ACT’s Free Fall-Spring Events Season – available live and online across Canada & around the world
Registration is open for ACT’s free Fall/Spring series of web streamed presentations by speakers who will inspire and inform. This initiative is in response to the concerns of families and individuals across the world, affected by autism and other special needs, who have been isolated by the pandemic. ACT is responding to their requests for practical resources that are accessible from their homes. These free events are open to anyone who is interested, internationally, but the focus is on supporting caregivers. View All Upcoming Events
ACT’s Fall-Spring Season of Free Events has been made possible by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Support Fund in collaboration with the Vancouver Foundation; the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders [POPARD], as well as our generous individual donors.
Please consider donating to ACT – as little as $10 a month is a great help. Support ACT’s work.
BC Election Disability Focus
As BC’s snap election campaign accelerates, many affected by disability are feeling disengaged, after months of being ignored by the current government during the pandemic, and years of neglect by successive governments. But there is time to ask the candidates where they stand. To help, ACT has put together a special Elections 2020 page. Here you will find links to the excellent resources put together by other BC organizations focused on disability rights in the run-up to October 24, Election Day 2020. ACT is also calling on professionals and para-professionals to speak out for change.
Survey Report: Pandemic Canadian Autism Needs Assessment
Over 1,000 responses to a national survey, carried out by McMaster University this summer, point to the severe impact of the pandemic on autistic individuals and those who support them across Canada. Particularly concerning is the impact on mental health.
BCEdAccess Exclusion Tracker
The hard working volunteers at BCEdAccess have published the first survey result for this school year’s ‘Exclusion Tracker’. Early indicators are overwhelming: schools are failing to ensure that ministry directives are being followed, more parents are reporting that their children with disabilities are being excluded from BC schools.
“[The survey] asked if the school-based teams had made the families aware of the BC Ministry of Education’s direction which stated:
‘Students who require more support in school must have full-time, in-class instruction available without any delays.’
Approximately 85% of our respondents stated NO, their school teams had not provided them this information.”
BCEdAccess’ Exclusion Tracker is an ongoing project. Add your experiences to the tracker here.
Registered Disability Savings Plan Awareness Month
October is Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) awareness month! If you are living with a disability and are under 50 years of age, you could be eligible for up to $90,000 in government grants and bonds through a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). If you need free help signing up for the RDSP, take advantage of a new program, including specialized supports for Aboriginal applicants. For more information, visit the RDSP website.
Difficulties Receiving Refunds for ACT Events from MCFD? Please let ACT know!
Last week ACT was contacted by a parent who was refused reimbursement by the Autism Funding Branch of the Ministry of Children and Family Development for the registration fees she had paid to attend an ACT event because she had not requested pre-authorization. We were shocked to hear this as for 15 years, and hundreds of events, families have not been required to have pre-authorization from the Autism Funding Branch for ACT workshops and we were unaware that the policy has been reinterpreted.
We have tried to resolve this with the Autism Funding Branch but their response has been to quote policy: ‘This is supported in policy which can be found on page 19 of “A Parent’s Handbook: Your Guide to Autism Funding Programs”, which states “Services are not eligible for reimbursement; only authorized travel, training and equipment purchases may be reimbursed.”’ This means that instead of continuing with the blanket authorization of all ACT events, which all comply with MCFD’s standards, and feature internationally respected presenters. With this change, each year many hundreds of parents will have to individually request pre-authorization for ACT events.
ACT deeply regrets this inconvenience to families, as we know it will put further stress on them and will waste the time of civil servants. Fortunately, most of ACT’s training this year is free. However, ACT does not want any parent to be out of pocket because we inadvertently misled them. So, if you have been refused reimbursement for an ACT event, ACT will refund your fee. If the Autism Funding Branch pays on your behalf, there is no change. Please just send us the email from the Autism Funding Branch with the refusal and we will process your refunds by the end of this month.
If you have any questions about this reinterpretation of policy, the person to contact is:
Community Liaison / Quality Assurance Officer
Ministry of Children and Family Development
BCEdAccess, BC Parents of Complex Kids, Family Support Institute of BC and Inclusion BC have collaborated on a survey to collect feedback from families and their children and youth with disabilities and who have extra support needs, to provide decision-makers in K-12 education with up to date information and evidence to inform actions and accountability.
Visit BCEdAccess for the full results and details.
BCEdAccess released a report highlighting the gulf between the Ministry of Education’s statements and the reality as experienced by students with disabilities: Children with Disabilities Excluded from School During COVID-19.
“BCEdAccess has released the results of its 2019/20 Exclusion Tracker. The total number of parent reports of exclusion of BC K-12 students with disabilities increased by 179% over last year, from 492 to 883.
The full report can be found here: Exclusion Tracker Report July 22, 2020“
This was also covered by Global News.
The federal government has passed new COVID-19 financial supports for persons with disabilities, including expanding eligibliity to 1.7 million Canadians receiving:
- A Disability Tax Credit certificate provided by the Canada Revenue Agency;
- Canada Pension Plan disability benefit or Quebec Pension Plan disability benefit; and
- Disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.
The supports include a $600 one-time payment.
Registration closes August 5th
Bursaries Available; Pre-approved for Autism Funding
Web Streaming across B.C., Alberta & Yukon
8:30am-3:30pm Pacific Time
A recording of the August 20-21 live web stream will be available for registrants to watch or rewatch from August 25th – September 8th.
For the first time, ACT is offering a presentation by Michelle Garcia Winner as a live web stream – direct from the Social Thinking studio in Santa Clara, California. This presentation is only open to ACT registrants in B.C., Alberta and the Yukon via web stream. ACT and Social Thinking have been planning this conference for over a year as a live event, but as it is not possible to bring hundreds of registrants together in-person, we are grateful that Social Thinking is able to continue this training with a web cast from Santa Clara.
This two-day presentation explores how emotions are the undercurrent of all forms of social communication and are at the heart of personal problem solving, motivation, relationships, and life memories (episodic memory). This information applies to everyone. However, this series focuses on teaching emotions to individuals with social-emotional learning challenges who are working in the average range academically. Across the two days, discover how to teach students, clients, and patients about their emotions and build self-regulation – a timely topic for these difficult times.
Review details of the content, and schedule before registering to ensure this is a good fit for your interests. Please note that this presentation is relevant for those who work with a range of students with diverse learning needs. Autistic adults may also find it helpful. However, it is at the intermediate/advanced level and assumes some knowledge of Social Thinking methodology. If you have not attended a Social Thinking event in the past, you will find it beneficial to review the many free and fascinating resources available on the Social Thinking website.
ACT’s workshops are pre-approved by MCFD – ACT can bill your registration fees directly to the Autism Funding Branch. You do not have to pay ACT in advance but you do have to follow the steps below by August 5th.
To register for an ACT workshop using your Autism Funding,
- Complete ACT’s Online Registration Form.
- Complete and submit by email to firstname.lastname@example.org:
ACT requires all three completed forms to be submitted to process your registration. For details please visit Workshop Registration Using Autism Funding.
Bursaries available for autistic adults and low-income registrants
ACT has bursary funds available for low-income registrants – these are not restricted to the autism community. Submit this bursary form to apply. Wait for a decision on your bursary application before paying! Deadline for bursary submissions is July 22 at 4:30pm. We will send a decision by July 29th.
Participate in Research
As part of ACT’s continuing commitment to research, below is a list of university-affiliated research projects which have been submitted to ACT. We hope that parents, autistic individuals and community professionals will find an interesting project to engage in, to ensure that research is informed by those who have lived experience.
Researchers are invited to submit your research project using this online form. Submission may take up to one week to post.
Recently added research projects:
- Life beyond Trauma: 1-on-1 e-health program for parents of neurodiverse children
- Measuring Sound Sensitivity Study – Online
- Canadian Parents’/Guardians’ Perspectives about the Impact of COVID-19 School Closures on Students Special Educational Needs
- Research Opportunity for Parents Who Completed PEERS
Autism in the News
ACT’s Facebook Page is a great source for trustworthy information from the realms of politics, research and practical support, as well as the weird and wonderful. We now have 8,000 followers across the world.
Mayday: Neurodiversity Now!
Many of you are familiar with the wonderful Mayday Club Youth Choir for Neurodiversity. But did you know that Mayday has branched out to radio? Nicole Provost and other young people on the spectrum have started a radio show on Vancouver Coop Radio (100.5FM) called “Mayday: Neurodiversity Now!” They talk on the air about inclusion and other topics that affect them. The program airs on Tuesday mornings at 10 AM, but is also available for download from Spotify or Anchor. Enjoy!
Plan on five-day school week in fall for K-7, education minister says – Vancouver Sun
Province admits harm in multimillion-dollar settlement with more than 100 victims of B.C. social worker – CBC News
Eye ‘jumps’ in autistic people may be especially fleeting – Spectrum News
Winnipeg woman beaten by 16-year-old son with autism says she can no longer care for him – CBC News
Netflix To Debut Autism Dating Show – Disability Scoop
Young, Black, autistic and imprisoned: Matthew Rushin’s story is sadly not unique – Salon
‘I can definitely speak for myself’: Canadian interview series raises awareness about disabled community – CBC Radio
View ACT’s News on Facebook