B.C. recognizes Autism Awareness Month

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Understanding of ‘great strengths and great abilities’ comes with public awareness
Monday April 11, 2011 — Kristian Partington

According to the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD), close to 7,000 children and youth who are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) currently receive support in B.C.

In 1999, barely a few hundred families had support.

April is Autism Awareness Month in B.C., and with each success story families share related to a life lived with autism, a greater sense of understanding, acceptance and inclusion is felt in communities.

“Shared stories are making people aware of the diversity in their community, including disabilities of any kind,” says Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) executive director Tanya Sather.

These stories, she says, “help people in terms of recognition and acceptance and overall inclusion, knowing who people are and what to expect, and understanding that (autism) is something that is a part of some people’s lives.”

“Families now hear tons of stories about the joy and wonders of having a child or loved one with autism,” she adds

As awareness of ASDs spreads so too does the broad network of support systems available to assist diagnosed individuals and their families.

As an example, provincial allocations for autism intervention and support programming have increased in the past 10 years from $4.1 million to $42 million, according to an MCFD release.

The province is currently the only jurisdiction in Canada that has a no-wait list policy for families to access funding once a child or youth is diagnosed with an ASD, says the release.

“I think that people are certainly more aware . . . that there are people out there with autism and they have great strengths and great abilities,” says Tanya.

When asked about a moment or breakthrough related to ASDs she remembers as particularly important, Tanya says “every day is important; every individual story is important.”

“I think every day that families have good days, and receive the supports they need, and see successes in their loved ones, are good days. I think it’s better for every family to share what’s important to them and what’s worked for them . . . and we want to see more of that.”

If you’d like to share your story, please contact Kristian at 800-294-0051, ext. 24, or e-mail kristian(at)axiomnews.ca.

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