Thursday, August 23, 2007

Autism News Articles August 21-23 2007

Autism News Articles

August 21st 2007
August 23, 2007

August 23, 2007

From Nancy Morrison!

Last evening I had the honour to speak at the retirement reception held for MPP Shelley Martel. I want to share with all of you the speaking notes, I hope that I represented all of you in a manner you would have wanted.

There was not a dry eye in the house once I finished, including mine and Shelley's.

She was really touched by all of your messages posted, she had not known about the website. The messages had been printed and posted in a scrapbook for her, and others signed the scrapbook at the reception.

Shelley expressed how grateful she was for all the messages and best wishes from all of us, and during her speech choked up when talking about the autism issues and how much that issue has meant to her.

All the best everyone,

Nancy Morrison


I have been given an incredibly difficult task this evening, to present to Shelley the deep gratitude that families with children living with autism have for the outstanding work Shelley has done on behalf of all of us, and our precious children.

I was introduced to Shelley through a mutual friend, someone I know many of you also knew, Carol Mac Pherson. Carol wrote for a newspaper in our area, and did a series of articles regarding our son and other local children and their families facing the challenges of autism. Carol knew that Shelley was the person that was challenging the Ernie Eves Conservative government on the autism funding issues, and knew that Shelley was the woman who could help us.

My first event with Shelley was at Question Period in Queens Park in June 2002. We brought in about 120 parents and children and listened to Shelley challenge then Premier Ernie Eves to look at our families and tell them he would not help our children. That day many of our families knew we had met a strong alley, someone who really understood our children, and our family’s needs. Someone who truly cared.

Shelley has hosted numerous individuals to Question Periods, Debates and Hearings at Queens Park and ensured the media never forgot our kids. Shelley has attended and spoken to media at just about every public event our community has hosted. We have seen huge improvements to the programs and supports for our children, improvements that would have never come about without Shelley’s perseverance and tenacity within Queens Park , and her leadership and guidance to our community leaders in our advocacy ventures.

Two weeks ago, a message board was put up on the FEAT Ontario website and families were asked to post messages for Shelley. I want to share a few excerpts from
these messages with you..


With great pride, look back on your career and say "yes it was me that did
this, I was the one who took part in making change happen"

Teresa Galati

As one of the families involved in the OHRC case I thank you for all the
effort you have made on behalf of our kids. I have watched you get kicked
out of parliament on numerous occasions and wish you could have heard me
screaming at the TV "You go girl!!!"

Marti Candido


This message started off with a quote from Mr. Rogers:

We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to
say "It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem."
Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people
my heroes.

The message continued:

The above quote is part of my email signature and upon thinking about how to
express my thanks to you, Shelley, I realized these very words are about
rare people like you. You saw the need, and wow, did you ever respond! I
cannot express enough how much your compassion, sincerity, perseverance and
personal sacrifice means to all of us who care for a special child. You
definitely qualify as a hero.
Kim, mom to Ben
Now living in Edmonton, Alberta


Rest assured that we will continue to advocate for what families who are
impacted by autism need - and we will do this in your honour Shelley. You
stepped up when no one else did and got us on the "radar" - autism, in fact
thanks to you, became one of the biggest blips the government has ever seen.

Suzanne and Scotty

Shelley, not only have you worked very hard for families and children with
Autism, you did this with compassion, understanding and deep respect. Our
son sees you as a kind friend we were visiting in the legislature and speaks
of our visits often.

Brad, Cindy and Jordan Boufford


You helped us at a time when I was so overwhelmed with sadness and sorrow
for how my son was being treated by the system. I couldn't get anyone to
listen, but you did!

Lynn & Dave Shane & family

Thank you so much for all your work in support of children and adults with
autism over the years. What you have done is something beyond partisan
politics and deserves the highest praise. You have followed in the footsteps
of the best pioneers of social democracy in Canada -- J.S. Woodsworth, T.C.
Douglas, David Lewis and Ed Broadbent.

Robert Shalka

Words can not express the greatness of a person, but actions do.
When a person is cheered by all political parties, then you know she is a
When a leader is loved by supporters and respected by oppositions, then you
know she is hero.
When a leader is a hero, then you know she is an idol.
Shelley, becoming our idol is our way of saying thank you and our pledge to
finish the journey.
Forever Grateful
Yassine Family

From all the non-verbal children you have spoken up for....tight squeezes and sloppy kisses!! We love you.
Jackie McKean


To Howard, Sarah and Jonathan, thank you for loaning us Shelley for all these years, I know she spent a lot of time away from each of you, so she could do so much to help all of us.

Shelley, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you have done for our family, and for all families in this Province affected by Autism. We are all very sad to see you retire from politics, but wish you all the very best where ever your future career leads you.

Google Alert

Allay child care fears
Aug 20, 2007 04:30 AM
Parents seeking a daycare spot for their child in Ontario can now get some information online about provincial inspections of the centres.
But while the move by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services is a promising first step, it came only after a Star series revealed children in licensed daycare have been hit, kicked, allowed to play in filthy and dangerous conditions and fed allergy-triggering food that nearly claimed their lives – information that had never been made public.
The new website contains information on each of Ontario's 4,486 licensed child care centres, including whether restrictions have been placed on its licence, specific terms and conditions and whether it has a "provisional" licence for failing to meet provincial standards.
But the province needs to go much further in detailing infractions on its website, using information that it has readily available. In Florida, for example, parents can view the actual inspection reports online for each daycare, detailing every finding of non-compliance. The Ontario site only summarizes ministry reports and does not include any information on staff training levels.
There is no reason why Queen's Park cannot provide more detailed information about the quality of licensed daycare programs and their staff to allay the legitimate fears of parents entrusting their children to these centres.
The ministry has all the information at hand, as the Star investigation clearly showed.

Sault Ste. Marie/Algoma Respite Meeting

Ministry of Community Ministère des Services
and Social Services sociaux et communautaires

Ministry of Children Ministère des Services
and Youth Services à l’enfance et à la jeunesse

Northern Region Région du Nord
Dryden Local Office Bureau local de Dryden

479 Government Road 479 Rue Government
P.O. Box 3000 C.P. 3000
Dryden, ON P8N 3B3 Dryden, ON P8N 3B3
Tel (807) 223-2241 Ext 224 Tél (807) 223-2241 Ext 224
Fax (807) 223-5740 Téléc (807) 223-5740
Toll Free 1-800-565-5970 Sans frais 1-800-565-5970

August 20, 2007

MEMORANDUM TO: Executive Directors
Local Service System Management Tables

FROM: June Kelloway-Tarrant
Regional Program Manager
Children’s Services

SUBJECT: Consultation of the Investment in Respite Services
For Children and Youth with ASD

On August 17, 2007, Mary Anne Chambers, Minister of Children and Youth Services announced the government’s plan to invest in respite services for children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Respite is consistently identified by families of children and youth with ASD as the most needed service. It has been identified that ASD respite services should be flexible, responsive to the needs of the family, provide an opportunity for children and youth to engage in meaningful activities, and have a streamlined application/approval process.

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has committed to building and improving the continuum of services for families of children and youth with ASD. Across the province, the Ministry is facilitating dialogues with families to hear about their respite needs and preferences for particular types of respite services.

The Regional Office would like to invite you, and parents of children and youth with ASD, to a Families and Stakeholders Consultation of the Investment in Respite Services for Children and Youth with ASD. A video conferencing session has been organized for Sault Ste. Marie on Monday August 27th, 2007 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm (est) at the following sites:

Algoma Family Services
205 McNabb Street
Sault Ste Marie Ontario

Algoma Family Services
31A Manitoba Road
Elliot Lake Ontario

Please ensure that parents of children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) receive this invitation. Confirmation of your participation would be appreciated by contacting Theresa Noonan at 807-223-2241 or toll-free 1-800-565-5970 ext. 232 or by e-mail to Please contact Theresa no later than the end of the day Thursday August 23, 2007.

Confirmation of the number of parents who will be participating would also be appreciated.

If you have any questions, please contact Carey Bignucolo, Program Supervisor, at 705-564-8153 or 1-800-265-1222 ext. 375 or by e-mail to

June Kelloway-Tarrant
Regional Program Manager

From a Listmate

Ontario Autism Coalition
Event Notice
Please distribute to all lists.

August 22, 2007

The Ontario Autism Coalition is pleased to invite you to the following
events as part of our ongoing campaign to raise awareness of Autism


Actions Speak Louder than Announcements

Who: Michael Bryant, Attorney General for Ontario
What: Mr. Bryant's community BBQ
When: Sunday, August 26, 2007 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Wells Hill Park (near the St. Clair West subway station on the
south side of St. Clair, one block east of Bathurst)
Why: The Attorney General for the Ontario Liberal Government, Michael
Bryant, has spent, and continues to spend millions of taxpayer dollars
fighting families of children with autism in the courts while children
with autism sit on lengthy waitlists for service. Not only do families
of children with autism go into financial hardship paying for services,
families are now burdened with additional unnecessary court costs.

The Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) will be making an appearance at Mr.
Bryant's community BBQ to bring the autism crisis to the attention of
Mr. Bryant and his government. The OAC will be joined by members of
Toronto Action for Social Change (TASC), a non-violent social justice
action group whose members have long sought significant changes in social
policies that punish the most vulnerable members of Ontario's society.
The OAC invites parents, family members and interested individuals to
join them in this worthwhile event.

This event is a preview of what Liberal MPP's can expect as part of an
Ontario-wide Day of Action for Autism on Saturday, September 15, 2007.

Contact Laura Kirby-McIntosh, Executive Member of the OAC if you would
like additional information on either event.

(cell) 416-315-7939
(home) 905-761-5226

Please feel free to bring your own home made signs, banners, and
pictures of your loved ones with autism. This is a child-friendly event,
however be advised that the park is close to a busy intersection.


Autism Day of Action

The Ontario Autism Coalition (OAC) is declaring Saturday, September
15th 2007 as a Day of Action for Autism and is inviting you to join us at
one of the several elected MPP riding offices in Ottawa, North Toronto,
Toronto, Windsor, Essex, and Sarnia where events will be taking place
throughout the day to bring awareness to the autism crisis in Ontario.

The OAC is asking for a commitment from all political parties on the

1) Allow IBI instructor therapists currently working within the Autism
Intervention Program entry into the school system so that
scientifically valid, supervised ABA can be implemented. Children receiving
intensive ABA through the Autism Intervention Program and students attending
school should receive the same quality of ABA services.

2) Eliminate the waitlist in the Autism Intervention Program and fully
fund services for all children with Autism - from the mild to severe
end of the Autism Spectrum.

3) Develop a formal credentialing system and a proper training and
recruitment system for the implementation of ABA to ensure accountability
and capacity within the system.

Let's believe that together we can make the necessary change for
appropriate publicly funded autism programs and services in Ontario. Please
join us at one of the following locations:

Ottawa: Premier Dalton McGuinty's office

1795 Kilborn Ave
Ottawa ON K1H 6N1
Tel :613-736-9573
Fax :613-736-7374

North Toronto: Greg Sorbara's office (Minister of Finance)

Unit AU8- 140 Woodbridge Ave
Woodbridge ON L4L 4K9
Tel :905-851-0440
Fax :905-851-0210

Toronto: Kathleen Wynee's office (Minister of Education)

146 Laird Dr, Suite 101
Toronto ON M4G 3V7
Tel :416-425-6777
Fax :416-425-0350

Windsor: Sandra Pupatello's office (Min. of Economic Development and

1483 Ouellette Ave
Windsor ON N8X 1K1
Tel : 519-977-7191
Fax :519-977-7029

Essex: Bruce Crozier (Deputy Speaker)

78 Talbot St N
Essex ON N8M 1A2
Tel :519-776-6420
Fax :519-776-5763

Sarnia: Caroline DiCocco (Minister of Culture)

4th Floor - 201 Front St. North
Sarnia ON N7T 7T9
Tel :519-337-0051
Fax :519-337-3246

Please visit our website,, if you would
like to contact an OAC Executive Member for more information.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that
Dr. ML King

The Ontario Autism Coalition formed in 2005 and has grown into an
Ontario-wide organization with over 600 members. The OAC organized over 20
rallies to draw public attention to the need for publicly funded
programs that effectively meet the needs of individuals in the Autism
community. They have also met with countless government policy advisors, senior
provincial Cabinet Ministers and M.P.P.'s to make their case.

The Ontario Autism Coalition is preparing for action in the fall
election in Ontario. We are seeking local event organizers, communications
people, and members of the web team, as well as people who just want to
show their support by participating in our activities.

If you want to help out in any way, please send us a message indicating
your interest. It will be an interesting fall and your participation
will be key to our success in advocating for children with Autism in
this province.

Google Alert
More cash needed to fight autism
Date: Aug 21, 2007
A multi-million-dollar cash injection for Ontario's autism community will see an additional 210 children and youth receive specialized therapy crucial to their success, the provincial government has announced.
While applauding the recent commitment of more than $12 million, a county woman advocating on behalf of autistic children and their families says more is needed.
For those families, it is incredible news," said Cindy DeCarlo, a founding member of the Alliance for Families With Autism. "Their children will finally receive the services they desperately need. Unfortunately, it is not close to clearing the waiting list."
Following a protracted court battle with parents of autistic children, the province reversed a long-standing policy that restricted funding of intensive behaviour intervention therapy to those under age six.
That has led to a spike in demand for the treatment.
"Our government has been taking steps to increase the capacity of the sector by training and recruiting more therapists for kids with autism," said Minister of Children and Youth Services Mary Anne Chambers.
About 1,000 Ontario children are currently awaiting IBI therapy, DeCarlo said.
"That is why we have been certainly looking forward to seeing more support within the education system," she added.
A portion of the new funding will be used to hire additional therapists and provide temporary- relief services to more than 3,000 families, the province said.
"I have seen the enormous benefits that our government's support for respite services, including summer camps, provides for both parents and children alike," Chambers said.
Deborah Kitchen, president of Autism Ontario, applauded the announcement.
"Respite services are so vitally important for families dealing with the day-to-day challenges of autism, and Autism Ontario is pleased to have the opportunity to work with the government and parents to further understand and deliver respite options that meet the unique needs of families from communities across the province," she said.
DeCarlo, whose five-year-old son is autistic, has spent the past several years advocating for programs and services crucial to the success of children with the developmental disorder.
She continues to push for appropriate programming within the school system.
"Realistically, there is a lot of training that needs to take place, and what we are looking at now is the building of an infrastructure," she added. "Parents continue to want to see their existing therapists allowed into the school."

Google Alert

Autistic kids still shortchanged, NDP claim at Sault press conference

Elaine Della-Mattia
Local News - Tuesday, August 21, 2007 Updated @ 5:10:55 PM

Carolin Ochman knows her son Joey could do better in school if only he was given the chance.

That's why she's endorsing the Ontario NDP and their campaign promise to provide funding for a therapeutic program that autistic children need to help their learning in publicly funded schools.

The Sault Ste. Marie mother saw how her son's communication and understanding levels progressed with an Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) therapist between the ages of four-and-a-half and six. But at that age government funding was cut off due.

The special therapeutic one-on-one treatment breaks down skills in a step-by-step process that helps a child with autism imitate and learn through repetition.

Age-restricted funding was lifted by the Ontario government as a result of a March 2005 human rights court decision, but there is a growing waiting list for treatment.

Now Ochman's son is a participant in a special needs program at school instead of being involved in a regular classroom with the aid of his therapist.

Varying annual provincial grants averaging about $8,000 help her get some of the programming her son needs; she supplements the costs of additional home-based programming, but they are enormous.

She remains on a waiting list with more than 1,000 other parents of autistic children to receive the funding she needs to help her son advance.

That waiting list numbered 89 prior to the last election, the NDP charges.

"It's been proven that autistic children learn best with IBI," she said at a press conference held by Sault Ste. Marie NDP candidate Jeff Arbus and MPP Shelley Martel, NDP-MPP for Nickle Belt.

The NDP have promised that if elected on the Oct. 10, they will ensure that autistic children on a waiting list receive treatment immediately and that therapists are allowed in the classroom to work with students in the public school system.

"There are very few parents that I know that can afford to pay for that kind of treatment out of pocket," Martel said.

She said some families are spending up to $50,000 a year to provide therapeutic treatment for their children, and that's not right.

"People are aware of the broken promise and failure of the provincial Liberals to meet the needs of the kids with autism," Arbus said.

He noted that the province spent $2.5 million fighting the court battle

From AO Listmate

Subject: Autism and Aspergers Workshops
>Date: Sat, 18 Aug 2007 08:17:36 -0400 (EDT)
>Behavioural Consultation & Therapy Services, Inc. is offering the
following Parent and Professional Training opportunities this fall.
> For more information, including location, fees, and registration,
visit our website at
Fall 2007 Parent & Professional Workshops
The presenter for all workshops will below Sandee-lee Parker, M.A.,

B.C.B.A. Sandee-lee received her M.A. in psychology with a speciality
in Behaviour Analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno. She is a Board

Certified Behaviour Analyst and has been working with children with
Autism and other special needs since 1986.
> Introduction to Applied Behaviour Analysis & Intensive Behavioural
> Dates: Saturday, September 22 & 29, 2007
> Times: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. both days
> Asperger Syndrome: What teachers need to know
> Dates: Saturday, October 20, 2007
> Times: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
> Introduction of Verbal Behaviour
> Date: Saturday, November 3, 2007
> Time: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
> Intermediate Curriculum in ABA Programming
> Dates: Saturday, November 24 and December 1, 2007
> Times: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. both days
> Contact Sandee-lee at the telephone number or e-mail address below
>you would like more information after visiting our web site.
>Sandee-lee Parker, M.A., B.C.B.A.
>Clinical Director
>Behavioural Consultation & Therapy Services, Inc.
>105-1450 Hopkins Street
>Whitby, Ontario, L1N 2C3
>Fax: 905-665-0937

From A Listmate:

South East Region – Ministry of Children and Youth Services Family Survey – August 2007

Re: Respite for Children 0-17 years who have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder

The South East Region of the Ministry of Community and Social Services/Ministry of Children and Youth Services will receive funding from the Province of Ontario (estimated at $153,200.00 in 2007/08 and $306,500.00 in 2008/08) to enhance respite services that are available to children who have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Your input will help us to direct this new funding in ways that are most beneficial to children and their families.

Please identify your child’s diagnosis:

0 Autism or Autistic Disorder
0 Pervasive Developmental Disorder, PDD-NOS or Atypical Autism
0 Asperger’s Disorder
0 Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
0 Rett’s Disorder

Please identify your respite care needs: (1= high need; 2 = moderate need; 3 = not needed)
Instructions: Insert # 1, 2 or 3 in each box below according the level of importance you place upon each type of respite.

Before school care for child under 12 years
Before school care for child over 12 years
After school care for child under 12 years
After school care for child over 12 years
Weekday respite care
Weekend respite care
Out of home respite in family home – host family
Out of home respite in residential setting/group home/respite apartment
In home respite – basic child care
In home respite – skill development focus – e.g. language, self help, social skill, assistance with school work, etc.
Community based respite – 1:1 support to participate in community activities
Organized group activity designed specifically for children who have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Mother’s/Parent’s helper – assistance with household tasks, care of siblings, etc.
March Break Day Camp Program
Christmas Break Day Camp Program
Summer Camp – day camp all summer
Summer Camp – day camp for one to several weeks
Summer Camp – residential for one to two weeks
Have resources for care but need assistance to find suitable caregivers
Other: (Comment box expands as you type)



Drawing from the above list of respite care options, please identify your top three priorities: (Comment box expands as you type)




Would you prefer to receive funds directly and purchase respite service from a private provider?
0 Yes or 0 No


Would you prefer to see funds directed toward respite programs within your community?
0 Yes or 0 No


Would you prefer to receive funds directly and purchase respite service from a community program?
0 Yes or 0 No

Direct respite funding is currently provided to families through the following programs; Special Services at Home, Enhanced Respite for children who are medically fragile and Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities for families of low to moderate income. Do you want another avenue through which you may apply for direct funding?
0 Yes or 0 No

Please identify anything else that you would like the Regional Office and its community partners to consider as plans to spend available respite resource are developed and implemented.

Comments: (Comment box expands as you type)

Do you reside in?

Frontenac/Lennox and Addington 0, or
Hastings/Prince Edward 0, or
Lannark/Leeds and Grenville 0

If you have completed a paper copy of this survey: please return to

Anne Moloney,
Program Supervisor,
Ministry of Community and Social Services/Ministry of Children and Youth Services
11 Beechgrove Lane,
Kingston, ON K7M 9A6.

If you have completed an e-mailed copy of this survey: please return to

If you have questions or require further information please call Anne directly at 1 800 646 3209 ext 7327 or 613 536 7327


See powerpoint attachment

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey.

Google Alert

NDP making false autism claims, Orazietti says
By Staff
Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Orazietti announces investment in more services for children and youth with autism in Sault Ste. Marie

McGuinty government increasing the number of children receiving intensive behaviour intervention (IBI), providing relief services for thousands of families

Sault Ste. Marie - (August 22) - The McGuinty government is investing more than $12 million this year to provide intensive behaviour intervention treatment for 210 more children and youth with autism, bringing the total number of children receiving the specialized care to approximately 1,400 - a 160 percent increase since 2004, David Orazietti, MPP announced.

"As a result of our government's capacity building efforts, more children with autism in Sault Ste. Marie will have access to intensive behaviour intervention therapy and more families will have access to much needed respite services," said Orazietti.

"This has been made possible through steps taken by our government to increase the capacity of the sector by training and recruiting more therapists for kids with autism," Orazietti said.

With the government's policy of not discharging kids from the intensive behaviour intervention program on the basis of age, the resulting increased demand is being addressed by building a continuum of service for children and youth with autism and their families and by more than tripling annual support since 2003-04 to more than $140 million in 2007-08.

In addition to taking 210 children off IBI waitlists, the $12 million in additional funding will be used to hire more IBI therapists and provide temporary relief services to more than 3,000 families across the province.

"I am very pleased that over 200 additional IBI spots have been funded while children over age 6 continue to remain in this program," said Tammy Starr, a parent of a child with autism.

"I have confidence that Minister Chambers and her ministry will ensure that families will be able to access these services quickly and that children will be receiving high quality treatment," Starr said.

The Liberal government has followed though on its commitment to enhance the support given to autistic children in Ontario but this fact did not stop NDP MPP Shelley Martel and NDP candidate Jeff Arbus from conducting a news conference in which they made false claims.

"It is unfortunate that NDP representatives chose to provide inaccurate information to the public," said Orazietti.

"Despite the NDP's recent interest in children with autism, they provided no new funding for it while in government and the issue did not even appear in their 2003 platform," he said.

Other ways the government is working together with community partners to support children and youth with autism include:

- No longer discharging children from the autism intervention program on the basis of age and assessing all children referred to the program, regardless of age.

- Creating the Ontario college graduate certificate program in autism and behavioural science and increasing the number of qualified professionals graduating from the program to at least 220 by 2008-09; the program is being expanded to include three more colleges, bringing the total number of colleges participating to 12 across the province, effective September 2007. More than 200 trained therapists have graduated from the program province-wide since 2006

- Hiring nearly 300 new therapists since 2004.

- Reducing the number of children waiting for assessment for the autism intervention program by 752 or 69 percent since 2004.

- Through the Geneva Centre for Autism, training up to 1,600 resource staff in the child care sector and child care workers and 5,000 educational assistants who work with children with autism.

- Providing nearly $6 million in further investments to support school boards in providing applied behaviour analysis for students who need it beginning in the 2007-08 school year.

- Investing $530,000 in summer 2007 to help send more than 800 children and youth with autism to supportive camp environments.

- Providing $900,000 over three years to expand, a centralized website operated by the Geneva Centre for Autism. Effective September 2007, the site will link 35 communities across the province, providing information on relief services to families caring for an individual with a disability, including autism.

- Providing approximately $1.5 million in funding to help Autism Ontario give more supports to families of children with autism. This funding includes support for the ABACUS website which aims to serve as the best possible source of information so that parents, caregivers, and the general community can be informed consumers of applied behavioural
analysis (ABA) services for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Ontario.

From a Listmate

Letting autistic boy play soccer made everyone a winner

Letters to the Editor
Aug 23, 2007 12:48 AM
We are writing to express our gratitude and appreciation to the Whitchurch-Stouffville Soccer Club’s players, referees and parents.

We were a bit reluctant to sign up our 11-year-old son, Ethan, with autism and sensory processing issues, for the regular soccer league within the club.

He had played the past three years, but now that the children were older and a bit more competitive, we thought that there would be no place for someone who was unable to keep up with the flow of the game and hold his own as a member of the team.

We thought the other children may just become frustrated with a teammate that made the balance with the other teams uneven.

But, Ethan loves soccer, loves to be able to run on the field, and wanted so much to play on a team in the regular league.

Boy were we wrong and pleasantly surprised.

On the first night, it was obvious Ethan was not able to keep up with the play as his response time was just too slow.

He would easily become distracted by a bright coloured flower, having to give us a thumbs up in excitement if he touched the ball or by the other teams playing on the field.

The coach, Tony, took it all in stride. He was Ethan’s coach in a previous year and just simply suggested he speak to the other coaches to see if they were OK with having Ethan as the “seventh man” on the field.

We never did hear of a meeting or if there were any objections. All we know is that every week Ethan puts on his soccer uniform with excitement and dedication.

We go to the soccer field and when Ethan wants to play, he asks the coach (which is amazing in itself) who sends him out. He is not counted in the allotted numbers allowed out. He is an extra player who follows the ball, if only by sight.

Instead of hearing complaining about this being unfair, we hear the other parents cheer when Ethan kicks the ball. We hear the other children on his team call him out to the field to play. We see the children on the other teams encouraging him to kick the ball.

We don’t believe Ethan is aware of this special attention, but because of it he has come such a long way. He is comfortable with going out on the field with the other players.

He is able to run and actually keep up with the play. He will chat with the goalie and the other players when the ball is not nearby.

All these things are huge accomplishments for our son, all made possible because of an understanding coach and supportive teammates, players, referees and parents.

There is so much more happening out there on the soccer field and we believe everyone is learning and benefiting by it.

We couldn’t have worked out something better if we had tried. It was a spontaneous situation that has enabled a little boy with special needs to just be another kid on the field.

He is just thrilled when he is able to kick the ball during a game.

Who knows, maybe one day he’ll even get a goal.

Micole and Brent Ongman

End of Mailing for August 23, 2007

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