Monday, July 14, 2008

Autism NEWS July 3-13th 2008

Autism News Articles
Alliance for families with autism
July 3rd 2008 – July 13th 2008
to read archived mail

AFA is experiencing VACATION TIME at random times during the summer. – HOORAY!!!
Please be patient with our mail

Thank you.

From Nancy’s List
Run the Dream newsletter is attached to this mailing. Jonathan has entered Ontario and spent the July 1st holiday in Ottawa. Many photos from his events around the Ottawa area are in this newsletter. Keep checking the newsletters and website to ensure you meet up with Jonathan as he makes his way through your home town.

For those that work or live in the GTA, Jonathan will be at Toronto City Hall at noon on July 22 to ``Welcome Jonathan to Toronto``. The key participants are still being defined but we would like to get people out to support Jonathan - particularly those who work in the downtown core. Please mark your calendars to ensure you spend lunch with Jonathan on July 22nd if you are in the downtown area!!


For those that enjoy taking their children to Wonderland, I have pulled this off another lists mailing:

Discounted Wonderland Tickets
We are thrilled to announce that our partnership with RBC Royal Bank and its Canada ’s Wonderland ticket promotion has been extended!
RBC Royal Bank has negotiated a discounted price for "ANY DAY" tickets to Canada 's Wonderland, with $1 per ticket sold benefiting the Yellow Bus Foundation. These tickets will be on sale until Park closing November 1st.
To get your tickets: Visit, select Tickets, then Corporate Partners and enter Company ID: RBC2008.

Please help spread the word by sharing with your network of friends, family and colleagues!

Thank you.
Kim Carrigan
Foundation Manager
The Yellow Bus Foundation


A listmate shares this info, and I have included their attachment to this e-mail. Not only families with concerns regarding inclusion in education may be interested in this seminar, but also the Educators on this mailing list too:

We at ARCH Disability Law Centre are writing to let you know that CASHRA,
the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies, is holding its
2008 national forum on human rights and inclusive education. The forum
promises to be a spirited exchange of ideas on how human rights law and
policy can assist in advancing the inclusion of students with disabilities
in educational environments.

For more information and to register for the forum please see the attached
flyer or visit:

The flyer and registration forms are available in alternate formats at:

ARCH is able to financially support a limited number of students with the
registration fee to attend the conference. Requests for financial support
will be granted on a first come, first serve basis. For more information,
please contact ARCH at:

Tel.: (416) 482-8255 or 1-866-482-2724

TTY: (416) 482-1254 or 1-866-482-2728


Mailing address:
425 Bloor Street East, Suite 110
Toronto, ON M4W 3R5


How a bad situation can turn into an awareness and advocacy opportunity. Kudos to this family and Smitty's management for turning this around to be a postiive outcome for the autism community:

Mom vows action after family of autistic girl kicked out of restaurant

Rosemary Westwood
The Edmonton Journal

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The mother of an autistic girl is calling for "some sort of repercussions" after her family was kicked out of a local restaurant Saturday.
Sarah Seymour said her family often eats at the west end Smitty's Family Restaurant when they come to Edmonton from Wainwright for her daughter's autism treatment a few times a year.
Seymour said her five-year-old daughter, Eowyn, became upset when the meal she wanted to order wasn't available. Seymour and her husband were calming their daughter down when the manager asked the family to leave.
"We tried to explain to the manager that she has autism and would be calm very shortly," said Seymour. "She can't help it.
"This is what happens; it's part of the disorder."
Seymour said the manager indicated that if Eowyn's behaviour was part of her disorder, the family should not take her out in public.
"I will be contacting higher up management," said Seymour. "If I don't work to make the world more tolerant for (Eowyn) who will?"
The restaurant declined to comment on the incident.
Autism effects one in every 150 to 160 people, according to Health Canada.
Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms often include "repetitive behaviour and difficulties with social interaction, communication and learning."
© The Edmonton Journal 2008

Thursday » July 10 » 2008

Smitty's owner to help raise autism awareness

Robin Collum
The Edmonton Journal

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The owner of a local restaurant accused of discriminating against an autitisic child says the incident was a misunderstanding, but his company is eager to make amends anyway.
Sarah Seymour said she and her family were at a west-end Smitty's Family Restaurant when her five-year-old daughter, who is autistic, became disruptive.
Seymour said the restaurant manager told her that she shouldn't bring her daughter out with them if she was known to behave erratically.
Rob Sroka, whose family owns 11 Smitty's locations in northern Alberta, said he was upset when he heard about the incident. Sroka spoke to Seymour, restaurant staff and other patrons, and said he's confident that it was a miscommunication.
"The manager in question has only been in Canada for about a year and half," Sroka said. "So I think this might have been more of a language issue than anything else."
Sroka said he apologized to Seymour and is hoping to help with autism awareness.
He arranged a special meeting of all his restaurant managers.
Seymour supplied a training video that Sroka will use to educate his staff about autism.
Sroka said he's looking into getting involved with an upcoming Run/Walk for Autism in Edmonton.
"We want to be able to turn this negative thing into a positive situation," he said.
© The Edmonton Journal 2008


An awareness piece from the Ottawa Citizen:

Autistic poet enjoys having a way with words
Paula McCooey, Ottawa Citizen
Published: Wednesday, July 09, 2008
When Nicholas Sicard's mother urged her autistic son to enter a provincial poetry contest, she knew his natural artistic talents would shine through.
The contest, organized by the non-profit group Ideal Way, gives people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to showcase their creative sides. It was an attractive challenge for 14-year-old Nicholas, whose winning poem was inspired by his goal to make movies.
Nicholas's entry won second place, and was among those chosen from the hundreds received from across Ontario to be published in a book by Pearson Canada in support of people with Down syndrome, autism and other related disabilities.
Winners of the contest were chosen on June 30 by a panel of judges that included writers and poets, and was chaired by David Davidar, president and publisher of Penguin Group (Canada).
Nicholas's mother and father, Pina and John, who have been encouraging Nicholas to pursue his dream of creating movie scripts and producing films, thought the contest would help him utilize his writing skills. Mrs. Sicard says her son is currently at work writing a script from his Kanata home based on a cartoon character he created called Moosinla (pronounced Moosinella).
"I said, 'You know, Nick, you've got to take chances, you never know'," Mrs. Sicard said. "And he said, 'Do you think I'm going to win?' And I said, 'Well, I don't know.' In my heart, I thought, you never know. So I was absolutely elated when he was (chosen)."
Mrs. Sicard said Nicholas, who has a "very active imagination," plans to shoot his film, with the help of friends and family, this summer.
"It's wonderful that he's writing, because for the longest time I was trying to encourage him to keep a journal. The more they write (people with autism), the better they get at it, because communication is really affected by the autism."
Nicholas has since received an award package that includes, aptly, eight movie passes.
He also received $62.05 in spending money. This number is significant because it represents the life savings donated by founder Robert Pio Hajjar, who was born with Down syndrome. (IDEAL in Ideal Way is an acronym for Included, Deserving, Equal, Appreciated and Loved.)
"I was happy," Nicholas said of his second-place finish. "I enjoy writing."
He said that this summer, when he's not working on his script or on computer animation, he'll use one of his free cinema passes to see the film Kung Fu Panda.
The first-prize winner was Danielle Morris, of Woodstock, Ont.
Ideal Way's research showed it was the first contest of its kind geared toward people with intellectual disabilities.
Executive director Addie Daabous says the contest was such a success, the group will be holding two contests next year: one for visual arts and the other for poetry.
Ms. Daabous said Nicholas's poem, You Can Take Away, was noticed by the judges because it "made everyone laugh."
She said $155,000 worth of merchandise donated to the organization to date has been used to help those living on their own in group homes and long-term care facilities.
"They live on a disability cheque and it's not much money a month," says Ms. Daabous.
You Can Take Away
By Nicholas Sicard
You can take away my old movies
You can take away my VCR
But please don't take away
My remote control car!
I can do without honey
I can do without bees
But I can't do without my
Homemade movies.
I can live without shrimp
I can live without fish
But I can't live without my
Satellite dish!

This article was from the Associated Press in the US. Although a US article, I felt the content was significant to share..... and explains why ABA/IBI is so very effective for many of our kids. This information could be very useful in arguing the effectiveness of ABA/IBI as opposed to other interventions for many of our kids, and be useful to determine for our kids that do respond to therapy to justify it's continuance beyond "Benchmarks" that are being developed.

Genes from Middle East families yield autism clues
By LAURAN NEERGAARD – 7 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — Harvard researchers have discovered half a dozen new genes involved in autism that suggest the disorder strikes in a brain that can't properly form new connections.
The findings also may help explain why intense education programs do help some autistic children — because certain genes that respond to experience weren't missing, they were just stuck in the "off" position.
"The circuits are there but you have to give it an extra push," said Dr. Gary Goldstein of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, which wasn't involved in the gene hunt but is well-known for its autism behavioral therapy.
The genetics suggest that "what we're doing makes sense when we work with these little kids — and work and work and work — and suddenly get through," he said.
But the study's bigger message is that autism is too strikingly individual to envision an easy gene test for it. Instead, patients are turning out to have a wide variety, almost a custom set, of gene defects.
"Almost every kid with autism has their own particular cause of it," said Dr. Christopher Walsh, chief of genetics at Children's Hospital Boston, who led the research published in Friday's edition of the journal Science.
Autism spectrum disorders include a range of poorly understood brain conditions, from the mild Asperger's syndrome to more severe autism characterized by poor social interaction, impaired communication and repetitious behaviors.
It's clear that genes play a big role in autism, from studies of twins and families with multiple affected children. But so far, the genetic cause is known for only about 15 percent of autism cases, Walsh said.
So Walsh's team took a new tack. They turned to the Middle East, a part of the world with large families and a tendency for cousins to marry, characteristics that increase the odds of finding rare genes. They recruited 88 families with cousin marriages and a high incidence of autism, from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. They compared the DNA of family members to search for what are called recessive mutations — where mom and dad can be healthy carriers of a gene defect but a child who inherits that defect from both parents gets sick.
In some of the families, they found large chunks of missing DNA regions that followed that recessive rule. The missing regions varied among families, but they affected at least six genes that play a role in autism.
Here's why this matters: All the genes seem to be part of a network involved in a basic foundation of learning — how neurons respond to new experiences by forming connections between each other, called synapses.
In the first year or two of life — when autism symptoms appear — synapses rapidly form and mature, and unnecessary ones are "pruned" back. In other words, a baby's brain is literally being shaped by its first experiences so that it is structurally able to perform learning and other functions of later life.
"This paper points to problems specifically in the way that experience sculpts the developing brain," explained Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which helped fund the work.
Some earlier research had pointed to the same underlying problem, so these newly found genes "join a growing list to suggest that autism is a synaptic disorder," he said.
If that sounds discouraging, here's the good news: The missing DNA didn't always translate into missing genes. Instead what usually was missing were the on/off switches for these autism-related genes. Essentially, some genes were asleep instead of doing their synapse work.
"I find that hopeful" because "there are ways that are being discovered to activate genes," Walsh said. "This might be an unanticipated way of developing therapies in the long term for autism: Identifying these kids where all the right genes are present, just not turned on in the right way."
At Kennedy Krieger, Goldstein thinks the work may provide a gene-level explanation for why some children already are helped by intense therapy.
"We have trouble getting through to these children, but with repeated stimulation we can do it," he said. "These are circuits that have an ability not so much to recover but to work around the problem."


And to further on this topic, this article is from the Canadian Newswire, regarding a US study. Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Fringe autism treatment could get federal study in the United States
CHICAGO _ Pressured by desperate parents, government researchers are pushing to test an unproven treatment on autistic children, a move some scientists see as an unethical experiment in voodoo medicine.
The treatment removes heavy metals from the body and is based on the fringe theory that mercury in vaccines triggers autism _ a theory never proved and rejected by mainstream science. Mercury hasn't been in childhood vaccines since 2001.
But many parents of autistic children are believers, and the head of the National Institute of Mental Health supports testing it on children provided the tests are safe.
''So many moms have said, 'It's saved my kids,''' institute director Dr. Thomas Insel said.
For now, the proposed study, not widely known outside the community of autism research and advocacy groups, has been put on hold because of safety concerns, Insel told The Associated Press.
The process, called chelation, is used to treat lead poisoning. Studies of adults have shown it to be ineffective unless there are high levels of metals in the blood. Any study in children would have to exclude those with high levels of lead or mercury, which would require treatment and preclude using a placebo.
One of the drugs used for chelation, DMSA, can cause side effects including rashes and low white blood cell count. And there is evidence chelation may redistribute metals in the body, perhaps even into the central nervous system.
''I don't really know why we have to do this in helpless children,'' said Ellen Silbergeld of Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was invited to comment on the study to a review board of the national institute.
Despite lawsuits and at least one child's death, several thousand autistic children are already believed to be using chelation (pronounced kee-LAY'-shun), their parents not content to wait for a study.
Among those parents is Christina Blakey of suburban Chicago, who uses chelation and a variety of other alternative therapies, including sessions in a hyperbaric chamber, on her eight-year-old son, Charlie.
Before he started chelation at age five, Charlie suffered tantrums. When she took him to school, she had to peel him off her body and walk away. But three weeks after he began chelation, his behaviour changed, she said.
''He lined up with his friends at school. He looked at me and waved and gave me a thumbs-up sign and walked into school,'' Blakey said. ''All the moms who had been watching burst into tears. All of us did.''
There is no way to prove whether chelation made a difference or whether Charlie simply adjusted to the school routine.
Autism is a spectrum of disorders that hamper a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Most doctors believe there is no cure.
Conventional treatments are limited to behavioural therapy and a few medications, such as the schizophrenia drug Risperdal, approved to treat irritability.
Frustrated parents use more than 300 alternative treatments, most with little or no scientific evidence backing them up, according to the Interactive Autism Network at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Md.
''With a lot of mothers, if they hear about a treatment, they feel like they need to try it,'' said project director Dr. Paul Law. ''Anything that has a chance of benefiting their child, they're willing to give it a shot.''
More than two per cent of the children tracked by the project use chelation. If that figure holds for the general population, it would mean more than 3,000 autistic children are on the treatment at any time in the United States.
Chelation drugs can be taken in pill form, by rectal suppository and intravenously.
Dr. Susan Swedo, who heads the federal institute's in-house autism research and wants to study chelation, gained notoriety by theorizing that strep throat had caused some cases of obsessive compulsive disorder. The theory was never proved.
She proposed recruiting 120 autistic children ages four to 10 and giving half DMSA and the other half a dummy pill. The 12-week test would measure before-and-after blood mercury levels and autism symptoms.
The study outline says that failing to find a difference between the two groups would counteract ''anecdotal reports and widespread belief'' that chelation works.
But the study was put on hold for safety concerns after an animal study, published last year, linked DMSA to lasting brain problems in rats. It remains under review, Insel told the AP.
Insel said he has come to believe after listening to parents that traditional scientific research, building incrementally on animal studies and published papers, wasn't answering questions fast enough.
''This is an urgent set of questions,'' Insel said. ''Let's make innovation the centrepiece of this effort as we study autism, its causes and treatments, and think of what we may be missing.''
Last year, the National Institutes of Health spent less than five per cent of its US$127 million autism research budget on alternative therapies, Insel said. He said he is hopeful the chelation study will be approved.
Others say it would be unethical, even if it proves chelation doesn't work.
Federal research agencies must ''bring reason to science'' without ''catering to a public misperception,'' said Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and author of an upcoming book on autism research. ''Science has been trumped by politics in some ways.''
Offit is concerned vaccination rates may fall to dangerous levels because some parents believe they cause autism.
Dr. Martin Myers, former director of the federal National Vaccine Program Office, said he believes giving chelation to autistic children is unethical _ but says the government can justify the study because so many parents are using chelation without scientific evidence.
''It's incumbent on the scientific community to evaluate it,'' he said.
Actress Jenny McCarthy, whose bestseller ''Louder Than Words'' details her search for treatments for her autistic son, Evan, told thousands of parents at a recent autism conference outside Chicago that she plans to try chelation on him this summer.
''A lot of people are scared to chelate ... but it has triggered many recoveries,'' she said.
But those claims are only anecdotal, and there are serious risks.
Of the several drugs used in chelation, the only one recommended for intravenous use in children is edetate calcium disodium. Mixups with another drug with a similar name, edetate disodium, have led to three deaths, including one autistic child.
A five-year-old autistic boy went into cardiac arrest and died after he was given IV chelation therapy in 2005. A Pennsylvania doctor is being sued by the boy's parents for allegedly giving the wrong drug and using a risky technique.
No deaths have been associated with DMSA, which can cause rashes, low white blood cell count and vomiting. It is also sold as a dietary supplement, which is how some parents of autistic children get it.
A Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman said the agency is ''is looking into how these products are marketed.''
On the Net:
National Institute of Mental Health:

This from the York Region papers about the Children's Treatment Centre of York Region and Simcoe County:
Jul 08, 2008 12:16 PM
Centre offers therapy closer to home
By: Simone Joseph, Staff Writer
Norma, a stay-at-home mom, has more free time and less stress these days, thanks to the opening of a local facility providing services for her developmentally disabled son.
The Markham mom and her son Giancarlo, 11, have been using the centre since it opened about six months ago. The furnishings and equipment were completed recently.
The Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe York and partner York Support Services Network opened the new facility in Markham to serve special needs children, youth and adults.
Before the facility opened, travelling to all the different services Giancarlo required was time-consuming, Norma said.
“There wasn’t anything in the area. I had to travel to Toronto 45 minutes in traffic,†she said, adding a whole day could be spent travelling to and from an appointment.
Giancarlo has cerebral palsy. He has received both physiotherapy and occupational therapy at the Markham centre, which caters to special needs children, youth and adults.
“It has meant he has more time to unwind and enjoy certain activities,†Norma said. “He is more relaxed because he is not sitting in traffic. He can actually enjoy some of his childhood.â€
The new space is part of York Support Services Network’s plan to expand special needs services and bring them closer to home. The network aims to reduce the stress and strain on families by co-ordinating a plan of care so parents don’t have to go to multiple agencies. The facility gives residents access to integrated rehabilitation and developmental services, equipment and professionals in a single location, close to home.
The new Markham facility includes:
• A fully equipped therapy gym and observation room;
• Four treatment/activity rooms for occupational and speech/language therapy;
• An education and training room;
• Consultation/meeting rooms and office space for therapists and staff.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation approved a $100,000 grant in December for furnishings and equipment for the Markham space.
Services are available to children and youth with a wide range of disabilities and complex conditions, including: spina bifida, autism, brain injury and other long-term medical conditions.
Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe York is a not-for-profit service delivery model for children with multiple disabilities and their families. It links more than 40 healthcare, recreation, education and community agencies to provide a single point of contact and a single plan of care for children from birth to age 19 who have special physical, developmental and communication needs.
York Support Services Network is a community-based non-profit agency that offers a range of services throughout York Region to support people with a developmental disability and/or a serious mental illness.
As part of the publicly funded system under the ministry of children and youth services, the network’s services are free.
The Markham facility is one of 10 such facilities planned for York Region and Simcoe County. The other open centres are in Barrie, Richmond Hill, Alliston, Midland, Georgina, Vaughan and Newmarket. By the end of 2008, two more facilities will be open in Orillia and Collingwood.
If you are the parent or caregiver of a child with multiple disabilities and would like to learn more about the network’s single plan of care, phone the Children’s Treatment Network toll free at 1-866-377-0286 or visit
A very nice awareness article from the ABA IT's point of view. Articles like this from our professionals will help encourage other quality people to join up on the field. This was from the Vancouver Sun:
July 7, 2008
Treating autism
If there's one job that requires patience, dedication and tremendous energy, Selina Lim definitely has it.
The applied behaviour analysis (ABA) therapist - or behavioural interventionist - works individually with autistic children to help them improve in their daily activities.
"The best part is to see kids change and improve, and to make a difference in their development because you play an important part in their early age," Lim said.
Currently Lim is working with seven kids, each of whom she sees about three times a week, and teaches them different skills, from cognitive to verbal to self-help.
"For some families I'm more in a role of supervising junior therapist, so I go there once a week to check with the kid, check with their progress, and see if they understand things" she said. "For some of them I still do the job on my own."
Lim recognizes the difference when working with autistic kids, as opposed to other children.
"They are really genuine, they don't lie and they just tell you the truth," she said. "Children with autism just lack the skills that typical kids would have, such as they might be weaker in communicating their message and maybe their language is not fully there. Some of them are really smart, but they might be slower learners. There are different ends of the spectrum."
Having worked as an ABA therapist for three years, Lim considers herself self-employed as she is sometimes hired privately and sometimes through an agency such as Early Autism Project, Able Clinic and ABA Academy.
After graduating from Simon Fraser University with a psychology major and a minor in early childhood education, the Vancouver native took the first opportunity she got in working with children.
"I also have a background working with kids at church," she said. "And with all that skill, I think this is a good field for me to get into."
But there are some downsides, especially when it comes to work hours.
"It's Monday to Friday if you can schedule it that way but it's kind of hard because the kid has to go to school," Lim said. "Summer is good because I get a full time schedule."
Working with children for three hours straight can be challenging, especially when you have to focus your full attention on them for that whole amount of time.
"This kind of job is really draining energy-wise because sometimes I have three shifts in a day and I spend three hours with each kid," Lim said. "With this job, you have to spend 100 per cent on the kid."
And then there is the instability issue, she said, both income wise and time wise. But despite the challenges, Lim has a certain personality and mindset that drives her to continue this line of work.
"You should believe that they can actually improve," she said. "Believe in yourself that you are making an impact in the kid's life."
"An hourly rate for a junior therapist will be from $10 to $15," said Selina Lim. "For senior, it's $15 to start and goes up to $22 an hour."
"Probably a degree in psychology, or in early childhood education, or working with special kids," she said. "Sometimes occupational therapy like human kinetics or speech therapy, with that kind of background. If you want to go higher in the field, you'll need a master's degree and a licence."
"Be outgoing because with kids, if you are shy they won't be motivated to work with you. Gain experience through volunteering with kids first. There are websites to go to for more information, such as, and also going through university job postings."
From the Orillia paper:
Dog expected to make difference in autistic boy's life
Constant companionship described as key benefit
Updated 5 days ago

Ethan Archer doesn't understand why he doesn't have any friends and can't participate in extracurricular activities like his brothers.
The 10-year old doesn't sleep in his own bedroom at night; his mom, Duana, looks forward to the day when Ethan will go to his own room and stay there all night.
Ethan is autistic and, thankfully for him and his family, that day is a little over a year away. The family has applied for a trained service dog from Autism Dog Services. The special dog will become Ethan's best friend and help alleviate the Archer family's stress.
"It's important for him to get this dog because everyday things that we take for granted... Ethan doesn't have in his life. This dog will be able to offer him that," Duana said, adding the dog will go everywhere with Ethan.
Children with autism need to have the same person with them non-stop. For Ethan, that's his mom.
However, since Ethan is 10 years old, it is impossible for Duana to go everywhere with him, so having a dog that can will be helpful.
Joanne Scott-Jackson is a volunteer with Autism Dog Services. She noted a lot of autistic kids don't have friends or can't make them easily.
"That constant companionship is important. Dogs are non-judgmental, loyal and love you no matter what," she said. "For these kids, that's huge."
Ethan, his mom and brother met with Scott-Jackson and dog trainer Wade Beattie on Friday in McKinnell Square Park. They brought with them a puppy in training named Gunner.
Holding Gunner's leash and walking him gave Ethan something to keep his mind on.
"Rather than having a parent holding their hand constantly at age nine, 10, 12, which kids that age don't want, they learn to focus on the dog and are safe with the dog. This makes them feel more independent and helps them into adulthood," Scott- Jackson explained.
"I really need a dog," Ethan said. "He's going to help me and make me feel safe."
For Ethan to have his dog, the family has to raise $18,000. Autism Dog Services is a not-for- profit agency and it costs a lot to have the dogs trained.
The Archer family is hoping the community will help them raise the funds they need. They are planning a dinner catered by Ethan's dad, who is a chef, and will approach community organizations for help.
And finally I am sharing a bit of info that has come up to us from a Pennsylvania contact regarding a new initiative there for our adults. Those interested in adult issues on this list may find this especially of interest:

Adult Autism Waiver
http://www.dpw. us/ServicesProgr ams/Autism/ News/2008NewsAnn ouncements/ 003677257. htm
Autism Waiver
Governor Edward G. Rendell announced on May 22, 2008, that Pennsylvania has been approved for a first-of-its- kind federal waiver program to provide home and community based services specifically for adults with autism. The $20 million-a-year waiver program, which is expected to serve up to 200 individuals 21 years of age and older with autism, was approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Prior to its approval, no dedicated services existed for adults with autism in Pennsylvania.
Application for a §1915(c) Home and Community-Based Services Waiver (PDF download)
Persons interested in applying for the Autism Waiver can call (toll-free) 866-539-7689 beginning July 1, 2008. Requests for applications will be accepted for six weeks, ending Aug. 11, 2008. Requests will only be accepted by phone. More information.
Other Resources
Autism Waiver: Consumer Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Autism Waiver: Provider Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Autism Waiver Fact Sheet

Ellen Notbohm’s Newsletter..
On my Soapbox: Unbundle Me
It’s summer – time to take a break from my usual indignant rants and inject a little humor into the Soapbox. As published in The Sunday Oregonian, June 15, 2008.
Writer’s craft most ripe for a la carte capitalism
“Bundling” is one of those annoying buzz words pervading business these days. If it wasn’t so annoying, it would be comical how some companies – cable television and telephone companies, notoriously – are rushing to bundle services in hopes of persuading (forcing) you to buy services you may or may not want. Meanwhile, other companies are rushing just as urgently in the opposite direction, “unbundling” services, the marketing equivalent of upending their customers by the ankles in order to shake the last possible penny out of their pockets. They spin this money-extraction tactic as “choice” or “ala carte offerings.”
The 800-pound gorilla on this squeeze-play bandwagon is the airline industry. They actually began unbundling long ago, cutting costs by eliminating meal service, an unlamented change since “airplane food” is my favorite oxymoron. Now the “unbundling” is accelerating at warp speed. Some will “unbundle” their product by charging for “extras” such as a phone number through which you can actually reach a reservation agent when your flight is delayed or cancelled. American Airlines will now charge you extra for checking a suitcase. It’s not hard to guess what’s coming next – a surcharge if you want to debark using a jetway instead of leaping to the tarmac. Why not go all the way – bring back steerage class and charge extra for the actual seat on the cattle car?
This all got me to thinking about the products and services I offer. I’m an author, and my fuel costs (some folks still quaintly call it “food”) have gone up too. I have teenage boys in the house; need I say more? I’m just not marketing-savvy enough. I need to unbundle my services in order to cut costs and pocket more money. I will start by offering just the words on the pages. If you want the punctuation that makes it easier to read the book, that will be alacarte, for an extra charge. My granddad actually employed this idea many years ago. When he wrote letters to my mother, he would claim that he couldn’t be bothered with punctuation, and he would string a line of commas, periods and question marks along the bottom of the page, with instructions that she put them in wherever she liked. Wow, this tactic would save me a lot of time writing and editing and save my publisher money on printing. It is not only economical, but green! Think of the paper – the trees! – saved by streamlining all those pesky spaces between the words. Win-win! So the pages of my books would look like this:
.....,,,,,?????!!!!!:::::;;;;; """"" """""’
I will further unbundle my service by charging extra for all those superfluous vowels. They are not really needed anyway. Most people can figure out a sentence without the vowels; really they can! (Ask any teen who texts.)
Vwls r nt ncssry t rdng njymnt. n fct thy r wst f tm, dnt y gr?
Did you notice I included the y’s as a special bonus? Don’t get too excited. They are perks thrown in only for frequent buyers of my books.
I will yet further unbundle my service by offering the consumer the ultimate economy: book binding and a cover will cost you extra. That’s right. The basic cost of the book gets you the words on the pages – loose pages. Why should consumers pay for binding and fancy cover art if they don’t want it?
When sales of my books drop, I will blame Amazon for their faulty accounting system or sneer at the ignorance of the public for not embracing my sensible cost-cutting measures. But hey, look at how much less space my books take up in my carry-on suitcase as I fly the frugal skies.
I’d love to chat more about this but I gotta run – must buy a new car before dealers figure out they can unbundle stuff like windows and tires. It was good enough for The Flintstones, right?
Betcha it’ll still cost a bundle.
Ten Things: from the mouths of babes
My beloved grandfather came to this country from Russia in 1908 at the age of eleven, so I was very smitten by an article I came across in the Kansas City Times, February 1919. It was written by a nine-year-old Russian immigrant, an early 20th-century English Language Learner. I could only smile and wish that his universal wisdom could permeate time and instill itself in his 21st-century contemporaries.
Ten Rules for Good Health
The following “rules” for good health are advocated by a young Russian, nine years old and a fourth grade pupil, under the stimulus of the lesson in personal hygiene. The rules, unrevised, are:
1. Weare kleen klothes
2. When you eat eat slow and grush the food before you swolo it.
3. One should take baths and change inerwair often.
4. Sleep with your windows open and not your mouth, it gives you bad breath.
5. Dont eat untill you feel stuffed.
6. Take a bath evry so ofn.
7. Wash your teeth befor and after breakfus.
8. When you go to sleep aways take of your stockings.
9. Kleend you finger nailes good.
10. Look at your food before you ear it.
Daily life: the I-can’t time capsule
Your child or student’s challenges are many. If “I can’t do this” is a common refrain, it’s time to stage a burial for an “I can’t” time capsule, to be unearthed at a later date. This can be a solo activity or a whole-family or whole-class activity. Participants write or dictate on slips of paper things they can’t do that cause them frustration. The slips go into a jar that gets buried or stashed for a length of time you decide upon. By the time the jar is unburied a year (or whatever length of time you decide) later, much of the can’t-do will have turned into can-do, a potentially powerful chart of your child’s progress. Note: we suggest you keep copies of the can’ts that go into the jar so you can judge whether they are being sufficiently met and whether you might need to extend the time on the burial. Unearthing too many unachieved goals defeats the purpose.
And speaking of can’t – just say no. Respond to “I can’t” with “Yes, you can. I am here to help. I have lots of ideas. We will try different ways until we find the one that works.”
Quick stuff, updates, tidbits:
Bryce wins film scholarship! Congratulations to Bryce, winner of a David King Scholarship to the NW Film Center, where he has is completing his second summer session of the Media Arts Academy for Teens. Part of the application asked him to describe any “special attributes or circumstances you would like us to consider.” I loved his response:
“In Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Grandpa Joe says Charlie has a greater chance of finding a golden ticket because he wants it more than anyone else. That’s how I feel about filmmaking. I realize that’s not enough reason for a scholarship! I’m an A student at Thomas Edison High School for different learners. I’ve been successful there because the instructors understand how I learn, that I learn differently, and they are willing to work with me. I’ve found the same thing at the Film Center. It’s the reason I’ve been comfortable coming back here every year.”
My latest interview is available at Autism Inspires
A collection of my Ancestry articles is now available on one page on my website. Please visit Every life matters on my website.

Howdy from Perryvale, Alberta, 121 km north of Edmonton
Isn’t the sky fantastic?
Dutch translation of 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders isnow available.
Autisme in de prajtijk:
1001 ideeen, tips en strategieen voor ouders en leerkrachten
Ellen Notbohm en Veronica Zysk
I always answer my email. But we live in a world of imperfect servers, aggressive spam filters and power outages. If you’ve written to me and I haven’t answered, please try resending your message with a different subject heading.
Newsletter archive on my website: if you are new to our newsletter community, please visit the newsletter archive on my website and browse some popular past features.
May-June 2008: Play time: Ten Things to do with a Big Box / Teacher of the Year
April 2008: Rx for Battle Fatigue / Should you “let” your child win?
March 2008: Parent Eye Contact: How It Builds Children's Self-Esteem
February 2008: Thinking About Your Family Health History /
Goodbye to a Bad Law
November 2007: The War on Soda / My Navy Blue Hawaii
October 2007: “Behavior?” We are what we eat
This month’s Reads
Autism Asperger’s Digest
Right on the Money
Postcards from the Road Less Traveled, Autism Asperger’s Digest
July-August 2008
Having been involuntarily conscripted into the world of autism well over a decade ago, I’ve had the opportunity to observe many things that have changed monumentally and many things that need to change but have remained stubbornly static...
Among parents, teachers and other grassroots groups with whom I interact, two subjects are becoming increasingly prevalent. The first concerns groups wanting to do fundraisers for autism awareness, research, education or services. They ask which organizations might be worthy recipients of their contributions. Where will their dollars do the most good?
The second group is often a subset of the first group. They are the deeply frustrated and sometimes desperate parents whose child has been flagged as an autism “possible,” but doctors and services in their area are so scarce that the wait for a diagnostic appointment can be six months or more. And they may still be the lucky ones...
These two subjects are as one in my mind. That is why groups who venture to ask me how their dollars might be best spent get a grassroots answer: reach out to your own community...
Autism Asperger’s Digest
Two-time MarCom Gold Award winner
Two-time NAPPA Parenting Resources Gold Award winner
Sydney’s Child, Melbourne’s Child, Brisbane’s Child,
Perth’s Child, Canberra’s Child, Adelaide’s Child
The Social Side of Autism: the importance of teaching social and emotional skills
July 2008
It’s all but a certainty that before a child receives services related to his autism through the public school system, he will subject to a barrage of evaluations that will include a test of his IQ (intelligence quotient). Or more accurately put: a test of cognitive and verbal intelligence quotient that will not be standardized to the type of language deficits common to autism. Therefore, many parents will find the results to be a wildly inaccurate reflection of the actual abilities their child demonstrates in “real life.”
It’s only the beginning; throughout a child’s education, he will be tested to gnat’s eye on reading, writing, math ... But it’s likely that much less emphasis will be placed on his social and emotional intelligence. And social and emotional intelligence is very possibly a bigger determinant in your child’s long term success in life than cognitive intelligence. Think about the skills embodied in what is called Theory of Mind: executive function (time management, planning, ability to focus and attend, memory management), critical thinking (sorting, comparing/contrasting, applying concepts, information and ideas) and social pragmatics (ability to take the perspective of another person, initiate and sustain interactions, problem-solve interpersonal disagreements). Lack of these skills is more likely to get you fired from a job or evicted from an apartment than is an average IQ...
Three Little Words
Healing, Spring-Summer 2008
“I was wrong.” So many people find it terribly difficult to say these three little words, and yet nothing is more loving than giving your children the gift of being content with their own humanity. By freely admitting when you are wrong, you are you are modeling strength, grace and humility... that, not only will the world not come to an end with such an admission, but that trying again and/or making amends can feel great.
“Just be yourself.” As children grow older, they mingle with more and different kinds of families, and they begin to be able to place themselves in the context of the larger world. My kids heard “just be yourself” enough to ultimately learn that, whatever their doubts about themselves and their various limitations, they have the power to decide whether to be their own best friend or their own worst enemy. That’s a power no super-hero can touch...
You can now download the entire issue here as a PDF.
Book excerpts:
Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew
Ten Things Your Student with Autism Wishes You Knew
1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
The Autism Trail Guide: Postcards from the Road Less Traveled
Read the Preface, here.
Read the first chapter, You Know More Than You Think You Know, here.
If you’ve read my books and feel inclined to share your thoughts with others, please consider posting a review on my book pages at It’s easy to do and you don’t have to post your real name.
Please forward this newsletter to anyone you feel might share an interest in our kids with autism. New subscribers can sign up at my website.
If your spam-blocking software is particularly aggressive , you may want to add our email address to your “white list” of senders.
We take your privacy very seriously, and do not share our mailing list addresses or information with any other entity or business.
©2008 Ellen Notbohm | Third Variation Strategies, LLC

Google alert
s Autism Caused by Environmental Factors?
Looking for Answers for the Increasingly Widespread Disease

EarthTalk is a Q&A column from E/The Environmental Magazine
Dear EarthTalk: What's going on with all the cases of autism cropping up and no one seems to know why? It stands to reason it must be something (or some things) environmental, yet every study allegedly turns up no conclusion? What are the possible causes?-- Jessica W., Austin, TX
No doubt about it, autism rates have skyrocketed in the U.S. and beyond in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease affects one in every 150 children born today in the U.S., up from one in 500 as recently as just 10 years ago.
Autism has become the fastest-growing developmental disability -- more prevalent than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined -- and it continues to grow at a rate of 10 to 17 percent per year.
While researchers think there is a genetic component to autism, they also believe environmental factors are playing a role in its recent increase. Environmental mercury and other heavy metal exposure, contaminated water, pesticides, a greater reliance on antibiotics -- and even extensive television viewing by very young children -- have been cited by some as possible factors in mounting autism rates. Researchers at the American Academy of Pediatrics and other institutes have also identified flame retardants as possible culprits.
Vaccines containing the mercury preservative thimerosal (now mostly removed from the market) have long been blamed for causing autism, but scientific links are inconclusive. In lieu of a smoking gun, a more complex picture of autism's environmental causes is now emerging.
Some researchers are focusing on the role of food in a young child's development. Many autistic children suffer from digestive diseases or have genetic dispositions rendering them unable to naturally rid their bodies of toxins. As such, exposure to heavy metals, pesticides, contaminated water and even processed food could have a devastating cumulative effect, some researchers think. According to Brian MacFabe, a researcher at the University of Western Ontario who has studied autism triggers in rats, simple changes such as removing wheat and dairy from the diet could potentially bring about improvements. (Celebrity Jenny McCarthy has made headlines advocating this position, in response to her son's autism.)
Groups such as the nonprofit Healthy Child Healthy World say it's about time researchers are looking at environmental factors. "Whatever triggered this current autism epidemic...autistic kids clearly need extra protection from further environmental assault," the group writes on its blog. They advise parents to be vigilant about the industrial cleaners used in school buildings and the pesticides sprayed on playing fields, where kids spend 25 to 30 hours per week. They and other groups are also looking at the role of untested chemicals in common cleaning products: phthalates, glycol ethers and other known toxins.
Others wonder if a collective "nature deficit disorder" among children plays a factor in rising autism rates. Outdoor exposure has long been associated with healthier cognitive functioning in children, with reduction in Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms and greater emotional capacity. But new findings suggest it could impact autism, too. Last year, Cornell University researchers found higher rates of autism in counties where more households subscribed to cable and children under the age of three regularly watched TV. The Amish, with almost no exposure to TV, have little evidence of autism, notes the study.
GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it here or via e-mail. Read past columns here.
Find this article at:
volunteers needed in July
Tuesday, July 1, 2008 3:58 PM
"Laura Egerton"
I am sending this out to everyone in my contact list, so if I have you in more than one distribution list, I apologize for sending this more than once.
Jay Serdula is planning to swim across Lake Ontario on July 28th (weather permitting) to raise awareness of Asperger’s Syndrome. Jay lives with Asperger’s and hopes that awareness will remove barriers.
We need a nurse or paramedic to be on one of the boats that accompany Jay from Niagara on the Lake to Toronto. We also need boat operators who can operate a 30 foot power boat or sailboat and/or 14 foot zodiacs in high waves.
Jay expects to leave Niagara on the Lake at 8am on July 28th and arrive 30 to 36 hours later in Toronto at Marilyn Bell Park.

As you can see, we are running out of time to find volunteers with these specific skills. Please send this to everyone you know as I believe we will find the volunteers in time!
I have attached information about Jay and his swim.
Newspaper article about Jay:
Information about Asperger’s Syndrome:
Jay’s website in draft form:
If you can help, please contact Louise at the address above:

Thanks for your help!
Laura Egerton
Kerry's Place Autism Services supports
End of mailing

June 24-July 2nd 2008 Autism News Articles

Autism News Articles
Alliance for families with autism
June 24 th –July 2nd 2008
to read archived mail

AFA is experiencing VACATION TIME at random times during the summer. Please be patient with our mail

Thank you.

Good Afternoon,

Please find below an updated media advisory: Terry Robinson, a two-time Para-olympian, afflicted with Cerebral Palsy, will be wheeling with Jonathan through Ontario from Ottawa to Winnipeg. He, therefore, will be with Jonathan in Kingston and on the run. His information can be found on
We are honoured to have Terry participate here in Kingston.

Updated Media Advisory
June 26, 2008
For Immediate Release


On Saturday July 12, 2008 at 10am Autism Ontario - Kingston Chapter is proud to host Jonathan Howard and his Run the Dream Team for Autism. Families along with the Deputy Mayor, Town Crier, Buskers, Jay Serdula (Marathon Swimmer for Autism), Terry Robinson(two-time para-olympian) and The DRIVE Radio station and various other dignitaries will gather on the steps of City Hall to welcome Jonathan and his Team to our fine city. Jonathon, Jay and Terry will then set out for a 12km run to Bayridge Public School, Hudson Dr.

All ARE WELCOME to join Jonathan,Jay and Terry. Participation in the run is by donation.

Autism Ontario - Kingston will welcome Jonathan, Jay, Terry and the participants with a Pizza Party in the Park at the brand new accessible playground equipment located at Bayridge Public School, Hudson Dr. at 11:30 am. All are welcome to join us to cheer Jonathon, Jay, Terry and the participants on and to enjoy the new accessible playground equipment!!!!!!!!!

Please RSVP for the Run or for the pizza party by calling (613)546-6613, ext 38 or by emailing

The only thing missing in A TISM IS U............

Dream As Though You’ve Never Failed

Run The Dream is a coast-to-coast solo run across Canada by Jonathan Howard, a 24 year old resident of Mississauga, Ontario to raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and a targeted $2.5 million, in support of charities that work to assist children with ASD and their families. Jonathan started his run in St. John’s, Newfoundland on March 25, 2008 and will finish in Victoria, British Columbia in December 2008. In this time span, Jonathan will run approximately 8,500 kilometres, and visit more than 650 communities in 10 provinces.

Jonathan is proud to dedicate his run, and his efforts to raising awareness and charitable donations to support the people who dedicate their lives turning the dreams of children with ASD, and their families, into miracles and abilities. Visit for more information.
Pat La Londe Autism Ontario -Kingston, Leadership Council.

Today's news is sponsored by
Doc Sales Made for September Films
LONDON, June 26: NBDtv/DCD Media has inked sales on three documentaries produced by September Films and executive produced by creative director Sheldon Lazarus: Boys Joined at the Head, Stephen Wiltshire: The Human Camera and I Am the Elephant Man.
The hour-long Boys Joined at the Head, created for Five in the U.K., tells the story of conjoined Egyptian twins. It has been sold to Blue Eyes Television in Germany, Kanal 5 in Sweden, Nelonen in Finland, Nine Network in Australia, TV2 in Denmark, TV3 in Ireland, TVNZ in New Zealand, Radio Canada and Viasat for Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovenia.
Also for Five, Stephen Wiltshire: The Human Camera profiles an autistic artist who is able to draw incredibly detailed landscapes entirely from memory. The documentary has been acquired by Danmarks Radio in Denmark, Kanal 5, Nine Network, Televisio De Catalunya in Spain, TV Norge in Norway, New Zealand’s TVNZ, VTM in Belgium, Canada’s TV Ontario and BBC America.
I Am the Elephant Man, a one-hour doc for Channel 4 in the U.K., follows the work of a Chinese physician who deals with abnormal tumors that other doctors have been too afraid to handle. His most famous case is a 31-year-old man who suffers from one of the world’s most extreme cases of neurofibroma, a tumor of the nervous system. The documentary has been sold to Kanal 5, Nine Network, TV Norge, Red Media in Russia, Teva in France and Finland’s Nelonen.
Nicky Davies Williams, the CEO of NBDtv/DCD Media, said: “We are thrilled with the sales secured for these fascinating documentaries, all of which rated extremely well in the U.K. This success further strengthens our valuable relationship with September Films, which continues to produce high-quality human-interest documentaries which resonate with audiences throughout the world.”
—By Kristin Brzoznowski



Working Together F or Kids & Teens with Disabilities … Children’s Treatment Network is a new service delivery model for kids with multiple disabilities in Simcoe and York. It links over 40 healthcare, education, recreation, social and community services organizations so they can take a team approach to each child’s care. F or the first time, parents have one point of contact for a single plan of care for kids from birth to age 19. The Network coordinates services needed and monitors each child’s progress through all the phases of their development. The Network is also expanding services that are critically needed in the community to bring more services closer to home and help reduce waitlists. Parents and professionals can contact the Network by calling 1-866-377-0286 or online at

• Network named winner of Rotman Award by SickKids F oundation
• Over 250 parents and professionals attend Network Symposium
• New F amily Resource Site Launched
• Network Partners in the News!
• Network Evolution Snapshot

Network Wins Rotman Award! SickKids F oundation makes announcement at Network Symposium

There were cheers and smiles all around as the Network was named the 2008 Rotman Award winner at the 2nd Annual Symposium on June 16th at the Nottawasaga Inn. (Left) Joanne Kviring, National Grants, SickKids F oundation congratulates Network CEO Bob Morton on winning the $100,000 award. (Right) Joanne and Bob are joined onstage by the Network’s Chairman of the Board Graham Constantine (centre) who accepted the Award on behalf of all Network partners, parents and professionals.

Parents, partners and professionals attending the Network’s Symposium greeted the Award announcement with a standing ovation. The Network is the first organization in Ontario to receive the prestigious Award. It is awarded to one organization each year whose practices and vision embody the best in paediatric home and community care innovation. Joanne Kviring from SickKids F oundation explained that the Award selection committee felt it was important to support further development of the Network’s single plan of care system and enable others to learn from it. They felt the Network’s approach could be easily translated from region to region across the country and was exactly the kind of collaborative thinking that the Award was created for.

The Award will help Network partners continue to both improve the system and the way services are delivered. Part of the Rotman Award’s mandate is to enable others to learn from new approaches and innovations. So the Network will be sharing what we’ve learned with regions and communities across Canada who could benefit from this kind of family-centred, integrated service delivery model.

For all the details on the Rotman Award visit the Network’s website at

Over 250 parents and professionals attend the Network’s 2nd Annual Symposium on June 16th
It was an exciting day of learning, dialogue and discussion for over 70 parents and family members, 160 front line professionals and 21 Board members and CEOs of partner organizations who took over the Nottawasaga Inn’s conference rooms on June 16th.

The day kicked off with lunch and an Information F air, followed by the Rotman Award announcement and keynote address by Dr. Gina Browne.

Parents spent the afternoon with a panel of experts in a Special Program for F amily Members, while Board members and CEOs collaborated on future directions and priorities for the Network.

Front Line Professionals and Clinicians chose from 10 workshops providing information on new programs, innovative approaches and services supporting kids and families in the area.

The Symposium’s success was due in large part to the contributions of our four sponsors: Closing the Gap Healthcare Group, Goldcare, Healthtech and Motion Specialties. Our sincere appreciation for their support.

Luncheon & Information F air a crowd pleaser

The Information F air featured 14 exhibits showcasing services and special programs offered by a range of Network partners including Blue Hills Child & F amily Centre, Campana Systems Inc., York Support Services Network, Closing the Gap Healthcare Group, Markham-Stouffville Hospital Child Development Programs, Learning Disabilities Association of Simcoe County, School Specialty/Abilitations, Camp Awakening Inc., New Path Youth & F amily Services, Motion Specialties, Simcoe Community Services, Kinark Child and F amily Services and Early Intervention Services of York Region.
Keynote speakers Bob Morton and Dr. Gina Browne deliver the news
(Left) Network CEO Bob Morton gives a round of applause to parents and professionals when he talked about the accomplishments made over the past year. In addition to delivering additional rehab services to over 3,300 kids, Network partners dramatically reduced travel and wait time by bringing 4 specialty services to the community. F or a full list of 2007- 2008 Network Progress Highlights,
(Right) Dr. Gina Browne provided everyone with an update on the research study being conducted by McMaster University to measure the impact of the effectiveness of the Network’s single plan of care approach.

(Above) In addition to providing baseline data and expected impact on the system, Dr. Browne spoke with many parents about the challenges they face and the effect the Network’s team approach is expected to have on meeting families’ needs.
Program for Parents feature a panel of experts
(Above) Highly acclaimed special education consultant Lindsay Moir kept parents riveted as he provided advice and tips on what families need to do when your child is ready to start school. He also gave invaluable information about services and supports available and offered advice on how to better navigate the education system as your child progresses.
Lindsay was joined by experts from Behaviour Management Services of York and Simcoe, Simcoe Community Services, and Kinark Child and F amily Services who provided families with information and counsel on behaviour management, socialization and respite care.
Front Line Professionals & Clinicians get updates on hot topics
Over 160 professionals participated in a total of 10 workshops focused on recent innovations and programs helping to fill gaps, reduce waitlists and provide more support to kids and families in York and Simcoe.

Nineteen experts from Network partner organizations addressed a range of topics. They included information on programs that are expanding capacity to diagnose kids with autism to enhanced augmentative communications, feeding assessment and services, fetal alcohol syndrome and acquired brain injury services. Expert panels also provided tips on how to facilitate a single plan of care meeting, conduct home safety assessments and advances in social skills programs for adolescents with Asperger’s.

(Left)Tonya Millsap from Catulpa Community Support Services shared a comprehensive approach to F etal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder in Simcoe County . (Right) Amber Bartlett (at podium), a speech language pathologist with the Simcoe County Preschool Speech and Language Program and (back left) Dr. Nicky Jones-Stokreef, Network developmental paediatrician with Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital delivered the latest information about the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule) Initiative and how it is enhancing local diagnostic capacity in the community.

(Left) Judy Andersen, Service Coordinator, York Region District School Board and Susie Recchi, Service Coordinator with Early Intervention Services York Region packed the room with a working session that provided Tips for Coordinating a Successful Single Plan of Care Meeting while Brenda Jackson (right), Aboriginal Capacity Developer with Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle updated professionals on the Network’s Special Projects Supporting Aboriginals.
Network partner Board members and CEOs chart the Network’s future
(Above) Over 20 Board members and CEOs of Network partner organizations worked together to discuss priorities and set next steps in the Network’s ongoing development.
Did you miss the Symposium?
If you were not able to attend this year’s Symposium, you can still obtain some of the valuable information that was provided. Many of the information handouts from the workshops have been posted on the website. Please click here to view a list and print out copies

New F amily Resource Site Launched
Parents and family members touring the Symposium’s Information F air were the first to test drive the new F amily Resource Site, an interactive feature of the Network’s website. Developed by parents for parents, the Site is dedicated to giving families access to information and each other, all with the click of a mouse.

(Left) Marion F air and Lisa F enik and (right) Susie Recchi and Theresa Meininger-Sanders try out the new Site. F amilies can get information on a specific diagnosis, funding programs and local support groups, as well as share tips, knowledge and challenges with other families.
There are links to the new F amily Resource Site on the Network website Home page and on the Parents and Children’s page. To connect visit
Network Partners in the News!
The June issue Hospital News features a story about Network partners and the impact the ‘single plan of care’ approach is having on Markham junior kindergarten student Kiyaan Visram and his family. To read the article click here



• Transition to Single Plan of Care: 230 kids have started the process
• Recruitment: 90% of target reached; 76 additional professionals hired
• Electronic Record: 407 authorized users
• Single Plan of Care Process Training: 480 professionals trained
• 2 Resource Centres and 6 of 8 Local Team Sites Operational ( Barrie , Richmond Hill , Alliston, Midland , Georgina, Markham )
• Research Study: 87% of families needed are confirmed to participate

To learn more about Children’s Treatment Network visit

To submit news or information for inclusion in “Updated from Network Members” please email

Google alert
Table Talk

The Gazette

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A cooking holiday in the Townships
Chef Caroline McCann, an Eastern Townships caterer, has teamed up with Magog innkeeper Carole Daoust to offer two-day cooking holidays at Au Gîte de la Maison Hôte Bed and Breakfast in Magog. Guests arrive Sunday or Monday night and are taken shopping by McCann to producers' farms the following morning after a four-course breakfast. After lunch, they participate in a two-hour cooking class with McCann preparing parts of their three-course dinner. They then sit down to the meal at the inn; they may bring their own wine if desired. After Sept. 15, the cooking holiday will be offered on weekends. Up to eight guests are registered per session; the price starts at $250 per person, double occupancy.
McCann, a graduate of Montreal's Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec, has worked in restaurants in Montreal and Ontario and at Quebec House in New York. She runs the Chefadom catering company in Magog, where she specializes in regional produce. For information, visit and To reserve, call 866-507-0517.
Quebec honours cooking teacher
Elena Venditelli Faita, who has directed her own Italian cooking school in the heart of Little Italy for 15 years, was one of the recipients of the National Order of Quebec last week. Faita, a partner in her family's shop Quincaillerie Dante, also gives courses to autistic children, provides Christmas dinner to the homeless and raises money for community causes. She was awarded the medal by Premier Jean Charest in Quebec City last Wednesday.
Cheesemakers await verdicts
Quebec's annual cheese makers' contest, the Sélection Caseus, had a record 163 cheeses entered from more than 44 cheese makers. Winners from the list of finalists that was announced at the recent Warwick cheese festival, will be made known in the fall. The list, available at, includes "special mentions" for organic cheeses and products on the market for only five years. Beurrerie du Patrimoine is named in both categories for its old-style cottage cheese, and Fromagerie du Presbytere for its Bleu d'Elizabeth.
A comprehensive guide to enjoying Quebec cheeses has just appeared from the Société des fromages du Québec, in French only. Published by Promotus Gestocom, it's available for $12.95 at Renaud Bray stores or cheese shops or on the Internet from
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2008

From Nancy Morrison
From the Globe and Mail. If talking to your educators regarding this topic, please remember to explain to them that when this child was making disruptive noises, he was a non verbal ASD child trying to communicate something, IT WAS NOT A BEHAVIOURAL ISSUE. The media seems to have lost that in their coverage of this story.

Rules urged for calming autistic children with blanket
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
June 24, 2008 at 4:46 AM EDT
TORONTO — For an autistic child experiencing a sensory overload, a therapeutic blanket could be used to calm the youngster.
But the recent death of a nine-year-old Quebec boy, who suffocated after being rolled in the blanket, has raised questions about the standards around its use.
A coroner's report released last week showed that young Gabriel Poirier was acting up in class when his teacher placed the boy, who weighed 53 pounds, on his stomach and wrapped a 39-pound blanket tightly around him at least four times. Gabriel's head was covered and only the tips of his toes stuck out. When the teacher went to check on him 20 minutes later, the child's face was blue. He died in hospital the next day.
Therapeutic blankets, often stuffed with buckwheat or other seeds, have been used to relax autistic children. But there are no guidelines on the use of the blankets, or any scientific evidence about their benefits.
Quebec coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier said yesterday that although Gabriel's death on April 18 was tragic, the blanket should not necessarily be banned altogether. Instead, rules should be put in place governing the practice of this form of treatment. "Doctors or therapists must approve the use of the blanket before it is used," she said, stressing that a child or adult wrapped in the blanket should not be left unsupervised and their face should not be covered.
Gabriel was left alone in a corner of the classroom at his special-needs school in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, south of Montreal. When the teacher saw he wasn't moving, he called the nurse and 911. But Gabriel was already in a coma.
In her report, the coroner said the therapeutic blanket should be used as therapy, not as a form of punishment.
Lynn Andrews, a spokeswoman for the Autism Society of Canada, said her association has been pushing for guidelines and hopes the coroner's report will urge regulators to act.
"We've been pushing for this. We need more guidelines on all therapies for autism, not just this one," Ms. Andrews said.
In the meantime, Jennifer Sexton, a board member at the British Columbia Society of Occupational Therapists and a pediatric occupational therapist, said that a therapeutic blanket is a piece of equipment and should be used only by a professional or a person trained in sensory integration.
"We have to have a good understanding of any child's body systems before we just use pieces of equipment," she said.
Claudia von Zweck, executive director of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, added that while the association hasn't developed guidelines on the therapeutic blanket, the group informs members of the latest research and standards so that they can implement them in their own practices.
However, Jean-Pierre Ménard, lawyer for Gabriel's parents, said he wants regulations on how restraints should be used in schools. "It was the first time to my knowledge that we have a death in the school system following the use of restraints. But with no regulation, the question is not could we have another one, but when will we have another one," he said.

And this was the article regarding this topic that went across Canada via newspapers;

Autistic boy likely suffocated: Que. coroner

Brett Bundale
Canwest News Service

Thursday, June 19, 2008

MONTREAL - A coroner's report released Thursday revealed a nine-year-old autistic boy likely died of suffocation, prompting the boy's parents to describe the news as a "shock" because the school told them he had passed away "naturally and calmly."
In the early afternoon of April 17, Gabriel Poirier began to disturb his classmates with loud noises. His teachers gave him two warnings to calm down. When he continued misbehaving, one of the teachers took him to the corner of the classroom and rolled him into a weighted blanket, which is sometimes used to calm autistic children.
With his arms by his side, the heavy blanket was tightly wrapped around Gabriel's small body at least four times, the coroner's report said. With only the "tip of his toes" peaking out, he was left on his stomach, his head covered, for more than 20 minutes.
Gabriel eventually stopped making noise. The teacher went to check on him, turning him onto his back. Gabriel appeared "listless and blue in the face," the coroner's report said.
The teacher called 911 and the school nurse performed CPR. The boy was already in a deep coma, however, and died the next day in hospital.
"He was a very gentle boy," Gilles Poirier, his father, said at a news conference Thursday. "Sometimes he was loud, but he was never aggressive or violent. I just don't understand how this happened," he said, tears streaming down his face. His wife, Isabelle Lepine, tried to comfort him as he cried.
"He was only 53 pounds (24 kg), he was so small," Poirier said. "How can they wrap him up like that in a 40 pound blanket? How can this treatment be tolerated?"
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."
Many autistic children respond positively to sensory stimulation like touch, massage and weighted blankets. Occupational therapists have found that sensory stimulation is soothing and sometimes produces better results than the available medication.
Gabriel's school in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, south of Montreal, specializes in teaching children with developmental difficulties.
Although teachers 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.
The parents' lawyer, Jean-Pierre Menard, said the government needs to protect vulnerable children like Gabriel.
"We're asking (Education) Minister (Michelle) Courchesne to implement a legal framework to regulate how these children are handled," Menard said.
Gabriel's parents plan to sue the school board for compensation in the hopes of preventing another tragedy, Menard added.
© Montreal Gazette 2008


From the Toronto Star:

Autistic teen connects with peers on Bull Lake
June 23, 2008
Leslie Ferenc
Last July, Paula Warren sent a heart-warming letter to the Fresh Air Fund after her son returned from Camp Kennebec.
It turned out to be his best camp experience ever and Warren took the time to thank the fund for supporting Camp Kennebec and children with special needs like her now 15-year-old.
The camp on Bull Lake is geared to children with a variety of disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and Tourette syndrome as well as learning, social and behavioural difficulties.
Being at camp helps kids develop social skills, build self-esteem and confidence, while having a good time. Camp Kennebec joined the Fresh Air Fund family last summer.
Here's a grateful mother's thank you:
Saturday, July 14, 2007 4:08 p.m.
Today was a special day in my life. It was a day filled with laughter and tears of joy. Today was a day to meet new people who have made a difference in the life of a child.
Today was the day I picked up my son at Camp Kennebec!
My son Alex Ouimet was recently diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (Asperger's Disorder). I have been sending him to regular camp for seven years now. Each year I would pick him up there was this problem or that problem. It never seemed to be a truly happy feeling I left with. All that changed this year.
Alex was truly happy today. Happy in a way I have never witnessed in my son. As we talked, he expressed that in his life he has never had the opportunity to be with other children like him. What is a small noise to you or I causes a child with Asperger's actual pain. He was in a cabin with other children with Asperger's so when they would be getting upset he would know why.
It's quite a thing to finally meet someone you know how to connect with on that level. The staff was warm. The camp director was available to talk with and affirmed Alex's presence at the camp as positive... There were many other staff who really were there to make a difference and they did.
This is only the first day but I'm sure in the days to come I will continue to see the effects that this experience at Camp Kennebec has meant in my son's life.
I am truly grateful for the Fresh Air Fund as this played a great role in his ability to go to camp...
Thank You!
Paula Warren
If you have been touched by the Fresh Air Fund or have a story to tell, email or phone 416-869-4309.


Calgary Sun:

Friday, June 20, 2008 Canadian Press Newswire

Oil tycoon surprises University of Calgary with gift of $25 million
CALGARY _ Legendary oil tycoon Boone Pickens has cut a cheque for $27.25 million to the University of Calgary.
The Texas billionaire and former Calgarian had originally pledged $2.25 million to the Harley Hotchkiss Brain Institute.
But when it came time to present the money, Pickens added another $25 million.
The donation came at the ribbon cutting of the Boone Pickens Centre for Neurological Science and Advanced Technologies.
University president Harvey Weingarten assured Pickens the money will be well-invested and spent.
He said the university has assembled ''one of the most incredible groups of individuals in this field.''
''We could use a lot of surprises like this,'' added Weingarten.
The donation is the only philanthropy Pickens has conducted outside the U.S. and the oilpatch guru partly credited his friendship with Calgary Flames co-owner Harley Hotchkiss, who has also given generously to the university.
''I lived here in the '60s and Harley and I have been friends so when he asked me to help, I did,'' said Pickens.
''I have fond feelings about Calgary.''
The promise of that investment was apparent with researcher Michael Colicos implanting living brain cells onto computer chips to discover what makes them dysfunctional.
A benefactor of his work could be his own two-year-old daughter, Alexandra, who has epilepsy.
''There's obviously a double-edged sword ... it's a unique dynamic,'' said Colicos.
In his lab, scientists are able to induce seizures on a silicon chip and treat them in a variety of ways.
''We see the cells that are dying and we can work at ways of stopping them from dying,'' he said.
''We can look at thousands of drugs at the same time.''
The process is being commercialized and could help those suffering from conditions ranging from autism to spinal cord damage.
(Calgary Sun)
End of mailing

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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