Saturday, May 3, 2008

Autism News Articles April 20th - 26th 2008

Autism News Articles
April 20th 2008- April 26th 2008

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May marks AFA’s second year sharing News Articles with the Autism Community.
Thank you to everyone who sends their formatted articles for sharing to our list, this really reduces the workload for us!!!

Upcoming Fundraiser
Posted a few months ago, repeating for readership interest. It is coming up soon –
From Listmate
Attila Tar



Come and eat World-Famous food; (Gulyás), Cabbage rolls… in original style, listen to selected World-Famous International and Hungarian music, and even learn how to dance Csárdás (Char-dash) and you can meet with generious, helpful, honest people like yourself.

Date: Saturday, May 3rd, 2008 Time: 7:00 pm (19:00hrs) to 02:00 am

Also, Saturday May 31st, 2008 Time: 7:00 pm (19:00hrs) to 02:00 am

* Tickets must be purchased in advance, before May 1st, 2008
* Admittance in suits and gowns

Full price for adults $120.00
Student & autistic $50.00

Limited number of tickets for Dance Only:
$50.00 per person
- Admittance at 10:30 pm (22:30)

Place: Hungarian Canadian Cultural Centre: Magyar Ház
840 St. Clair Ave West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C1
Two blocks east of Oakwood Ave. Tel: 416-654-4926

For more info:


Last minute arrangements: 416-760-4971 or, 416-930-6945

!Every generous, helpful person is welcomed. Your presence counts and you are counted if you’re present!

!Security will be provided!

Primary mailing address: Attila Company P.O.Box 70671
2938 Dundas St. West Toronto, ON. M6P 1Y8

Order ticket(s) by mail, we can mailing it to your address, or you pick up the ticket(s) at the door.

Google Alert
Surprising language abilities in children with autism
What began as an informal presentation by a clinical linguist to a group of philosophers, has led to some surprising discoveries about the communicative language abilities of people with autism.
Several years back, Robert Stainton, now a philosophy professor at The University of Western Ontario, attended a presentation by his long-time friend Jessica de Villiers, a clinical linguist now at the University of British Columbia. The topic was Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). De Villiers explained that many individuals with ASD have significant difficulties with what linguists call “pragmatics.” That is, people with ASD often have difficulty using language appropriately in social situations. They do not make appropriate use of context or knowledge of what it would be “reasonable to say.” Most glaringly, many speakers with ASD have immense trouble understanding metaphor, irony, sarcasm, and what might be intimated or presumed, but not stated.
Drawing on his philosophical training, however, Stainton noticed less-than-obvious pragmatic abilities at work in de Villiers’ examples, which were drawn from transcripts of conversations with 42 speakers with ASD – abilities that had been missed by clinicians.
Thus began research to more clearly understand and define the conversational abilities and challenges of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Stainton and de Villiers’ research, in collaboration with Peter Szatmari, a clinical psychiatrist at McMaster University, has shown that indeed, many individuals with ASD do have “a rich array of pragmatic abilities.”
These researchers do not contest the well-established claim that people with ASD have difficulty with non-literal pragmatics, such as metaphors (“Juliet is the sun”) or irony/sarcasm (“Boy, is that a good idea”). They have, however, found that many speakers with ASD do not show the same difficulty with literal pragmatics. An example is the phrase, “I took the subway north” from a transcript of a conversation with a research participant with ASD. The use of the word “the” could indicate there is only one subway in existence going north. “The subway” could also be referring to a subway car, a subway system or a subway tunnel. Taking account of the context and the listener's expectations, however, the individual using the phrase was able to convey the specific meaning he intended. That is, he used pragmatics effectively.
In short, Stainton and his colleagues produced surprising evidence to show that speakers with ASD use and understand pragmatics in cases of literal talk, as in the subway example.
Stainton, who is also Acting Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Western, says, “It is especially gratifying and encouraging, because this is an Arts and Humanities contribution to clinical research. Without a philosophical perspective, this discovery might not have been made.”
Related research allowed de Villiers and Szatmari to develop a rating scale of pragmatic abilities that can be used in the clinical assessment of people with ASD. Stainton says, “In the short term, their new tool will help identify where an individual fits on that spectrum. In the longer term, however, by making use of recent results in philosophy of language, it may contribute to our theoretical understanding of the boundary between knowledge of the meanings of words, and non-linguistic abilities – specifically pragmatics.”
Stainton believes that both clinicians who work with people with ASD, and language theorists who are interested in pragmatics for philosophical reasons, will find these results striking.
ASD affects approximately one in 165 people. The results of the research, conducted from a study of 42 children with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, has been published in the journal, Midwest Studies in Philosophy.
Contact: Robert J. Stainton, 519-661-4291
Professor of Philosophy and Acting Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Arts and Humanities
The University of Western Ontario
From Autism Ontario
Sudbury & District Update
Hello everyone:

We look forward to our first "walking group" Autism Ontario meeting Monday April 28th 2008, during our weekly Monday meeting time of 11am-12pm, starting and finishing at the Child Care Resources building on Falconbridge Road. Strollers, wagons, family and friends, members and non-members are all welcome to join us for a Chapter update, meet and greet, and a stroll around the neighbourhood. See you there (meet in Conference Room C, or at the back of the building at 11:10am to get started)!

Please find attached "GillBarber.doc", a description of our upcoming workshop and luncheon on May 10th: "Building Friendships", with Rachel Barber and Penny Gill. Volunteers are needed to help with set up and reception that morning, please contact us at 222-5000 ext 2685 if you are able to help us at this event! We are working on establishing videoconferencing links for this workshop to locations in Gore Bay and Espanola: please indicate when registering if you are interested in this videoconferencing option.

Best wishes,
Heather, Liz, Chanda and Rebecca

The Story of a Person with Autism from Childhood to Adulthood

Presented by Penny Gill and Rachel Barber

Please join us for a presentation, light lunch and reception on
Saturday May 10th 2008 10:30am-1:30pm.

Penny and Rachel will recount their experiences in supporting and building friendships for one individual on the autism spectrum. Join us for inspiration and practical ideas including:
• Activities that a wide range of children can enjoy together (with or without disabilities) at school, home and in the community
• The importance of working to build friendships for children with autism spectrum disorders
• How to set a foundation in childhood to prepare for friendships in adolescence and adulthood
• The supporting role that parents can play in building friendships in childhood, adolescence and adulthood

LOCATION: Child Care Resources Building Conference Room B, 662 Falconbridge Road, Sudbury.
FEE: (includes lunch) $5.00 Autism Ontario Members, $7.00 non- Members.
REGISTRATION: Voicemail:222-5000 ext 2685 or e-mail:
Please inquire about our workshop scholarships. Videoconferencing to Espanola/Manitoulin/Chapleau, based on demand. Child care is available, please register in advance.

Penny Gill left her law career when her 3 year old son was diagnosed with autism. Over the past twenty years she has been involved in many facets of the disabilities movement, including : Autism Ontario, Dr. Peter Szatmari’s Autism Team at Chedoke-McMaster Hospital in Hamilton (as a parent advisor), and developing and presenting written and oral submissions for various teaching conferences and for government education panels in Ontario. Penny founded the Autism/PDD Family Alliance in 2000, a registered charity geared toward improving opportunities for adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum. Most recently she has established a cooking school for individuals with autism; the school is anticipating the publication of their first cookbook (recipes fully task-analyzed!) in 2009.

Rachel Barber works as a research assistant with the Autism Research Unit at Sick Kids Hospital, and as research coordinator at Bloorview-Macmillan Rehabilitation Centre in Toronto, while completing her Masters in Applied Disability Studies through Brock University. Rachael has worked formally and informally as a mentor for children and adults with exceptionalities for 10 years, including Penny Gill’s son.

Honouring Outstanding Educators
Among the recipients is a team of educators received this honour for the work that they do with students with ASD. (And in part for their efforts with their school’s Together For Autism campaign!!) Once you click on the link below and get to the ministry page, scroll down to the bottom to “Learn More” and then on “award recipients” It’s way at the bottom.
Marg Spoelstra
Executive Director
Honouring Outstanding Educators
McGuinty Government Celebrates Excellence in Education
April 14, 2008
Twenty-three educators and support staff will receive provincial education awards for their contributions to student learning and achievement.
View full text at:
or call 1-800-387-5519
Ministry of Education
Learn More
Read about this year's award recipients.
Update from Benchmark Development Panel
The link below will take you to a letter to parents and stakeholders from Dr. Nancy Freeman, C. Psych.
Panel Chair, Benchmark Development Expert Panel.

Canada’s Wonderland – Discount Tickets
The Yellow Bus Foundation and its selected charities are invited to
“RBC Family & Friends Day” at Canada’s Wonderland
Saturday, May 3, 2008
From each ticket sold, $2.00 is donated to The Yellow Bus Foundation. Recipient charities will include: Autism Ontario, Centennial Infant & Child Centre Foundation, The Jennifer Ashleigh Children’s Charity, The Make-a-Wish Foundation and Regent Park/Duke of York Children’s Foundation.
One Day Tickets are $26 each (all ages 3+) and are valid on May 3rd only (regular one day price is $53)
Two Day Tickets are $34 each (all ages 3+) and are valid on May 3rd, with a second visit on or before June 30th by the same person (tickets are non-transferable).
Children aged 2 years and under are FREE.
All You Can Eat BBQ Feast” meal tickets available for use only on May 3rd. All ages are $10+tax ($11.30) per person; includes hotdogs, hamburgers, potato chips, soft drinks at one sitting in a designated area. Available in advance only, using the Canada’s Wonderland link and Company ID indicated below.
For additional information, visit
Buy Your May 3rd Park & Meal Tickets Online and Print Immediately:
Company ID: RBC2008
Disclaimer: It is important to do your own research and make your own informed decisions. Please note Autism Ontario does not endorse any specific therapy, product, treatment, strategy, opinions, service, or individual. We do, however, endorse your right to information.


From Nancy Morrison’s email. – BLUE FONT
Exciting news from Taline regarding the Ombudsman's office:

The Ombudsman's office has assigned two investigators who will be responding to each individual family who had sent them information either directly or through me. They will continue to gather information and make further inquiries about the wait times in the AIP and the lack of IBI in the schools. They will review the situation to determine whether they will conduct an investigation once the Court of Appeal for Ontario releases their decision by this summer on the Class Action case, which has included both the AIP wait times and the lack of IBI in the schools in the claim. They will attempt to help out families on an individual basis with issues such as benchmarks/cut-offs and other details they've been made aware of until then.

If you haven't already done so, please send your information in response to the three questions below to:

1) Is your child on the IBI waitlist and if so, how long? (eg: "My child has been on the waitlist since May 2006", or "My child is currently receiving IBI but was on the waitlist for 3 years", etc.)

2) Is your child having to receive IBI outside of school and if so, why? (eg: "My child is receiving IBI outside of school because although I have asked if my child can attend for at least part of the school day with direct support from his/her IBI Instructor Therapist, the school has not allowed this", or "My child is receiving IBI outside of school because he/she is only 3 years old", etc.)

3) Has your child been discharged from IBI and why? (eg: "My child was receiving IBI but was cut-off when he/she turned age six when the age stipulation was still in place and now he's/she's back on the waitlist again", or "My child was cut-off of IBI in September 2007 because they said that he/she is not progressing enough", etc.)

Taline Sagharian


And another extremely important message. Many lists have posted about a government project to track autism diagnosis and asked for your imput. Please, consider the following regarding this project, and feel free to forward this message to all your own contacts:

Over the past few months, the Public Health Agency of Canada has been working with the Autism Society Canada, the Autism Spectrum Disorders-Canadian American Research Consortium (ASD-CARC) and the Canadian Autism Intervention Research Network (CAIRN) to consult with individuals, families, doctors and ASD researchers to see what can be done to track ASDs in Canada. These groups are asking members of the autism community, individuals with ASD, family members and other caregivers, doctors and service providers who diagnose and treat ASD, school teachers and early childhood educators, adult service providers, those involved in policy and program development, and researchers to fill out a questionnaire on-line at
Unfortunatley this is not how Surveillance or Policy works in PHAC. The questionnaire on line is poorly designed and is not relevant to the issues identified in core surveillance programs, which include: Incidence of the disorder (how many new cases of autism are being identified), prevalence (how may cases exist at the present time), time trends (how does the incidence and prevalence of autism changes over time), demographics (age, sex, geographic location), patient history (date of diagnosis, diagnostic tests, developmental test scores, changes in severity over time), Treatment history (date treatment started, types of treatment, treatment outcomes, costs of treatment), time-space clustering of the disorder.

It appears that the survey was thrown together by people not trained in surveillance methods. Why does PHAC not use their abundance of Epidemiologists, Statisticians, and Research Scientists to develop a proper tracking program similar to other PHAC tracking programs (cancer, diabetes, enteric infections, sexually transmitted diseases)? Why is PHAC giving money to outside Autism groups when they have people trained within the Agency who are experts in the tracking of diseases/disorders? It appears that money is being thrown around to give "the appearance" that something is being done. If PHAC thinks that the survey on is acceptable to those who understand and do surveillance for a is not! Stop wasting TIME and MONEY and get serious. Develop a Division of Autism within PHAC. Hire trained Statisticians, Epidemiologists, Research Scientists, Policy Analysts and Community Medicine experts to develop a program for Autism including surveillance, policy, guidelines, program evaluation and strategic planning (similar to their Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Mental Health divisions). If PHAC is serious then the National Strategy for Autism need to be developed into a Memorandum to Cabinet. Writers and researchers need to be hired to develop the Memorandum and Minister Clement need to present the Strategy to the house in September, 2008. Time is running out. This survey is unacceptable by research and political standards and does not collect the information needed for a National Strategy.

Please fill out the questionnaire and in the blank spaces where you can write, please write your concerns. Also write to Minister Clement and your MP to let them know that this is unacceptable.


For your reference, here is the posting that went out on numerous other lists regarding this:

What do governments need to track to better understand Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), and improve policy, programs and services for individuals and their families? Tell us now at

Tracking autism – We want to hear from you!
In November 2006, the Government of Canada committed to consulting with stakeholders about the feasibility of developing surveillance on ASDs in Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada is now in the process of considering what information would be important to track about ASDs and how this information could be collected.

Over the past few months, the Public Health Agency of Canada has been working with Autism Society Canada, the Autism Spectrum Disorders-Canadian American Research Consortium (ASD-CARC) and the Canadian Autism Intervention Research Network (CAIRN) to consult with individuals, families, doctors and ASD researchers to see what can be done to track ASDs in Canada. Now we need your help.

Tell us what you think we should be tracking
Together we have developed an on-line survey to gather input on what information about ASDs is important to track among the group of Canadians with ASDs.

We want to hear from all members of the ASD community (including Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorders Not Otherwise Specified), – individuals with ASDs, family members and other caregivers, doctors and service providers who diagnose and treat those with ASDs, school teachers and early childhood educators, adult service providers, those involved in policy and program development, and researchers studying these conditions.

The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete, and all responses will be kept strictly confidential. The survey will be posted until May 20th at But why wait? Go to the web site now. Tell us what information you think is important to track about ASDs. Help us plan a better future for all Canadians.

Adding the Questionnaire Link to Your Website
By posting a live link to on your website, the questionnaire will be available to a larger audience and more individuals will be able to use the internet-based consultation to share their views. Title: Tracking ASDs in
(See attached file: Surveillance des TSA au Canada.jpg - tracking ASDs in Canada logo v2.jpg)

Keep in mind
We want to hear from all members of the ASD community (including Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorders Not Otherwise Specified), – individuals with ASD, family members and other caregivers, doctors and service providers who diagnose and treat ASD, school teachers and early childhood educators, adult service providers, those involved in policy and program development, and researchers studying these conditions.

In an attempt to reach as many ASD stakeholders as possible, we are asking for your help. Please forward this questionnaire link to anyone you think might be interested:

AFASE at school

Advocating For Appropriate Special Education

Saturday, May 3, 2008
10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

This full-day workshop is designed to empower you by providing current special education
information, strategies, and skills that will enable you to advocate for appropriate special education
programs and services in a way that is both assertive and collaborative

Audience: Parents, Students, Teachers, Educational Assistants, and Community Organizations

Lindsay Moir who is retired from the Ministry of Education is considered to be an expert in special
education issues. He will present an interactive, discussion-based workshop on Current Issues in
Special Education.

Karen Robinson the owner of AFASE at School will present Special Education Advocacy:
Everything you Should Know. Topics include: The Rules of Advocacy, The Special Education
Program, Needs Statements, IPRC's and the Appeal Process, The good IEP with Specific Goals,
Measurable Expectations and ABA methods.

Each presentation will allow time for Q & A

Coffee and pastries, and a light lunch will be provided

Peel Regional Police
Clarkson Community Station
Community Meeting Room
2057 Royal Windsor Dr.
Mississauga, Ontario N5X 1B6
N/W corner of Southdown and Lakeshore/Royal Windsor

Short walk from Clarkson GO Train Station


*Early bird rate: $80.00
*At the door: $100.00

To register use the registration form using this link
http://www.afase. com/Workshop_ Registration. html
or e-mail: karen.robinson@
or phone: 905-427-7524

*Fee includes refreshments and handouts for each presentation


More info on the Pizza Pizza initiative for gluten free, casien free pizza.... I had shared last month about this initiative being tried in some GTA area locations:

Pizza Pizza Information


Pizza Pizza's New Gluten Free Pizza Crust will be a very good option to allow people that suffer an allergic response or who have intolerance to wheat or gluten to enjoy our pizza. Please note that the product DOES CONTAIN YEAST.
Note: If you would like to substitute to the New Gluten Free Pizza crust on any medium pizza order (including all deals) the cost will be $3.25/pizza additionally.

Ingredients: Rice Flour, potato starch, water, non-hydrogenated canola oil, sugar, salt, methylcellouse (thickening agent), yeast, monoglyerides
CAUTION - pepperoni, salami, steak strips, etc contain wheat!! Check ingredients of toppings you want.


I missed sharing this in the last mailing, sorry that it is not getting out in a timely manner. This was forwarded by a listmate for sharing with all of you:

I had accidentally recorded this session about bill 35 and noticed that a comment was actually made about autism by PC Norman Sterling. This is a good one because it counteracts the excuse we keep hearing of "limited public resources".


Ontario Hansard - 14-April2008
Mr. Norman W. Sterling: As you know, Madam Speaker, as you serve as one of the members of the public accounts committee, we sit with the auditor each week in that committee and are told each week that we want to call the government to account in that committee as we go forward. I guess what troubles me most about this particular bill is that it talks about reinvesting in Ontario, but really what it is, is a bill to allow the government to give unconditional grants out to anybody, maybe municipalities or maybe other non-profit groups as well, without any accountability.
I thought it would be helpful for people who might be listening to go over the process so people understand what, in fact, is happening here with regard to this bill. Our budget year starts on April 1 of each year and ends on March 31. The government brings its budget in at the late part of March for the upcoming year.
The way governments have made budgets in the past is that they estimate what the costs of running their operation are, creating new programs in the budget, increasing programs as we go forward. Then they calculate what that cost is going to be and calculate what the revenues are going to be for the upcoming year as well.
In this particular case, in terms of dealing with municipalities if they have a shortfall of money, I guess the most prudent thing for the government would be to create some kind of revenue stream that would be constant and consistent as we go through the years, so that in March of the year they would say to the municipal governments, "We will give you a certain percentage of the income tax of the government this year," or "We will give you a certain percentage of the sales tax," or whatever, if they wanted to help them out. That would be a constant stream of money to our municipalities that they could count on. This bill, as you know, guarantees nothing to the municipalities at all. In fact, it says if there is not a surplus of $800 million, they get nothing. If it goes over $800 million, they can receive up to $2 billion going forward.
The strange part of this bill is that it seems that the government is intent, as they have been in the past three or four years, on creating huge surpluses. When they get into the month of March, the last month of their financial year, they want to get rid of that money. Their first desire is to balance the budget and make certain that their revenue exceeds their expenses. But I get the impression from this government that they just want to get over that line. They don't want to create a surplus and restrain any expenses. We have seen this government, year after year, try to spend a great deal of money in the month of March. I'm going to quote what the auditor had to say over the last three years about that particular habit.
While the fiscal year ends on March 31, it's not until July or August, four or five months later, that an accurate accounting of the revenues and expenses takes place. While the government is in a pretty good position to try to estimate in March how much to flush out the door before March 31, they haven't got all the numbers in at that stage. But in July or August, a document comes out, produced by the internal auditors of the government, which has all of the columns added up, and it produces a number as to what the surplus is for the previous financial year.
Last year, that report came out in August, and much to the chagrin of the government, they ended up with too big a surplus, because the way they've acted in the past is, they just want to get over this line. They want to say they've balanced the budget, but they want to throw the rest of the money out to people in various different ways.
Last year, they created more than $2.3 billion in debt, but they didn't think that they should pay down that debt first and then distribute the money later. At that point in August or July when the public accounts come out and they find they've got a surplus, the government has no choice what to do. They have to pay down the deficit. That's all they can do. They can't create new programs at that time and attribute them back to the previous financial year.
That's what this bill is about. This bill is about trying to say, "We get a number in August which is much highr than we thought, and we want to throw that money out in unconditional grants to either non-profit groups, municipalities or whomever." Interestingly enough, in Bill 35, they don't even mention municipalities. They mention other groups, but municipalities could be included in that group.
Why was it good last year that the $2.3 billion went to pay down the debt? It's good because the $2.3 billion that we paid down saved us $135 million this year and will save us $135 million dollars next year and each year after. I think we could increase the program for autistic children tremendously by an infusion of $135 million dollars. But this government is intent on getting rid of all of the surplus without paying down the debt. They could save significant money going into the future.
Over the past three years, this government has made a huge effort to get rid of all of the balance of the budget. So each year, this government has written huge cheques, mostly to municipalities, in the last week of March. In fact, three years ago they wrote cheques to various rural municipalities across this province for roads and bridges. They did it so quickly, do you know what they did? They wrote cheques to counties that had no roads or bridges. Hastings and Frontenac counties both received cheques-one for $1.6 million and the other one for over $2 million-for roads and bridges. Oddly enough, Hastings and Frontenac don't have any roads or bridges to take care of. They're all taken care of by lower-tier municipalities. They were so anxious to get the money out that they couldn't do it competently. It's craziness.
As I mentioned before in one of my responses, they recently gave-in March of this year, a couple of weeks ago-to my city of Ottawa $14.9 million for infrastructure. Number one, everybody else did better than the city of Ottawa in terms of what they got out of the slush fund at the end of the year. But number two, it illustrates exactly why this practice is bad. This practice is bad because the city gets $14.9 million, ostensibly for infrastructure, and they can spend it on anything they want. Any municipality that received a cheque-$450 million went out to various municipalities at the end of March. They said, "We'd like you to spend it on this or that, " but if they don't spend it on that, there are no consequences. They don't have to give the money back. They could spend it on their operational budget and knock their tax rate down. So the tie between the government that collects the revenue and the spending of the money has been lost. That is very, very bad in terms of responsible government.
Is this practice wise? Our Auditor General certainly doesn't think so. He's spoken out against these unconditional year-end grants, which have been hurried out the door so they can be counted within the fiscal year's accounts. See, they want to increase their expenses at the end of March.
I want to read from the Auditor General's 2005 report on this matter. This is the Auditor General speaking in his 2005 report:
"Based on a review of a number of transfer-payment transactions that occurred near the end of this fiscal year, we continue to have concerns in this area. Normally the government provides transfers to its service delivery partners on an as-needed basis. Operating transfers are generally provided over the course of the year as such funds are required to finance operations, and capital funds are normally provided on a cost-recovery basis as the transfer-payment recipient completes specific stages of a pre-approved capital project. However, just prior to or on March 31, 2005, the government entered into a number of transfer-payment arrangements and expensed the amounts involved, thereby increasing the deficit for the year by almost $1 billion more than otherwise would have been the case. None of these transfers were originally planned for; that is, none had been included in the government's budget for the 2004-05 fiscal year, and in many cases, normal accountability and control provisions were reduced or eliminated to make the transfers `unconditional,' thus helping ensure that they would qualify for immediate expensing."
Do you know what you have here? You have a government that is so driven to driving their expense column up, when they see they have a little extra money, rather than paying down the debt, they're willing to give this money out willy-nilly. That's essentially what the auditor says here in his criticism. You'd think that would be enough, but in 2006 Mr. McCarter repeated his condemnation of year-end spending sprees on page 343 of his 2006 report.
The Auditor General: "Again this fiscal year, we continue to have concerns, specifically regarding the relaxing of normal controls-shortly before the fiscal year-end"-that is before the March 31 deadline-"for unplanned transfers that the government makes to its service-delivery partners."
He continues:
"However, just prior to or on March 31, 2006, the government entered into a number of transfer-payment arrangements and expensed the amounts involved, thereby reducing the surplus for the year by almost $1.6 billion more than otherwise would have been the case." If it weren't for the different numbers in the two quotes, you would think I'd just made a mistake in reading those numbers. But no, the government didn't listen to his comments in 2005; they're not listening to him in 2006.
Then, at the end of the fiscal year 2006-07, the government was caught handing out money by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration without any application process or controls. The auditor was asked again. Let's see what Mr. McCarter had to say:
"In general, as we have noted in previous annual and other reports, year-end grant expenditures have involved reducing the controls normally in place for regular grant programs administered throughout the fiscal year." In that case, the year-end grants made headlines because of the ridiculousness of some of them, such as the $1-million grant to the cricket association. Unfortunately, this government has demonstrated by the introduction of this bill that it not only intends to continue on with what they have done in the past, but they want to make it worse.
We all remember the scandal with regard to the year-end grants by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the fact that there were no application forms-some groups were notified and some weren't. There were no controls over the money. In fact, we know that in some cases the grants were much larger than those asked for.
What Bill 35 does is it gives the government another chance to do what it has been doing the last three years and has been criticized by the auditor each year for doing it. But it allows them to do it in such a fashion that there is no chance we could end up, as we did last year, with a $2.3-billion surplus, that would be used to pay down the debt this government is accumulating so quickly.
What that bill does is say that March 31 is no longer the deadline. We have four or five months after that in which we can still give away money from the previous expense year.
I think the government has some real problems with this particular bill. This bill has not been passed; it was not passed in the last fiscal year. In effect, what they're trying to do here now by passing this legislation-and, as you know, they have the majority to do so-is they're trying to go back and change the rules for the accounting procedure in the fiscal year 2007-08-last year, the one that just ended on March 31. I don't think they're going to get away with that and I don't think the auditors would look too kindly with regard to that particular matter.
This bill, I might add, is fashioned after a bill by a former Liberal Prime Minister, Paul Martin. But the difference with regard to what Mr. Martin did and what this government is trying to do here is that he passed the bill before the end of the fiscal year that they were trying to affect. So, Madam Speaker, not only do we have a bad bill, a bill which actually gets the government away from accountability for what they're doing with your money, my money and the taxpayers' money by handing it out to people on the basis of population or road miles or whatever the criteria are going to be-we don't know those criteria because, as my colleagues have mentioned before, this bill doesn't have much substance other than to give the cabinet, through the procedures of regulation, the power to make all the rules after the legislation has been passed.
The net effect of all of this, at the end, is this: Up to this point in our history in the Legislature, we have operated with the idea that the budget each year, as was read to us, tabled before us and passed before us in this Legislature, was an important document that would try to accurately reflect what the programs of the government would be and what the expected revenues of the government would be. The government then, as you know, tables the estimates, which define more closely what's in the budget. But with this kind of year-end spending which this government has undertaken, and now with this bill, one has to question whether the budget process is starting to lose the importance it has had in this institution for as long as it has; that is, why not just overtax the people? Why not just collect huge amounts of revenue and then sort of eyeball what the expenses might be? As long as you've overtaxed the people enough, you're going to end up with a pot of gold at the end, and then you just slush it out the door either before March 31 or in July or August of the year when the public accounts come.
The worst part of doing that is this: The recipients of that money, the slush funds, don't know if there's going to be money the next year or the year following. They all love getting a cheque; who doesn't love getting a cheque? They love getting unconditional cheques, as Ottawa did. They used it for clearing snow this past winter. That's effectively what they've done with the $14.9 million. It cost us something like $23 or $26 million extra this year in our snowplowing budget, because we just had huge amounts of snow. But that is not what a government's responsibility is to its provincial taxpayers. Our responsibility is to plan for the expenditures, collect enough revenue to cover those, pay down some of the debt and go home. It's not to create ideas for slush funds at the end of the year, extra lottery days at the end of the time.
The whole idea of government is being lost. Accountability is being lost in this bill; this bill has nothing to do with accountability. Perhaps the biggest irony in all of this is that it's called investing in Ontario. I don't consider giving money to the city of Ottawa to plow their streets in the winter to be investing in Ontario. I don't believe that.


From Georgetown, Ontario newspaper, and remember if your child is not able to join in on house league hockey, there is the International Special Needs Hockey League that will work with all kids, all diagnosis, all capabilities, they run an excellent program in many communities across North American and in the UK:

Coach makes a difference to autistic player
Wednesday April 23 2008
By Eamonn Maher, Staff Writer

Although local resident Doug Gillespie wasn't one of the 13 recent recipients of the Canada-wide RBC Local Hockey Leader Award last month for his volunteer efforts, he's still a winner in the eyes of one 10-year-old house leaguer.
When Grade 5 St. Catherine of Alexandria student Adam Thompson told his mom Tracy two years ago that he wanted to play ice hockey, she and husband Dave were somewhat apprehensive, but willing to give it a try.
Adam is autistic, and typically youths with that learning disorder don't adapt well to change or being in a team sports environment.
Yet thanks to Gillespie's efforts, Adam recently finished his second year in the Georgetown Minor Hockey Association's atom house league and is already looking forward to lacing up the blades again in October. He progressed from basically walking on his skates in the initial practice to becoming a versatile player by the end of the first season, which ended with him also lining up in goal for his team's gold medal victory in the GMHA's Weekend of Champions.
"(It's about) working on people's abilities and making them even better," is Adam's motto.
Adam has Autism Spectrum Disorder, but primarily Aspergers Syndrome-- much like Dustin Hoffman's character in the 1988 Academy Award-winning movie Rain Man-- affecting one in 150 children worldwide.
"We were fortunate to have such a great coach in Doug for the first year because Adam wouldn't have played again this year. The coaching is what made the difference for Adam," said Tracy, a nurse for RBC travel insurance.
For Gillespie, who has three children of his own and a cousin with a similar type of autism as Adam's, the approach he took was to help Adam be part of the team on and off the ice without appearing to treat him any differently than the other players. His coaching philosophy is that the kids can and should play all positions, something that at first didn't go over well with Adam, a centreman by preference.
So after one game, Gillespie asked Adam if he might want to try playing left wing next time out, explained what the new position involved, and checked back by telelphone a day before the next game to see if that was still agreeable to the new position.
"This was key for Adam because it allowed him to make choices and know what was expected of him," added Tracy.
"Sometimes with the autism he loses his focus but his teammates would come over and tell him, 'The puck's there!' and he just goes after it. It's been a very successful exercise for him."
Gillespie also had nicknames for each of the team members and every couple of weeks would host a Sunday morning street hockey game. Adam 'The Atom Bomb' continues to receive occasional phone calls from 'Coach Doug,' even though Gillespie oversaw a team in a different division this past season. He credits Adam with working hard during his GMHA initiation program sessions for the vast improvement in his skating.
"We did have a bunch of competitive kids on the team and for Adam it was just about having fun and enjoying the experience, which was really refreshing," Gillespie noted.
"The biggest thing for me to see from Adam was him touching the puck as many times as he did towards the end of the season and he became extremely proficient at winning faceoffs," he said.
"Also, it was important to match him up with one or two other players so he played most of the time together and they were familiar with each other on the same line, whether it was forward or defence."
Gillespie added that he can understand why parents of autistic children would be reluctant to sign their kids up for team-based recreational activities, but hopes that attitudes can change. On the GMHA's registration form, a medical condition section must be filled out, although there is nothing requiring the listing of learning disabilities.
"Yes, the parents are terrified, but it doesn't need to be like that," he said. "It's so important to make the coach aware of the situation and be up front about it. The whole team doesn't need to know, because the kids are smart enough, they'll figure it out and be supportive. All the kids on the team should definitely be treated equally in the changeroom, and then you can work a little behind the scenes. There may be just a little different learning strategy, so that's why it's crucial that the coach is empowered with the knowledge and then develop a strategy together to work with the condition the child has. It's just a little extra work, not much."
When asked what he liked most about playing for Coach Doug, Adam didn't hesitate.
"A ton of things," he said, smiling. "Road hockey on Sundays. Winning the gold medal. We had a lot of fun."
Even better, since Gillespie, who oversees goalie clinics for the GMHA as well, will also serve as convenor for the same peewee division his son D.J. plays in, it's pretty much assured that Adam is a Stamkos-sure lock to be reunited with his former coach next fall, with dad Dave serving as the assistant.
This was from the Toronto Star:
'BenX': Boy beats world
April 18, 2008
Susan Walker

(out of 4)
Starring Greg Timmermans, Laura Verlinden, Marijke Pinoy. Written and directed by Nic Balthazar. 93 minutes. In Dutch with English subtitles. At the Varsity. PG
Autism has been a disorder du jour for some time now, cropping up in movies (Snow Cake, Breaking and Entering), books (Daniel Isn't Talking) and plays (Lucy) and generally getting the kind of attention that might bring understanding and insight to the condition.
BenX goes one better and takes the viewer into the mind of Ben, a teenager who is sadistically bullied to the point of suicide.
What leads off like a docudrama of the social ills accompanying a misunderstood condition merges into fantasy until, in very clever ways, director Nic Balthazar turns the medium into the message.
BenX might just as well be a film made by someone with Asperger's syndrome – the diagnosis that the high-strung teen is nailed with. By the end of the movie, full of surprising twists and sleight-of-hand shifts between realities, the very authorship of the story is in question.
The Belgian film is set in a town or suburb not far from Brussels.
A gaunt and affectless Greg Timmermans plays Ben, who might be 17, but looks like a boy in a man's body. He resides in a cookie-cutter townhouse with his mother, mostly occupying a cavernous bedroom where he has found a haven in the computer game Archlord. Ben's world is the game.
As he engages with the merciless classmates who rag him and pick at him every day, he imagines himself in computer graphics in the armour of the warrior.
Balthazar, a child actor turned movie critic turned TV host, novelist and now filmmaker, must have made a sweet deal with
He punctuates the live action with battlefield scenes from Archlord, putting Ben's head on the terrifying warlord and superimposing instant messages between Ben and his Internet opponent Scarlite.
Scarlite is a pretty young woman who applauds Ben's mastery of the game: he's at level 80. She may or may not exist in the physical world as a potential girlfriend, healer and soulmate.
Ben never speaks through most of the film.
We hear his thoughts in voice-over and come to realize that the world inside his head is the only place he is safe and empowered.
In the physical world he confronts some serious opponents, including his father, who's in total denial about his son's disorder; dad's new spouse, who always greets him with the same platitude; sympathetic-seeming but ineffectual school principal and teachers; and a doctor who refers to him as "a walking volcano."
Only one professional seems to appreciate Ben. He says Ben is "an extraordinary boy who fights every day to be ordinary." But he happens to be wrong.
Although full of self-loathing when he sees himself in the mirror, Ben's cyber-self is content to be extraordinary and embraces a Christ complex. His mother, and the mysterious Scarlite are his only real allies.
Reality as most of the world knows it and life as an autistic person might construct it are juxtaposed in a way to deliberately confuse the viewer. But BenX – his Internet handle – emerges as a hero, and his triumph over the bullies is one that could only have been conceived in an age of advanced electronic media. Balthazar is not the first to exploit the potential of cyberspace and the imaginative range of 3D computer graphics in a dramatic film, but he takes the medium to a new and more imaginative level.


And this was the Globe and Mail's version:

Teen humiliation, captured with dignity
From Friday's Globe and Mail
April 18, 2008 at 12:17 AM EDT
Ben X
Written and directed by Nic Balthazar
Starring Greg Timmermans and Marijke Pinoy
Classification: PG

At school, the bullies are out for blood and the good guys can do nothing about it. Back home, mother is helpless, while the absent father is guilt-ridden. In the community, social services are compassionately indifferent and the medical establishment takes too stoic a view to be of practical help. I ask you, then: What chance does an autistic teenager have for survival?
Belgian director Nic Balthazar asks the same from all of us in the psychologically rich Ben X, inspired by a true story of a teenager who committed suicide after years of harassment in school. The question has haunted Balthazar over a number of years and across multiple storytelling platforms.
Ben X started life in 2002 as Nothing Was All He Said, Balthazar's debut novel for “youngsters who do not read.” He then adapted it for the stage as a solo performance piece, before drawing on both his works for a feature film.
While the fictional and dramatic roots are instantly recognizable – the language is gloriously literary and delivered in one long monologue – Ben X also stakes its own claim on the big screen. Balthazar is a visual documentarian, tracing, preserving and playing back footage of an autistic teen's life.
Ben is one of two children raised by a divorced mother in a bleak, industrial European town. His daily dose of bullying starts well before he makes it to school, usually at the bus stop or at some point during the ride. Ben retreats into the online gaming world of ArchLord, where he has reinvented himself as a monster-slaying warrior. It's there that he meets Scarlite, a soulful love interest whose identity, if not actual existence, is in doubt. Ben reaches the breaking point after a particularly devastating incident of bullying in which he is stripped from the waist down by his classmates.
What follows is a revenge tale with some unexpected and some predictable twists. Yes, the narrative becomes more emotionally manipulative as the film reaches its final reel, teasing us with intolerable cruelty and unbearable tenderness. And there's a whiff of an after-school special, with teenage suicide and cyber-bullying among the film's “issues.” The overall effect, however, is to capture a life of humiliations with dignity. And with an accusatory flair, I must add: Balthazar loves pointing fingers at those who have failed Ben, though (save for the more vicious bullies) he stops short of condemning them outright.
Withholding moral judgment is not the only tall order in the film. Ben X has an extremely ambitious emotional scope, almost all of which has to be filtered through the actor playing the title role. This is the kind of movie that lives and dies on one casting decision, and Balthazar has struck gold. Greg Timmermans's gripping performance not only captures Ben, but offers a panoramic view of the world in which he lives. We are, after all, meant to see this story from Ben's own idiosyncratic perspective.
It's not the overarching naturalism of the performance that stands out but the conceptual breakdown of the portrayal into smaller, loosely connected segments. Just as Ben enters the online world to discover who he can be, an audience journeys slowly through the corridors of Ben's tightly guarded mind – a mind that one doctor describes as a computer that has been configured differently. Timmermans is capably supported by Marijke Pinoy as a mother who decides not to suffer in silence and by Laura Verlinden as the apparitional Scarlite.
Ben X has generated some buzz on the festival circuits for integrating scenes from the virtual world of online gaming into the main story. As much as these flights of fantasy reveal essential clues about Ben's psyche, Timmermans and Balthazar do better whenever they place him in his immediate familial or romantic surroundings. In purely dramatic terms, Ben at home and Ben in love trump Ben as the virtual warlord. Perhaps it's that old-fashioned human touch that no computer game and no second, third or fourth life can replace.
Special to The Globe and Mail****************

From Autism Ontario North Bay Chapter

2nd Annual
Cycle for Autism

Autism Ontario – North Bay & Area Chapter
invites you to walk, roll, or cycle and enjoy a fun filled afternoon of activities

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008
Lee Park
Memorial Drive, North Bay

12:00 pm Registration, Activities, BBQ
1:00pm Cycle starts
Prizes to be won!

Please come and spread awareness and raise funds for families in our community living with
Autism Spectrum Disorder

For more information or pledge forms, contact:
(705) 476-5437 ext. 3880

Melissa Walker Hudson sent a message to the members of Official Autism Research Mobile Lab Launch.

Subject: Recruiting subjects for 1st experiment in mobile lab


The official launch is scheduled for June 1st (details will follow closer to the date) but we're looking for families to participate in the first experiment in the mobile lab. The dates are May 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in Kingston. Please share this information to anyone who might be interested and/or eligible.

Thank you so much!


Last year we purchased a recreational vehicle to be converted into a mobile laboratory for autism research (photo attached). The snow has finally melted and we are now ready to start using the vehicle for one of our research projects called "The Eyes See What the Ears Hear" and we want to start in our hometown of Kingston. This study investigates how individuals with Autism and Asperger Syndrome link what they see and what they hear during speech, which relates to learning. The "Eyes/Ears" research project originated at York University, but this mobile lab is going to allow us to branch out to include research participants from areas outside Toronto!

There are specific criteria for participation in this study (described below). However, we hope that even if your child does not meet the criteria for this particular project, that you will let us know that you are interested in participating in future projects in the mobile lab. We also hope that you will pass along this email to any other families you know with a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Please help us spread the word! Any interested families can email us ( or call us toll-free 1-866-273-2272 (or 613-548-8385 for the Kingston area).

The criteria for the Eyes/Ears study are:

1. 6-16 years of age
2. diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome ideally, but may also consider PDD-NOS or autism if they meet the other criteria
3. average or above average cognitive functioning
4. verbal fluency
5. minimal history of developmental language delay

What's Involved:
The participant is required to watch a video for approximately 15 minutes and do some language and reasoning activities. A parent will need to answer some questions about his/her child which may take approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.

This research session will take place on May 2nd, 3rd, and 4th at the Ongwanada Resource Centre at 191 Portsmouth Avenue in Kingston. Families who participate will receive $50 to compensate them for their time and travel.

If you have questions about this session, such as scheduling your family, or you would like to let us know about your interest for future sessions, please reply to this email or call Melissa Hudson at Queen's University at 1-866-273-2272 (or 613-548-8385 for the Kingston area). If you have any questions about the Eyes/Ears study please contact Jessica Schroeder at York University (, 416-736-2100 ext. 20706).

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!

Jeanette Holden, PhD, Program Director, ASD-CARC
Melissa Hudson, BSc, Research Registry Coordinator, ASD-CARC
ASD-CARC (Autism Spectrum Disorder – Canadian-American Research Consortium)

Autism Coffee Chat in Sudbury Ontario, borrows a GET ACTIVE NOW Adaptive Sports Bag from the Sudbury and District Health Unit for their monthly support group meetings free of charge.
A monthly newsletter for you to read!
In This Issue …
- From the President, Dana Leeson
- March of Dimes Canada responds to the Government of Ontario Budget 2008
- Accessible Playgrounds for All
- SportsXpress
- Ready, Willing & Able
- Youth Video and Poster Contest Promotes Healthy Living
- Upcoming eVents

From the President, Dana Leeson
It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Heather Hiscock will be resigning as Manager of Programs and Services from Get Active Now. Heather's last day will be Friday, May 2, 2008.

Heather has been a loyal and indispensable part of Get Active Now and her commitment has been extremely appreciated and admired. Her integral role and contributions have played an important role in the development and successes of Get Active Now. Heather's organizational skills and outgoing personality have provided over 100 presentations province wide. She has enthusiastically and successfully improved her skills in order to better accommodate the organization.

Heather has accepted a position with Riverwood Square in Winnipeg as the Recreation Coordinator. The Board and I very proud of Heather's decision and are confident she will continue to improve the lives of those she will be working for. Heather's ability to effectively provide active and meaningful participation opportunities and valuable information will be an asset to her new position. The staff and residents of Riverwood Square are lucky to have her join them and I wish her all the best in her new position. We will miss Heather and her approachable personality.

The Board and I also want to take this opportunity to announce that Get Active Now will be closing our physical provincial office in Kitchener. With the recent staff changes and new direction of the Board it was decided to minimize our costs and effectively manage Get Active Now through virtual means. Even though our days are filled with sunshine the economy is changing and the Board wanted to be proactive and prepared. We have struck a committee to help look at the future of GAN and the goals we can still achieve. I hope to announce something exciting over the next few days.

Yours in Active Living,
Dana Leeson
Get Active Now - Active Living Resource Centre for Ontarians with a Disability

March of Dimes Canada responds to the Government of Ontario Budget 2008
The disability sector saw modest spending commitments in the 2008 budget. “Overall, we see a positive direction in this budget, with the retention and, in some cases, the extension of funding for critical programs for Ontarians with disabilities and those with lower-income,” says Andria Spindel, President and CEO of March of Dimes Canada. “Yet two critical points were missed in the media coverage.”

One highlight not picked up by the media was the allocation of $16 million (or $4 million per year for four years) as part of the government's commitment to the enforcement and compliance of the Accessibility of Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standards. In fulfilling its commitment to the new accessibility laws, the Ontario government will be spending $16 million to ensure that Ontario's businesses will comply with the new regulations to become accessible for Ontarians with disabilities.

For further information contact Ruth Kapelus at

Accessible Playgrounds for All

Accessible Playgrounds for All and its partners ensures that children of all abilities and their families can explore, learn and play on playgrounds across our province of Ontario. Visit where children and families can find out what kinds of accessible playgrounds are available in their own communities, link to the playground industry leaders who build accessible playgrounds, and share ideas.

We are currently in the process of completing Playground Audits to help us determine the accessibility level of playgrounds throughout Ontario. If you would like to complete an audit or would like more information please contact Heather at


SportsXpress is a new magazine and website that encourages local sports enthusiasts to Xpress themselves in print and online. You don’t have to be a professional writer or photographer to promote your favourite sports. In fact, all you need to do is send along your articles and photos and they’ll take care of the rest. SportsXpress offers its readers the chance to get involved with the local sports scene and to help promote and cheer on its wealth of athletes, teams, and coaches. If you’ve got something to say or share, visit to get a submission form.
Ready, Willing & Able

Ready, Willing & Able (RWA) is an outreach program provided by Paralympics Ontario to persons with a physical disability. It is aimed at increasing the number of individuals with disabilities that are physically active in sport and recreation. Ready, Willing & Able provides a hands-on opportunity for individuals to try a variety of sports demonstrated by RWA Ambassadors. The following components are included in an RWA session:
• Integrated into rehabilitation programs in hospitals and clinics, school curriculum, gym classes etc.
• Ambassadors (athlete or coach) share their experiences and provide demonstrations
Paralympics Ontario provides all necessary equipment for interactive session
• Opportunity for participants to interact with Ambassadors and ask questions
• Follow up with any person with a physical disability to support further involvement in sport
For more information contact Jill Valentine at
Save The Date! Pizza Nova Donates A Piece Of The Pie To Variety's Kids

It's time for pizza lovers to mark their calendars! Pizza Nova invites you to help raise some dough for Variety – The Children's Charity.

On Tuesday, May 13th, Pizza Nova and Variety will host their 9th Annual That's Amore Pizza for Kids fundraising event with more stores participating than ever before.

For 10 hours (11:00 am to 9:00 pm), customers can walk into any of the 100+ participating locations across Southern Ontario and purchase a medium pepperoni pizza for only $3.99. Pizza Nova will donate $1 from each pizza sold to Variety - The Children's Charity.

This year's single-day goal is to raise over $80,000 to help fund Variety's programs and services for children with special needs in Ontario, bringing the nine-year fundraising total to over $580,000.

SummerActive 2008

Get ready for SummerActive 2008 - this year's campaign is rapidly approaching. SummerActive takes place May 8 to June 20, 2008. So, start planning your event and order you free posters by filling out the following order form

Every community, school and organization in Ontario is invited to enter the SummerActive Challenges. And, it is easy to become involved. Simply organize an event or program that encourages participation in physical activity or sport and you are eligible to register in the Challenges.

Youth Video and Poster Contest Promotes Healthy Living

On March 20, 2008, Minister Best officially launched the healthy living video and poster contest for youth. The contest closes on April 25, 2008 and the first 100 entrants receive free t-shirts and key chains.

For all of the contest details, including rules and judging criteria, visit

Upcoming eVents

OGA Conference
The Power of Positive Aging
WHERE: Crown Plaza Hotel- Don Valley, Toronto
WHEN: Thursday May 29- Friday May 30

DiverseAbility Fair
WHERE: Scarborough, ON
WHEN: Tuesday April, 29 11:30-3pm

2008 Therapeutic Recreation Ontario Conference
WHERE: Ottawa, ON
WHEN: June 4-6, 2008
MORE INFO: visit

Leadership Program
…for Executive Directors and budding Executive Directors
Queen’s School of Business has generously reduced the price by 40% from what it usually charges for this intensive program. In addition, The Oakville Foundation for Intellectually Handicapped People has approved a rebate of $1,000 to each of the first 30 agencies to register a participant for the program. Last and not least, the Ministry of Community and Social Services has agreed to match that rebate. The net result is to reduce the cost to a very affordable level for our members of $2,322.00 per participating agency.
WHERE: Queen’s University, Kingston
WHEN: June 15 - 20, 2008.

Did you know that over 4000 professionals and individuals receive the Get Active Now eNews across Canada every month? We would like to thank those of you who pass our eNews on to colleagues. However, in order to increase our network and maintain up-to-date records, we ask that people who wish to receive a personal copy of the eNews please send a message to and type “Subscribe to eNews” in the subject line.
To ensure this enews gets delivered straight in to your inbox please add to your address book so that this message is not stopped by a spam filter.
Do you have a program or an event that you would like to share? Get Active Now is happy to help you spread the word by posting information on our website and including it in our next eNews. Acceptable submissions include those regarding advances in active living and accessibility for people with disabilities, as well as events and workshops, local and provincial updates, and/or partnerships in Ontario within the disability field. Click here for full submission guidelines. The next submission deadline is May 5, 2008.
Get Active Now® is a registered trademark of Get Active Now – Active Living Resource Centre for Ontarians with a Disability. It can not be used without written permission.
Get Active Now®
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Google Alert

Joshua then and now
Funding shortfalls often mean children aren't getting the help they need until they are in crisis. But there are innovative programs out there. Some are looking at prevention. One parent wonders what it will take to get more of them going.

Denise Davy
The Hamilton Spectator

(Apr 23, 2008)
Joshua munches purposefully on his organic salad as he talks about a life that has veered from childhood medications to a strict diet regimen today.
"I was a hell of a handful," he says.
Josh was eight years old when he first appeared in The Spectator. It was 1993 and he'd been suspended from Robert Land Public School "indefinitely."
His mother, Susanne Sferrazza-Swayze, wasn't surprised to hear from the school that he was in trouble. She'd spent hours in the principal's office before when her son pushed and shoved classmates.
She'd also been on the receiving end of his anger and aggression. He once tried pushing her down the stairs when she made him take a bath. Another time he crept up behind her and tried to poke her eye out with scissors.
She'd tried unsuccessfully to find help for him. Now she was being told he wouldn't be allowed to go to school. It was too much.
She called The Spectator and asked the paper to do a story. Within days, she was flooded with offers. One came from a specialist who diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome.
Another came from what was then called Notre Dame of St. Agatha, a residential treatment centre and school near Waterloo for young boys with behavioural problems. Administrators thought Josh would fit in.
Sferrazza-Swayze made the "hardest decision" of her life -- she moved him up there.
It also turned out to be one of the best decisions. During her weekend visits she saw a different, more focused boy. He was still a handful, but she was relieved to see him in a safe environment and getting an education.
Two years later Josh was back home. It didn't take long for the aggression to resurface. When she found the pet budgie smothered to death, she asked Josh about it. He told her, "I just put a rug over him."
Sferrazza-Swayze was forced to send him away again, this time to a group home. Over the next eight years, he bounced between group homes and foster homes.
He's been on and off medication since he was a child. Today, at age 22, Josh has turned to diet as means of staying mentally healthy. He's feeling good about himself.
His mother still worries, suggesting Josh is very much a product of a system that failed him. He's had seven jobs in the last four years -- carpentry, roofing, plumbing -- and moved into different apartments almost as many times.
"He still doesn't get things. It's like things don't click for him."
Sferrazza-Swayze works as a nurse in the medium-security forensic unit at St. Joseph's Healthcare and has seen the young adults with mental health problems who have been in trouble with the law. She wonders, with so many adults in the criminal justice system who have mental health disorders, why there aren't more programs to help children early. Experts say early intervention is critical.
But funding has fallen so short of the mark that agencies often don't treat kids until they are in crisis.
"It's going to take a huge infusion of cash to bring services back to where they should be," said Gordon Floyd, executive director of Children's Mental Health Ontario.
But new money doesn't seem to be forthcoming from the province. Minister of Children and Youth Services Deb Matthews wants to study the issue first, and has undertaken mapping services in communities across Ontario.
Matthews says "serious damage" was done to the children's mental health system throughout the 1990s and the province is still "picking up the pieces."
"We want to understand where there are gaps in services and where there's overlap in services," Matthews says.
Ontario's policy framework, A Shared Responsibility, lays out a 10-year plan for improved delivery of children's mental health services. Matthews says that means the Ministries of Education, Health and Children must work together so that "kids get what they need when they need it and they get it as close to home as possible."
Some agencies are looking at more creative ways to provide services. Burlington's Reach Out Centre for Kids (ROCK), a children's mental health agency, helped set up a grassroots community development project called Our Community Cares. It now operates at two high-density housing projects, both of which are known for high levels of poverty and high social needs.
The program includes food and clothing supports, homework help services and programs to teach life skills and recreation. All are meant to build life skills and promote healthier living. This is an effort to work at the front end -- prevention -- instead of the crisis end.
ROCK's executive director, Ron Rodgers, said mental health problems are by no means the domain of the poor. But the programs recognize the stressors that come from living in poor households.
Success is measured in unique ways, such as children volunteering in nursing homes or joining sports teams.
"They aren't on the police radar and the kids are graduating from high school and on the honour rolls more than ever," Rodgers says.
But alternative programs aren't always government-funded, as desperate parents dig into their own pockets to find a good future for their children.
Pine School was created 27 years ago, and today the private school is set up in the humble digs at the back of Wellington Square United Church in central Burlington. Teachers Kathy Douglas and Lesley Austin offer a small, personal setting for children in Grade 1 to 8 who have a learning disability or behavioural problem. The private school relies entirely on tuition fees of $10,000 per student.
On this day, Douglas is teaching students about the Egyptian pyramids. The boys sit quietly as she moves from student to student, checking their work.
There are cast-off desks and used games from garage sales. But the setting says nothing of the treasure this school has been to hundreds of children and parents over the years.
This year, all the students are boys. Most attended several schools before coming here. They have been diagnosed with one or several issues, among them attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and autism.
The school follows the Ontario school curriculum but at a pace suited to each individual student.
Austin has taught here for 20 years, and says the key to success is that students don't feel swallowed up as they often do in a large classroom. There are currently only six students, although the school takes a maximum of 12.
"We don't cure them," Douglas says. "Many parents come here thinking we'll do that. They have unrealistic expectations. But we can't do that. What we do is to provide a small, safe environment where it's flexible and where no one is singled out."
Many say nothing will change in the children's mental health system until parents start to speak out.
Dr. Peter Steer, president of McMaster Children's Hospital, points to the parents of autistic children who rallied together and demanded better services for their children. He says the same thing has to happen with parents of children with other mental health disorders.
"It's much more effective if parents are advocating and not us. It just works that way," Steer says.
Sferrazza-Swayze believes there must be a collective rallying effort that stretches beyond parents to include the province, service providers and agencies.
They need to think about what will happen when these children grow up, she says. Maybe then people will listen.
Two years ago, her son Josh became a father. When she looks into the eyes of her grandson, Mason, she already sees the same restless, fidgety child she saw in her son when he was young.
She wonders if her grandson has attention deficit disorder and if he will face the same troubled childhood as his father.
"The thing about mental health disorders in children that people don't understand is that they don't go away," Sferrazza-Swayze says.
"These kids all grow up. Then where do they go?"
Getting help
The following are 24-hour emergency help services for children and youth who have a mental health crisis.
* COAST -- Crisis Outreach and Support Team: 905-972-8338
* Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
* Hamilton Police Victim Services: 905-546-4904
* Suicide Prevention Crisis Line: 905-522-1477
* Telecare Burlington:
* ROCK (Reach Out Centre for Kids) 24-hour Crisis Line: 905-878-9785
The crisis in children's mental health
Day One Frustrated families search for help
Day Two Shortage of child psychiatrists
Day Three Should schools take on a larger role?
Day Four Alternative programs to help kids

From a listmate

The attached flyer is an invitation for private consultation with Lindsay Moir a consultant in areas of education, with particular emphasis in Special Education.
Please share information with your colleagues and parents.
If you have any questions please contact me at 476-2299 ext 266
Jacqueline Orlando
Autism Intervention Program Intake and Wait List Coordinator/Intensive Service Coordinator
222 Main Street East
North Bay ON P1B 1B1
(705) 476-2299 ext. 266
(705) 495-1373 f.
Comhnadh Consulting
Consultant in Education
Upcoming Private Consultations in North Bay

Lindsay is retired from the Ministry of Education and has been assisting agencies, associations and parents in obtaining appropriate special education services for exceptional pupils. Comhanadh Consulting offers experience in all areas of education, with particular emphasis in Special Education, program reviews, home schooling, First Nations education, and issue resolution.

We are fortunate once again to have Lindsay Moir coming to our area on May 29th and 30th , 2008. Lindsay will be available as a private consultant to parents and agencies to enable them to have the information that will allow them to advocate on behalf of the child. Parents or agencies can book a private consultation regarding specific issues pertaining to education (30 minutes-1 hour).

To arrange a private session please contact: Jackie Orlando @ 476-2299 ext. 266 Algonquin Child and Family Services.

To assist with maximizing consultation time and to allow Lindsay to prepare for your “Office Hour” please complete the attached background information sheet.


From Nancy Morrison
Liberals mention autism. I understand they tripled the funding during their previous 4 year term - but didn't spend the amount in the budget, diverted $59 million of it. I am waiting for stats to be published from the last quarter to confirm the statement below about tripling the number of kids receiving autism treatment. I suspect it was as faux pas in statistical information on this one..... but will stand to be corrected when the stats are released.


Mrs. Liz Sandals: My question is for the Minister of Children and Youth Services. KidsAbility is a treatment centre that provides services for families and children from my riding and from a number of others in the area. KidsAbility supports children who have both physical and developmental disabilities. KidsAbility provides important services, including physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech and language therapy.
My colleague from Kitchener-Conestoga had the privilege of meeting this week with Stephen Swatridge, who is the CEO of KidsAbility, and Gary Pooley, who is the chair of the board. I've also met regularly, as has my colleague from Kitchener Centre, over the last several years to discuss treatment services for children. Happily, they are expanding in our area. Could the minister please inform the House what our government is doing to help KidsAbility provide these crucial services for children who-

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Minister of Children and Youth Services.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: I'd like to thank the member for Guelph-Wellington for her advocacy for KidsAbility, and also all of the members in the region: the member for Kitchener-Conestoga, the member for Kitchener Centre, and also the member for Kitchener-Waterloo-although I must say I'm having a little difficulty reconciling her support for increased funding for KidsAbility and her opposition to all of the investments we've made for kids, and their continued advice to cut taxes and, presumably, services.
However, KidsAbility is a superb children's treatment centre. I want to take this opportunity to thank their board, their management and their staff for the great work they are doing. I'm proud to say we've increased funding to KidsAbility by over 30% since we were elected in 2003. They're receiving well over $1 million more each year to help provide better services for children. KidsAbility provides essential support for children in the Kitchener-Waterloo region and I look forward to continuing to work with them.

Mrs. Liz Sandals: I know that the people in my riding of Guelph and throughout Waterloo and Wellington appreciate hearing that our government places such value on the good work of KidsAbility.
I know also that this past Friday, my colleague from Kitchener-Conestoga had the privilege of attending the Kids Can't Wait radiothon. Parents and community members, together with local radio stations such as 570 Talk News and 96.7 CHYM FM, raised over $200,000 in support of KidsAbility. In June, I'm going to participate in Guelph's fundraiser for KidsAbility. They're doing a walkathon.
We know how valuable these services are, not just in our area but throughout the province. Could the minister indicate what our government has done to support children's treatment centres across-

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. Minister of Children and Youth Services.

Hon. Deborah Matthews: In our recent budget, we provided $15 million in capital funding for community agencies that serve children and youth, including $3 million for children's treatment centres. This funding is in addition to $4 million we provided to CTCs last year and $10 million in 2006-07. In fact, since we were elected, we've increased funding to CTCs by about $30 million.
I can assure you that we are working diligently to help provide greater access to services for special-needs children and youth. I'm proud of what we've been able to do. We've almost tripled the number of kids receiving autism treatment. We're providing 3,000 families with respite services and helping 800 kids with autism attend summer camp.
Thanks to our investments, over 10,000 more children with mental health issues are receiving services than when we took office. We'll continue to support children with special needs so they have the opportunity to achieve their potential.


An excellent article again from Lindsay Moir..... things we can all remember when making up letters, reports, notes, etc for our kids, especially for the schools. Don't be shy in sharing this article with those that will be preparing reports about your child for you......

Ask Lindsay Moir:
Helpful hints for medical practitioners
Friday, April 18, 2008
In response to several e-mails and conversations with parents and practitioners seeking advice on how to make their reports communicate better with the school system and be helpful in securing appropriate support and/or equipment, I have decided to do a column of "Helpful Hints" to practitioners.
For many years medical practitioners were "socialized" not to tell the school what to do — "just make general suggestions and we (the experts) will decide whether or not your suggestions are viable in our setting".
Private practitioners were often considered less important than those employed by the board!
With changes in educational funding and limited board resources, the data from community professionals can be a key ingredient in getting service. I hope these "Hints" will help . . .
Helpful Hints (Answer):
• Be direct and to the point. Many practitioners are wonderful creative writers who bury the key recommendation in "flowery prose". Don't expect anyone to sift through elaborate sentences and technical language — just clearly state your findings and the appropriate response.
• Avoid "funding killers" — the funding guidelines will not support things that "may be beneficial", "should be considered" or " might be helpful". Any of these statements will kill a funding claim. This particularly true in applications for Special Equipment Amount(SEA) grants for augmentative technology
• Be prescriptive rather than making "suggestions". Suggestions or recommendations convey the idea that this is something "to be considered" — that the option to proceed is up to the school system. In medical practice, doctors "prescribe" and give "clear direction" in terms of meds or care — the school system needs the same guidance. The SEA Guidelines require a "clear statement that the student needs the equipment from the appropriately-qualified practitioner". Many times parents have to get medical practitioners to re-write their reports.
• Give sufficient detail as to the kind of equipment. One recent report stated that the student "required technology to record their ideas" . . . that could be interpreted as a computer OR an IBM selectric typewriter OR a better pen! The brand name is not essential. It is OK to say " . . . or equivalent". Describe the "specs" of the technology and the software that it must be able to run. The more detail the better!
• Clarify the access parameters that the student will require. Statements such as "constant access", "for ALL written tasks", "as an alternate means of accessing print in all subject areas", "constant adult supervision to ensure his safety" are very helpful "direction", and counter arguments that "there already is a computer in the class that he can share with the other students!"
• Consider the "audience". Many professionals write their school reports as though the recipient is a parallel professional. In most cases the report is going to an educator or an accountant . . . tell them only what they need to know to do their job and what they are qualified to "interpret". This may mean doing an "executive summary" or "consult note" extracted from your full report. Too often I find educators using your reports to "make diagnosis" and program decisions that are well beyond their training.
• Be consistent in your message. When you meet with the parents and give oral clarification, make sure the the message given is the same message conveyed in your report. Parents often tell that they feel they are given definite "yes" orally, and a "maybe" when it is written.
• Never write that a student "needs an EA". The message should describe the service to be provided — not the employee who might deliver it. "Constant adult supervision" describes the service, an EA is only one of the means by which it could be delivered. It is not the job of the practitioner to decide which way the board will provide the service. It is permissible to describe the characteristics of the service provider. In certain cases it is necessary to prescribe that the provider must be "trained" or that they be "consistent."
Hope these tips are useful. I am now delivering this message as part of a workshop I have developed for community professionals, hope to see you there!
Lindsay Moir retired from the Ministry of Education in 1997 and has been assisting agencies, associations and parents in obtaining appropriate special education services for exceptional pupils.
Family Net welcomes your questions about special education in Ontario.
E-mail Lindsay at He will answer as many questions as possible.


From a listmate, the Redbook Magazine article I mentioned in a mailing last week is now available online:

Here is installment 2 of the series Red Book Magazine is running on Autism. Forward to anyone else you feel may be interested.

On the link below, click on the ‘Home Life’ tab, scroll down the story is titled “What Autism Does to a Mother’


New President of AO in Niagara raises awareness in the Welland Tribune Newspaper:

Raising awareness of autism
Posted 3 days ago
For families who learn their child has autism Mike Gowan wants them to know there is help. There is information and support which families with autistic children can access in Niagara. That support is important, Gowan says.
The Pelham man is president of the Niagara chapter of Autism Ontario, and knows firsthand how challenging it can be to raise an autistic child.
When his son Spencer was diagnosed, the incidence rate was one in 10,000. Now it is one in about 165. Gowan is sure part of the explanation lies in the fact that many who had autism spectrum disorders in the past went undiagnosed. But he has little doubt the incidence of autism is on the rise.
Autism is the term used to describe a large number of developmental disorders. The disorders are characterized by difficulties in social interaction and communication as well as repetitive and compulsive behaviours.
With that level of need in the community there has to be services available to help. Gowan says it is important to be able to offer services and support close to home because traveling far afield can be frustrating for families.
The Niagara chapter office, which is at 60 James St. in St. Catharines, offers services such as one-on-one counselling, summer camp opportunities and a lending library with books and videos. Gowan stresses the agency does not advocate any theories on autism or treatments. It just puts as much information out there as it can for its members.
To fund all those activities, the Niagara chapter is holding a fundraising blues concert at the CAW Hall 199 on Bunting Road in St. Catharines tonight. Bluesaganza tickets are $15 at the door.
Its fifth annual go-kart race is on May 4 and the association's annual golf tournament is being held June 13 at Rolling Meadows.
The Niagara chapter also holds its Cycle for Autism event June 7 on Merritt Island. That event isn't limited to cyclists - roller bladers, runners and walkers joined cyclists in raising $23,000 last year.
The fundraisers are important because they help fund opportunities for children with autism to become more comfortable in social situations. It is important in a child's development to get out into the public. It's the only way they can learn how to act in social settings, he said.
"We don't want to keep them hidden away. They learn through interacting with other children," Gowan says.

Not all the events the association puts on are for the general public. It holds a number of what it calls social learning opportunities. Those are gatherings at movie theatres or bowling alleys where families with autistic children can be together for a night out.
The movie and the bowling nights allow the children to learn to be more comfortable in public and gives their families a chance to take children out in a fun and non-judgemental atmosphere.
Gowan and his family have become accustomed to the disapproving stares and snide comments of strangers when Spencer screams or acts out in public.
But it can be difficult for families whose child has been newly diagnosed, and the social learning opportunities are as much an opportunity for the families to learn as it is for their children, he said.
For more information check out or call 905-682-2776.


I love sharing good news stories, this from Friday's City TV News in Toronto:

Missing Autistic Boy Found Safe And Sound

Missing Autistic Boy Found Safe And Sound
Friday April 18, 2008 Staff
A young boy was reunited with his worried family Friday night.
The youngster, just 9 years old, had been gone since before 8am. To add to his parents' panic, Rueben Manbahl is autistic, and doesn't speak.
He was last seen on his building's video surveillance camera at 330 Hopewell Ave.
Police officers combed the streets looking for him, but it was a GO Train passenger who found the boy - all the way at Yonge and Finch. That's a distance of just under 12 kilometres. He apparently tried to board the train using a TTC token and that tipped off the witness that something wasn't right.
His father, Rohit, thinks the boy walked there. "I'm feeling really good," Rohit exclaimed, after he was reunited with his son. "It's a relief."
He thanked the police effusively. "Oh, they are excellent. They are number one. Cops are great. The work that they have done, excellent."
He also thanked CityNews and our viewers. "You guys have done a wonderful job by bringing him home."
So what happened?
It's believed Rueben wandered out of his home unsupervised.
Rohit told CityNews that normally, Reuben's uncle walks him to school. The relative was upstairs getting dressed Friday morning, when the relieved dad believes, "Rueben followed my daughter" out the door. But she didn't notice, and the boy vanished.
When the uncle realized the child wasn't home, he ran downstairs, "but by that time he couldn't find Rueben. And he rushed down to the school to see if he was there. Unfortunately, he wasn't there," Rohit laments.
A quick-thinking teacher immediately called police and Rohit.
But he was at work and didn't get the message until 11:30am. "I started to search the mall and the streets, the parks," he recalls.
He begged the public for help and the city answered.
"There is no word to describe how I feel right now. I'm really relieved and happy that he's here," he affirmed as he hugged his child on the sidewalk outside their home.

From the Timmins Daily Press re: AO Toonie Fundraiser:

Students use toonies to help tackle autism
Posted By Chelsey Romain
Posted 4 days ago
Autism Spectrum Disorder is being diagnosed in nearly one in every 150 births.
At St. Paul School in Timmins there are about 300 students. That would mean that at least two of the students there could be autistic.
But child and youth worker Cindy Brazeau said the number is even higher. She and her counterparts felt compelled to do something.
Next week, the students and staff of St. Paul are emptying their pockets of spare change to help raise money for the autistic research foundation Together for Autism.
"We do have students here at the school who have autism, so it's very important to us," Brazeau said.
Every year during Autism Awareness Month, the school plans a week of activities where the students bring in $2 at the beginning of the week to participate. All money collected at week's end is then sent to Together Autism.
"A lot of the kids will bring in more than a toonie, they'll bring in their spare change or even a toonie every day," said educational assistant Trish Stewart.
"It's nice that they go the extra distance."
The school is also going a step further.
Last year, the staff and students alone raised $500 for the foundation. This year, they have asked local businesses to get involved and ask customers if they would like to donate a toonie for the cause.
The option to donate will be at Casey's, Canadian Tire, Wal-Mart and the new Shopper's Drug Mart location, on the corner of Highway 101 and Highway 655.
"We don't know what causes it," said Brazeau. "But we do know that with this research they're finding different ways for children to cope."
Stewart said through research, many children are coping through different therapies instead of having to depend on medication or be institutionalized.
Throughout the week, students will not only learn about autism, but will also get to participate in a variety of activities such as Gum Chewing Day and Wacky Hair Day.
"They get excited about it," said Stewart. "Our students are really good at opening their arms and accepting others."
To end the week, the students will be taking part inWalk for Autism, which will take them across several city blocks to increase awareness of the disorder.


This from the US, Children of Destiny is a daily Christian group going out worldwide for families and friends of children with autism.

Dear Autism Community,

Please join Children of Destiny ( and ASDPRAYANDFAST.COM on Wednesday, April 23rd for the World Day of Prayer and Fasting for families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. How does fasting change things? Fasting added to prayer is like Prayer on steroids. Let's come together in one voice from every corner of the world and blow the doors off of heaven with prayer for our families. Forward this email quickly to everyone in your address book to join us!

Please go to for more information on the day, sign in to the guest book and offer hope to others. Email a picture of your child to if you would like your child's picture added to the album.

AOL users will have to use another browser to get the navigation bar.

Blessings - Paulette Britton
asdprayandfast Webservant


And again from the US, a free seminar to attend online has been shared by a listmate:

Upcoming Web Conferences

About Dr. Woeller
To Pre-Register

The web conferences will offer an invaluable FREE resource for professionals and parents all over the country who want to find out more about the biomedical treatments for autism, developmental disorders and chronic neurological disorders. These live web conferences will be held on a monthly basis at 6pm (Pacific Standard Time).
After a 60 minute slide presentation, you will have a chance to ask questions on the presentation topic or related topics for 30 minutes.
In order to participate in the web conference, YOU MUST PRE-REGISTER. Once you have pre-registered, you will receive an email with the information you need to download the FREE web conference software.

For accept rules, requirements and troubleshooting issues regarding the Web Conference Software: CLICK HERE

Please do not respond to this email, if you would like to unsubscribe your email address, please visit:

For more information, contact us
11813 West 77th St. Lenexa, KS 66214, Phone: (913) 341 8949 Fax: (913) 341 6207 e-mail:


From a listmate

Jay Serdula is a 35 year old man with Asperger’s Syndrome who lives in Kingston, Ontario and works at the Royal Military College. Jay is fulfilling a dream of swimming across Lake Ontario this summer. This event is to raise awareness of Asperger’s Syndrome, raise funds to support individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome and demonstrate that people with Asperger’s can carry out extronaitor feats.

Jay spent most of the summer of 2007 training in open water as well as completing a swim across Navy Bay, Kingston, Ontario on November 2, 2007 in water temperatures at 550F. During the winter Jay has been working very hard training for this summers swim and is looking forward to getting back in the Lake for more open water training.
Jay’s swim has tentatively been set for the July 28th week, starting from Niagara- on-the-Lake, Ontario and finishing at Marilyn Bell Park in Toronto, Ontario. Jay anticipates that it will take him more than 30 hours to complete this swim.

Jay currently has a small but committed group of supporters who are helping him prepare and organize the swim for this summer. However more people are needed in all aspect of the swim event and fundraiser for Asperger’s. These include volunteers to assist with:
 Marketing/promotions (media relations, promotional activities)
 Fundraising/ Sponsorship (raising funds)
 Paddling Volunteers (accompanying Jay on his open water training)
 Swim Event Volunteers (July 2008), Niagara-On-The- Lake and Toronto
(a variety of activities requiring volunteers with a variety of talents)

Financial support for this event would also be greatly appreciated if you are not able to volunteer your time. Jay has selected the following charities to benefit from his swim: Asperger’s Society of Ontario, Community Living Kingston, Extend-a-Family (Kingston) and Kerry’s Place Autism Services.

If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about Jay’s Swim or Asperger’s Syndrome, please check out Jay’s website at:
or email us at

From a listmate

People with Asperger's don't 'suffer' from syndrome
Posted 8 days ago
I am writing in response to the picture on the front page of the Tuesday. April 15 edition of The Kingston Whig-Standard. This picture was accompanied by captions relating to Jay Serdula's swim to raise money for the study of Asperger's Syndrome.
While I don't know Serdula, I think anyone taking on a swim of such magnitude is admirable, and I applaud him for raising funds for much-needed research.
My concern regarding these pictures lies in the caption. The caption states that "Serdula, who suffers from Asperger's syndrome," is planning a swim.
As a parent of a child with Asperger's syndrome, I take great offence to the use of the word "suffers." This paints a picture for anyone unaware of what Asperger's entails that everyone with this syndrome must suffer in some way. It is a very negative connotation to apply to a very positive story line.
Individuals with Asperger's syndrome are as unique as other neurotypical individuals. Not every person with Asperger's has the exact same set of circumstances or the same degree of "symptoms."
Asperger's is, in fact, considered to be an autism spectrum disorder, indicating that there are varying degrees of the syndrome within that spectrum. Individuals with Asperger's will have varying abilities to read and interpret social cues, and to portray their own emotions and feelings. Many individuals find eye contact difficult, or will have a vast amount of information on one particular topic.
There are many other "symptoms" of Asperger's, but not every individual has the exact same set of symptoms. Stating that people with Asperger's must be "suffering" from this syndrome further isolates and places a negative image onto the disorder.
Individuals with Asperger's typically have normal to advanced language and intellectual development. Adults usually obtain a better understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses and are able to learn social skills and how to read others' social cues. Some traits that are typical of Asperger's syndrome - such as attention to detail and specific, focused interests - can increase chances of university and career success.
Many people with Asperger's seem to be fascinated with technology, and a common career choice is engineering. Many respected historical figures have had symptoms of Asperger's, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Thomas Jefferson.
Individuals with Asperger's syndrome have their own unique set of daily challenges and interpretations of the world, and they have good days and bad days, just like the rest of the population. However, being diagnosed with Asperger's in no way sets you up for a lifetime of "suffering" from the syndrome.
My child is happy and well-adjusted and has lots of friends. I want children to learn to accept and embrace who they are and what they will accomplish in the world, and stand up strongly for themselves. I do not want people in the community to read the type of caption printed in the Whig and start to feel pity because they think anyone with Asperger's must be suffering. I believe it was somewhat presumptuous on the part of the person who wrote the caption to categorize all individuals with Asperger's in this manner, and I only hope that Serdula's fundraising will help to provide education regarding the syndrome - which is clearly necessary.

Drug stores reaches out to child
Posted 5 days ago
It started out with a donation can on the counter.
But the staff of Shoppers Drug Mart at the Rose City Plaza on Ontario Road became caught up in Paws for the Cause, a fundraising campaign for Alex Knechtel.
The young boy's family is raising money to train an autism service dog to help Alex deal with his autistic condition. It includes anxiety that results from moving from one place to another, such as from his home to a mall.
An autism service dog will give him a companion and help him to build confidence as he moves about with the dog, said his grandmother Pat Knechtel of Welland.
With the dog's help, he could gradually adjust to normal life, including the start of kindergarten.
The dog is now being trained in North Carolina and expected to arrive by July.
As part of the fundraising campaign, the family is distributing donation cans to businesses throughout Niagara.
Alex lives in Thorold with his mother Lisa Knechtel while his grandparents are in Welland.
Pat Knechtel dropped on off a can at Shoppers Drug Mart near her Alberta Street home. But cashier supervisor Bethany Caughill and manager Cheryl Roy thought they could do more.
Shoppers has adopted Paws for the Cause as a monthlong fundraising project. It held a barbecue on Saturday. Throughout the month it will ask customers to make donations at the checkout, said Caughill. During a May 7 gala it will direct $1 from each photo to the fundraiser and on May 17 and 18 it will hold a two-day celebration that will include a barbecue, live bands and other entertainment and children's activities.
Pat Knechtel said donations to the three-month-old campaign have been coming in well.

From a listmate

Ben X' and the Fascism of Cool
Source: AOL
Posted: 04/17/08 11:21AM
Filed Under: Film
The Belgian director of Ben X, Nic Balthazar, discusses his first film and the trouble with having an autistic society
Ben X director Nic Balthazar. (Christopher Manson)
Nic Balthazar is a successful journalist in his Belgian hometown of Ghent. Being that he trawls the newspapers every day, it takes a particularly extreme story to catch his eye, and that generally does not mean a suicide.
“Suicides don't get to the newspapers anymore because they have become banal - there's one every few days,” says Balthazar. “Sometimes someone has to throw himself off a medieval castle to cry out his despair.”
In fact, that is precisely the story that inspired Balthazar to move beyond journalism into the world of filmmaking. The report described a 17-year-old boy with Asperger's Syndrome who had thrown himself off a medieval castle and left a note behind explaining that he had, in essence, been bullied to death.
Balthazar was so moved by the story that when approached to write a book that would touch young people, he borrowed the story of that 17 year old. It wasn’t simply the fact that such an extreme event had to occur for a suicide to make the papers, it was the fact that the boy's classmates had bullied him for something that was so clearly beyond his control.
“It’s like bullying a handicapped person,” Balthazar says. “Autism, they say, is a problem with having empathy but, in fact, we're a very autistic society.”
Autism spectrum is an umbrella term that encompasses Asperger’s and autism. Autistic people can be unable to predict reactions, needs or desires of those around them. Such a trait may mean they neglect social graces, such as knocking before entering a room or apologizing when they accidentally step on someone’s foot. These traits range from being extremely blatant to being very subtle, a sort of “autism lite,” Balthazar says. “That's the whole danger with people having spectrum autism, they have a handicap that's invisible.”
Greg Timmermans in Ben X. (Equinoxe)
In Ben X, the eponymous hero (played by Greg Timmermans) is bullied mercilessly by his classmates and only finds solace when he retreats to his bedroom and the South Korean video game Archlord. Through gaming he has met Scarlite (Laura Verlinden), a pretty girl who becomes the conduit for him facing his bullies. It is not clear whether or not Scarlite really exists, but it can be said that the world of gaming provides Ben with the courage to face his fears.
“The older generation have this idea that games are only s* for the brain and only violence,” Balthazar says. “On the other hand, take movies, there's a lot of violence and ugly stories in movies, are we against them? There are a lot of movies that are very poetic and very beautiful too and the same goes for games. There's a very fascinating world out there where it's a safe haven for autistic people where they finally find the comfort, the friendship and sometimes the love they can't find in real life.”
Ben X is based on Nic Balthazar's novel Nothing Is All He Said. In fact, if you say the name Ben X very fast in Dutch, you get "bennicks," which translates to mean, “I am nothing.” So, what is the meaning of all this nothingness?
“If you look at the staggering number of suicides, it always comes back to that - the feeling of nothingness,” Balthazar says. “The only worth you have is if you fit in, if you're wearing the right clothes, saying the right things and you're cool. It's the fascism of cool.”
Ben-X opens in Toronto on April 18.


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