Did you know that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects about one in every 110 children and youth in B.C. and is one of the most prevalent developmental disorders in the world?
That's why it's so important to work in collaboration with families, service providers and community organizations, to build community awareness and continue to focus collective efforts to help support and enrich the lives of those living with ASDs.
Every year in April, the B.C. government, families, service providers, community organizations, and municipalities unite for Autism Awareness Month and World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) to recognize and honour children, youth and their families who are living with autism.
The month kicks off in B.C. with the annual Autism Awareness Walk, hosted by the Canucks Autism Network, being held today at 11 a.m. in the Jack Poole Plaza at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Minister of Children and Family Development Mary McNeil will be joined by families and community members for the walk and the family-friendly day of activities, food, entertainment and a special lighting of the Olympic cauldron. Members of the public are encouraged to join in the fun to support this important community cause.
On April 2nd, the Province will celebrate World Autism Awareness Day by participating in Light It Up Blue, a unique global initiative started by Autism Speaks. Iconic landmarks around the globe (i.e., the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House and the CN Tower) will light up blue on that day. To honour this important global movement, BC Place will light up blue to demonstrate B.C.'s support of families everywhere who are living with autism.
Many more community events and workshops will be held throughout the month in communities throughout B.C. For example, families in Kamloops and Prince George can attend an innovative workshop called "Technology for your Toolbox - Boardmaker and iPad" - which provides a lesson on apps for iPad and other software applications that facilitate communication and learning for children with ASD and other developmental disabilities.
To find out what's going on in your community for Autism Awareness Month and how you can get involved, please visit:
Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development -
"This Autism Awareness Walk and other community events are extremely important to help raise public awareness and garner community support for children, youth and their families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder."
"It's great to see so many community partners really pulling together to create a cohesive, collaborative response to support families in communities across B.C."
Paolo Aquilini, founder of Canucks Autism Network -
"Our family is so grateful to be part of an event that brings together 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 as a means to enrich the lives of families living with autism who are experiencing some of the barriers we faced when our son was diagnosed with autism."
Deborah Pugh, executive director for ACT-Autism Community Training -
"Autism awareness in combination with community networking and supports makes a world of difference in allowing our young people to thrive. As I travel across Canada, it is apparent that B.C. is a leader in enabling individuals with ASD to reach their potential at every stage of life."
"We have tremendous opportunities to build partnerships to address the needs of all British Columbians affected by autism, and the knowledge we gain can benefit children and adults with all types of developmental disabilities."
- B.C. is committed to an integrated, co-ordinated range of services and supports for children and youth with ASD and their families.
- The B.C. government provides more than $165 million annually for programs and services that support approximately 7,500 children and youth with ASDs and their families - including assessments, funding for early intervention, and education funding for students.
- The ministry's autism budget has increased this year by $2.3 million to $44.5 million. This is more than ten times the 2001 budget level of $4.1 million.
- For children under age six, families receive access to funding of up to $22,000 per year to assist with the cost of autism intervention services.
- For children and youth aged six to 18, families receive access to funding of up to $6,000 per year to assist with the cost of out-of-school intervention services, in addition to the $18,300 in per-pupil funding for special education services provided through school boards.
- B.C. is 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 confirmed 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 child.
- The ministry contracts with ACT-Autism Community Training to provide provincial autism information, support, and training services for families of children and youth with ASD, including the Registry of Autism Service Providers list, which ensures that parents of young children with ASD have access to professionals with the education, training, and experience that qualifies them to implement effective behavioural treatment programs.
- The Province has provided $1 million to support intervention research and collaboration across B.C., and $1.2 million in a national study called Pathways in Autism Spectrum Disorders that examines the core features of autism and effective interventions for children with autism.
If you want more information on ASD and services and supports offered, go to:
To learn more about the Canucks Autism Network, go to: www.canucksautism.ca
To see the study Pathways in Autism Spectrum Disorders, go to: www.asdpathways.ca
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development