an effort to pass as neurotypical. Due to their difficulties reading social cues, girls and women with ASD are disproportionately victims of bullying, sexual assault and abusive relationships. Mental health challenges such anxiety, depression, panic, eating disorders, ADHD, OCD and addictions often come to the attention of professionals before an ASD diagnosis is given, if at all.

The INVEST model has been developed by Dori Zener based on her extensive clinical experience with women and girls with ASD. The following are excerpts from her one day workshop on the INVEST model filmed at INVESTing in Girls and Women with ASD – November 2, 2018

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Dori Zener, MSW, RSW

Dori Zener is an Individual, Couple and Family Therapist in Toronto, Dori Zener has been working with individuals affected by ASD and learning differences for over a decade, with a particular interest in girls and women. She hosts “Asperfemme,” a free support group for women on the spectrum in Toronto.

Thanks to funding from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration (CIRCA) at the University of British Columbia, ACT is able to provide this edited version of INVESTing in Women and Girls with Autism.

New video: Integrating ABA Methods in Schools: Supporting School-Age Children 

Visit Autism Videos at ACT

Richard Stock

Integrating ABA Methods in Schools: Supporting School-Age Children 

Richard Stock, PhD, BCBA-D,
Capilano University

This workshop focuses on using Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) methods to support students with autism from Kindergarten to Grade 12; in particular, those who are moderately to severely impacted by their autism.

While many educators are familiar with early behavioral intervention using discrete trial teaching, the science of ABA has much more to offer teachers who are responsible for the education of students with autism and related disorders. This workshop aims to expand your conceptualization of ABA in ways that are practical in the regular classroom.

Dr. Richard Stock is one of B.C.’s most respected Behavior Analysts. He is highly regarded both as a teacher and a collaborative member of inter-disciplinary intervention teams. Dr. Stock has been on faculty in the ABA – Autism Department at Capilano University since 2009 and co-ordinator of the program since 2013.

Watch on Autism Videos at ACT

Topics covered include:

  • Creating high quality Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Review of BC Ministry of Education IEP standards
  • Introduction to the 4 core elements of IEPs
  • Instruction and guided practice in developing quality IEP long-term and short-term goals
  • Collecting practical and useful data as a necessary component of IEPs
  • Addressing problem behavior
  • Introduction to 6 types of consequences and how they affect problem behaviours
  • Introduction to the (4) functions of problem behavior and functional assessment
  • Introduction to the Competing Pathways Diagram and the structure of positive behavior support plans
  • Practical classroom strategies for everyday use

Thanks to funding from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration (CIRCA) at the University of British Columbia, ACT is able to provide this edited version of Integrating ABA Methods in Schools: Supporting School-Age Children.

New Video! Visual Support Strategies presented by Dr. Brenda Fossett, BCBA-D


The latest addition to Autism Videos @ ACT

Visual Support Strategies for Individuals with ASD

Brenda Fossett, PhD, BCBA-D,
Capilano University

Looking for a way to improve your parenting or teaching skills this summer? This two day workshop presented by Dr. Brenda Fossett has been edited by ACT into an online video available free! Whether you use visual support strategies now, or are looking to integrate them into your tool box, this is an essential resource for those supporting children, youth and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities who have communication challenges.

Dr. Fossett demonstrates how visual strategies can be used to increase independent functioning, teach specific skills, improve environmental awareness, teach rules and social expectations, reduce problem behavior and so much more! There is a large body of research to support the use of these strategies with children, youth, and adults in home, school, community and employment settings.

Dr. Brenda Fossett is an inspired teacher who is widely admired for her ability to convey complex concepts to those who work with children and adults with special needs, whether they are educational professionals or parent. Dr. Fossett has been on faculty in the Applied Behavior Analysis – Autism Department at Capilano University since 2013.

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Dr. Fossett’s comprehensive guide to visual support strategies is broken down into categorized sections, allowing you to quickly find the information you need:

Thanks to funding from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration (CIRCA) at the University of British Columbia, ACT is able to provide this edited version of Picturing Success: Visual Support Strategies for Individuals with ASD.

Save $25 when you register for Social Stories with Carol Gray by Friday evening!

Presented in collaboration with Surrey Schools and the
Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders (POPARD)

Social Stories 10.2 with Carol Gray Thursday & Friday, August 15 & 16, 2019 Surrey, BC & Web Streaming Live Last chance for early-bird rate this Friday In-person seats are limited!

Carol Gray

Founder and Innovator, Social Stories Satellite Schools and Services, and Carol’s Club, Michigan, USA

Join ACT for this terrific two day workshop and discover why Carol Gray, the innovator of Social Stories, has earned the respect of the international autism community. An insightful presenter, Carol Gray inspires us to rethink how to support those with social-communication challenges.

Research has demonstrated that a Social Stories approach, when used properly, can play an essential role in enhancing communication and bringing down anxiety among individuals with ASD. They are very useful in reducing challenging behaviors which are often provoked by confusion and fear of the unknown on the part of the individual with ASD.

This Social Stories 10.2 workshop, led by Carol Gray, will devote two full days to the art and science of Social Stories, with the focus on practicing skills and learning the many new strategies developed in recent years.

Join us at the Surrey School District Education Centre or via live web-streaming, from anywhere in B.C. or Alberta, to polish your Social Stories skills, learn new techniques, or discover the versatility of this instructional strategy for the first time. No previous experience of Social Stories is required.

Register before June 14th to save $25!

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School District staff please contact ACT to check whether your district has a special rate for this event.

Web streaming live to BC & Alberta

ACT’s web streaming is LIVE online video broadcasts, in real time, of autism training events. Visit our web streaming page to find future events with Carol Gray and Sarah Ward, and find details on how your school, organization, or group can receive discounted rates.

Web streaming discounts for schools & groups

Cost-effective training solutions for school districts and agencies

Is your school district, agency or community group looking for a low cost way to make excellent, practical training, featuring internationally respected speakers, available to your teams with reduced fees and without the cost of travel? Join us at our live events! All you need is a comfortable venue, good internet connection, big screen, and a sound system.

ACT uses a professional film crew, streaming high-quality video and sound along with a live-chat your registrants can use to ask speakers questions.

Groups of registrants watch together on one screen and pay a reduced registration fee. ACT sends all registrants links to the handout and the password for the web stream to the organizer.

Contact to arrange for your group’s web stream registration today! Visit the web streaming page for more details.

Bursaries for web streaming

Bursaries for those most in need, including para-professionals, parents who have children with special needs, and adults with ASD are available for web streaming, to the best of our financial ability.

For information on how to apply for an ACT bursary, please visit the Bursaries FAQ page

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An Update on Allegations of Munchausen by Proxy

(Original post folllows)

Thank you to all of the parents who have contacted me privately about their own cases involving allegations of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy.  This is very painful information to share and I am grateful for your trust. There are some common themes emerging, including school teams and medical professionals, all without specialized training in autism, jumping to the conclusion that the mother is to blame for the child’s behaviors. I also want to note one case in which the parent is grateful to her MCFD team for advocating in the face of unfounded allegations from a medical professional.

In the case ACT is engaged in, the allegations are that a parent subjected two autistic children with other complex disorders to a form of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy/Medical Child Abuse, that holds the caregiver responsible for physical or emotional harm to children.  In this case, the claim is that the parent inflicted the abuse or harm by instigating “excessive and unnecessary” medical assessments and interventions.   However, they refuse to say exactly which assessment and intervention was “excessive” or “unnecessary”, depriving the parent of the necessary information to put together a case to recover the children.   

The lack of autism expertise on the part of the school team and the local child abuse team, which includes a pediatrician, is surprising.  Most worrying, however, is that child protection workers, with the support of their supervisors, insisted on removing children from the family home without seeking advice from any autism specialists.   For five months they have ignored attempts by ACT, and clinicians involved in autism diagnosis and treatment, to explain the process in B.C. – which has been developed by government ministries.

To clarify, these children each went through an orthodox multi-disciplinary diagnosis before they were six. They saw clinicians whom ACT has recommended to dozens if not hundreds of families over the years, in accordance with our previous contract with MCFD. These were proper diagnoses and the children have been diagnosed only once. Yet, the mother was told, in my presence, that unless she accepted that she has emotionally abused these children by taking them to see too many professionals, the legal process could go on for much longer. Now MCFD has grudgingly accepted that the diagnoses were carried out by a qualified professional but still the process drags on while the children remain in foster care, allowed to see their mother only one hour a week.  ACT has contacted the Office of the Representative of Children and Youth but it has been of limited help both because this is before the courts and because they don’t advocate for parents.

Next Steps: Again, thanks to everyone who has contributed their insights both publicly and privately. Once this case is resolved, ACT will collaborate with other community organizations to focus government attention on the lack of training and accountability in our child protection system. Please provide personal information only to my email address to protect your privacy


Deborah Pugh, Executive Director, ACT – Autism Community Training

Original post:


ACT has been working with a family with two children with ASD where the mother has been accused of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy/ Medical Child Abuse. This is where the caregiver is accused of physical or emotional harm to children. In this case, MCFD is alleging the parent instigated “excessive and unnecessary” medical assessments and interventions.

While MCFD’s allegations have shifted over time, ACT has evaluated the multiple private diagnoses that the children have received from qualified professionals and we have found them to be within the normal range of those received by complex children with ASD. Given that the waiting list for publicly funded diagnoses is now over a year long, it is concerning that the mother has been accused of accessing private diagnoses as a means of gaining attention rather than finding early intervention for her children.

ACT is very concerned that both children, who are under 10, have been placed in foster care since January, as MCFD Child Protection tries to prove that their challenges are not related to their diagnoses but are a result of the mother’s alleged emotional abuse. There have been no allegations of physical abuse or neglect. The mother is only allowed to see them for one hour weekly.

Question: Is this case an aberration on the part of MCFD Child Protection services or have you seen similar situations elsewhere in British Columbia? Please do not post personal information on FaceBook instead email Your privacy will be protected.

Thank you.
Deborah Pugh, Executive Director