ACT News and Resources

New videos released, February BC Community Events, ACT’s Research Listing updated, Autism in the News

Two new videos, part of the
Women and Girls with Autism series

The Experience of Women with ASD – A Panel

This panel was considered a highlight of our 2018 conference. This is your opportunity to learn from the fascinating insights provided by these four remarkable autistic women. Introduced and moderated by Dr. Rene Jamison, University of Kansas Medical Center.

Iris Gray was diagnosed with ASD in 2005. She organizes two peer support groups for autistic adults in Victoria. One of them is specifically for autistic women. Ms Gray works as a freelance transcriber and editor.



Nicole Provost is a 23 year old physics student from Abbotsford BC and is the founder of the ‘Mayday Club Youth Choir’ – most members are teens on the autism spectrum.



Vivian Ly is an autistic self-advocate and the Executive Director of Canadian Autistics United, a grassroots disability rights organization that works to improve the lives of autistic Canadians through self-advocacy. Vivian is a strong proponent of “Nothing about us, without us.”


Ryann Calkins grew up on a cattle ranch in central Alberta, moving to BC in her mid teens. She has worked as a lifeguard and swimming instructor for six years. She is in the process of finishing her degree at UBC Okanagan studying languages.


Watch now

Understanding the Needs of Girls and Women on the Autism Spectrum

In the second part of his keynote, Dr. Mandy provides a developmental perspective of the characteristics of autism in females. In addition to examining the widespread practice by women and girls of “social camouflaging” their autism, Dr. Mandy discusses their mental health needs – with a focus on eating disorders. The presentation ends with a discussion of how women and girls can be better supported, including a question and answer period.

Watch now

Thanks to funding from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration (CIRCA) at the University of British Columbia, ACT is providing an edited version of the Women and Girls Conference held in April 2018. More presentations will be available over the next month.


ACT lists workshops and conferences held in B.C. related to autism and other special needs held by community organizations and agencies. Have an event you’d like to submit for your organization? Submit here.

Upcoming BC Community Events

February Events

PEERS© in the Valley

Monday, February 4 – Thursday, May 30, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Teaching STEM (including coding and robotics) to students with ASD

Tuesday, February 5, 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Autism Conference

Friday, February 8 – Saturday, February 9

AutismBC Northern Region Family Support Group – Sibling Support

Wednesday, February 13
Prince George

UBC PEERS: Social Skills Intervention for Teens with ASD

Thursday, February 14 – Friday, May 31

Culturally Responsive Group-Based Positive Behaviour Support Workshop for Chinese Families of Children with ASD

Saturday, February 16 – Sunday, February 17
UBC, Vancouver
A special opportunity for Mandarin-speaking families at a UBC-sponsored workshop.

Free Foster Parent Information Sessions – Become a full or part-time caregiver to a child or youth who needs mentoring.

Tuesday, February 26

ACT’s Research Listing

ACT is committed to encourage collaboration between legitimate researchers, autistic individuals and their families. You can find many other projects listed on ACT’s Participating in Autism Research page.

Researchers are invited to submit research projects using this online form.

Sound Sensitivity Study

Are you a parent to an adolescent (aged 13-18 years) on the autism spectrum? Does your child experience issues with sound sensitivity that impacts daily life? SFU Researchers (Dr. Elina Birmingham, Dr. Grace Iarocci) want to hear from you! Recruitment is ongoing for individuals with ASD aged 13-18 years and their parents.

If you are interested in participating, please contact research coordinator Kari Gustafson,

Autism in the News

Get the latest on ACT’s Facebook page

Special needs students routinely excluded from school activities – Delta Optimist

Special needs funding at risk — Coquitlam teachers – TriCity News

“But, you don’t seem autistic!” – McGill Tribune

These moms are building a forever home for their adult autistic children – Washington Post

Florida School Staffers Charged With Using Dark Room, Whistle to Torment Autistic Kids – Daily Beast

An Open Letter To My Autistic Son’s Teacher – Huffpost

Eric Lider: Coaching kids with special needs – KATU2

Maine woman is helping to change autism one jar of salsa at a time – NBC News Center Maine

Why We Need Schools That Better Support Kids on the Autism Spectrum – Yahoo News

Autism Parent, Times Two: When More than One Child in the Family has ASD – IAN

You Can’t “Culturally Appropriate” a Weighted Blanket – Slate

Early risers are not necessarily healthier, wealthier or wiser – CBC Radio

New Video Series – Women & Girls with Autism, 20,000 Pounds of Herring Sold, Special Needs Community Events, Autism in the News

Women and Girls with Autism video series

ACT’s 2018 Focus on Research Conference provided two days of fascinating insights into the complexities of identifying and treating women and girls with autism. Researchers are increasingly recognizing that autism affects women and girls differently than males. Delays in diagnosis are common, reducing access to services, with implications for long-term mental health and employment prospects.

CIRCAThanks to funding from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research and Collaboration (CIRCA) at the University of British Columbia, ACT is able to provide an edited version of the entire conference, which will be made available over the coming weeks.

Improving the Recognition of Women and Girls on the Autism Spectrum

Improving the Recognition of Women and Girls on the Autism SpectrumThe first presentation in the series is by Dr. William Mandy, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at University College London. He shares his research into the characteristics of autism in females, the implications for diagnosis, and ways of improving recognition, with a focus on practical ways of improving clinical and educational practice.

Drawing on his extensive clinical experience, Dr. Mandy offers a compassionate perspective on the barriers faced by women and girls when they are not offered the self-awareness and family understanding that can accompanies a diagnosis. Also covered are myths about autism; new research into gender ratios and the impact of “camouflaging” on diagnosis of women and girls.

Watch now

Upcoming Videos – February

ACT will be releasing the entire 2018 Focus on Research Conference on Women and Girls with Autism over the next several weeks. Stay updated on their release through these emails or visit Autism Videos at ACT.

Understanding the Needs of Girls and Women on the Autism Spectrum
Dr. William Mandy, University College London, UK

The Experience of Women with ASD – A Panel Presentation by Women with ASD
Introduced and moderated by Rene Jamison, University of Kansas, USA

Special Challenges Faced by Mothers with ASD
Introduced and moderated by Dr. Grace Iarocci, Simon Fraser University

Girls Night Out: Lessons learned from a unique intervention for girls with ASD
Presented by Dr. Rene Jamison and Dr. Jessica Oeth Schuttler
University of Kansas

Sex Matters: The secondary impact of low prevalence for girls and women with autism
Presented by Dr. Rene Jamison and Dr. Jessica Oeth Schuttler
University of Kansas

Setting Priorities for Future Research
Panel presentation introduced and moderated by Dr. Anthony Bailey, University of British Columbia

Visit the Women and Girls with Autism video release page

BC Community Events

ACT lists workshops and conferences held in B.C. related to autism and other special needs held by community organizations and agencies. Have an event you’d like to submit for your organization? Submit here.

Upcoming BC Community Events

Featured Events
Culturally Responsive Group-Based Positive Behaviour Support Workshop for Chinese Families of Children with ASD
Saturday, February 16 – Sunday, February 17 – UBC, Vancouver
A special opportunity for Mandarin-speaking families at a UBC-sponsored workshop.

Behaviour Interventionist Training Workshop
Saturday & Sunday, January 19 – 20 – Vancouver and Victoria

Real Talk Tough Cookies Event
Thursday, January 24 – Burnaby

Over $20,000 raised at the
ACT Herring Sale

The weather was brilliant, the fish fresh and the volunteers friendly on January 12th at the 2nd Annual Herring Sale for Autism, held in Steveston. A steady stream of customers were entertained by the antics of a giant fish mascot and some very boisterous (real) sea lions!

Many thanks to the generosity of the owners of Oceanside Fisheries, Anne McCaw and Mike Rekis, who donated over 20,000 pounds of herring – raising $20,000 to support ACT’s work. Particular thanks to all the volunteers who so graciously transported 20 lb bags of icy herring to the waiting cars of our customers!

Autism in the News

Get the latest on ACT’s Facebook page

8 best books about autism – Independent

Twenty-One Years After Her Autism Diagnosis, Haley Moss Is Admitted to the Florida Bar – Daily Business Review

Autism, giftedness and using ‘specialness’ as a force for good – The Record

Victoria school district tracking how often special needs students are asked to miss class – CBC News

Depressed and Then Diagnosed With Autism, Greta Thunberg Explains Why Hope Cannot Save Planet But Bold Climate Action Still Can – Common Dreams

You can’t say inclusive education doesn’t work. We haven’t even begun to try – Globe and Mail

Autism didn’t stop Michael from writing a book, even though he can’t read or write – The Standard

A viral video of a teacher abusing an autistic boy highlights how society misunderstands autism – Salon

Teen with autism overcomes job hurdles by cornering market in cleaning smelly bins – ABC News

Advocates for students with disabilities call on Ontario to stop school exclusions – Globe and Mail

Educating Grayson: Are inclusive classrooms failing students? – Globe and Mail

Feeling fidgety in class? Go stomp, jump or hop down this school’s sensory hallway – CBC News

ACT’s 2nd Annual Herring Sale is this Saturday!

To kick off fundraising in 2019, ACT – Autism Community Training will benefit from a ‘Herring for Autism Sale’, sponsored by Oceanside Fisheries, on Saturday, January 12 in Steveston, Richmond, the heart of the Lower Mainland’s fishing industry. Herring is a delicacy in many cuisines and used as baitfish in sportfishing.

Visit the Herring Sale event page for herring recipes, event details, information on how to volunteer, and online pre-orders.

Visit the Richmond Sentinel for coverage of the Herring Sale.

Check out the Herring Sale facebook event page to get the latest updates!

Thanking our donors, volunteers and supporters – Over $90,000 raised!

ACT’s end of year fundraising campaign was a success, thanks to donations from dozens of parents, grandparents, siblings, as well as teachers, SLP’s, OT’s, Behavior Analysts and companies, from across Canada. We thank all our donors and sponsors for their generous support in 2018.

We set ourselves the goal of raising $100,000 by December 25, and we achieved 90% of our goal – thanks to $45,000 in matching funds from the Dwyer-Ross family which was an incredible boost to this campaign. Donations continued to come in – they are welcomed year round! We are also encouraged by many positive messages including this one: “Thank you for all that you have done and everything that you do! The existence of ACT has made a great impact in the well-being of our family living with autism.”

Mary Ellen Ross and Blair Dwyer presenting their donation to
Deborah Pugh, ACT’s Executive Director

Special thanks to the Sisters of Saint Ann, who donated $10,000 to Autism Videos @ ACT.

Thanks to the support of the autism community, ACT will be able to maintain our extensive online information and training resources in 2019. We are still searching for funding to allow us to continue with a full live web streamed conference schedule as the provincial government is no longer funding ACT.

All donors to ACT can be assured that when you donate your money or time to ACT, we will use the funding frugally to promote practical, evidence-based resources that support individuals with autism and their families. We will continue to keep our overheads to a minimum and focus on sustaining and developing our resources which we have been providing freely for more than a decade.

Best wishes for 2019 from ACT’s Board of Directors and Staff.
Deborah Pugh
Executive Director

Help support ACT and Double your Donation! $50,000 in matching funds for ACT’s Giving Tuesday Campaign

As of December 18th , ACT has received over $31,000 in our “Double Your Donation Campaign”,  made possible by the extraordinary generosity of Blair Dwyer (donor, sponsor and presenter) and his wife, Mary Ellen Ross (former ACT Board Vice-President). They are offering up to $50,000 in matching funds for donations from individuals. The $31,000 we have received translates to $62,000 – but we still have $19,000 to raise by December 25th!

Why has this Dwyer-Ross family chosen to support ACT?
“The reason for the gift is really quite simple. We feel a tremendous debt of gratitude for all the help that ACT gave to us in raising our two children. They are both doing better than we could have thought possible after we learned of their diagnosis. ACT is a big part of that.” explains Blair Dwyer, who is well known to the autism community thanks to his presentation available on Autism Videos @ ACT – Taking Control of the Future – Planning for Families with Children with Special Needs.

ACT will keep you posted on the campaign right up until Christmas via our Facebook page. There you can read why this weekend’s donors (including a researcher, a teacher, several parents, OT’s, SLP’s and Behavior Analysts, a grandparent, and a sibling) have given to ACT. Do you have words of encouragement for ACT’s campaign? Has ACT made a difference to your family or the people you work with? Have you benefited from an ACT bursary? Post your thoughts on Facebook and encourage others to donate!

ACT’s Accomplishments for 2018 – and why we need your support

This holiday season, we are sharing with you the new 2019 Autism Videos & Resource Guide – 12 pages of free online resources, including our new offerings for the Online Mental Health and Autism Project. This has been a very productive year with 14 live events and 13 new online videos. For details see ACT’s accomplishments for 2018.

In the process, ACT has drawn heavily on our financial reserves to fill the funding gap left by the 2017 cancellation of ACT’s government contract. Despite ACT’s track record, the BC government has not responded positively to requests to support our live training program utilized by nearly 2000 registrants in 2018. However, we have heard from hundreds of our users, urging ACT to continue our work as an independent promoter of a range of evidence-based resources.

Many share our concern that families of children with autism and related disorders are very vulnerable to false claims; ACT’s free information resources are used by thousands of parents and professionals each year because they promote evidence-informed practice. ACT’s library of nearly 40 online videos brings immediate access to clinical expertise to the autism community nationally and internationally. No password or registration is required for ACT’s wide range of free resources as one of our core values is make reliable information available to all to encourage informed decision-making.

While ACT remains committed and enthusiastic about meeting the vital training and information needs of the autism and special needs community, we are facing an economic reality: unless we are successful in fundraising $200,000 in the next three months, ACT will not be able to provide live and web streamed training in 2019. If the autism community can meet the challenge and raise $50,000, ACT will receive another $50,000 from Blair Dwyer and be halfway to our goal.

What are ACT’s Training Goals for 2019?

ACT is seeking $200,000 in funding to present 10 web streamed events in 2019, up from five in 2018. These will build on the tremendous response we have received from schools, clinics, agencies and families across BC and beyond.

Registrants tell us they are thrilled to be able to watch and listen to live presentations from leaders in the autism field that address the complexities of living with autism from a practical perspective focused on quality of life – without the costs of traveling to Vancouver. Just what those topics will be depends on a survey of our users which ACT is planning for January 2019 but we guarantee they will be thought provoking, practical and respect the diversity of the autism community.

ACT fills a province-wide training gap, which does not fit neatly into the mandate of any one government ministry. In the absence of government funding, we require an average of $20,000 per event to cover our overheads and to allow us to keep the cost of registering to a reasonable amount and allow us to continue our bursary program. $200,000 in donations and/or event sponsorship will allow us to meet this ambitious goal.

Maintaining ACT’s Free Online Information Resources

ACT’s free online resources are available 24/7, bringing evidence-based accessible resources to autistic adults, families and professionals with a simple keyword search. To remain useful, our databases and online videos must be maintained and updated. ACT’s resources have developed organically for over a decade, based on our experience of community needs, now we are calling on those who understand the diverse needs of those with autism and their families to support our commitment to remain an independent, active promoter of best practices in autism treatment, provincially, nationally and internationally.

BC Community Resources – 7,000 keyword searches in 2017 – Fundraising Goal: $20,000

Over 1,200 keyword searchable records on B.C. community resources ranging from speech pathologists to community groups, the most comprehensive database serving the special needs community in BC.

Autism Information Database – 31,800 searches in 2017 – Goal: $25,000

Over 1,400 searchable records linked to resources available internationally in over 30 languages. Overseen by a panel of international experts, the AID provides families and community professionals with resources that are practical and evidence-based.

Autism Videos @ ACT – 19,000 views in 2017 -Goal: $50,000

Nearly 40 online videos, from toilet training to mental health, provide instantly accessible information from leading clinicians and researchers to address practical priorities. Each video has been edited into to short segments that can be shared. No password or membership is required.

We hope that you will consider donating to ACT before December 25th so that ACT can benefit from the extraordinary generosity of the Ross-Dwyer family which will double your contribution.

Donate to ACT

ACT is a federally registered, not-for-profit society and we provide tax receipts. You can donate via Canada Helps by credit card, via telephone or by cheque. Donating by December 31st ensures that you receive a tax receipt for 2018, reducing the amount of tax you pay.

ACT can provide our audited financial statements for 2017. Need more information? Email ACT’s Executive Director, Deborah Pugh or call the ACT office.

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