Autism Spectrum Disorders affect about one in every 110 children and their families in B.C. The B.C. government is recognizing and honouring children, youth and families living with autism, by celebrating the annual Autism Awareness Month in April and World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
Community events aimed at increasing public awareness and understanding of this complex neurological disorder are being held across the province. Minister of Children and Family Development Mary McNeil and other provincial government officials will participate in several community events throughout the month.
Today, on behalf of McNeil, Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, MLA for Vancouver-Fairview and vice chair of the cabinet committee for Families First, will be joined by children, youth, families and community members for the Canucks Autism Network Autism Awareness Walk and Rally in Vancouver at the CBC Plaza. Later in the day, the community group will host a family-friendly barbecue and Barney Bentall concert. These events are open to the public and all British Columbians are encouraged to come out and support the cause.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) impact normal brain development and affect a person's social relationships, communication, interests and behaviour. ASDs have been found throughout the world in families of all ethnic and social backgrounds. Although there is no cure for autism, there are highly effective research-based treatment and intervention methods available that can help children and their families address the characteristics of this disorder, particularly in the early years.
B.C. is a national leader in autism supports and services for children and youth. It's the only province in Canada that has a no waitlist policy for families to access autism funding once their child or youth has received a diagnosis of ASD. With autism funding, families are able to choose the type of intervention, based on best practice, that best meets the needs of their children.
Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"We are working together with community groups to raise public awareness and understanding and to help support children and families living with autism in all corners of B.C. This month shines the spotlight on autism, helping to bring it to the forefront in the public eye."
Paolo Aquilini, founder of Canucks Autism Network -
"Our family is once again pleased to partner with the government of British Columbia, families from across the province, and community members to celebrate April as Autism Awareness Month in B.C. The Canucks Autism Network was founded to reach out to families facing similar challenges as to what we went through when our son was diagnosed with autism."
Deborah Pugh, executive director for ACT-Autism Community Training -
"I have been involved in the autism community in this province for the past 15 years. As we celebrate Autism Awareness Month this April, what really strikes me is the heartening pulling together of community partners - in a way I have never seen before. I am very pleased at this creativity and collaboration and I look forward to focusing our efforts on addressing the significant needs of all British Columbians affected by autism."
* B.C. now serves close to 7,000 children and youth diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families, compared to only a few hundred prior to 2000.
* The ministry budget for autism intervention and funding programs in 2011-12 is $42 million. That's more than ten times the 2001 budget of $4.1 million.
* For children under six years of age, families receive $22,000 per year to assist with the cost of autism intervention services. For children aged six through 18, families receive funding up to $6,000 per year to assist with the cost of out-of-school intervention services.
* In addition to the basic per-pupil funding, school districts receive $18,300 in supplemental funding to provide in-school interventions and services for every student with a diagnosis of autism.
* Families of children with autism are also eligible for a variety of other services and supports through the ministry, such as Early Intervention Therapies, School-Aged Therapies, Infant Development, Supported Child Development and Family Support Services, including respite.
* Diagnostic and assessment services, delivered through the BC Autism Assessment Network and regional health authorities, are funded by the Ministry of Health.
* The Province has provided $1 million to support intervention research and capacity building, and $1.275 million in a national study into effective interventions for children with autism.
* In February 2011, a location for the hub of the new Pacific Autism Family Centre was secured on land next to the Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children in Vancouver. This is a community-driven project, initiated by community advocates and led by the Pacific Autism Centre Society.
To learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder and B.C. government-funded services for children and youth with autism, go to: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/autism/index.htm
To see the recent news release on the Pacific Autism Family Centre, go to: http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2011PREM0015-000184.htm
To learn more about the Canucks Autism Network, and find out details on the Autism Awareness Walk and Barbecue on April 1, go to: www.canucksautism.ca/
To learn more about Autism Community Training, go to: www.actcommunity.net/
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development
250 812-3616 (cell)
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect