Autism Calgary’s Volunteer Office Assistant, Aidan, with the help of his friend Spencer, has taken on an exciting new project – a vlog series!
Autism Calgary with Aidan!
So here is episode 1 of this new series: The Office Tour episode!
Keep watching our space for new episodes regularly!
2017 World Autism Awareness Day Celebration
April 2, 2017
11am – 2pm
Free family fun for all ages! Come for bubble blowing, face painting, bouncy castles and to show your support for those living with Autism Spectrum Disorder!
Special guest appearance by Michael McCreary .
For more information or media inquiries please contact Lyndon Parakin, Executive Director at lyndon [at] autismcalgary [dot] com
Since this is a collaborative community event, AAFS & Autism Calgary are looking for amazing volunteers for YYC WAAD at Olympic Plaza on April 2nd, 2017!
Contact: yycwaad [at] autismcalgary [dot] com as soon as possible with name, phone number and email please.
Volunteering is from 10am-3pm for most. A few volunteers are needed to help for “set up” at 9am and/or “take-down” at 2pm, preferably with vehicles. Details on job duties to follow.
We will soon be in touch with the volunteer applicants!
Because April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day the month of April often inspires a lot of community development and fund development in Calgary’s Autism Community. Here are some of the initiatives going on that you can support!!
What in the World is Going On?
March 2017 Edition
By Maureen Bennie
Autism Calgary Community
Autism Calgary celebrated its 25th Anniversary on February 22nd with an exciting event – an evening with Temple Grandin. Temple spoke at the Calgary Hyatt Regency Hotel to a huge, enthusiastic audience of nearly 1200 people. She was in top form, delivering a two hour talk full of insight and practical information. Temple is a huge proponent of getting our kids with ASD into the work force as early as possible through volunteering and work experience programs. She is an advocate of limiting video and TV screen time, but is also the first to admit she grew up in a different era. She believes in exposing children to as many experiences as possible so that they find their interests and develop passions that can potentially turn into jobs.
Temple’s energy and enthusiasm for the subject of autism has never waned despite her nearing her 70th birthday in August. Her views are fresh and modern and she keeps up on all the latest developments in the autism field such as neurology.
Temple came two hours before the main event, signing books and speaking with people. She stayed almost another hour after her talk was over to make sure everyone had the opportunity to ask questions, take photos, and get their books signed. Autism Awareness Centre was proud to be her book vendor for the 7th time. It’s always a great honour to support Temple and watch her shine!
Autism Calgary Association (ACA) ran the event beautifully. This was events coordinator Meghan Konditi’s first event, but no one would have known it as the evening went without a hitch. All of the ACA staff made everyone feel welcome and at home. Even though there were so many people there, the evening still had an intimate feel and staff did their best to support and talk to as many people as they could. Without ACA, our community would be at a loss. If you ever have a few extra dollars to give, donate it there because the staff works tirelessly to ensure that our families have everything they need. Well done ACA and Happy 25th Anniversary!
And more news about Temple Grandin – she will be one of 10 women this year inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame. Temple is an inspiration for young women all over the world and has shown what is possible with the right supports and guidance. Temple is a researcher, animal behavior scientist, teacher and international consultant on autism, and has advanced the quality standards and assurance in the meat and livestock industries.
Temple will join the ranks of former inductees that include such luminaries as Madeleine Albright, Louisa May Alcott, Maya Angelou, Susan B. Anthony, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sylvia Earle, Ella Fitzgerald, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Georgia O’Keefe, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, Eleanor Roosevelt and Oprah Winfrey. Congratulations to Temple for all of her efforts!
One of my most popular Facebook posts this month was about University of Regina’s Sarah Elizabeth Ivens’ thesis about parental fatigue. Fatigue is not the same as being tired. Ms. Ivens stated, “Fatigue is a sense of exhaustion that cannot be resolved by getting rest. It’s not just being tired. If you’re tired, then you can go to bed early, sleep in and the next day you’re feeling better. That’s not the case with fatigue.”
Ms. Ivens is the first person to study fatigue in parents who have children with ASD over the age of 5. ASD children tend to have poor sleep patterns so parents are still up in the night with them for years after early childhood. Fatigue has a big impact on well-being and the ability to parent. Her findings are about to be published.
“It’s important to understand that these parents have these challenges and these impacts from what they’re navigating,” Ivens said. “They need support to fulfil that role to the best of their ability.”
Another hot research topic this month – forcing inclusion may not be the best educational route for all students with autism. Kim Calder Stegemann, associate professor of education and social work at Thompson Rivers University, just published a new book entitled Inclusive Education: Stories of Success and Hope in a Canadian Context. It uses case studies of situations where students have needed an alternative setting or approach to education, rather than forcing them to be included in all general classroom activities.
Because there is such a variance in cognitive and physical needs of students, alternative methods of education need to be available for students who can’t manage with general classroom studies. It harkens back to the old saying – If you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism.
You really have to assess the needs each individual. Our daughter spent her elementary years in an inclusive classroom; our son was in a specialized school program. Later on, our daughter was no longer successful in that setting so she was moved to a specialized classroom for junior high and high school. The important thing is to be flexible and make changes if things are no longer working.
We don’t often hear much about pregnancy and motherhood for women with ASD. Lana Grant, an adult with Asperger Syndrome who was diagnosed in her 30’s, wrote an insightful article about her experience with pregnancy and motherhood.
Lana says, “During my pregnancy I realized that the professionals I encountered, from midwives to health visitors, were not aware of autism in females and how it can present during pregnancy. I made it my mission to change this.”
Impending motherhood can increase anxiety levels in women with ASD. Lana states, “Motherhood throws you into situations that can be difficult and very often unavoidable. From the antenatal groups to the school gates we are placed in situations that we may find uncomfortable. Before my diagnosis I raced through motherhood with anxiety levels that eventually propelled me to my first (not last) breakdown. Through this time, I constantly visited the GP to ask for help. I was sent away with patronizing smiles and being told that it was just part of motherhood. This was also wrong. Yes, motherhood is stressful, life is stressful but it shouldn’t send you to the depths of depression that I was experiencing.”
Calgary parent and autism advocate Shirley Anderson contacted the University of Calgary MBA program to ask students if they could help create a meaningful plan to increase employment for people with ASD. According to Autism Speaks Canada, our ASD population has an 80 percent unemployment rate. The MBA students came up with an idea to create Aut2Employ.
Aut2Employ will be a web-based staffing agency for candidates living with ASD. They would screen and train individuals with ASD for jobs that are currently underserved in Calgary; it would also work with employers to prepare them to integrate ASD employees among their staff.
The MBA students’ study also showed that employers stand to benefit from this untapped talent pool, particularly in four under-served industries in Alberta: animal care, arts and entertainment, craftsmanship, and cleaning and maintenance.
This seems like a step in the right direction. Stay tuned for more developments.
Temple Grandin is a prolific writer. One of her recently published books is Temple Talks About Autism and the Older Child. In this handy reference book, Temple gives an overview of what it is like to grow up and get a career with autism, tells how she overcame certain issues, gives useful tips, then answers your questions in an easy to reference Q&A. As usual, there is great advice from one of the best known voices in the autism field.
Communicating Better with People on the Autism Spectrum is a new book that addresses verbal and non-verbal communication. Author Paddy-Joe Moran presents 35 simple tips and strategies to help professionals improve their communication and relationships with individuals on the autism spectrum.
The language that professionals choose to use can have a long-term impact on autistic people. This book provides easy-to-implement suggestions to guarantee effective and sensitive communication. It explains everything from person-first language through to the use of specific, rather than open-ended, questions, and a focus on taking the individual’s lead with their preferred language and terminology is central to the book.
These are the highlights of what in the world is going on in autism for March 2017.
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Visit Autism Awareness Centre’s website at www.autismawareness.com for more great information.
KIT “Keeping it Together” Mom’s Self-Care Group will be Twice a Month at Autism Calgary starting May!
Thursday, April 13th 7-9pm
Thursday, May 11th 7-9pm (every 2nd Thursday of the month)
Monday, May 22nd 7-9pm (every 4th Monday of the month)
Keeping It Together (KIT) is a “self-care support group” specifically for moms of loved ones with ASD of all ages (toddlers, children, teens and adult children). Consider this your “girls night out” and get together with other moms who go through the same challenges, obstacles and share the simplest of wins. Let’s experience who we are as women not someone’s Mom or wife. We listen, understand and accept. The majority of the evening is focused on self-care through interactive presentations. We empower ourselves and each other. Please bring your journal. If you are new to the group a personal journal will be gifted to you.
As usual, pot-luck is optional and always fun!
*Please note that child care is not provided.
For Questions contact: kit [at] autismcalgary [dot] com
Every year Autism Calgary organizes and hosts the School Parent Panel on Grades 1-12 for Children with ASD. This event is an opportunity to get informed through other parents experiences of children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) about the various educational options available to them in Calgary and surrounding area.
This is one of our most successful events. We hope you will join us!
WHEN: Thursday, March 9, 2017
WHERE: Executive Royal Hotel – 2828 23 St NE, Calgary, AB map
TIME: 6:30-9:00 pm
What can you expect?
- Handouts– a condensed version of what we know about relevant educational options available in Calgary for our children 2017 Parent-led School Panel Handout. For a complete list from the CBE of Specialized Classes and Unique settings updated Sept 2016 please click here.
- Introduction by Lyndon Parakin, Executive Director of Autism Calgary on the current status of special needs education in Alberta
- Short presentations by individual parent volunteers sharing what they know about specific school placements.
- Q and A period.
Schools that will be represented: *these may change without notice
- CBE – Elementary, Junior High, and High School
- CSSD – Elementary, Junior High and High School
- JANUS ACADEMY
- NEW HEIGHTS
- THIRD ACADEMY
- HOME SCHOOLING – Elementary – High School
Please register by clicking on the button below.