It is difficult to believe that it has been one year since I began the role of Executive Director. Since then, our small but mighty team has accomplished great things and achieved many milestones.
In 2023, we hosted several presenters including Amy Weatherby; Michelle Garcia Winner & Pamela Crook; Ross Greene; Sarah Ward; Greg Hanley; Amy Gravino, Landa Fox and Jessica Cauchi; and our annual Focus on Research event with keynote presentations by Connor Kerns and Tiffany Woynaroski, as well as research presentations by Nichole Scheerer, Patrick Dwyer, Elina Birmingham & Siamak Arzanpour.
Many of our events have included panel presentations highlighting lived experiences and we have offered three ACT Chats – one of which was in collaboration with Kids Physio Group. In addition, we have made improvements to our website and the AID Search. We are proud of our work to break down barriers by providing American Sign Language (ASL) translation and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services for our events as well as having volunteers able to provide support in languages other than English. During the past year, we have provided bursaries totalling almost $55,000.
Early last year, ACT sent out a survey seeking input on the direction ACT should take moving forward. In response to your valuable feedback, we will be hosting more neurodiversity affirming content focused on Autism acceptance, and tackling sensitive topics such as the prevalence of mental health needs and suicide among Autistic people and how to provide support.
As we plan further into 2024, we will be guided by your responses to our current survey, as well as our Autistic Advisory, and Indigenous Advisory Committees.
Please take the time to complete the survey here.
As a small Not-for-Profit organization, we rely on the generosity of our donors as well as our volunteers who give of their time in many ways throughout the year. We realize that the current economic climate has made for tough times for many of you, so we are making every effort to ensure registration costs are reasonable by offering “ACT Chats” free of charge, and by broadening our reach in promoting bursaries.
With Giving Tuesday around the corner, and as we near the end of the year, please consider offering your financial support—every amount is appreciated.
As always, if you have any thoughts, suggestions or concerns, please always feel free to reach out to me—my door (virtual or otherwise) is always open.
With sincere gratitude,
Michelle Schmidt, PhD
Executive Director, Autism Community Training
The Representative for Children and Youth is asking for your response to a survey that will inform a report that will be released in early 2024. Many families across BC have not yet had a chance to complete the check-in. The survey is being kept open until November 30.
The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) of B.C. is mandated to monitor the child-and youth-serving systems in this province and to make comments and recommendations on how these systems can be improved.
The purpose of this 2023 CYSN Check-in is to do a “temperature check” and hear from families about their recent experiences accessing services and supports for children and youth with disabilities through the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s (MCFD) Children and Youth with Support Needs (CYSN) Programs and other government funded services.
This check-in is for ALL parents and families who are care for children with support needs no matter if they are currently receiving government services or not. We want to hear from biological, foster and adoptive parents, and extended family caregivers (e.g. grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, etc.).
Your input is critical and will be used to inform future RCY reports so that we may provide decision-makers with up-to-date information and evidence to inform actions and accountability.
September 30 marks the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, as well as Orange Shirt Day. It recognizes the painful history and ongoing impacts of the residential school system, honouring the children who survived and those who did not.
ACT encourages our community to use this day to learn about and reflect on the devastating legacy of forced assimilation and abuse of Indigenous Peoples, as well as learning what you can do to contribute to truth and reconciliation.
If you are interested in learning online, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is offering virtual programming and resources all week for Truth and Reconciliation Week 2023.
There are many in-person events happening across B.C. See B.C. Event Listings to learn about events in your area.
Support Indigenous-Led Organizations
Here are some organizations that aim to raise awareness about the history of residential schools and their impacts, or provide support for survivors, their families and communities.
- Indian Residential School Survivors Society
- Na-mi-quai-ni-mak Community Support Fund
- Orange Shirt Society
- Native Women’s Association of Canada
ACT’s Support for Indigenous-Focused Research
This one-day informal gathering was held to discuss how Indigenous communities can be better served by meaningful research into the needs of their children affected by developmental disabilities in British Columbia. The presentations featured research projects that have been developed in partnership with Indigenous communities including the research Simon Fraser University has done in collaboration with the Nzen’man’ Society and ACT, in the Lytton area, prior to the fire. The benefits of collaborative partnerships, in the context of chronically under-resourced Indigenous programs, are discussed as a necessary step in the process of genuine reconciliation.
ACT Bursary Program for the Indigenous Community
ACT offers free registration for our events to individuals who self-identify as Indigenous and those who are employees of Indigenous organizations. It does not matter what the diagnosis of the children or adults they work with is. We see this as a small but practical way of building capacity in chronically underserved First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities. Please visit our website for more information about ACT’s Indigenous Bursary Program. We welcome donations to support this initiative.
Choose the Indigenous Bursary fund from the dropdown menu on the donate page.
Join Jessica and Taylor from Kids Physio Group for our latest ACT Chats presentation on how physiotherapy can benefit some autistic kids. Learn what caregivers can watch for as autistic kids develop, what to expect when starting physio, and how they make physio fun for kids of all ages and abilities!
ACT carefully sources insightful stories, ranging from research and government policy, to the world of entertainment, culture, and lifestyle.
How the tourism industry – and other travellers – can help families of autistic children get the break they deserve
New research suggests many families of autistic children are reluctant to travel.
Source: The Conversation
It’s Time to Remove Fear From How We Talk About Autism and Parenting
An interview with Zoe Gross of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, who offers her thoughts on some questions people often ask parenting experts.
Slow rollout of Canada Disability Benefit sparks calls for emergency interim support from Ottawa
Parliament passed legislation in June to create the benefit, but the federal government has indicated the rollout won’t begin until December, 2024.
Source: The Globe & Mail
I’m 45 years old, and thanks to my ADHD diagnosis I finally know why I’ve felt distracted all my life
“I look back at the times I’ve struggled in my life. For the first 45 years, I figured it was a character defect,” writes Elisha Dacey. That changed when her daughter was diagnosed with ADHD — but many women she’s heard from struggle to get a diagnosis or help, she writes.
Source: CBC News
UBC Disabilities United Collective to open a disability empowerment store
“Our aim is just to increase accessibility on campus, as well as provide a safe and empowering space for disabled students by providing financial, emotional and practical support,” said Jessie Song, DUC co-president.
A call to improve mental health support to reduce the risks of self-harm and suicide in autistic individuals
“The presence of psychiatric illnesses substantially accounts for these increased risks,” says lead author Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai, staff psychiatrist and senior scientist at CAMH. “We know that many self-harm and suicide-related events could be prevented when people have access to tailored mental health supports and services, and this is crucial for autistic people.”
Autism could be seen as part of personality for some diagnosed, experts say
Autism without intellectual disabilities could be reframed as human ‘variability’ rather than medical condition, says sociologist
Source: The Guardian
Autism News from around the Internet
- Cruel and irresponsible myths about the NDIS are treating autistic Australians as villains. This must stop | Clem Bastow and Ali Schnabel
- Meeting Sensory Needs During the Holidays
- Head teacher says autistic student died despite family's plea for support
- Disability advocate hits back at ‘misleading’ claims that NDIS funding is incentivising autism diagnoses