One in 66 Canadian children and youth live with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – a complex, life-long condition that presents serious challenges for those living with it, as well as their families, caregivers and communities. On August 19, 2019, MP Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, announced six newly funded community-based projects to assist and support individuals with ASD and those who care for them, supported by more than $3 million in funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada and an additional $700,000 of in-kind support from partner organizations.
Projects receiving funding will support Canadians living with ASD as well as their families and caregivers to gain knowledge, skills and resources and help communities better address the challenges of ASD and assist those living with it.
It gives me great pride to announce six new initiatives to help Canadians living with autism spectrum disorder live life to the fullest,” said MP Damoff. “These community-based projects across the country address a broad range of issues, from mental health to sexuality to employment. These fantastic programs will support Canadians living with ASD and those who care for them – where and when they need it most.Pam DamoffMember of Parliament, Oakville North-Burlington
The Government of Canada is committed to helping Canadians with disabilities and their families, including those living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The Public Health Agency of Canada is providing up to $9.1 million over five years through its Autism Spectrum Disorder Strategic Fund for projects that will better serve the unique needs of individuals with ASD throughout their lives, as well as of their families, caregivers and communities.
These new investments are in addition to initiatives the federal government has already made to support Canadians living with autism, including the Accessible Canada Act, which ensures an inclusive and accessible country for all Canadians and a national network for caregivers and families to access the information they need in one easy place. Our government has invested $10 million in dollars in Autism-Intellectual-Developmental Disabilities National Resource and Exchange Network (AIDE). Our government has made unprecedented investments in health research – including autism research – through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and partnerships with leading groups like the Canadian Pediatric Society. And our $55 billion National Housing Strategy set aside one quarter of its funding for our most vulnerable citizens, including those living with disabilities. Budget 2019 includes funding for the Ready Willing and Able program, which provides support for employment for those living with disabilities, some $12 million over the next three years.
For more information on the six projects please see below:
Mental Health Matters is a project that will adapt two evidence-based mental health promotion programs from the Ontario branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association for adults living with ASD and their caregivers. The project focuses on mental health promotion and is designed to help adults living with ASD and their caregivers to gain the skills and knowledge they need to cope with the various challenges they face. The project will train and deliver the programs to individuals with ASD and their families/caregivers, and provide opportunities for them to become facilitators and develop their skills to support others to learn valuable wellness skills.
Autism Resource Centre
The Autism Resource Centre (ARC) will develop and deliver ASD pre-employment and life skills activities to Indigenous populations and Indigenous communities. These activities will be delivered in Regina, Saskatchewan, the Cowessess First Nation and surrounding communities. This program will include core workplace skills and independent living and social skills, combined with other components such as the delivery of youth and adult mental health and wellness programs and services. ARC will also create an educational resource guide to increase awareness and knowledge of ASD within Indigenous communities and populations.
Jake’s House for Autistic Children
The LMPAE will help guide and support adults (ages 18 to 30) with ASD through the transition from high school to adulthood and employment by matching them with a trained mentor to participate in work-related experiences. Mentors will provide support to develop social, behavioural and employment-related skills to increase the participation in the community of adults with ASD. The LMPAE will be scaled up to support its delivery across the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.
The Autism Mental Health Promotion Project will take a two-step approach to mental health promotion. York University will develop and distribute mental health literacy materials through online and print resources for older adolescents and adults with ASD, the families of people with ASD, and service providers. This project will also implement evidence-based online and in-person interventions to improve the ability of individuals with ASD, and of their family members, to cope with stressors associated with ASD. An online mindfulness intervention will be accessible nationally through multiple partner hosting websites.
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal
“La danse pour le mieux-être” will improve the wellbeing of individuals with ASD, their families, and caregivers through the benefits of dance. The National Centre for Dance Therapy (NCDT), a division of Les Grands Ballets, will offer recreational dance classes adapted to the specific needs of individuals with ASD and taught by professionals in the dance and health sectors. The classes will be offered by dance professors and assisted by health professionals (including dance therapists), with the dedicated goal of fun in a safe and adapted environment. Through the activities offered by the NCDT, individuals with ASD, their families and caregivers will have a safe and inclusive environment in which to discover the benefits of regular exercise and creative expression through dance.
McGill University (Royal Institute for the Advancement of Learning)
The Caregiver Skills Training (CST) Program aims to provide evidence-based skills training for caregivers who work in community settings with children who have ASD. The CST program was developed in 2013 by the World Health Organization in partnership with Autism Speaks. McGill, supported by Autism Speaks Canada, leads the Canadian adaptation of the CST program and will scale up the implementation in four community-based demonstration sites (Quebec, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon). Through this project, the University will directly train master trainers and facilitators, who will in turn deliver the CST Program to families within their own communities.