Author Archives: ACT

Awareness and Acceptance are Only the Start

April is Autism Awareness Month in most of Canada. For the first time, with the publication by the Public Health Agency of Canada of “ASD Among Children and Youth in Canada 2018”, Canadians have a comprehensive snapshot of autism in Canada. What lies ahead for the 1 in 66 children affected by ASD in Canada as they enter adulthood? Because of inclusive educational policies, todays’ Secondary School graduates will likely have had at least some contact with an individual with ASD. But improved awareness about ASD has not translated into significant improvements in adult outcomes. Indeed, we need look no further than post-Secondary education to see how much still needs to be done.

The Bad News

Individuals with ASD have the lowest rates of university enrollment of all the disabilities and have less chance of graduating than their typically developing peers. In between, bright individuals under-perform, many students are socially isolated, and struggles with independent living are common. These difficulties often arise because students are ill-prepared for College or University life. Most will have received no targeted help in adolescence with the social-communication skills necessary for adult success, and the complexity of higher education can overwhelm individuals who have not been taught work arounds for difficulties with organisation and time management. Addressing these gaps may require changes to the Secondary School curricula for pupils with ASD, or the development of new post-Secondary transition courses targeting specific skills.

Individuals with ASD have the lowest rates of university enrollment of all the disabilities and have less chance of graduating than their typically developing peers.

Some Good News

Encouragingly, Colleges and Universities, have made big improvements in their support for students with all disabilities. Help and accommodations are now more easily available and successful peer mentoring schemes for students with ASD have also been established. But there are still significant challenges. Frequently there are not enough resources to provide proactive and targeted psychological support. Moreover some people choose not to disclose their ASD diagnosis for fear of stigmatisation. Also up to a third of adult students with ASD start post-Secondary education without a diagnosis and may not know why things are not going well. Indeed, ASD is particularly underdiagnosed in girls and women, and overall the condition is often not identified until an individual’s mental health deteriorates.

High Mental Health Needs Requires the Engagement of Medical Professionals Broadly

In fact neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ASD, show strong associations with mental illness and adults with ASD can sometimes be more impaired by Anxiety, Depression or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder than by their social-communication difficulties. We now know that enabling adults with ASD to lead productive and fulfilling lives critically depends on identifying and successfully treating these other conditions, which previously may have been overlooked. But significantly improving mental health in the ASD population will require a shift in perceptions: ASD is now so common that diagnosis and management can no longer be the preserve of specialists. The challenges are in identifying ways of efficiently educating health professionals about a childhood onset condition that persists into adult life, and ensuring that health systems properly factor adult ASD into service planning.

Encouragingly, Colleges and Universities, have made big improvements in their support for students with all disabilities.

Employment is Key

A major incentive for rethinking adult services is the sizable bill to taxpayers. ASD is usually thought about in a childhood context, but in fact 90% of ASD related expenditure occurs during adult life. And nearly half of those costs are due to high rates of unemployment. In developed countries only 15% of adults with ASD are in full time work, and where longitudinal data are available, that figure has not improved in the last 10 years. Additionally too many individuals are underemployed or remain stuck in starter jobs. What are we not doing right? Allowing youngsters to graduate from Secondary School without necessary pre-employment skills is an obvious problem and finding and keeping work is a challenge for anyone who is anxious or depressed. But many obstacles to employment lie outside the individual with ASD.

ASD is usually thought about in a childhood context, but in fact 90% of ASD related expenditure occurs during adult life.

The belief that employing someone with a disability is likely to be bad for the bottom line is unfortunately still too common, whereas the data point in the opposite direction. Employees with disabilities are usually hard working, change jobs less frequently and seem to improve job satisfaction amongst other employees. Nevertheless, educating employers may not be sufficient to make a real dent in the ASD unemployment rates and we need a much better understanding of the potential impact of tax breaks and other incentives or possibly new legislation.

But employment is not just about money. Work gives us structure, influences our sense of self and our colleagues can provide an important social network. Individuals with ASD are still missing out on these important determinants of quality of life, whilst the rest of us are not benefitting from their talents and abilities.

How You Can Support Improving the Employment Prospects of Youth and Adults with ASD

It is very tough to attract research funding for practical projects focused on the needs of youth and adults. A group of researchers at the University of British Columbia, led by Dr. Bailey, have set up an innovative 12-week group workshop to help adults with ASD succeed in higher education and the workplace but they need funding to proceed. To see how you can help, visit the crowdfunding page.

Professor Anthony Bailey, Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UBC

Infographic: Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children and Youth in Canada 2018

iPad’s in Autism March 10th – Last Chance to Register

Faster than a Speeding Bullet:

iPads in Autism Intervention

March 10th, 2018, Vancouver
with Dr. Brenda Fossett, BCBA-D

Save $50 when you register by March 5!

For an update on the latest and greatest educational and communication apps for children and adults with special needs, join Dr. Brenda Fossett, BCBA-D for a day that will ensure you are up to speed!

Since the iPad was first released in 2010, the use of iPads and other tablets have become common learning tool in the educational environment. For individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, they have been seen as “miracle” devices. However, for these devices to be effective, there is a lot to be considered.

This workshop will review a number of skill areas in which the iPad can be a useful instructional tool and/or an aid for daily living. Current research regarding the effectiveness of iPad and other tablet-based applications in a variety of skill areas, including communication, academic, daily living, social and employment skills will be reviewed.

Relevant apps will be discussed and/or demonstrated. This presentation will address the age range, from young children to adult. It is aimed at those who need considerable support in communication and behaviour.

Event Details & Registration

About the Presenter

Dr. Brenda Fossett, BCBA-D 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.

ACT News Round-Up: Register for events online with parent bursary, Autism in the News, BC Resources and Autism Information redesign

Upcoming ACT Events

New! Parents of children with ASD can now
register for events online for $25 a day.

Parents are no longer required to call or email to use MCFD event bursaries.

“I’m going to be a video game designer!”

Helping Teens Prepare for the REAL Adult World

February 23rd, 2018, Sidney
with Pamela Crooke, PhD, CC  C-SLP
Director, Social Thinking Training and Speakers’ Collaborative, San Jose, California

At ACT, we hear from many families concerned that their teens with ASD are unprepared to graduate. Academically able students also need help to develop the life skills they need to thrive in higher education and employment. School and home teams are more effective when they consider these issues at 12 rather than 17!

This one day workshop with Dr. Pamela Crooke, who works extensively with able teens and young adults, will provide school teams and parents with a practical approach to helping young people with ASD thrive either in higher education or employment.

Event Details & Registration

Faster than a Speeding Bullet:

iPads in Autism Intervention

March 10th, 2018, Vancouver
with Dr. Brenda Fossett

Since the iPad was first released in 2010, the use of iPads and other tablets have become common learning tool in the educational environment. For individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, they have been seen as “miracle” devices. However, for these devices to be effective, there is a lot to be considered.

This workshop will review a number of skill areas in which the iPad can be a useful instructional tool and/or an aid for daily living. Current research regarding the effectiveness of iPad and other tablet-based applications in a variety of skill areas, including communication, academic, daily living, social and employment skills will be reviewed.

Relevant apps will be discussed and/or demonstrated. This presentation will address the age range, from young children to adult. It is aimed at those who need considerable support in communication and behaviour.

Event Details & Registration

Parents can Register for this and any other ACT Event for $25 a day:

Visit any ACT Event and choose
“Parent of Child with ASD” when you add to cart

Bursaries for those most in need, including para-professionals, parents who have children with special needs other than autism, adults with ASD, and professionals who need to travel outside of their home regions are also available, to the best of our financial ability. We will also be providing reduced registration fees to attend our web streamed events. For information on how to apply for an ACT bursary, please visit the Bursaries FAQ page


We’ve moved!

Our new office is located at
204 – 2735 East Hastings Street, Vancouver

Our phone number and other contact information are unchanged.


New BC Resources and
Autism Information portals

Our recently re-designed portals to Autism Information and BC Resources are now available. These pages make it easier than ever to discover ACT’s autism resources, community events, and information in multiple languages.

BC Resources

Search B.C. Community Resources, find Community Events, look through the Autism Manual and New Diagnosis Hub, discover educational opportunities, and much more.

Visit B.C. Resources


Autism Information

Search the Autism Information Database (AID), browse by subject, find autism information in Chinese and Punjabi, along with dozens of languages in the AID, browse videos in the Online Mental Health and Autism Project, and discover the latest in autism research.

Visit Autism Information


Autism in the News

Get the latest on our Facebook page

Parents Are Making Their Children Drink Bleach to ‘Cure’ Them of Autism – Newsweek

Finally, a Sensitive Portrayal of Both Autistic Women and Star Trek Fans – Slate

Skirting the wait list, Edmonton schools aim to diagnose autism on their own – Edmonton Journal

Weighing up autism’s obesity crisis – Spectrum News

Drawings connect autistic student with the world – Salmon Arm Observer

How David Bowie helped my autistic son become himself – Slate

Brentley’s journey with autism: A three-year-old Penticton boy has a new direction in life – Pentiction Western News

Edmonton schools cope with explosion in number of students on autism spectrum – Edmonton Journal

Another rug bites the dust: A mom laments the collateral damage of autism – Autism Society San Francisco Bay Area

Sensory sensitivity may share genetic roots with autism – Spectrum News

Lake Nona hospital creates special room in ER for autistic children – WFTV

Autism advocate launches ‘prescription television’ show – Philadelphia Tribune

Girls with autism need help honing social skills in realistic settings – Spectrum News

Professor put on leave after allegedly mocking U of G student with ‘severe anxiety‘ – CBC News

Garda probe into alleged threat to ‘bash the autism out of’ mum’s children – Herald News

France faces down its outdated notions about autism – Spectrum News

Nonverbal Canadian woman appears on ‘Late Show,’ turns tables on Colbert – CTV News

Mom who quit job to care for son with autism questions Trudeau about national ‘crisis’ – CTV News

New measure yields rapid diagnosis in adults with autism – Spectrum News

ACT is offering $50 bursaries to all school district staff for a workshop being held on February 23 at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney

The speaker is Dr. Pamela Crooke from the Social Thinking Collaborative in San Jose, California, which was founded by Michelle Garcia Winner. Dr. Crooke will be addressing the transition needs of more able students with autism, who are often ill prepared to graduate because of the assumption that their academic profile will compensate for their lack of social awareness in employment or higher education settings. 

Too often the students themselves have an unrealistic vision of their employment prospects, hence the title of Dr. Crooke’s presentation: “I’m going to be a video game designer!”- Helping Teens Prepare for the REAL Adult World. See ACT’s website for details of the presentation, including learning outcomes, and how to register. You can learn more about Dr. Crooke here. Dr. Crooke has presented for ACT before and audiences have been overwhelmingly positive about her engaging, frank and humorous style.

School District Staff Discount: Register online and receive $50 off when you use your staff email address and this coupon code: sd50. Register by January 11 and save an additional $25.

Registration & Event Details