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