ACT News and Resources

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.

Two Free Videos & Double Your Donation – $10,000 raised!

Over $10,000 raised on Giving Tuesday

Thanks to the incredible generosity of our donors, including a $50,000 matching fund provided by the Ross-Dwyer family, our fundraising campaign for 2019 is off to a strong start – we raised over $10,000 over the past week. Blair Dwyer, a lawyer based in Victoria explains why his family is prepared to double the contribution of individual donors – right up to December 25th.

“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.” Blair’s gratitude to ACT was echoed by our donors:

“Thank you infinitely for all that you have provided to the Autism Community. I have been using your website and going to your events since 2015. It helped me in managing the challenges of having a child with autism.”

“Everyone at Constructive Pathways and I have appreciated everything that ACT has provided to the community over the years. Here’s a small contribution for the future. Here’s to many more!”

“Thank you for your excellent evidence-based resources and events! Keep up the great work – quality, up-to-date, freely accessible educational resources are vital for families of individuals with ASD, support personnel and professionals alike! “

“Amazing resource to families – keep up the great work!”

“We need your services…Thank you!!!”

“This is such a fabulous resource for both families and practitioners. Thank you.”

“In recognition of our grandson Adam who has brought us such great joy.”

“It will be a very sad if you are unable to continue the good work you do in the way you currently do it!”

“Keep up the great work! Especially the live/streamed workshops.”

“Thank you for everything you do and all the support that you provide to our families!”

“I am very happy to donate to ACT! ACT was central to my learning about ASD and so much more.”

“ACT is an amazing resource for our province and a precious gem for our country. We must keep ACT doing what it does best. . . training, advocating, sharing and providing the facts.”

Download the Autism Videos & Resources Guide 2019 shown above.

Every donation is appreciated; Donation matching continues until December 25th, please consider donating now to double your donation.

Give more, save more taxes!

Use the CRA’s Charitable donation tax credit calculator to estimate your tax savings. Super-donors can receive additional tax credits on donations up to $1,000.

Donate to ACT

Two new free videos –
ACT’s Online Mental Health & Autism Project

The Relationship between Anxiety and Social Competence – Grace Iarocci, PhD, RPsych

The relationship between the symptoms of anxiety, depression and social functioning among children, with and without ASD, are poorly understood. In this 25 minute presentation, Dr. Grace Iarocci presents a study into whether generalized anxiety and depression symptoms, were associated with social competence. gender. Dr. Iarocci discusses the importance of assessing both internalizing symptoms and social difficulties in children with ASD and the implications for treatment.

Watch now

Implementing Modified CBT in a Group Format to Treat Anxiety in Children with ASD: Insights for Parents, Clinicians, and Researchers

In this 20 minute presentation, Dr. Johnson highlights the growing evidence that group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treatments to address mental health issues, such as anxiety, are promising alternatives to standard individual CBT treatments for children with ASD. The presentation includes information to support parents in recognizing anxiety and seeking appropriate services as well as information for professionals interested in learning more about clinical and research efforts related to increasing community accessibility of group treatments targeting mental health concerns.

Watch now

Herring Sale 2019, 20 pounds for $20Volunteers needed: Herring Fundraiser
January 12, 2019

We’re looking for volunteers to help out at the 2019 Herring Sale! Meet sea lions and help raise money for autism training at this one-day fundraiser in Steveston, Richmond. Email for details or visit Volunteering for ACT.

ACT’s News Round-Up: November 2018 Edition

This week:

Understanding Mental Health Problems and ASD – Evidence-Based Case Conceptualization to Inform Treatment Planning

Jonathan Weiss, PhD, CPsych

This presentation is part of a free training series developed for mental health clinicians experienced in CBT with an interest in adaptations relevant to neurodevelopmental disabilities (e.g., autism, ADHD, learning disability).

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize common emotional and behavioual problems associated with ASD
  • Differentiate mental health problems from ASD symptoms
  • Conceptualize common case frameworks that can inform CBT planning
  • Consider ethical issues in working with individuals with ASD using a CBT framework – including a panel discussion

As part of ACT’s Online Mental Health and Autism Project, we are launching a dozen new online videos this Fall/Winter season at Autism Videos @ ACT.

Watch video

Dr. Weiss holds the Canadian Institute of Health Research Chair in Autism Spectrum Disorders Treatment and Care Research. He is a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at York University in Toronto.

Dr. Weiss’ research focuses on the prevention and treatment of mental health problems in people with ASD and/or intellectual disabilities across the lifespan. He is interested in their health service needs, their emergency service use, and their experiences of psychiatric crisis. Among other research areas, Dr. Weiss is interested in cognitive-behavioural and social skill interventions to promote resilience and improve the mental health of children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Watch Dr. Weiss speak on Thriving in Youth in ASD: What Does it Take? from October 2015.

Next week’s video: A panel discussion on the perspectives of Adults with ASD.

Diagnosing & Managing ASD in Adults

The University of British Columbia is responding to the chronic shortage of mental health professionals trained to work with adults with ASD with a two-day course from an international expert in autism, Dr. Anthony Bailey, MBBS, DCH, MRCPsych, FRCPC. Professor and Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, UBC.

Registration has now opened for Diagnosing & Managing Autism Spectrum Disorder in Adults
Feb 1-2 (Fri-Sat), 0900–1630
UBC Robson Square ,Vancouver – also available via web streaming.

Target audience: psychiatrists, family physicians, other mental health care professionals
Up to 10.5 Mainpro+/MOC Section 1
View course content details
Register here

ACT recently launched a 30 minute presentation by Dr. Bailey as part of the Online Mental Health and Autism Project on the Role of Medications in the Management of ASD

Pilot Project to Identify Best Treatments for Autism

The Laurel Foundation is requesting the help of the autism community in completing a short five-question Pilot Survey. The objective is to create a metadata analysis project with individualized web based therapy programs for children with ASD. The project will involve thousands of families anonymously inputting information about their child’s treatment and its effectiveness to find the most efficient strategies for her/his specific challenges. At this stage they are determining if families would like such a program to be set up and are willing to provide the data to form the information pool.

As a first step, they are asking five simple questions to shape the project with the goal of empowering families to identify and access the best treatments available.

Complete the survey here.

Autism in the News

Get the latest on ACT’s Facebook page

Vancouver teacher is schooling educators on the value of inclusive classrooms – The Globe and Mail

How history forgot the woman who defined autism – Spectrum News

Kelowna mom goes extra mile to help special needs son adjust to school life – Global News

Sensory issues in autism may have sex-specific roots – Spectrum News

Theatre class helping people with autism break out of their shells – CTV News

Dos and Don’ts of Classroom Decorations – Edutopia

Neighbor builds shelter for boy with autism to wait for school bus – Lincoln Journal Star

Dads open up about autism in new film – Community Care Review

Expecting autistic people to ‘fit in’ is cruel and unproductive; value us for our strengths – The Conversation

Small town unites to prevent autistic neighbor from becoming homeless – Yahoo

NDP government ‘open’ to alternative pay options for special needs educators – Global News

New free videos addressing mental health in autism | Autism in the News

This week:
Mental Health in Post-Secondary Education:

What is It Like for Students with ASD and What Does the Research Say?

Rashmeen Nirmal, PhD, RPsych

In this presentation, Dr. Rashmeen Nirmal provides key information on the mental health functioning of young autistic adults within the context of post-secondary settings including college and university.

Based on research that Dr. Nirmal’s did for her PhD dissertation, she provides useful insights into the management of common mental health symptoms in students with ASD, in particular, depression and anxiety. Recommendations for best practice in mental health service delivery and the provision of effective transition supports are discussed.

This research was one of the first projects where the researchers did an in-depth, systematic investigation of the lived experiences of autistic students in post-secondary education. The results of this research has implications for adolescents preparing for life after secondary school, as well as adults in secondary schools, colleges and universities.

Watch video.

As part of ACT’s Online Mental Health and Autism Project, we will be featuring a dozen new online videos this Fall/Winter season at Autism Videos @ ACT.

Next week: A panel discussion on the perspectives of Adults with ASD.

Dr. Nirmal is Program Leader for UBC’s PEERS: Social Skills Intervention for Teens with ASD. PEERS® is an evidence-based intervention program that is designed to help teens make and keep friends.

This 14-week program at UBC for Teens with ASD teaches peer-based social skills. Visit the program and application details on ACT’s Special Needs Community Events listing.


Autism in the News

Get the latest on ACT’s Facebook page

‘I spend hours planning’: How parents of kids with autism make Halloween a treat – Today

Burnaby school district not immune to exclusion incidents involving students with special needs – Burnaby Now

Some Thoughts on Early Intervention – Autistic Scholar

Children with autism, developmental delays nearly 50 percent more likely to be overweight, obese – Science Daily

Social stigma contributes to poor mental health in the autistic community – Science Daily

Oliver’s legacy: MPs to debate learning disability petition – BBC News

Girl with autism who mistook bride for Cinderella could meet all the Disney princesses – WIVB

Entrepreneurship Is How Families Are Creating Meaningful Jobs for Their Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder – Entrepreneur


New Video: ESSENCE with Dr. Christopher Gillberg! New videos released weekly on ACT’s Online Mental Health & Autism Project

View the video

As part of ACT’s Online Mental Health and Autism Project, we will be featuring a dozen new online videos this Fall/Winter season at Autism Videos @ ACT.

We are beginning with Professor Christopher Gillberg, a world renowned autism researcher who has developed the concept of ESSENCE, recognizing the overlapping symptoms of ASD, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder/Conduct Disorder (ODD/CD), anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders, intellectual developmental disorder, communication disorders, dyslexia, epilepsy, cerebral palsy and others.

In this thought provoking presentation, Dr. Gillberg makes the case that ESSENCE (Early Symptomatic Syndromes Eliciting Neurodevelopmental Clinical Examinations), are common childhood onset disorders, affecting about 10% of the general population, that can be effectively treated. Early recognition, psychoeducation and other targeted interventions, can improve adaptive outcomes in adult life.

This presentation was recorded in 2017 at ACT’s 13th Annual Focus on Research Conference, held at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. ACT appreciates Dr. Gillberg’s generosity in allowing us to include it as part of Autism Videos @ ACT.

New videos every week

ACT will be releasing new videos with a mental health focus every week until the end of December, featuring presentations ACT has recorded as part of the Online Mental Health & Autism Project.

Receive updates on new videos by signing up for our email list or use the share buttons on the page to send to a friend or colleague.

October 4

Addressing Mental Health in Autism: Should We Treat the Person with ASD, the Family, or the Community?

Jonathan Weiss, PhD, CPsych
CIHR Chair in ASD Treatment and Care Research; Associate Professor, York University

October 11: International Day of the Girl

Girls and Women with Eating Disorders – Why are ASD and ADHD Missed?

Christopher Gillberg, MD, PhD
Director, Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Practical Strategies for Supporting Mental Wellness of Teenage Girls and Women with ASD

Dori Zener, MSW, RSW

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