Monday, July 14, 2008

June 15-23rd 2008 Autism Articles

Autism News Articles
Alliance for families with autism
June 15 th -23 rd 2008
to read archived mail

There is a new autism speaks website



From Pat LaLonde
We will be gathering at City Hall at 10am on the 12th. I have arranged for some Buskers, Town Crier, Deputy Mayor and Radio Station to be in attendance. Bob Pringle our go to police office and will be on motorcycle to lead the runners. We will have Jay Serdula running with Jonathon, as well as Jim Elyott from the radio station. They will be running approx 12km to Bayridge Public School for a Pizza in the Park Party. One of our great families here in Kingston is donating Dominos Pizza and getting water!!!! So that is about it!!!!

Share the word!!!


From Canada Free Press

Zero Tolerance, Children’s Aid, Psychic allegations
School not at fault for “psychic” sex abuse allegations
By Arthur Weinreb Monday, June 23, 2008
It all happened last week. Thirty-eight-year old Colleen Leduc picked up her 11-year-old autistic daughter Victoria from school and headed home. As soon as the two reached home.
Leduc received a call to return to the school immediately. One of her daughter’s educational assistants had visited a psychic and was asked if she taught a girl whose name began with “V”. When the EA answered in the affirmative the psychic told her that “V” had been sexually abused by a male between the ages of 23 and 26. The school authorities informed Ms. Leduc of all this and told her that this “sexual abuse” had been reported to the local Children’s Aid Society.
In addition to the “evidence” of the psychic revelation, Victoria had been acting in a manner that was consistent with having been abused. That in itself was relatively meaningless as her actions were not unusual for an autistic child who is approaching puberty and other children at the Barrie area school exhibited the same type of behaviour.
The Children’s Aid Society closed their file on Victoria almost as quickly as they had opened it, being satisfied that there was no abuse and that no man between the ages of 23 and 26 even had access to her. But Ms. Leduc was naturally outraged at what she had been put through and is threatening to sue the school.
To anyone who was not personally involved in this situation, the entire incident is laughable. Treating a child as a potential victim of child abuse based upon the musings of a psychic is absurd. Who knows what may have happened if a male between the ages of 23 and 26 lived in the Leduc household or had access to Victoria aka “V”? For a school to make a report of serious allegations based upon a psychic vision seems ridiculous. But in our politically correct zero tolerance world things are not always as they seem.
The school did the right thing. Had the child been sexually abused, and it came out that the school had had some prior information and simply laughed it off because it came from a psychic, the institution’s officials would have been in serious trouble. It was always possible although highly unlikely, that the psychic did have information about sexual abuse from some more worldly source. It wasn’t up to the school’s officials to determine whether or not Victoria was abused; that was up to the Children’s Aid Society and the police and the school acted correctly.
Under section 72 of Ontario’s Child and Family Services Act, the school had a duty to report if they had “reasonable” grounds to believe that a child was being sexually abused or exploited. While we can laugh and say that a psychic’s ramblings about a girl named “V” and a male in his late 20s is not reasonable grounds to believe that Victoria had been sexually abused, the school officials merely erred on the side of caution. They can hardly be blamed for doing this in our litigious society. It was a lot safer than even the remote possibility of having to go to court and argue over what the word “reasonable” means.
There is a tendency today to blame individuals and organizations for what the law says. A perfect example of this is the current criticism of the various Canadian human rights tribunals. If these bodies end up adjudicating and penalizing people for exercising what we consider rights such as the right to free speech or freedom of the press, then it is Parliament and the various legislatures that should receive the criticism, not the people who are merely carrying out their legally mandated duties. Having said that, with the use of the word “reasonable” attached to the duty to report sexual abuse and exploitation, it is difficult to see how the laudable objective of protecting innocent children could have been achieved in a less onerous manner.
It is perfectly understandable that Colleen Leduc is angry over the fact that she was accused of allowing her disabled daughter to be sexually abused when those allegations that stemmed from a psychic. But the school still did the right thing.

Arthur Weinreb is an author, columnist and Associate Editor of Canada Free Press. His work has appeared on, Men’s News Daily, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck.
Arthur can be reached at:

From Rachel Evans , the autism tree site
Hope you had a good weekend and are ready for the week ahead.

Since the last Autism Tree update there have been 3 new videos
added to the resources section. I particularly recommend the last
one 'Being an Unperson'.

Also we've covered a delicate topic that many parents dread -
dealing with sexual awareness. Hopefully this article will help you
address what can be a difficult period for all concerned.

If you would like to find out more about how Autism Tree can help
you, copy and paste the following link into your browser:

Here's a quick summary of this week's entries...

Dealing with Sexual Awareness
Both sexual awareness and sexual feelings are completely normal in
autistic children and there are many ways that people, both
autistic and otherwise, express their own sexuality. Just because
a person has autism, it doesn't change this fact. The only thing
that is different is the socialization that offers a child the
basis for a...

Preterm And Low Birthweight Babies At High Risk for Autism
A recent study, published in the June '08 issue of the Pediatrics
journel researchers at the National Center on Birth Defects and
Developmental Disabilities at the United States Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that when looked at in
comparison with other developmental disabilities, premature births
and low birth weights lead to a...

VIDEO: May 2008 Interview with Temple Grandin - Part 1 of 2
Temple talks about many autism-related topics: sensory issues,
early intervention, social skills, turning special interests into
careers, what caregivers should and should NOT do...

VIDEO: May 2008 Interview with Temple Grandin - Part 2 of 2
The second part of the interview with Temple Grandin discussing
many autism-related topics.

VIDEO: Being an Unperson
A video by an amazing lady - In her words:
"The words here are from a presentation I gave to staff who work
for people with developmental disabilities. It's about the
dehumanization inherent in the system they worked in, the results
of which they were likely to encounter in the people they worked
for. It's drawn from my experiences and the experiences of other
self-advocates I have known in the system. The experiences of
dehumanization are universal enough that most of them apply far
beyond the target audience."

To become part of the Autism Tree community and receive all the
latest information, practical tips and advice please copy and paste
the following link into your browser.

From a very good friend, and grandparent
Daniel June 12, 2008

As per your request I am sending you some personal experiences that I have had over the past few years dealing with Autism in Ontario.

I am the grandfather of an Autistic grandson. Alex was diagnosed as Non-Verbal over 2 years ago.
At first we didn't even know what the word Autim meant let alone what to do about it.
Once we started to learn what the process was, which involved an 18 month waitlist and hearing some of the horrible stories out there, my daughter and her husband decided to look into private therapy.
One of the reasons we were told that the waitlist was so long was because there was not enough therapists out there.
We were able to find 4 therapists to work with Alex over the next 9 months, then after lots of lobbying with the Prime Minister, MPP's, MP's, media etc...
Alex was fortunate enough to get into the Provincially Funded IBI program.
Senator Jim Munson and MP Brent St. Denis came too our community to meet with parents and grandparents to discuss Autism.
At the end of the meeting parents and grandparents expressed that they felt somebody was listening, but they obviously knew that it was a slow process.
As grandparents we get to see Alex about 5 times a month and it is just amazing the positive changes we have seen in him over the past 2 years.
Now he talks, signs songs by himself, adds, spells etc... and each time we see him he is doing something new which I believe will obviously help make him a productive person in later life.
The weekend after Easter my wife got a phone call and it was Alex calling for the first time in his life, saying "Happy Easter Granny" after their short tearful chat my wife talked with our daughter and found out that Alex had found a lost Easter Egg in the house and assumed that it was still Easter.
My wife still talks about that phone call.
This past week I found a website that was apparently designed for Autistic children called "Zac Browser" so I downloaded it knowing the Alex would be at the house on the weekend. When I showed him the website and after about 2 minutes of instructions he was on his own.
All we could hear from him was squeels and him signing along with the songs on the computer. What a great feeling to hear this.
Now that Alex is getting close to the magic age of 6 years and with the newest rules that get children out of the IBI program because of the (so-called non-productive or too productive ruling) in my mind this is just so that the government can use these numbers to say that there is a turnover in the waitlist times, is that the long term results that are needed?
Our biggest fear is, when will Alex be cut from the Provincially Funded Program
Obviously no matter what happens we will find some way to get him the best possible education that he needs, even if it is a matter of financing our homes as many other parents/grandparents have had to do in the past.
Several of those families have been driven into bankruptcy trying to get their children the education that they deserve.

Lots of political talk about education during the last election campaign eh!!!
The politicians only seem to worry about one election campain to the next.

With only 60 (so-called) spaces being funded by the government, and being spread out over the huge area that we live in northern Ontario is just not enough, so too me it sounds like the government is just using the cattle process, by moving the older ones out and new ones in, just to keep parents quiet and dangling on a string in the hopes their child is next to get in.
The education of any children should not be judged on the number of spaces that the Provincial Politicians allow in each region.
Our Provincially Funded regular school system does not have a magic number on the number of children that can be taught.
Mr. McGuinty had a lot to say about the school system during the last provincial election campaign. (remember campain to campain)
Each child in the Province of Ontario should have the right to get the best possible education up to the age of 18, reguardless of finances.
Can you imagine what the cost to the Ontario taxpayers will be in 15 - 20 years from now if all Autistic Children do not get the education that they deserve?
We found out years ago that hearding the "Not Normal" children of the province into groups away from the normal public, creating "Attic Children" did not work and it is costing the taxpayers huge amounts of money to house these adults now. (20 - 40 years later)
There are publically funded schools along with individual classrooms that are empty all across the province and here we are renting basements and warehouse's to try and facilitate as a classroom to teach Autistic children.
Why are we not using the empty classrooms and schools that are already being funded by the provincial government???
"Attic Children did not work years ago" lets save taxpayers dollars by using what we are already paying for.
The autisic therapists would be able to socialize with the other teachers during downtimes and both groups could learn from each other.
Autistic Children and Normal Children could mingle in the school yard under supervised professionals, which is obviously a task that they will need during teenage and adult life in years to come.
The taxpayers dollar savings would be huge just by using the buildings that we are already paying for "Empty Schools/Classrooms" those savings could be used to open up extra spaces, which would reduce the waitlist.
The media has recently announced that special educators are being layed off all across the province, since the last provincial budget and I wonder who and what is on the chopping block next?
I am sure it won't be any of the high paying lawyers that the government uses to appeal decisions that the courts have ruled on in the past.
What a waist of taxpayers dollars, that money could have been used to open up several more so-called spaces in the Autsim world.

A family from the Town of Espanola Ontario got so frustrated with the lack of services for Autistic Children in Ontario, they packed up and moved out of the province to get the services that their Autistic Child needed and deserved.

The positive things that we see in Alex just keeps driving me to write letters, participating in Vigils, Fundraisers, driving to Toronto to talk with politicians, speaking with media, tele-conferences etc... doing anything to get the message out to the general public so they know what Autism is about.

Hopefully this info helps you and feel free to call me anytime.

I am attaching a few pictures of Alex, just so you can see that Alex is as normal as any other child in the world, he is not just a number as the politicans seem to think and talk about all the time.

Please do what you can to get the correct information out to the general public so that they understand the true facts about what Autism is all about and what it will do to our country if it is not treated at the earliest possible time.

Please keep me informed by email of any articles that you will be printing.

As always when I send out an email I send it to several, so that everybody gets the same message that I am trying to get out.

Thank you
Dennis Lendrum
182 Syroid Street
Espanola, Ontario
P5E 1G4
(705) 869-0164

There is Nothing Stronger than the Heart of a Volunteer
Yours in Safe Snowmobiling Always
Dennis Lendrum


Camping Aug 12-19,2006 001.jpg

Picture 1057.jpg

June 8th, 2008 003.jpg

From nancy’s list
A letter distributed by Dr. Nancy Freeman, Chair of the Benchmarks Panel.

June 17, 2008

Dear Parents and Stakeholders:

I’m writing to provide a fourth update on the status of the Benchmark Development Expert Panel. First, I would like to thank all the parents and other stakeholders who took time out of their busy schedules to participate in our June 10 stakeholder consultation meeting.

All of the members of the independent Benchmark Development Expert Panel appreciate your participation in our work. We are all involved in this process because all children with autism spectrum disorders deserve effective intervention.

June 10 was a thought provoking day, as we heard a wide variety of opinions. We shared presentations from Dr. Peter Szatmari, chair of the Expert Clinical Panel, Dr. Tristram Smith, international expert and researcher in intensive behavioural intervention, and Ann Heesters, clinical ethicist with The Ottawa Hospital. At this meeting, parents, service providers, administrators, and direct funding providers provided feedback on the draft benchmarks that were presented for their consideration. We also received feedback on the inclusion of an ethical framework for the benchmark development process and affirmation of the importance of a review mechanism for clinical decisions based on the draft benchmarks.

The panel has considered all feedback seriously and intends to draw on the important issues raised by parents and other stakeholders to help us in finalizing clear, consistent, and effective benchmarks that will be used to monitor progress and facilitate clinical decision-making regarding the participation of children in Intensive Behavioural Intervention services.

One of the next steps for the panel will be a presentation of our work to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (who have not seen the benchmarks yet) and the development of written reports to the Ministry and to stakeholders. The panel intends to write the reports this summer and hopes to have a report available for parents and other stakeholders as soon as possible after that time.

Following this, I understand that the Ministry will work with autism providers and others regarding implementation of the benchmarks, which were developed in response to the Clinical Practice Guidelines.

As with previous letters, this letter will be circulated to all who have contacted the panel directly with inquiries. As well, I will ask that it be forwarded to all chapters of Autism Ontario and posted on the Autism Ontario website. The Terms of Reference provided to the panel require that all communication come from the chair; and any other communication from stakeholders should be directly forwarded to the chair of the panel and then will be distributed to all panel members.

Thank you again for your participation in our important work of finalizing effective benchmarks that will be used to monitor progress and facilitate clinical decision-making regarding the participation of children in Intensive Behavioural Intervention services.


Dr. Nancy Freeman, C. Psych.
Chair, Benchmark Development Expert Panel


Ask Lindsay Moir:

Ask Lindsay Moir:
Does a parent's right to know override school policy?
Friday, June 20, 2008
Our child has autism and the need to reduce his summer anxiety is very high on our priority list! This year, first time with this principal, there seems to be a "conspiracy of silence." The teachers have been told not to reveal their assignments for next year (by the principal), no one can say if they will be moving rooms, etc. The official word is that every parent will be advised by letter at the same time in the last week of August.
When I tried to explain our situation to the principal — we would like to take pictures of the new room and the assigned teacher as part of our social stories to prepare Nate for next year, I was firmly told that I would find out "just like every one else."
Our school is quite stable and there are not likely any major changes in the enrollment. I know that to many of your readers this will seem to be a small thing, but it is VERY important to Nate. He already is obsessing about it and his sleep pattern and daily routine are affected and it is only mid-June.
Do I have a right to know?
As a former principal, I am pretty sure that the teachers already know what grade they are likely to teach next year and no principal is going to ask teachers to move rooms unless there is a compelling reason. I also know that I can't "guarantee" a teacher — car accidents, pregnancies, spousal transfers, enrollment and other unforeseen can change staffing — but these circumstances are VERY rare!
For autistic students, PPM 140 stresses the importance of preparing students for transistions —the fact that you need some data in order to do an effective transition is no surprise to anyone with knowledge and experience in autism! I would immediately contact the board ASD team (they likely have been to some of your school meetings) and solicit their support. Ask them to reinforce the special circumstances around Nate. Perhaps if it comes from an educator, not a Mom, it will have more impact.
I come from a generation where next year's classes were announced on the last day of school —we even carried our desks and possessions to the new classroom (Dark Ages). Were there complaints that all the kids did not find out at the same time before? What do you think the principal's motivation is? Perhaps the School Council could raise this issue on Nate's behalf? If it is an equity issue, why not tell all the kids now?
All major staffing and enrollment decisions have already been made at the board level. Any boundary revisions have been made. Staff has been completed. Only "fine tuning" is left to be done. With the data that the principal already has, there is NO REASON that the placement of one exceptional pupil cannot be disclosed because it is a necessary part of transition planning. In our new "collaborative" world, YOU NEED TO KNOW.
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.


In the Toronto Star, story is from the Mississauga Tiffany Pickney case:

Nine Years For Woman’s Death

By Bob Mitchell.

A Mississauga ( Ontario ) mother of three young children today was sentenced to nine years in prison for deliberately starving her autistic sister to death.
Allison Cox, 33, was also ordered to submit a DNA sample to the national databank.
Tiffany Pinckney, 23, weighed just 84 1/2 pounds - and resembled a human skeleton - when she was found lying dead on a filthy carpet in the feces- and urine-strewn basement of her residence on Fairwind Dr. in Mississauga .
Cox was convicted of manslaughter on Feb. 1 in the death of her sister, who died around April 2, 2005 from malnutrition. She had been deprived of food and water for a lengthy period of time.
Justice Joseph Fragomeni described the circumstances of the case as among the worst he ' s ever experienced as a trial judge.
He said Pinckney endured a "slow, painful and lonely descent into death," and that the "graphic and disturbing photos" presented during the trial "spoke volumes" about the last days of her life.
He told Cox that society demanded that she serve a lengthy period of incarceration in a federal penitentiary for what he described as a "tragic, horrific and senseless" death of a "vulnerable" young person.
He said Pinckney was denied the "most basic" of human necessities. "She was denied food, water and medical attention," he said.
"How is it possible in a country of such wealth and abundance that a person could die from a lack of food and water?" Justice Fragomeni asked. "Tiffany didn ' t see a doctor for five years ... (Cox’s) breach of trust was egregious."
Justice Fragomeni said a further tragedy evolving from this case was that Cox wouldn ' t be around to raise her young children for many years.
In addition to being behind bars, Cox would also have to live with what she did for the rest of her life, Justice Fragomeni said.
Prosecutor John Raftery sought a 10- to 12-year sentence.
Cox ' s lawyer, Craig Bottomley, had urged Justice Fragomeni to show leniency, suggesting something in the area of two years less a day would be appropriate, followed by three years probation.
At her sentencing hearing last month, Cox declined to say anything when asked by Justice Fragomeni, who also convicted her of criminal negligence in causing her sister ' s death and failing to provide the necessities of life.
For sentencing purposes, the other convictions were stayed.
+ Read more:
If you follow Ontario Provincial politics, you will have heard that Howard Hampton has announced he will step down as leader of the NDP. Many papers carried articles about what he has achieved in his 12 year tenure as NDP Leader, and this was one of the clips in the Toronto Star written by readers regarding their reaction to the announcement:


Your View
Voices: Howard Hampton

Jun 16, 2008 08:20 AM
We asked whether Howard Hampton was an effective leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party. Here’s what you had to say:
Mr. Hampton was articulate, humble, eloquent and a wonderful man! His caring about those who were disabled, seniors and autistic shows the man’s character and his credibility.
Joan Rawlings, St. Catharines


Toronto Star

Stem cell research gets a $1M boost

Ontario grant will fund Toronto lab, U.S. partner doing cutting-edge work on skin reprogramming
Jun 17, 2008
Rob Ferguson
SAN DIEGO–Ontario is providing $1 million in seed money to back one of last year's most exciting medical breakthroughs, turning simple skin cells into stem cells.
The groundbreaking method bypasses ethical and moral concerns about using stem cells from embryos for use in regenerative medicine.
The province will make the announcement today at an international biotech convention.
A lab run by the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto in the MaRS (Medical and Related Sciences) complex on College St. has developed the expertise to grow the cells in quantity and is ready to roll.
"You can make whole dishes and flasks of these cells," said Dr. Janet Rossant, chief of research at Sick Kids, who is attending the BIO 2008 Conference.
The goal is to make cells that can replace tissue damaged by disease or accidents, with Sick Kids researchers particularly interested in cystic fibrosis and autism, a government source said.
The effort will keep Ontario "at the cutting edge of global stem cell research," said John Wilkinson, research and innovation minister.
The $1 million grant goes to a partnership of the Toronto lab and the University of California's Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease in San Francisco, helping them pool knowledge and research.
"Both centres will be collecting patients with various diseases and making these cells," said Dr. Deepak Srivastava, director of Gladstone and a pediatric cardiologist.
Millions more dollars will be required to develop the technology for front-line medical use on a regular basis, said Rossant, who called the Ontario grant "a very important start."
The funding builds on Ontario's $30 million investment in a cancer stem cell consortium that Premier Dalton McGuinty and Arnold Schwarzenegger announced during the California governor's trade mission to Toronto a year ago.
McGuinty is attending the convention along with Wilkinson, meeting privately today with a number of companies in hopes of luring more research jobs amid tough competition from dozens of U.S. states and countries like Ireland, which is making biotech a priority.
The Gladstone Institute has already partnered with Japanese researcher Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, who pioneered the method of "reprogramming" skin cells into stem cells last year at Kyoto University. His findings were reported last November to wide scientific acclaim.
Stem cells, first discovered at the Ontario Cancer Institute in the early 1960s, are so named because they can grow into any of the 220 different types of cells in the human body.
That makes them a building block – one that drugs and treatments can also be centred on in what amounts to personalized medicine, said Rossant, a leading stem cell researcher.
Another advantage of using a patient's own skin cells for regenerative treatments is that the odds of rejection by the body's immune system are virtually nil.
Ontario has maintained leadership in stem cells over the last four decades, with the province and California together accounting for 70 per cent of research in the field.
To turn the clock back on skin cells, cloned genes and proteins important for early development are introduced into them, putting them back into an embryonic state, said Rossant.
At this stage, scientists call them induced pluripotent stem cells. From there, they can be grown into cells needed in any part of the body – for example, to repair damaged heart tissue, with the new heart cells actually beating in a Petri dish.
Skin cells will be taken with a relatively painless biopsy needle, said Rossant, but Rossant and Srivastava cautioned that it could be a decade before reprogrammed cells could be ready for clinical use, following years of development and trials.
"There's a lot of work to be done before they're ready to be injected into people," said Srivastava.
The costs of using the technology are not clear at this point. However, as with anything custom-made, "the first wave will be expensive," Srivastava predicts.

And finally, an amazing peice to read, and a tribute to some of our most active advocates regarding the National Autism Strategy. Let's hope this Bill goes through. Remember to bring this issue up with your local MP's:

Debates of the Canadian Senate (Hansard)
Tuesday, June 17, 2008

World Autism Awareness Day Bill

Second Reading-Debate Adjourned

Hon. Jim Munson moved second reading of Bill S-237, An Act respecting
World Autism Awareness Day.-(Honourable Senator Munson)

He said: Honourable senators, it is late in the evening and all have
been patient in listening to serious debates on issues dealing with
children and issues dealing with the military. I am determined to
deliver my speech on an issue that is very important to me and, I
believe, to this country.

Honourable senators, I am proud to present Bill S-237, An Act
respecting World Autism Awareness Day. I am also pleased that my
Conservative friend, Senator Don Oliver, is supporting this initiative
in a major way.

Bill S-237 would make April 2 world autism awareness day, which would
bring the attention of all Canadians to the issue of autism, a problem
that affects at least one in 165 families in this country. Autism, a
neurological disorder that isolates people from the world around them,
is on the rise in Canada and affects more children worldwide than
paediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. A generation ago,
autism was considered to be a psychiatric response to parents, in
particular mothers who were cold or not loving enough.

Thank goodness that nonsense has been dispelled.

Unfortunately, no hard knowledge has been gained. Autism remains a
mystery. We do not know what causes it. We do not know how to cure it.
We do not know why the number of children affected is growing. We do
not have consensus about what constitutes adequate or appropriate
treatment, and we do not know how to pay for that treatment.

When it comes to autism, honourable senators, we are in the dark.
Families across the country are on their own, struggling to find
treatment and struggling to pay for it. Marriages are breaking up. The
stress is tremendous. Canadian families with autism have to go it

This became abundantly clear to me and other honourable senators when
the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and
Technology conducted its inquiry into autism. As you may remember, the
Social Affairs Committee studied autism. The title of our report, Pay
Now or Pay Later -Autism Families In Crisis, spoke volumes.

Intensive behavioural intervention, one of the treatments that has
proven to be effective for many people with autism, is very expensive.
It costs from $50,000 to $65,000 a year.

People with autism who receive little or no treatment often require
full-time care or institutionalization. In addition to these not
inconsiderable costs, there are moral costs; the loss of the potential
of a human being. People with autism who get the treatment and support
they need can contribute to society. Those who do not receive
treatment and support retreat into themselves and some become
aggressive and violent.

I have met some extraordinary people in investigating this very
sensitive issue. I met young Joshua Bortolotti, as has the Leader of
the Government. His little sister has autism. This young man, just in
middle school, has circulated petitions, spoken publicly about autism
and collected money for the cause. There is nothing that he will not
do for his little sister.

Honourable senators, there is just about nothing that I will not do
for Josh.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

Senator Munson: It is emotional to talk about these children and

I also met Stefan Marinoiu who walked all the way from Scarborough to
Ottawa this past winter. He did not get headlines for that. He walked
from Scarborough to Ottawa just to draw attention to the plight of
families with autism. He has a son aged 15 who is no longer eligible
for treatment. Stefan said that from birth to age 13 he could handle
his son, but now his son has become very aggressive. He is a big man,
and he cannot handle him anymore. This man is so desperate that he
also went on a hunger strike in front of Queen's Park. He does not
know what to do anymore for his son.

I met Andrew Kavchak, a lonely protester with a sandwich board on
Parliament Hill who told me about autism and its devastating impact on

As I speak tonight, a gentleman by the name of Jonathan Howard is
walking across this country. He is not like Terry Fox, to whom we all
paid attention. Jonathan Howard started walking a month ago from St.
John's and is walking to Victoria. I do not know who is paying
attention to Jonathan right now, but he is walking to try not only to
create awareness, which we all want to do, but also to secure a
national strategy to deal with autism. He may be in New Brunswick or
somewhere in Quebec, but he is still walking.

Josh is strong and brave and a fighter; Stefan is brave and a fighter;
and Andrew is brave and a fighter. However, for every Josh, Stefan,
Andrew and Jonathan, there are countless brothers, sisters and parents
who feel alone, who think we do not care. That is why a day like World
Autism Awareness Day is important.

Autism is on the rise around the world, and we do not know why. April
2 has been declared by the United Nations as World Autism Awareness
Day. There was consensus among 192 countries that there is a need to
draw the attention of people around the globe to this neurological
disorder that is affecting more and more families.

I remind honourable senators that Canada is a signatory to the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These
international conventions bind us to take action to see that children
with disabilities enjoy a full and decent life in conditions that
ensure dignity, self-reliance and full participation in their

It is clear, honourable senators, that if we want to honour the
commitment of these international conventions, we must get to work.
Children with autism in Canada do not receive the protection they
require, the protection we said we would provide. This is Canada, the
country of Tommy Douglas, of health care, of a social safety net that
provides security for citizens and a quality of life that is the envy
of the world.

We need to recognize autism for the health problem that it is, one
that is urgent and demanding of our immediate action. Canada's most
vulnerable children are falling through the mesh of our social safety
net. Every province has a different approach to treatment and funding.
Parents need patience and persistence to understand the intricacies of
what they are entitled to, which list to get on and where, and where
to ask for help.

Honourable senators, these families have enough on their plate. We
need to make it easier and recognize that autism treatment is an
essential health service that should be funded through our health care

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

Senator Munson: Honourable senators will remember that the
Subcommittee on Population Health traveled to Cuba earlier this year
as part of our work. In Cuba we went to a school for children with
autism. It was impressive. Everyone can talk about Cuba and say that
teachers do not get paid very much, and so on, but this was
impressive. There were 21 teachers for 21 children with autism.

I was in that school. One could cry to see them. The teachers were not
talking about money; they were just talking about caring. The children
in that school came from countries in Central and South America, not
only from Cuba. If Cuba, a poor country with so little, can do so much
for their children with autism, surely Canada, with a budget surplus,
can step up to the plate.

I do not like to play politics, but in our report Pay Now or Pay Later
we said something. We asked for a national strategy.

We need help for these children. World Autism Awareness Day that I am
asking for is a small thing we can do. It will be an opportunity to
raise public awareness of autism and the need for research, early
diagnosis, access to treatment, increased training of medical
personnel and support for people with autism and their families for as
long as they need support.

I remind honourable senators that the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention in the United States have called autism a national public
health crisis. It is a crisis. I am fully aware that declaring April 2
as World Autism Awareness Day will not fix things overnight. Families
will still struggle with the demanding and difficult task of finding
and buying care for their children. Parents will still worry about the
future. Parents will still worry about the day when they are gone,
about who will care for their children with autism. Nine out of ten
children who do not receive treatment for autism are
institutionalized. This cost to our society is huge, a tragic loss of
potential and a moral travesty.

If these children had cancer, would we not take immediate action?
Would we debate whether they deserved chemotherapy, whether we had the
responsibility to treat them? Of course, we would not.

Honourable senators, I have learned a few things in my four and a half
years here in the Senate. The most important one is that small steps
lead to historic journeys. When I walked across Parliament Hill and I
met a lonely protester, a public servant with a sandwich-board calling
on the government to devote more resources to autism, I had no idea
that within a year I would ask the Senate to study autism in depth. I
did not know. I had no idea that tonight, after all these debates,
which are extremely important - I wish the gallery were full of media
- I had no idea that I would be tabling a bill to make April 2, World
Autism Awareness Day. It is a simple thing. I think that by declaring
April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, we will make an important

I want to salute Senator Oliver for his strong support for this bill.
Senator Oliver, I want to say thank you for what you do in Nova Scotia
and this country, and I know the families that you work with in Nova
Scotia. It is important for where we will take this debate. I have 13
more years here, hopefully, and we will fight for this cause. We will
fight for a national program and national leadership. I hope that we
will say to people with autism and their families: Yes, you matter;
and yes, we care. We will say to all Canadians that autism is a
growing problem that affects their community, their schools, their
workplace, their neighbourhood, and their country. Declaring April 2,
World Autism Awareness Day is one small step in a journey to see that
all people with autism and their families have the care and support
they need. I hope, honourable senators, that you will support this
bill so that we can take that step and walk with Canadians with autism
and their families and say, "You are not alone; we are here with you;
and together we will make things better."

Hon. Gerald J. Comeau (Deputy Leader of the Government): I must advise
honourable senators that the 45-minute period of time normally
reserved for the second speaker is reserved for a senator on the
government side.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Keon, do you wish to speak
on the bill?

Hon. Wilbert J. Keon: Honourable senators, the hour is late. I will
speak briefly. I want to add my support to Senator Munson for
everything he has done for this subject. I want to mention again
something I have said before in our conversations, and that is the
tremendous need for research.

Senator Munson will recall I drew an analogy between autism and AIDS
when we first confronted AIDS. There were five patients that I
operated on who died mysteriously back in the 1980s, and we had no
idea what we were dealing with. Then we heard about AIDS. I was the
vice-president of the Medical Research Council at the time, and,
indeed, I was acting president for a while when Dr. Ball was sick. We
tried to do something to deal with this situation when it hit the
horizon. We did not have a single scientist in Canada who knew
anything about retroviral research.

We asked for submissions, and the submissions we received were awful.
We could not fund any of them because the science was so bad. However,
we persisted and recruited into Canada retroviral experts, and now
Canada has one of the strongest research bases in the world in
retroviral studies. AIDS, while it has not been cured, has been
converted to a chronic disease.

When we deal with the unknown, the tendency is always to jump in
desperation to try to treat a situation, and that is fine; I have no
objection to that at all. However, more important than that is, we
make a strong initiative to build appropriate scientific expertise in
our country, coupled with America and other countries, to solve this,
because we do not have the scientific knowledge we need at this point
in time to manage this entity on an intelligent basis.

Everything Senator Munson said is absolutely true. For some reason, in
the Western world, autism is growing in leaps and bounds. The
interesting thing is that in Cuba, it is not. It is there, but it is
not growing at the same rate.

Until we have a research establishment to target this disease, we will
not make much progress in its management.

Senator Munson, I encourage you to keep hammering at that, and I can
assure you I will support you in any way I can.

Hon. Donald H. Oliver: Honourable senators, I am delighted to rise
tonight to add my support to this important initiative undertaken by
Senator Munson. For many years now, our colleague has vocalized his
concerns for Canadian families coping with autism. Time and time
again, he has emphasized the need for a national autism program, a
strategy that will ensure our most vulnerable citizens receive the
necessary health care and social support that we Canadians value most.

Senator Munson's dedication to the well-being of Canadians with autism
inspires us all to lend our voice to this cause. This bill, to
recognize April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day, is yet another
example of Senator Munson's commitment to raise awareness about

Autism spectrum disorders, ASD, are an important health and social
issue in Canada. Approximately one in every 165 Canadian families is
affected by ASD. This complex lifelong developmental disability
affects individuals regardless of their race, religion, socio-economic
status or geography. It has no known cause and no known cure.

Bill S-237 is of particular importance since the number of Canadians
diagnosed with ASD has increased by 150 per cent in the last six
years. In fact, there are currently 48,000 children and 144,000 adults
with autism in Canada right now.

This bill proposes that we join the global effort to focus the world's
attention on autism. On World Autism Awareness Day, communities around
the world will speak up about autism by coordinating events to
acknowledge the daily realities of people living with this condition.

World Autism Awareness Day stems from United Nations Resolution 62/139
which was passed on December 18, 2007. April 2 has become one of only
three disease-specific UN days.

This day expresses the UN's deep concern at the prevalence and high
rate of autism in children in all regions of the world and the
consequent developmental challenges. In fact, more children worldwide
are affected by autism than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS

This day will also acknowledge the ongoing struggles and extraordinary
talents of the approximately 35 million people living with autism in
our international community.

The UN resolution is an active way of encouraging member states like
Canada to emphasize the importance of universal human rights and, more
specifically, the rights of the disabled.

When speaking on the objectives of World Autism Awareness Day, UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: . . . let us dedicate ourselves to
enabling the family, the most basic
unit of society, to fulfill its role ensuring that persons with
disabilities enjoy full human rights with dignity, and flourish as

Within our Canadian communities, individuals with ASD and their
families are longing for our support. Bill S-237 reaffirms the
government's commitment to the health and social well-being of all
Canadians. Individuals with ASD are equal members of our community,
and they need to know that they are not alone.

By increasing autism awareness, World Autism Awareness Day will
address social misconceptions associated with autism. It will also
discourage the stigmatization and discrimination of autistic
individuals. By highlighting their incredible talents and potential,
we are working to ensure that all Canadians are respected.

When testifying before the Standing Senate Committee on Social
Affairs, Science and Technology, Dr. Jeanette Holden of the Autism
Spectrum Disorders Canadian-American Research Consortium emphasized
the importance of increasing awareness about Autism Spectrum
Disorders. She explained:

We need to appreciate the gifts they have and their ability to be
happy. We also have to understand that many of these kids are
suffering from medical conditions that are not recognized. They may be
acting out or having problems because they are in pain from
unrecognized conditions. We must ask what is causing these behaviours.
Is it because they just want to be naughty kids and be a nuisance? No.
There is a reason. They are either intellectually frustrated or
medically compromised. All of these factors must be taken into

Autism Awareness Day will sensitize our communities on the
difficulties of raising a child with autism. It will create a greater
support network for Canadian parents.

As honourable senators can imagine, parenting a child with autism can
be quite challenging. It requires great patience, strength and
devotion. In fact, research has shown that families of children with
autism experience high levels of stress, more than families with other
types of disabilities. This stress can sometimes lead to despair,
depression and, in the worst cases, suicidal thoughts. These
caregivers need our support.

I wish to take a moment to speak about the significant work that is
being done in Nova Scotia.

Joan and Jack Craig of Nova Scotia have done tremendous work to
support Canadian families in the Atlantic region. They are known for
their devotion and dedication to finding answers and increasing our
understanding of ASD.

Their vision and generosity led to the establishment of the Joan and
Jack Craig Research Chair in Autism at Dalhousie University, which was
founded in 2001. It is the first endowed chair in autism research in

Its chair holder, Dr. Susan Bryson, is recognized internationally as a
leading expert on autism and related disorders of development. The
chair is working on attention and emotion in children with autism.
They are also conducting a groundbreaking, comprehensive,
multinational study on infant siblings of children with autism. They
are charting the first signs of autism in order to develop modules for
frontline physicians to use in their practices.

Jack and Joan Craig have also founded a provincial autism centre in
Halifax, Nova Scotia. This professionally-run resource centre is
focused on helping parents and professionals access quality education
about autism spectrum disorders. The centre welcomes approximately
2,000 people a year, including individuals with autism, their parents
and siblings, students, and people interested in learning more about
ASD. It is the largest source of information on ASD in Eastern Canada.
Its extensive library and resource centre is in high demand, so much
so that they can hardly keep the material on the shelves.

The centre provides social activities for teens and young adults with
ASD, many of whom have never had social activity with peers before.
Weekly events allow individuals to interact and socialize. The centre
also focuses on introducing young people with ASD to the community as
volunteers. The outcomes of this initiative have been extremely
positive since it allows the community to better understand autism
while providing individuals on the spectrum with valuable

The centre is also increasing awareness in Canadian workplaces and
universities. Only 12 per cent of people living with autism are
employed, and only 1 per cent of these individuals will find
employment in their area of specialty. The centre is working on
bridging this gap. By working with teachers and employers, the centre
hopes to identify strategies to help create a positive learning
environment for individuals with autism.

The centre has had many successes since its 2002 opening. For
instance, the young adults in the centre publish their own newsletter
called Autism Aloud and they can chat one-on-one on the supervised

Thanks to the Craigs' passionate perseverance and dedication to the
well-being of all Canadians, I am certain that the centre will have
continued success in the future. Their work continues to provide
credible information and life-changing opportunities for Canadians in

As parents of a 54-year-old with autism, the Craigs understand the
challenges and rewards of parenting a child with ASD. Like any parent,
parents of a child with ASD want what is best for the child. They
question whether their child is receiving the necessary support and
whether he or she will be able to live an independent life, yet trying
to find and access necessary services, effective treatments and
support networks are an ongoing challenge.

Carolyn Bateman, who is the mother of a 24-year-old son with autism
and co-founder and past president of the Autism Society of P.E.I.,
explained to the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science
and Technology:

Families want older children to be independent and feel self-worth, a
sense of belonging and to know that someone cares enough that they
will not be sent to an institution or an inappropriate setting when
their parents are not around. No human being should be expected to
live without that in this country.

This bill acknowledges the challenges that I have just described. It
demonstrates that we, as Canadians, care about these individuals. More
importantly, it proves that we want to increase dialogue and identify
strategies to improve their situation, yet many of us do not know the
challenges related to living or caring for an individual with ASD.

Dr. Eric Fombonne, Director of Child Psychiatry at McGill University,
explained: . . . the typical pattern is that parents become aware of
problems at
age 16 or 18 months on average, and then they must wait. They go to
their paediatricians, and there is a waiting time of six to eight
months before they are taken seriously. Then they refer the child to
us, and they wait in my centre for 12 months at this point in time
before they can be seen.

Anne Borbey-Schwartz, a former senior therapist and trainer in
Intensive Behaviour Intervention, explained that this waiting period
often leads to parents becoming skeptical towards "the system." She
said: . . . through months of waiting and struggling to come to terms
the situation, their trust in the system has faltered.

The Autism Canada Foundation has also reported that, "unfortunately,
many paediatricians and other physicians are not experienced in
diagnosing autism." They also explain that many health professionals
guide parents with a "wait and see" approach or promises that the
child will "catch up" one day.

Yet, early diagnosis and early intervention of ASD are keys. During
his December 7, 2006 testimony, Dr. Bernand Deslisle, a member of the
Franco-Ontarian Autism Society, explained to the Senate committee
that: . . . all the experts agree that autistic children and adolescents
children at risk and thus their needs are commensurately great. It has
been proven that the quality of life for autistic children can
nonetheless be improved through early diagnosis and treatment,
combined with subsequent support from appropriate programs and

Yet, Canadians with autism spectrum disorders have unequal access to
services across the country and they are required to wait for
assistance. This cannot continue.

More worrisome still were the statements to the committee which
indicated that "the service system for adults is woefully inadequate.
The recognition of the mental health needs of adolescents and adults
is very important and often missed and misunderstood." Parents of
"adult children" are left with very few health and social support
networks and continue caring for their children as they themselves

Our own Senate committee "recognized that family caregivers are
struggling to provide the best care possible for persons living with
autism. Their emotional and financial hardships are very real, and a
solution must be found."

Clearly better knowledge about autism is needed for all Canadians who
deal with this disorder. This includes parents, siblings, family
members, service providers and policy-makers. In advance of any
strategic work to address autism, it is essential that governments and
stakeholders better understand its causes and optimal interventions.

While services to screen and treat autism remain a provincial/
territorial responsibility, the Government of Canada is committed to
supporting the evidence base on this important issue so that future
action by provincial and territorial governments, caregivers and
families will be well-informed. The government is therefore
collaborating with a range of partners to support those with autism
and their families through research and knowledge-based activities.

For example, on October 20, 2007, the Government of Canada announced
the establishment of the National Chair in Autism Research and
Intervention at Simon Fraser University. The chair is jointly funded
by the Government of British Columbia, Health Canada and is
contributing $1 million over five years on this initiative. Moreover,
a web page with links to relevant information on autism has been
included on the Health Canada website, and will continue to be
enhanced as new developments arise.

The Canadian Institutes for Health Research has also done significant
work in autism. From 2000 to 2007, it spent or committed approximately
$26.1 million for related research. This research is exploring many
relevant issues, including autism's causes, origins, and treatments.

The National Autism Research Symposium, which took place on November 8
and 9 in Toronto, was also a positive development in autism research.
Service providers, policy-makers, researchers and people with autism
and their families gathered to share knowledge and to support dialogue
and to discuss future research priorities.

In addition to activities which support improved knowledge and
awareness of autism, the federal government already provided
significant transfers to provincial and territorial governments for
health care and social programs through the Canada Health Transfer and
the Canada Social Transfer respectively. This is good news for
Canadians. I am confident that these activities will contribute to
greater evidence and awareness of autism, and will enhance Canada's
capacity to address this important issue.

Honourable senators, in conclusion, I would like to leave you with the
words of Anne Borbey-Schwartz. When testifying before the Senate
committee she said, "It takes a community to raise a child." She
emphasized that a child with autism deserves no less. I could not
agree more.

I would like to thank Senator Munson for calling on us all to
recognize the unmet needs of this community. He has lent his voice to
this important cause by reminding us that individuals with ASD and
their families are in desperate need of our support.

Honourable senators, Senator Munson's bill is our opportunity to send
a clear message to all Canadians that individuals with autism are a
valuable part of our community. By officially declaring April 2 World
Autism Awareness Day, we are giving them a voice. Let us join with
other UN member states in declaring April 2 World Autism Awareness

Hon. Marilyn Trenholme Counsell: Honourable senators, I know the hour
is very late, but I have to say this: I want to give great praise to
my fellow New Brunswicker, Senator Munson, for not only this bill but
all of his work on autism. It shows his passion and his compassion.

I also want to say that I applaud Senator Keon for his comments about
research because that is really the number-one thing at this time. The
World Autism Awareness Day will help, but the research is
fundamentally necessary.

I did hear mention made of an autism school in Cuba. I know that
Senator Keon will bring to us valuable information in his report on
population health based on Cuba, but I want to say this: One of the
very last things that Premier Hatfield did - former Senator Hatfield -
was to introduce a bill in the Government of New Brunswick that would
end segregated schools. He closed the William F. Broadford School and
it was left to the government, of which I was a part, to bring in full
integration. In the last two years, we have had another study by a
learned academic, in which New Brunswickers said yes to full

I will now tell honourable senators a little story. I know a child
very well who has autism. Up until a few months ago, he was able to
have his lunch with all the children in the school, in the cafeteria.
Then, because resources were cut, they said no, there will be a table
where children like him will have their lunch. His parents got very
upset because he did not eat. He was not eating and he was crying
about his lunch and the lunch can was still full when he came home.
They looked into the matter and it was because he had been separated
with other autism children. They fought a hard battle, and I helped
them, and they got that additional teacher assistance back and the
child was able to eat in the cafeteria with all the children.

That is the message: Inclusion is so important. The awareness is
important and the knowledge that Senator Keon will bring from a
country that is doing better probably than we are. Research, yes, but
let us always have inclusion. I pay tribute to former Premier Hatfield
and former Senator Hatfield for breaking down those barriers and
saying yes to inclusion in New Brunswick.

Hon. Terry M. Mercer: In light of the late hour, I will adjourn the
debate quickly, except that I do want to associate myself with
comments by Senator Munson and Senator Oliver, and also to support the
Jack and Joan Craig Foundation in Nova Scotia.

People do not understand how important are these days of recognition.
By declaring April 2 World Autism Awareness Day in this country, it
brings a focus to a problem that we have been dealing with. It took
Senator Cochrane two years to get it done. We drew the attention of
this chamber and the entire country to World Blood Donor Week, which
was celebrated last week, and it brought a whole new focus to this
issue. This is extremely important.

As a former executive director of the kidney foundation and the
diabetes association, and some of us worked for the lung association
over the years, I understand how these days help focus the public's
attention, and how these days focus what we are doing.

I have had the privilege of knowing several families with autistic
children. The parents of these children, who must manage the
difficulties they experience to raise these children, are some of the
most special people in the world. We need the compassion and we need
to bring to this debate the compassion that goes beyond this place. We
need to carry it out into the community, as Senator Trenholme Counsell
has talked about, with her case of the child who was segregated in the

On motion of Senator Mercer, debate adjourned.

From nancy’s list
Attached to this message is a memoradum from the Autism Society of Canada. Please forward this message to all your School Adminstration contacts. Let's make sure we NEVER see a tragedy like this again! I have shared a few of the articles from this story below to help everyone understand why this message is so important.

Nancy Morrison


Subject: ASC Memo: Weighted Blankets

Dear ASC Board Members and Society Members:
Attached you will find a memo addressed to all ASC members. We have been asked by the Chief Coroner of Quebec to issue a memo regarding the use of weighted blankets.
Sadly, this has come about due to a young child's death.
We are sending this notice to all Board members and to our provincial/territorial associations. Since we have been asked by the coroner to ensure that her recommendations be distributed to our network, I would appreciate your assistance in ensuring that this message reaches your respective communities.
This memo is in both official languages for all of our members. A link to the Coroner’s report (released today – in French only) will be made available on our website.
Thank you.

Montreal Gazette:

Autistic boy smothered at school
'I don't understand how this happened,' father says of youngster's death

The Gazette

Friday, June 20, 2008

Gabriel Poirier seemed like any other 9-year-old boy. He watched cartoons, collected comic books and sang along to his favourite songs.
But Gabriel was autistic. He had problems communicating and interacting with people and would get frustrated.
His parents knew he could be difficult to handle and easily agitated. But nothing could prepare them for the tragic circumstances that led to their son's death two months ago.
A coroner's report made public yesterday pieces together the last moments of the boy's life.
In the early afternoon of April 17, Gabriel began to disturb his classmates at École Marie Rivier in St. Jean sur Richelieu with loud noises. The school specializes in teaching children with developmental difficulties.
His teachers gave him two warnings to calm down. When Gabriel continued to misbehave, one teacher took him to the corner of the classroom and rolled him in a weighted blanket, which is sometimes used to calm autistic children.
The heavy blanket was tightly wrapped around the 3-foot, 11-inch Gabriel at least four times, pinning his arms to his sides, the coroner's report said. With only the tips of his toes peeking out, the boy was left on his stomach, his head completely covered, for more than 20 minutes.
Gabriel eventually stopped making noise. The teacher went to check on him, turning him on his back. The boy appeared "listless and blue in the face," the coroner's report said.
The teacher called 911 and the school nurse tried to resuscitate Gabriel. He was already in a deep coma, however, and died the next day at Montreal's Ste. Justine Hospital.
The coroner's report cited suffocation as the probable cause of death.
"He was a very gentle boy," Gilles Poirier, Gabriel's father, said at a news conference yesterday in Montreal.
"He was only 53 pounds. He was so small," Poirier said of his son. "How can they wrap him up like that in a 40-pound blanket? How can this treatment be tolerated?"
His wife, Isabelle Lépine, tried to comfort him as he cried.
"Sometimes he was loud, but he was never aggressive or violent. I just don't understand how this happened," Poirier said, tears streaming down his face.
When used under the guidance of an occupational therapist, weighted blankets can be calming for autistic children, said Kathleen Provost, executive director of the Autism Society of Canada.
"They have a therapeutic use and can be relaxing," she said.
Many autistic children respond positively to sensory stimulation like touch, massage and weighted blankets.
Occupational therapists have found sensory stimulation is soothing to autistic kids and sometimes produces better results than medication.
Although teachers at Marie Rivier had received training and guidelines from occupational therapists about how to use weighted blankets, the rules were not followed the day Gabriel died, the coroner's report said.
Occupational therapists recommend blankets not be used as a form of punishment. They are not to cover a child's head and ought to be loose enough to be easily removed by the youngster.
In addition, the weight of the blanket should be in proportion to the weight of the child, and he or she should be monitored at all times.
The government needs to protect vulnerable children like Gabriel, said Jean-Pierre Ménard, the lawyer for the boy's parents.
"We're asking (Education) Minister (Michelle) Courchesne to implement a legal framework to regulate how these children are handled."
Gabriel's parents plan to sue the Commission scolaire des Hautes Rivières for compensation in the hope of preventing another tragedy, Ménard added.
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008


CBC's coverage about this story:

Autistic child suffocated in therapeutic blanket: Quebec coroner

Source: CBC News

Posted: 06/19/08 6:05PM

Filed Under: _Canada_ (http://news.

The parents of an autistic boy who suffocated to death after being rolled in
a therapeutic blanket say they're considering legal action against the school
where he died.

Gabriel Poirier, 9, died last April after his teacher wrapped him in a
therapeutic blanket during class at a special needs school in
Saint-Jean-sur- Richelieu, south of Montreal.

According to a coroner's report released Thursday, Poirier had been acting
out in class when his teacher placed him on his stomach, and wrapped the
blanket around him four times.

Poirier was left alone in a corner of the classroom for about 20 minutes.
When the teacher went to check on him he was blue and not breathing, coroner
Catherine Rudel-Tessier reported.

Poirier's father Gilles said he's angry and confused about his son's death
because the boy's behaviour had improved over the four years in which he
attended the school.

"I still don't understand how people or the system or the specialists thought
that it's normal to wrap someone in a blanket in a way that he couldn't even
see in front of him," he said Thursday.

Poirier said he doesn't want to blame the teacher but he can't understand how
his son could have died. "I know they were working the best they could with
him," he said. "Unfortunately, they [made] a very very bad mistake.

"Things, or action should be taken to prevent this, to never happen again."
Poirier said his lawyer has contacted Minister of Education Michelle
Courchesne to request a law be put in place restricting the use of restraints in
schools. He said he would also like to see better teacher training.

Therapeutic blankets, often stuffed with buckwheat or steel balls, have been
used for several years to relax autistic children and ease behavioural

With files from the Canadian Press
google alert

A special teacher: The kids are what it’s all about
June 20 2008

Without hesitation, veteran special education teacher Diane Binmore says: “This has been the most satisfying year of my career.”
With the help of assistive technology, ten learning disabled grade 5 pupils at Pleasant Corners Public School were able to begin reading at their grade level. “You should have seen the effect this had on them. They were not bent over. They had a huge boost in their confidence and their self-esteem. Soon, they were showing their classmates how to use the technology. It was very moving. Everyone was absolutely thrilled,” says Binmore. She had taught these children since grade 1 and she had her doubts when she began working with the new hi-tech teaching aids. “I was a reluctant computer person,” Binmore concedes. But the equipment helped the children learn, and that’s the main thing.
Recently recognized as one of the best teachers in Ontario, Binmore notes that the job is demanding. “I don’t think people realize how hectic this job can be. When you are here at school, you belong to the children. And that’s the way it should be. The kids are what it is all about. For many of them, the best part of their whole life is the time they spend at school. The worst part about this job is thinking of the unfairness. Not every child has a good breakfast, warm winter clothing or a parent who will read to them after school,” she says.
Known for her passion, compassion, dedication and enthusiasm, Diane Binmore recently won the Elementary Teachers of Ontario Excellence in Education Award. She is a role model, notes colleague Eva Tollis, relating that this year she was the only teacher within the Upper Canada District School Board to receive the honour.
When she was presented the plaque, “I was a little bit humbled and somewhat embarrassed,” remarks Binmore. “If it had been made of paper, I would have cut it up and shared it with some of the many super colleagues I have had the privilege of working with over the years.”
The submission supporting her nomination for the award notes that Binmore has always been avant-garde in her approach to learning. “Diane consistently ensured that teachers’ programs fit each student’s needs and would assist teachers with any necessary changes that were required. Diane’s devotion is not only to her students’ success, but also to assist her fellow teachers and educational assistants in their programming and professional growth.”
She has always had a special place in her heart for autistic children, and has been advocate for these children and their families.
Binmore has played many roles over the years. This year, she has been a Learning Resource Coach and a mentor to new teachers. With the help of a fellow teacher, she established a Book Room on her own time during the summer months. Drawing on her experience as a Reading Recovery teacher, she has helped introduce a more balanced literacy program at PCPS. An active member of community groups, Binmore has helped several good causes.
The nomination reads: “Diane’s listening ears, nonjudgmental approach and wise advice have benefited many. She has a special place in our hearts.”
PHOTO: Diane Binmore
The North Bay Nugget
Common sense badly needed
Posted 3 days ago
In a joke that would be worthy of David Letterman if it was not so sad, an Ontario woman is battling her local school board, and the Children's Aid Society, after being told of a suspicion her autistic daughter was being sexually abused based initially on a psychic's perception.
Barrie resident Colleen Leduc wants an apology from the Simcoe County District School Board, which called in the Children's Aid Society (CAS) to investigate the allegations involving her daughter, Victoria, who has severe autism and is nonverbal.
Leduc insists there is no basis for the claim.
Leduc says she was told the psychic believed a child with a name beginning with 'V' was being sexually abused by a man between 23 and 26 years old.
She was then given a list of recent behaviours demonstrated by her daughter, which also helped form the basis of the allegation. Leduc says the stated behaviours are a result of her child's condition.
Leduc says there are others in Victoria's class who exhibit similar behaviour, but when she asked if the CAS had been notified about those potential cases, she was told they had not.
But the CAS was notified of Victoria's case.
The school board says it was simply following protocol and is bound by the same legislation (Child and Family Services Act) as the CAS when it comes to suspected neglect or sexual abuse. The CAS says the investigation is complete, but refuses to be forthcoming with any further details.
Having an autistic child is a monumental responsibility for any parent. Many require constant care and attention. Schooling helps offer the child a chance to learn skills and interact with others.
Imagine the complete bombshell it must have been when Leduc was called to the school and told there was evidence her child was being abused -- and the initial source of the allegations was a psychic.
For most, the talents of psychics are at the very least questionable. In public perception they have yet to rise above the status of sideshow attractions.
So, if one of the school staff had been reading tea leaves or playing with Tarot cards and found something disturbing, would that have spurred the same sort of reaction?
We'd like to think not, but until a couple of days ago, we were pretty sure a psychic's word would be dismissed out of hand, too.
Copyright © 2008 The North Bay Nugget
From Nancy’s List
Run the Dream is looking for a volunteer to help in the Ottawa area for Jonathan's entry into that city on June 30th and events around the City over the following few days. They are looking for someone to help out with getting the appropriate permits in place, etc. for the events planned. If you can help out the Team in this capacity, please send me a line and I will connect you up with the lead organizers.


This is a very sad story from Quebec, it's called positional asphyxia..... when you place someone on their stomach when they are in restraints, it makes breathing difficult.

Autistic boy likely suffocated: coroner's report

Brett Bundale
The Gazette

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A coroner's report released today revealed suffocation as the probable cause of the death of a nine-year-old autistic boy.
The boy's parents described the reports findings as a "shock" because the school told them he had passed away "naturally and calmly."
The boy, Gabriel Poirier, attended a specialized school in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, in the Montérégie region of Quebec.
On April 17, Gabriel began to disturb his class with loud sounds. After being told repeatedly to calm down by a teacher, he was rolled in a weighted blanket. With his arms by his side, he was left on his stomach for over 20 minutes with only his toes exposed.
When the teacher went to check on him, he was "listless and blue in the face," the Coroner's report said. The teacher called 911 but the boy was already in a deep coma and passed away the next day in the Sainte-Justine hospital.
"He was a very gentle boy. Sometimes he was loud, but he was never aggressive or violent," Gilles Poirier, the boy's father, said today.
The parents' lawyer, Jean-Pierre Ménard, said vulnerable children like Gabriel need better protection.
"We're asking Minister Courchesne to implement a legal framework to regulate how these children are handled," Ménard said.
Weighted blankets are custom-made blankets filled with a specific material that gives the blanket added weight. They are considered an effective tool for helping calm down high-energy children, especially autistic children who respond well to sensory therapy.
"They have a therapeutic use and can be relaxing," said Kathleen Provost, executive director of the Autism Society of Canada.
But occupational therapists have developed a set of rules and protocols that must be followed when using a weighted blanket, Provost said.
© The Gazette 2008


More on the Barrie story.

Raymond Bowe, the writer from the Barrie Examiner who wrote the first newspaper article about this story I shared a few days ago, would like to hear from other parents regarding the story. His e-mail address is:

The e-mail address for the writer of the following article is posted at the bottom of the article......this was in the National Post:

Psychic's vision sets off sex-abuse probe
Barrie school confronts mother of 11-year-old autistic girl with allegation
Adrian Humphreys, National Post Published: Thursday, June 19, 2008
Bill Sandford for National Post
A Barrie mother of an autistic girl is considering legal action against her local school board after a psychic's prediction to a special educational assistant sparked a sexual abuse report to the Children's Aid Society.
"I'm in shock," said Colleen Leduc, 38. "They reported me to Children's Aid because of a psychic. Can you imagine?"
The damaging allegations were resolved by child welfare authorities relatively quickly, but the case highlights the difficult and sometimes clumsy outcome of zero-tolerance policies and mandatory reporting regulations regarding child sexual abuse.
The ordeal for Ms. Leduc began on Friday, May 30.
When she picked up her 11-year-old daughter, Victoria, at Terry Fox Elementary School that afternoon, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, she said. Victoria was one of six children with autism enrolled in a special education class that is supervised by a teacher and four educational assistants (EAs).
Shortly after arriving home, Ms. Leduc received a phone call from Victoria's teacher.
"The teacher said you have to come back to school right away -- it's urgent. My heart was racing," said Ms. Leduc, who went back to the school and met with the teacher, vice-principal and principal.
"The teacher looked at me and said: 'We have to tell you something. We have to tell you that Victoria's EA went to see a psychic and the psychic asked her if she works with a little girl with the initial V. When the EA said yes, the psychic said, 'Well, you need to know that this girl is being sexually abused by a man between the ages of 23 and 26.'"
The school officials then gave Ms. Leduc a list of behaviours that Victoria was exhibiting.
"You must remember that Victoria has severe autism and is entering puberty so she is exhibiting behaviours that are very common with children of this age but, being autistic and not having been taught otherwise, she will exhibit these behaviours in public," Ms. Leduc said.
The list included putting her hands down her pants, spitting, seeking to sit on cold objects and gyrating against staff members.
"The principal looks at me and says, 'We've called CAS.' Then I got sick to my stomach.
"I challenged them and asked if the other children in the class with autism exhibited these behaviours. They said, 'Oh yes, all the time.' But they were not reported to the CAS because they didn't have the psychic's tip."
Ms. Leduc credits the Children's Aid Society of Simcoe County for its handling of the matter. She said on the following Monday she met with a CAS worker, who quickly decided to close the case.
"She said to me: 'This was an open file, but it is now a shut file. This is ridiculous. I can't believe they are basing this on a psychic, and I'm sorry this happened to you.'"
The CAS did not return phone calls yesterday. The Simcoe County District School Board confirmed the CAS has closed its file on the matter.
Lindy Zaretsky, the board's superintendent in charge of special education programs, said she could not discuss the circumstances of a specific case.
"School staff and administrators have a duty to report, under the Child and Family Services Act when there is suspected abuse and if they believe there is reasonable grounds. However, it is the CAS that weighs any package of evidence and they make the determination whether to proceed with an investigation," said Dr. Zaretsky.
"I can say that historical and current and future practice from the board's position is that psychic readings are not regarded as evidence," she said.
The case reflects some of the difficulties with prevailing policies on child abuse that adopt a zero-tolerance approach.
"We have this policy in place that when in doubt, call and report," said Peter Dudding, executive director of the Child Welfare League of Canada, an organization promoting the protection of vulnerable children.
There is still room, however, for common sense under zero tolerance, he said.
"The law talks about 'reasonable and probable grounds' to believe something -- those are really legal terms for showing common sense.
"I have to tell you that at first blush, hearing that the basis of the report is a psychic doesn't sound like it falls within the realm of reportable child abuse," he said.
Ms. Leduc said she is considering her legal options and remains disappointed that the school has not contacted her to apologize. She has not had Victoria return to school since that May 30 meeting.
She can only assume that the closing of the file by CAS ends the school's concerns, said Ms. Leduc.
"Unless they take out a Ouija board and decide to do something else. They might want to take out a Ouija board or hold a seance, I'm not sure."


and this was CTV's coverage of the Barrie story:

Mom wants apology after psychic's abuse claim
Updated Wed. Jun. 18 2008 11:05 AM ET News Staff

An Ontario mother is demanding an apology from her local school board after the Children's Aid Society began an investigation into sexual abuse allegations formulated from an educational assistant's visit to a psychic.

Colleen Leduc, from Barrie, Ont., told CTV's Canada AM she was called back to her 11-year-old autistic daughter's school and told they had something urgent to tell her.

She said she was told that her daughter Victoria's teaching assistant had been to a psychic recently. "And the psychic asked her if she worked with a little girl by the name of 'V'."

Leduc alleges that when the assistant said yes, the psychic then told the assistant: "'Well, you need to know she's being sexually abused by a man between the ages of 23 and 26.'"

Leduc said she was shocked by the information, and that her daughter had not even been around anyone of that age.

Officials at Terry Fox Elementary School then gave Leduc a list of behaviours exhibited by her daughter, which taken together with the report from the psychic, formed a theory of abuse.

"You have to keep in mind she has autism, and she's in pre-pubescence so she's developing, and she has no inhibitions, " Leduc says, "so she's exhibiting behaviours that may be construed as sexual in nature in a social environment. "

Under the Child and Family Services Act, anyone who works with children and has reasonable grounds to suspect a youngster is being harmed must report it immediately - and the CAS is obligated to follow up.

The CAS was contacted and officials visited Leduc's home, but immediately closed the file.

Mary Ballantyne, executive director of the Simcoe County Children's Aid Society, told CTV's Canada AM that while she can't comment on the case directly, calls from the community can come under very different circumstances.

"Sometimes there is one piece of information that is very compelling, that would have us need to react immediately, but other times there are combinations of pieces, and it would be unusual to just take something coming from a psychic and proceeding with just that information. "

Leduc is upset that the school board continues to claim that the case is not closed even though she has signed a consent form to disclose that information to the board, and has pulled her daughter out of the school.

Ballantyne says "In order to sometimes put the final pieces on the closing of a case, there are some final administrative things that need to be completed, so perhaps the miscommunication is around that piece."

Lindy Zaretsky, superintendent at the Simcoe County District School Board says, "It has not been board practice to use psychic reading as part of our evidence."

The board plans to research and review practices and processes in its schools.

But let's not forget that there are good stories out there too!!!! Way to go Diane!!!!!!!!

School supports autism research with event
Jun 18, 2008 07:30 PM

By: Theresa Dixon
Staff and students of Mother Teresa School recently added something very special to their timetable.

The school took part in Together for Autism, a provincewide money raising and awareness campaign created by Autism Ontario.

Not only did the students have an opportunity to learn about this neurological disorder, which affects the way some children behave, communicate and socialize, they also learned how to be friends with autistic children.

Throughout the week-long campaign, students eagerly showed their support.

Spirit days had students wearing the Autism Ontario colours of purple and orange and sporting super hero costumes.

For each donation of a toonie, the students had their name entered into a draw for a prize.

Together for Autism was organized by Grade 7/8 teacher Diane Viveiros and her class.

The group built excitement and a little friendly competition into the campaign by awarding an ice cream party to the class collecting the most money and/or spirit points.

“The support has been wonderful,” Mrs. Viveiros said. “It is the second year Mother Teresa School has taken part in the fundraiser. Last year, we raised over $1,000.”

Mrs. Viveiros has gained significant knowledge of autism and can truly understand what autistic children and their families experience.

This vibrant and energetic teacher is also a busy mother of three. Thomas, her four-year-old son, was diagnosed with autism in 2007.

Since that time, Thomas has been on a lengthy waiting list for intensive behaviour intervention, a treatment customized to each individual child. Methods are used to develop the skills each child requires, including a parent training component.

“Although we are waiting for this therapy, Thomas attends school at Bradford’s Rotodale Nursery School and has made good progress. The teachers there have been very supportive.” Mrs. Viveiros said.

To receive intensive behavioral intervention, parents of autistic children have two options, according to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

Children can either receive help from trained staff at one of Ontario’s nine regional service centres or from a private service provider available through Autism Ontario’s ABACUSregistry.

Linked together by a volunteer network across the province, Autism Ontario concentrates its efforts on advocacy and support, research, best practices, government relations, public awareness and governance.

For more information, including where to send donations, visit

Theresa Dixon is aresident of Bradford West Gwillimbury and can be reached


Redbook Magazine has released it's second installment in their series on autism. Here is the opening paragraph and the link to the article (it's 6 pages long, so won't copy all of it over to the mailing and encourage everyone to go to the link and read it.

Link to full article:
What Autism Does to a Mother
By Nancy Rones
Nicole Kalkowski knows that beyond the stress, fear, and family turmoil that come with learning that your child has this devastating disorder, there is also a devastating aloneness. In our second installment of Living With Autism, we follow this mother of three as she struggles to save her son and finds help — for her children and for herself — in unexpected places. In part one of REDBOOK's series about raising a child with autism, Nicole Kalkowski and her family were overcome with shock and confusion when their outgoing and vivacious toddler, Ryan, began to lose his language and social skills; his sudden problems with speech and disinterest in hugs from his sisters were just the start of his perplexing symptoms. After an agonizing search for answers, Nicole and her husband, Tim, discovered that Ryan, now 3, has what many call regressive autism — he appeared to be developing normally, but began to backslide at 17 months. In this installment, we witness the painful toll Ryan's condition has taken on Nicole and follow her and her Las Vegas family as they navigate the murky waters of treatment.

I have not had a chance to pick up a copy of the magazine, but Today's Parent, national media sponsor for Autism Speaks Canada, has many photos from the Toronto walk in their current issue. I have been told it is fantastic coverage of our day.
Google Alert
Apology From School Board After Psychic Sex Abuse Report
Wednesday June 18, 2008 Staff
Colleen Leduc was the unknown Barrie mother of an 11-year-old autistic child who was facing an uncertain future.
All that changed on Monday, when CityNews brought you the exclusive and unbelievable story of the reason her daughter is no longer in school and why she can't work: an education assistant's unsubtantiated claim from a psychic that the little girl was being sexually abused and the School Board interpreting some typical autistic behaviour as a justification to report it to the Children's Aid Society.
The CAS quickly dismissed the allegations, calling them 'ridiculous,' but Leduc is unhappy that the board took the word of a seer who didn't know anything about her daughter.
Since we aired her case, she's been the lead story in her local paper and her phone has been ringing off the hook from media and talk show hosts across Ontario and the GTA, including parents of other autistic children regaling her with similar tales of troubles with other school boards.
She's also received a lot of support from the public, who understand the difficulty she's having raising a child with special needs. "People are very touched by Victoria's story and they think it's incredibly unjust what happened to her," she observes.
The board has admitted the issue could have been handled better, but notes under the law they had to file a report regardless of the source. That does little to placate the still stunned mom. "I'd like to see more staff in the school board be educated on autism," she demands. "And everything that that requires."
She's long believed officials at the school, Terry Fox Elementary, have not taken proper care of her daughter, accusing them of losing her at least twice in the past. She knows Victoria needs more care but the IBI therapy the non-verbal child should be getting is prohibitively expensive. And Leduc is convinced this latest incident is more proof that the board should pick up the tab.
For now, she's pulled Victoria from the school and has been forced to "put her business on hold" to stay home on stress leave to take care of her. The child has been without any help for three weeks now and Leduc sees her regressing.
The board is conducting its own probe into what happened but insists it was just following the rules. "School staff and administrators refer to the Children's Aid Society for advice and recommendations regarding appropriate actions and steps to take or not to take as the situation dictates," a statement by the Simcoe County District School Board outlines.
It's the response Leduc had expected but didn't want from officials. She was hoping for an apology and a sign they understand the special problems kids like Victoria face. They met with her on Tuesday, bringing her a fruit plate as a peace maker. It sits mostly ignored in her kitchen.
Does she think she'll ever get an 'I'm sorry' from the board? "No," she notes thoughtfully. "If it takes this long to receive an apology, I don't think it's going to happen."
Meanwhile, Leduc went to visit a new school on Wednesday, one that has a class especially for autistic children. And on Thursday, Victoria will be assessed by a specialist to see what her educational needs are.
Leduc has been through a lot over the past month but as the parent of a child with the mysterious problem, she knows those troubles are likely for life. What will help get her through this? "Better understanding and education for autistic children," she declares.
"These children are like little angels," she adds. "There's people inside of these kids. And even though they're non-verbal, we have to be very verbal for them."
So far, this is one mother who has managed that beyond her own imagining.
• CityNews has received a flood of viewer emails since this story first aired on Monday. To read some of them, access Education Specialist Cynthia Mulligan's blog here.
Learn more about autism here
Autism Q&A
Is your child autistic? The early signs
Fifteen Day Sale
School is closing and we have many end of the year sales.
You can now get 50% off all the Question Sets. We have NEVER priced them this low before!
We have brand new DVD’s for video role modeling. You won’t find them at this price anywhere else.
We have an INTRODUCTORY OFFER on a great book to help your child.
There are many more specials and something for every budget. View the selection at

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Google alert
Mom wants apology after psychic's abuse claim
Updated Wed. Jun. 18 2008 11:05 AM ET News Staff
An Ontario mother is demanding an apology from her local school board after the Children's Aid Society began an investigation into sexual abuse allegations formulated from an educational assistant's visit to a psychic.
Colleen Leduc, from Barrie, Ont., told CTV's Canada AM she was called back to her 11-year-old autistic daughter's school and told they had something urgent to tell her.
She said she was told that her daughter Victoria's teaching assistant had been to a psychic recently. "And the psychic asked her if she worked with a little girl by the name of 'V'."
Leduc alleges that when the assistant said yes, the psychic then told the assistant: "'Well, you need to know she's being sexually abused by a man between the ages of 23 and 26.'"
Leduc said she was shocked by the information, and that her daughter had not even been around anyone of that age.
Officials at Terry Fox Elementary School then gave Leduc a list of behaviours exhibited by her daughter, which taken together with the report from the psychic, formed a theory of abuse.
"You have to keep in mind she has autism, and she's in pre-pubescence so she's developing, and she has no inhibitions," Leduc says, "so she's exhibiting behaviours that may be construed as sexual in nature in a social environment."
Under the Child and Family Services Act, anyone who works with children and has reasonable grounds to suspect a youngster is being harmed must report it immediately - and the CAS is obligated to follow up.
The CAS was contacted and officials visited Leduc's home, but immediately closed the file.
Mary Ballantyne, executive director of the Simcoe County Children's Aid Society, told CTV's Canada AM that while she can't comment on the case directly, calls from the community can come under very different circumstances.
"Sometimes there is one piece of information that is very compelling, that would have us need to react immediately, but other times there are combinations of pieces, and it would be unusual to just take something coming from a psychic and proceeding with just that information."
Leduc is upset that the school board continues to claim that the case is not closed even though she has signed a consent form to disclose that information to the board, and has pulled her daughter out of the school.
Ballantyne says "In order to sometimes put the final pieces on the closing of a case, there are some final administrative things that need to be completed, so perhaps the miscommunication is around that piece."
Lindy Zaretsky, superintendent at the Simcoe County District School Board says, "It has not been board practice to use psychic reading as part of our evidence."
The board plans to research and review practices and processes in its schools.
google alert
Autistic boy gets a chance to attend camp
By Chris Simon

Connor McLeod has never been to summer camp.
At eight years old, the South Barrie resident will finally get his chance to attend day camp this summer, thanks to a $1,000 donation from the Order of the Eastern Star Masonic Lodge in Stroud.
Money is tight in the McLeod residence. Connor is autistic, meaning any extra money goes towards treating the disability. Even a basic right of childhood, like attending camp, can be a struggle.
Connor requires a special councillor through the nonprofit organization Reach for the Rainbow, to watch him during each day of the two week day camp.
"This is a fantastic opportunity," said Connor's mother Brenda, eyes watering after accepting a cheque from the lodge last week. "Going to camp is going to make a big difference in his life; he'll be able to mingle and interact with other kids."
Rainbow was established in 1983 and provides recreational, respite and outreach programs for children and young adults living with developmental and physical disabilities. Last year, the organization provided services to 909 children, young adults and families across Ontario.
"(The program) enables children with disabilities to attend camp," said Brenda. "Connor needs support. This is for the councillor to work with him. Every kid should go to camp."
Over the last year, the lodge has donated about $2,600 to Connor, said District 9 deputy grand matron Janie Nimmo.
"Each year we have a committee that gets together to decide what donations we'll give for the year," she said.
"We were looking at something local, (this) is a local project. We decided this is a project that could be ongoing."
The donations correspond with a larger Order pledge to support Rainbow, said Nimmo.
"Rainbow is geared to integrating children with disabilities into camp. They need one-on-one council. The additional cost of a councillor is expensive," she said.
Groundbreaking, first accessible playground
08 June
Ground Breaking Ceremony at Bayridge Public School.
Bayridge Public School is pleased to celebrate the final planning stages for the installation of playground equipment that will become the District’s first Accessible Play Structure for students with physical handicaps. Over the past three years their active Parent Council has reached out into the community to develop partners to make this project a reality. Bayridge Public School's vision is to enhance the learning environment beyond the classrooms and into the playground by providing a play structure that is 65% accessible to children with mobility problems. They believe that all children deserve the opportunity to play together. Sincere thanks for support goes to the Treasure Chest Sponsors Association; The United Way serving Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington; Kingston Community Foundation; Healthy Community Fund and two Foundations from Toronto. If you would like to become part of this amazing initiative and make a personal or corporate contribution, please contact the school at 613-389-6900.

Staff and students of Bayridge Public School along with Jeff the General Manager and Valerie the Charity Coordinator from Treasure Chest Bingo, Limestone District School Board Trustee George and United Way Board Member Carrie.

Carrie (United Way Board Member), George (Limestone District School Board Trustee), Jeff (General Manager, Treasure Chest Bingo) and Valerie (Charity Coordinator, Treasure Chest Bingo)

Ava, Hannah and Jacqueline

Hannah, Ava, Jacqueline, Trevor ,, Linda and Wayne.


From Pat

Ask Lindsay Moir:
Parents struggle to ensure children stay integrated in the classroom
Friday, June 13, 2008
My "answer" this week is a response to four questions I have received since mid-May. While each one addresses a specific situation, they might collectively be indicative of a trend back towards congregation and away from integration and inclusion.
"My son has been successfully integrated for the past seven years and will move to a Senior Public School next year for Grade 7. We have been told that if we wish to have any educational asssitant time, we must enroll him in a special education class. This is the only place that 1:1 support will be provided."
"Intellectually our daughter is capable of grade-level work but her physical disabilities mean that she needs 1:1 assistance throughout the day for academic learning. She only needs support occasionally for her physical and self-care needs. The school team told us that it is "board policy" that EAs are only provided for safety (behaviour) and life-threatening health situations —not academic support. The Superintendent backed the principal and stated that if we want academic support, we should place our daughter in a spec ed class. Academically and socially our daughter fits into a regular classroom (as she has been placed for the four years). The educators alluded to "recent funding cuts" as the reason for this change in placement. No-one can produce the "board policy" but the Superintendent has sent us a letter saying that EAs are not attached to students and that safety and health concerns are the main priority for the board staffing."
"Our principal has told me that integration and inclusion are mandated for the primary grades but now that our son is entering Grade 4 (junior division) it is no longer our choice and that she (the principal) allocates resources and makes placement decisions, in the best interests of all the students in the school. From JK till now our son has had excellent support — an EA in the room (not dedicated to him alone) and a lot of peer mentoring and understanding. He is working close to grade level and has a a positive self-image. Our choice is regular class and no support or special class full-time to access support. The pressure is on us to put him in the special education class because if he acts out, he will be suspended. We have none of this in writing, except a principal's letter "placing him in a special education class" on a form we have been asked to sign.
See May 30/08 Question & Answer for another similar case
Many good things are happening for students who are appropriately-placed in congregated special education classes. Many of the teachers in these placements are providing creative programs and learning experiences for some exceptional pupils. I am a range of services person and see that there is an ever-shrinking number of exceptional students who need this kind of setting.
It is my observation, that each year for the past 10-15 years, there appear to be fewer and fewer special classes, as more and more students are integrated and included in regular classes. Over time, more and more parents are seeking integrated placements for their special needs children. Over time, more and more educators reflect the community's desire to see these children integrated into the community, including the school system.
In fact, I am aware of several situations where excellent special classes have been shut down or combined, due to a shortage of suitable students. Some parents have been put under strong pressure not to integrate their child, in order to keep the special class going (for other students who need it!)
There has been no major change in special education funding that would predicate any change of placement — therefore the trend is not driven by money, this is most likely a CHOICE or PHILOSOPHICAL decision of some educators.
And Yet...
Why do I think that there is an upswing in the number of families being "steered" to special classes?
In some boards there is a longstanding commitment to congregated special classes. At one time these programs were "cutting edge" and progressive AND responded to the perceived needs of exceptional pupils. In fact, in many boards there were "waiting lists" to get into these programs. Senior administrators were often the "gate-keepers" of placement in these programs. With a declining number of families seeking such placements, the "gate-keeper" may find themselves the "recruiter," trying to maintain the critical mass to keep the class viable.
I am always in favour of placement based on meeting the pupil's needs. As many regular classroom teachers struggle to meet the needs of an evergrowing number of exceptional pupils in their classes, administrators may feel 'pressure" to move some challenging pupils OUT of the regular class — unfortunately, this results in placement to meet the needs of staff-- this is the old "parking lot theory" which places exceptiional pupils in a holding pattern, while the teachers get on with doing the job they were trained to do — teach typical children! The better answer would be to focus on intensive training of regular classroom teachers, equiping them with knowledge of exceptionalities, resources and management skills to help them to work with a multi-disciplinary team to deal with these children effectively.
Many educators are on the "same page" as parents and community professionals, however a minority are stuck in a "power and control" struggle with families. The reality is that we are on a steady march towards full inclusion as a society, as a community and as an education system.
Those who want to go back to the "good old days" where no one dared to question an educator's decision are sadly fighting a losing battle. Cutting edge educators are collaborative and inclusive. Those who are not, face a lot af grief and conflict!
I actually believe that despite the emails I have received, despite the pressure that the above parents are feeling, many more parents now have the support system and knowledge to resist the inappropriate placement of their child.
Knowledge IS power. If your child would benefit from placement in a congregated special education class — then go for it! If they would be better served in a regular class, fight for it!

This is from the Saskatchewan Kipling Citizen Newspaper:
Autism Spectrum Disorders - A whole new understanding
3:16 pm June 13, 2008

Staff Photo by: Darcie Thom
Brenda Pedscalny, representative of the Autism Resource Centre, visited the Kipling High School to present a seminar for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Staff Photo by: Darcie Thom
Autism Spectrum Disorders - A whole new understanding
By: Darcie Thom
A common misunderstanding has placed Autism in the same category as Asperger Syndrome, Rett’s Disorder and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, when, in fact, they couldn’t be further apart from each other.
The community was invited to be involved in an educational seminar led by Brenda Pedscalny, a Senior Consultant and representative of Autism Resource Centre, on June 4th. The staff, and members, of the Autism Resource Centre help to teach some of the basic life skills, to people who have been afflicted, that so many of us take for granted.
The students, who range in different disorders (along with a wide range of severity), are taught how to survive in this confusing world that we all live in. They are shown how to cope with their drawbacks and how to move forward with a sense of fulfillment and pride, learn skills that apply to everyday life and are given the opportunity to progress past their disorders.
“Ten years ago, people didn’t want to deal with these disorders, they would say ‘Put those children in an institute and lock them away’. It goes to show that we were lacking the education for these disorders,” says Pedscalny.
Autism Spectrum Disorders are described as a Bio-Neurological Disorder, a disorder that interferes with the development of the brain. This pervasive, individualistic and Life Long battle affects 1 in 160 people (all race and creed). Surprisingly, these disorders are 4-5 times more likely to be found in boys.
“When you have met one Autistic person, you have met one Autistic person. Every person is different and unique in their own way,” stated Pedscalny.
Most of the evening was focused on Autism and Asperger Syndrome, the two more commonly known, and frequently confused, disorders. A visual was used during the seminar to show both sides of the umbrella spectrum called Pervasive Development Disorders (PDD). This is the spectrum that individualizes the disorders Autism, Asperger Syndrome, PDD NOS, Retts Disorder and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.
Children are diagnosed because of different forms of behaviors. A Psychiatrist or Psychologist is usually present and determines the strain and type of disorder. Children, as young as 18 months old, can be diagnosed with these disorders and some are not diagnosed until the later stages in the teenage years. Unfortunately, the disorders are not the only burden to these children. Many, if not most, suffer from depression (due to teasing and stress), anxiety, Seizures and/or Epilepsy, Sleep disorders, Gastrointestinal Disorders and/or numerous Allergies and Sensitivities. Sometimes a child experiences pain from a simple touch, or sensitivity from sound or light, and of course there is always the school bullies who run them down by teasing and demeaning their character.
“Because a person (with any kind of disorder) can talk, does not mean that they can communicate their issues and pains,” states Pedscalny.
A person with Asperger Syndrome can appear to be ‘average’ to most and are often confused with being a bad child because they have the capacity to process everything like an ‘average’ person. This is where the teasing and demeaning of character really cause problems for these people because they are simply thought of as bad, when the sad reality is that they are in need of great understanding. People in this situation often find themselves in a lot of trouble, very lonely, depressed and most don’t get the help that they need.
“They don’t get the shades of gray, they see black and white,’ says Pedscalny, “if you don’t want to hear the truth, you’re better off not to asking for their advice!”
Autistic people are quite the opposite of those with Asperger Syndrome. Many of these people are unable to take in and preserve the knowledge that is taught to them. In many cases, a person with Severe Autism may be able to build blocks and color a picture, but will probably have a hard time with communication and life skills. This is where the training, at the Autism Resource Centre, helps the person afflicted and their families to better understand the disorder.
“Good structured programs, for at least 20 hours a week, are recommended for people with these disorders, we work on life skills, being positive and working toward a goal in life,” says Pedscalny in regards to the goals at the Autism Resource Centre.
The ultimate goal for the Autism Resource Centre is to see the students leave with an understanding and somewhat educated mind of what it takes to survive in this world. Pedscalny spoke about how hard it is to ask someone (with disabilities) to accept the confusing and delusional ideas that ‘average’ people accept every day. There are so many double-standards in our lives, we smile but it doesn’t always mean we are happy. We cry in sad and happy times, we yell in anger and in excitement and we have rules but are allowed to break them sometimes. How does this make any sense? When the idea that a smile should mean happiness and tears should mean sadness, this idea makes more sense, this is how an Autistic and Asperger person thinks. “Try telling someone how they are supposed to deal with our socialization, it’s complicated and doesn’t always make sense,” says Pedscalny, “Us neurotypical people are weird, we have weird relationships. We are too complicated; sometimes they just want to be alone because it’s easier for them to be alone”.
The training and steps provided to help these students are great learning tools for all people. They can teach us to accept another person’s disabilities and even how to deal with rough spots in their lives and in our own lives. Many parents would learn how to cope with their children and their needs in different ways, because just maybe, the situations are just black and white.
When you meet a person with disabilities, give them the chance to touch your life in a positive way, help them to know that they do exist and that they can be heard.

From Nancy
We have a listmate with a need, and offering some pay for someone who can help her out. If you wish to take on this opportunity, please write to Allison directly, her e-mail is included in her post:

I am looking for a driver to take my kids from their home near East York General Hospital to morning camp at Yonge and Lawrence. In taking Mortimer and Bayview, the drive length is 15-20 minutes. My two sons are very verbal and pleasant to work with. They are 5 and 3 and the elder has AS. The pick up is at 8:30 am (to drop at 9:00am) and the return pick up is at 11:30am (to drop at 12:00noon). The daily rate is $30, ($150 per week). The camp runs from Monday to Friday, July 2nd to August 8th, and is not open on Statuatory holidays.
Interested parties can respond to this e-mail with their details.

And for those Soap Opera fans (yeah, like any of us have time for that, I know...) Autism Speaks announces a story line they are helping with on Days of Our Lives:
Here is the article title and link if you wish to read the article:
NBC's 'Days of Our Lives' Addresses Growing Autism Crisis as Head Writer Dena Higley and Autism Speaks Collaborate to Tell Profound Story of Couple Who Discover Their Son Has the Disorder
Dr. Lexie Carver (Renee Jones) and Commissioner Abe Carver (James Reynolds) Learn Their 3-Year-Old Son Has Autism Beginning in the June 24 Episode of “Days of our Lives”

From York Region papers, sharing the story late, but sharing the good news:
Jun 12, 2008 09:33 AM
A teenager reported missing to police yesterday was found safe last night.

Olivia Gourlay, 18, was last seen leaving Sacred Heart Catholic High School on foot at about 1:30 p.m. and reported missing just after 6 p.m.

She has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.
She was found in good health at about 8:30 p.m. and reunited with her family.
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