Two of Canada’s Autism Organizations Merge

National Autism Organizations Unite

(London, ON – October 5, 2015) – Canada’s large and growing autism population has lacked a strong united national voice for many years. Now, Autism Society Canada (ASC) and Autism Canada Foundation (ACF) have amalgamated, bringing together two of Canada’s largest, leading autism organizations to form Autism Canada. The consolidated organization, which includes a Provincial and Territorial Council, puts Autism Canada in a position to bring about real change for people living with autism and their families.

“Autism Canada is the national voice for families and individuals on the spectrum,” said Don Blane, Chair. “Presently, 13 of the 15 board members are parents of someone on the spectrum or are on the spectrum themselves. The Provincial and Territorial Council is made up of grassroots autism organizations from coast to coast and we are very proud of our Adult Autism Advisory Committee made up of adults on the spectrum who can and want to advocate for themselves. Together, we understand it because we live it.”
While the amalgamation became official at the end of May, the announcement comes in time to kick off Autism Awareness Month in Canada. The amalgamated organization will be known as Autism Canada brandishing the new tag line, See the Spectrum Differently. “The tag line is about seeing the potential in people living with autism and seeing that everyone deserves to have universal access to the supports, services and treatments they deserve,” said Vicki Harvey, Vice-Chair.

Autism is the fastest growing neurological disorder in Canada, impacting an estimated 1 in 68 children. “We [autism organizations, governments, researchers, professionals] need to do a better job of working together for the benefit of families and people living with autism,” said Laurie Mawlam, Executive Director of Autism Canada. “The amalgamation is a big step in the right direction.”

Autism Canada will continue to provide a Family Support and Resource Program, an annual conference/webcast, multiple online resources including screening tools, Autism Junction – Canadian’s Online Autism Service Directory, an extensive video library and information on both traditional and emerging treatments. They have also introduced a new online National Event Calendar, an Adult Autism Forum and a campaign to engage federal election candidates which puts autism on everyone’s agenda.

Today’s announcement features a heart-warming Public Service Announcement that will run across multi-media platforms including national television, their website and social media.

Autism Canada believes the combined organization will attract more resources, allowing them to work together with their Provincial and Territorial Council members to build capacity and to advocate at all levels of government with a unified voice. The time has come for an efficient, single entity to bring strength and unity to Canadians. Autism Canada is poised to deliver.

About Autism Canada

Autism Canada has been the hub of knowledge and understanding about Autism Spectrum Disorder in Canada since 1976. Our mandate is to work collaboratively with our provincial and territorial organizations, associations and societies to champion ASD priorities. We curate the exchange of information between individuals with ASD, families, professionals, researchers, governments and the public. Autism Canada actively encourages the sharing of best practices and programs, and advocates passionately for Canadians living with autism. For more information please visit us at http://www.autismcanada.org

Press contact:
Laurie Mawlam, Executive Director, Autism Canada 519-695-5858 Laurie@autismcanada.org
Don Blane, Chair, Autism Canada 519-498-5739 Don@autismcanada.org
Vicki Harvey, Co-Chair 902-441-5984 Vicki@autismcanada.org
Public Relations Professional: Shannon Lewis, Liberty & Co. Communications 416-414-1788 Shannon@libertyandco.ca

Frequently asked questions

Autism Canada and the Provincial & Territorial Council urge all Canadians to
See the Spectrum Differently.
– See the potential in people living with autism.
– See and understand behaviour as a form of communication.
– See and respect the person as an individual first.
– See the opportunity to work together to make a difference.

“There needs to be a lot more emphasis on what a child can do instead of what he cannot do.”
– Temple Grandin

Vision: That people on the Autism Spectrum have full healthy and happy lives
Mission: Advocate for and support Canadians with Autism and their families
Core Values: We value the individual and family.
We value knowledge.
We value collaboration.
We value hope.

Strategic Objectives
1. Be a national knowledge hub
2. Influence public policy at the national level
3. Facilitate collaboration and sharing among members organizations
4. Build greater capacity and competencies in health care and in other critical sectors such as education, justice and senior care
5. Support and promote medical and non-medical research
6. Ensure financial sustainability

Questions and Answers

Who has amalgamated and why?

Autism Society Canada (est. 1976) and Autism Canada Foundation (est. 2002), two national autism charities, have amalgamated. The two organizations have been working together since 2007, as founding member organizations of the Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA), to ensure our federal government develops and implements a National Autism Strategy. After working together for 8 years, it became apparent the two organizations held the same values and together we would be greater than the sum of the two parts.

When did all this happen?

The amalgamation has taken approximately a year to complete. In September 2014, representatives from both organizations met in Halifax and created a work plan to move forward. Since then, a new combined board has been created and they met in May of this year. The amalgamation was legally completed on May 28, 2015. The Provincial and Territorial Council, which is part of the national body, have been meeting regularly and plan to come together face-to-face in November.

Why is it important to have a strong national autism organization?
Canada needs a single voice that directly supports families and people on the spectrum. Autism Canada aims to be that voice. It is imperative that this voice be strong and prominent on all issues related to autism. With 13 of our 15 board members being parents of someone on the spectrum or are on the spectrum themselves, we get it because we live it.

What can we expect as a result of this amalgamation?

Autism Canada is a robust and efficient organization with renewed hope, vision and commitment to make a real difference for Canadians living with autism and their families. Working collaboratively with the Provincial and Territorial Council, made up of autism organizations from coast to coast, we will collaborate to share best practices and evidence based programs. We will bring national initiatives forward so that our collective voice is heard.

Visit Autism Canada’s new website (www.autismcanada.org). It includes online screening tools for all ages, a national event calendar, a forum for adults on the spectrum, a campaign for our federal election, information on how you can get involved and so much more. There will be a conference next year which will be webcast across Canada and events are being planned for people on the spectrum to come together.
How does this amalgamation impact people with autism and their families?

The strategic objectives of Autism Canada focus on changing the future for those living with autism and their families. Working together with the Provincial and Territorial Council, we are committed to creating and advocating for universal access to the best treatments, services and supports.

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