Sunday, April 2, 2017 is the 10th Anniversary of the United Nations designating World Autism Awareness Day. At the UN in New York today (March 31) , a conference on ‘Towards Autonomy and Self-Determination’ highlights the need to protect the rights of adults with ASD. Here in B.C., all of April is Autism Awareness Month. The biggest fun day of the month will be the Canuck Autism Network’s Annual Family Day event on April 9 – CAN Family Festival . ACT will have an information table at the event. Please drop by and say hello.
Autism Speaks Canada is calling on us all to wear blue on April 2nd and many buildings around the world will be “lighting it up blue” to celebrate autism awareness and acceptance on World Autism Day. Events are happening around B.C., including Vernon’s 4th Annual Autism Awareness Walk and BBQ.
ACT’s April Awareness Event is our 13th Annual Focus on Research conference when we will bring together leading researchers with members of B.C.’s autism community to tackle the issues that present barriers to meaningful inclusion. This April we are digging deep into many facets of mental health and autism. This will be web streamed to encourage participation from across B.C.
Is there an April Autism Awareness/Appreciation event happening in your community? Submit your community event online so we can share your information via our website and Facebook page.
$2.85 million Parent Coaching Project Awarded to UBC
ACT is very pleased to announce that a decision has been made to award funding for a three year $2.85 million project focused on researching parent coaching in diverse communities in British Columbia. The project will be led by Dr. Pat Mirenda and Dr. Anthony Bailey, of the University of British Columbia, both well known to B.C.’s autism community for their knowledge of autism and commitment to the need for families to receive quality intervention services that support the best outcomes for children. “This will be one of the largest-ever studies of parent coaching,” said Dr. Bailey, the Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the UBC Institute of Mental Health. “It also breaks new ground in its inclusion of rural and disadvantaged families in the parent coaching model, and in the degree of choice that will be given to parents as to where coaching is delivered, including via the internet.”
For more details on the project please see the UBC press release here.
ACT has been holding the project funding, which was provided by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and will continue to play a role in receiving reports from the project until it completes in three years’ time. ACT would like to thank all members of the Steering Committee who have contributed to this innovative project. In particular, we recognize the important role of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research in convening an international panel of expert researchers who evaluated the applications and made the selection.
Supporting Autism Awareness for All, Year-Round
As Canada’s leading provider of online community-level autism training, for parents and professionals, ACT has met the challenge of B.C.’s linguistically diverse community by developing Autism in Punjabi and ACT in Chinese, holding conferences to highlight the need to support all British Columbians affected by autism, including the videotaping of key presentations. In addition, we have made it possible to ‘Search the RASP’ by language as well as adding resources to the Autism Information Database in multiple languages.
We are releasing a number of videos from last year’s Focus on Research Conference. Below are two offering – more will be released in April.
Two New Videos – Autism Videos @ ACT
Since January we have added five new videos to the AID; these are our latest addition for March:
Bilingualism and Language Development in Children with Autism
Many bilingual families are told by professionals to speak only one language to their child with autism. This important presentation summarizes the research in this area, much of which calls into question the one language recommendation. Presented by Professor Pat Mirenda, UBC.
Parent Support for Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Communities – a Global Perspective
The empowerment of caregivers is increasingly recognized as a critical component of intervention for children with autism; the World Health Organization recommends parent skills training. McGill University is undertaking a local adaptation and evaluation of a new evidence-based, affordable, PST program that can be delivered by non-specialist providers in a wide range of community settings. Presented by Mayada Elsabbagh, Ph.D., McGill University.
MCFD’s – A Parent’s Handbook – Now in Chinese, Korean & Spanish
ACT has long been concerned at the disadvantages faced by children with autism whose parents struggle in English – and the negative impact on their children. In 2016, B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development agreed to translate their handbook, A Parent’s Handbook: Your Guide to Autism Programs funding ACT to carry out the translations into eight languages. The handbook is now available in Chinese, Korean and Spanish and can be found on ACT’s website.
- 家長手冊： 自閉症津貼使用指南 (Chinese)
- 부모 핸드북: 자폐 프로그램 안내서 (Korean)
- Folleto para padres: Su guía para los programas del Autismo (Spanish)
The remaining translations into Farsi (Persian), Arabic, Punjabi, Japanese, and French are in the proof-reading or the design phase and will be available by June 30th. See MCFD’s original News Release for details of this project.
Seeking Farsi Proof Reader
ACT is seeking a Farsi (Persian) proof reader to review the draft Handbook in Farsi. If you have knowledge of autism and are fluent in Farsi, please contact Christine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACT offers an honorarium for this work.
Celebrate Autism Awareness Month – Donate to Support ACT’s Online Resources
ACT remains committed to our online training and information resources, including Autism Videos @ ACT and the Autism Information Database, despite MCFD’s cancellation of funding for individualized information and support work, as of June 30. ACT online resources are nationally recognized as important tools for families who need to make informed choices for their child’s development. ACT has a growing library of 26 online videos, allowing ACT to serve the autism community, both parents and community professionals, no matter where they live:
- Free, with no login required
- Divided into short chunks to aid navigation
- Professionally filmed and edited with links to resources
- Accessible on smart phones and tablets
- For technical questions: www.actcommunity.ca/videohelp
As a federally registered not-for-profit society, ACT can provide tax receipts for donations over $10. ACT’s Charitable Tax Number is #861691236RR0001.
How to Donate:
- By cheque (send to office, made out to ACT – Autism Community Training)
- Via the United Way (search for ACT- Autism Community Training Society, Burnaby)
- Online via CanadaHelps or Chimp
- Call the ACT office and donate by credit card (604-205-5467 or 1-866-939-5188)
Donors and sponsors are listed on our donations page. Thank you for contributing to non-commercial, evidence-based, online information and training resources.
Time to Re-Focus on Special Education in B.C.
The CBC reports that the B.C. government is meeting the Supreme Court of Canada order to restore class size and composition to 2002 levels by allocating $330 million in funding. School districts are now set to hire 2,600 new teachers with the additional funding. The CBC also reports that there are a staggering 65,000 fewer students in the public school system when compared to 2002. From ACT’s experience supporting families, over the past 12 years, we believe that many of these children likely have special needs that were not being met in the public school system. View Article +
ACT provides information and support to families across B.C. who struggle to find appropriate supports for their children with special needs in B.C. schools – almost 10 percent of the calls we receive relate to education issues and these are often very tough to resolve for parents. We have seen a trend where an increasing number of families decide to homeschool or enrol their children in private schools because the public system is not meeting their child’s needs. There is no Ministry of Education data about why children leave the public education system but frequently parents contact us because their child has been repeatedly excluded from school or is only allowed to attend a few hours a day or less. Parents are concerned that public schools suffer from insufficient specialized teachers with training in special education and a lack of teaching assistant support. This point was made passionately earlier this week by Maggie Milne Martens of the Parent Advocacy Network: View Article +
There is evidence to show that all students with disabilities are facing significant challenges in B.C., especially Aboriginal families. A report published earlier this month, by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Left Out: Challenges faced by persons with disabilities in Canada’s schools, points to the high numbers of children with disabilities denied an education – and B.C. comes out higher than the national average in the key findings: approximately 10% of persons with disabilities across Canada stopped their education altogether because of their disability. The proportion is especially high in British Columbia (14.3%): View Report (pdf) +
There are other worrying indications that students with special education needs are not receiving the expert attention they require in B.C. The Special Education Branch within the Ministry of Education has lost its entire senior staff with experience in special education in recent years. The branch is now being ”rebranded” as Inclusive Education – Learning Division and is led, not by a special educator, as in the past, but by a Master’s in Business Administration. Responsibility for special needs policy is increasingly delegated to individual school districts, raising concerns among parents that the already poor level of accountability at the district level will further deteriorate. The Left Out report points to an Ineffective Dispute Resolution Mechanism forcing parents to turn to the courts. In B.C., ACT sees a link between the inhospitable climate in the public schools for children with special needs fueling their withdrawal from the public school system.
In 2016, 44% of calls to ACT pertained to the many needs of school-aged children. As ACT will no longer have the staff to provide individualized support to these families as of June 30th, we call on the B.C. Ministry of Education to pay particular attention to the specific requirements of children with special needs, and to invest in having teachers trained in special education, as they ramp up their staffing. It is disappointing that in recent years there has been zero growth in the budget designated to the Provincial Resource Programs, which are intended to build capacity for teachers and provide specialized supports to students with exceptional needs. In addition, there has been a shift away from Ministry leadership of these programs, towards handing responsibility over to the host district where the program is located which downgrades the importance of province-wide standards.
The time is ripe to invest in Provincial Resource programs, including the Provincial Outreach Program for Autism and Related Disorders, the organization responsible for in-service training of teachers and supporting schools, as well as increased special education training for teachers prior to their graduation from B.C. universities.
Special Needs Community Events in B.C:
These upcoming events and more are listed on our Special Needs Community Events Calendar.
- April 4 – Supporting Individuals with Autism in Community Recreation – Kelowna
- April 5 & 6 – Early Start Denver Model – Advanced Workshop – Surrey
- April 6 – Launch Into Life – ASD Parent Workshop – Kamloops
- April 7 – Early Start Denver Model Information Workshop – Abbotsford
- April 22 – June 17 Teach Me to be Social – Burnaby
- April 29 Autism and Therapeutic Horseback Riding – Chilliwack
- May 1 & 2 – POPARD 2017 Conference – Richmond
- May 7 – July 16 – Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy – Ladner
- May 8 – Special Children Become Special Adults: And Then What? – Richmond
Upcoming ACT Conferences – New! MCFD Bursaries
ACT is hosting six training opportunities this Spring and Summer. Register soon to ensure your seat and take advantage of early bird rates.
Special funding from MCFD will allow ACT to provide 50 bursaries for each of our larger events to allow parents and caregivers (including foster parents) to register for $25 a day.
- Access will be provided on a first come, first registered, basis.
- Each registrant will have access to only one in-person bursary until March 31st, 2018.
- Additional bursaries will be available for web streamed events, including this month’s Focus on Research Conference, accessible province-wide.
Mental Health – Looking Beyond Autism:
ACT’s 13th Annual Focus on Research Conference
April 28 & 29, 2017 – SFU Harbour Centre – Vancouver
Attend in person or via live web streaming! Early bird deadline – April 7th.
Applications of CBT to Address Emotional Functioning in Youth with ASD
July 24 & 25- Vancouver
Jonathan Weiss, Ph.D., CPsych, Chair in ASD Treatment and Care Research, York University
A Professional Development Opportunity
Introduction to ASD – Practical Applications – POPARD
July 31 – Aug. 4 – Surrey
Aug. 14 – 18 -Vancouver
Kenneth Cole, Ph.D., RPsych
“Amazing and useful information. I wish our whole staff could attend!!”
Executive Functioning Conference
Aug. 10 & 11 – Sidney
Sarah Ward, MS, CCC-SLP (Boston)
“I learned strategies I can use with all of my students right away.”
Integrating ABA Methods in Schools: Supporting School Aged Children
Aug. 24 & 25 – Vancouver
Richard Stock, Ph.D., BCBA-D
“Powerful and easy to implement IEP suggestions”
(CEUs for BCBAs and BCaBAs are available. See event page for details).
Participate in Research
ACT lists university-affiliated research projects which parents and community professionals may be interested in exploring. Some of the more recent postings include:
- Research Project Recruiting for the knowledge translation and assistive technologies in the field of ASD
- SFU Parent-child study
- How Do People with ASD Understand Language?
- Invitation to Professionals to Participate in Research
Post-Secondary Opportunities: Upgrade your Skills
Looking to upgrade your skills or seeking professional certification? ACT lists B.C. Post-Secondary Programs for Professionals on our website. Both Capilano University and Douglas College are taking applications for programs that begin in September 2017.
RASP Updates for March 2017
Twenty RASP professionals have been added or had their status updated in March 2017. There are 688 professionals on the Registry for Autism Service Providers as of March 31st:
Behavior Consultants (Category A – Non-Supervised)
- Shaheen Bhagudi – Ladner, New Westminster, Richmond, Surrey, Tsawwassen, Vancouver, White Rock
- Renee Chong – Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, North Delta, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver
- Elyssa McKee – Burnaby, Coquitlam, North Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, West Vancouver
- Tana Richards – Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Surrey, Vancouver
- Lillian Wong – Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Vancouver
Behavior Consultants (Category B –Supervised)
- Thea Brain – Burnaby, North Vancouver, Richmond, Vancouver, West Vancouver
- Rosa Gonzales – Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Vancouver
- Kourtney Rasmussen – Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta, Langley, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver, White Rock
- Kyla Swanston – Chemainus, Cobble Hill, Crofton, Duncan, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan, Mill Bay, Shawnigan Lake
- Phung Van – Burnaby, Coquitlam, North Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver
Speech-Language Pathologists (Non-Supervised)
- Jennifer Buckley – Abbotsford, Langley, New Westminster, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver
- Stacie Donison – Victoria
- Shelley Gelineau – Chilliwack
- Michele Lacroix – Cranbrook, Golden, Invermere
Speech-Language Pathologists (Supervised)
- Tess Fairburn – Burnaby, Delta, Langley, Richmond, Surrey
- Leeann Flood – Kelowna, Keremeos, Okanagan Falls, Oliver, Osoyoos, Peachland, Penticton, Princeton, Summerland, West Kelowna
- Marie-Elise Marcoux – Castlegar, Rossland, Trail
- Rebecca Bjorklund – Black Creek, Campbell River, Comox, Comox Valley, Courtenay, Gold River, Quadra Island
- Lisa Holowaychuk – North Vancouver, Vancouver, West Vancouver
- Elizabeth Ullrich – Victoria
Professionals no longer listed on the RASP
RASP service providers may leave the RASP due to retirement or moving to a different job or province. William Brandon was removed in March.
Supervised Occupational Therapist launches April 1, 2017
This new category has been created to help Occupational Therapists, new to the field of autism, to acquire enough experience to qualify for the RASP. Note that MCFD is in the process of updating their forms. Applicants and their supervisors may use the existing RASP application and Supervision Verification Record to apply for this category.
Reminder: New RASP Applicants must have all documentation in by May 31st.
ACT is preparing to hand over the management of the Registry of Autism Service Providers to MCFD as of June 30, 2017 when our contract ends. In order to minimise delays for those planning to apply to the RASP, and to provide an efficient transition, ACT advises that all new applications should be submitted by May 1, 2017.
To ensure that new applications can be fully processed before the transition, all documentation must be provided to ACT by May 31, 2017. If documentation is received after this date, the file will be transferred to MCFD for processing.
All new RASP applications which arrive after May 15, 2017 will be processed by MCFD.
Please note that the RASP application process will remain the same after July 1st as it is a MCFD-regulated process, which ACT has managed on MCFD’s behalf since 2005. For more information on the RASP application process see: www.actcommunity.ca/rasp/sp-info/
Autism in the News
For more news and stories, follow ACT on Facebook
- Searching for a Place to Call Home (Globe and Mail)
- Insight into day-to-day lives of parents raising children with autism (Science Daily)
- Bravo, Sesame Street – your character with autism will erode ignorance (The Guardian)
- ‘I saw being autistic as an opportunity, not a weakness’ (The Guardian)
- Supermarket quiet hour: It’s great for those with autism but more must be done (Metro UK)
- ‘Perfectly Normal’: Autism Through a Lens (New York Times)
- A Nuanced Way to Look at Autism and Niche Interests (New York Magazine)
- Giphy launches library of more than 2,000 GIFs to teach you sign language (Mashable.com)
- Children with ADHD have some smaller brain regions, study shows (CBC News)
- Pain, impulsivity may motivate self-harm in autism (Spectrum News)
- B.C. dad of teen with autism who hits himself pleads for ministry help (Global News)
- The Hidden Link Between Autism and Addiction (the Atlantic)
- Edinburgh University given £20m for autism studies (BBC News)