The unprecedented closures and self-isolation measures mean that individuals and families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) cannot access any of the therapeutic, mental health or caregiving supports they rely on. This sudden withdrawal of supports coupled with the other difficulties from the pandemic have pushed many of these families to a breaking point. Help our Family Support Program to ensure these families have the emotional and community support they need to survive this crisis.
She had been so skeptical of the local autism mother’s support group but Doug, her husband, had pushed her to go. Joining the Dad’s group had brought him out of his shell so much that she thought it couldn’t hurt to try the mother’s group – but deep down she didn’t even want to go inside. As she walked into the room and sat down at the big, grey plastic table she looked around in disbelief. The other mothers looked just as exhausted as she was…if not more. But yet they were chattering away comfortably with each other like old friends. Two were even laughing as they poured themselves coffee. As the support group started and the women began discussing their children, their families and themselves she felt her shoulders suddenly drop as she settled into her chair.
She could hardly believe what she was hearing…these women got it. They understood what it meant to have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. They were talking about meltdowns, therapies, hiring and firing caregivers, the loneliness. She bit her lip. The relief was overwhelming…
Autism Calgary provides a community for individuals with ASD and those that care for and love them! Families helping families. Emotional Support, information, referrals, advocacy, social and community events, employment programs, a community pantry and so much more…
Our mission is to bring hope and help meet the needs of families and individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):
We have over 2000 members and each year we serve over 1500 individuals and families to find information, support and a sense of community! Through family support (advocacy, information & referral) and peer to peer networking, ACA helps families and individuals become knowledgeable, independent self-advocates. Through Public and Community Education, ACA empowers the community through greater awareness and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Since 1992 we have been the grassroots organization in Calgary to empower individuals and families living with Autism. We have gone from zero to 10 staff and are now on the forefront of many exciting autism initiatives including employment programs, social policy research and are the lead agency for a city wide network of autism related organizations (non-profits and private businesses). All our staff are either parents of an individual with ASD, are a relative of someone with ASD or have ASD themselves. We pride ourselves on being a community of families helping families.
Since our inception in 1992 the prevelance of ASD has gone from 1 in 2500 to 1 in 86 in Calgary. We estimate that currently there are 6856 individuals (of all ages) in Calgary with ASD. These soaring prevelance rates have vastly increased our demand for services!
To accomplish our mission we have several program streams and initiatives:
1. Family Support: Autism Calgary works one-on-one with families and individuals living with ASD to support them and advocate for them in a variety of ways. Our Family Support team are all parents of children and adults with ASD who can help you navigate the school, government or service system and also lend a listening ear. We have now expanded this program to also include:
a. ASD Adult Support: support, information, referrals and advocacy specifically for adults living with high functioning ASD.
b. Calgary Coop Community Pantry: Autism Calgary is spearheading a new community pantry for low income individuals and families living with ASD. Other food resources and foodbanks in Calgary are often extremely difficult to access for these individuals and families leaving them without food and household essentials.
2. Support Groups: We run many support groups such as Keeping It Together (Mothers of Children with ASD), Carers (Caregivers of adults with ASD), Asperger’s Network Support Groups (adults with Asperger’s Syndrome/High Functioning ASD), Father’s Autism Network Support Group and the Biomedical Support Group (discussing and sharing alternative treatment options for ASD.
3. Public and Community Education: Autism Calgary also hosts regular, complimentary workshops about ASD and how to support those with ASD for schools, community groups and workplaces. We also have the largest Autism-specific resource library in Canada with free access for all members.
4. Peer-2-Peer Networking: With a variety of social opportunities and groups Autism Calgary strives to foster peer-to-peer networks for youth and adults with ASD. The Pokemon club is a popular group for youth and adults which meets twice monthly to play Pokemon cards and socialize in a safe environment. Autism Calgary rents the warm swimming pool at Vecova every Sunday evening as a free swim time for members. Also, Autism Calgary hosts a number of social, community and informational events annually for our members to come together as a community. These inlcude our World Autism Awareness Day Celebration in Olympic Plaza on April 2, our December Holiday Party, our Summer Party and educational Parent Panel Events.
5. Employment Initiatives: Recently Autism Calgary has also become a leader in the Autism employment scene starting two successful initiatives to employ adults with ASD. Meticulon Consulting, started by ACA, is now its own social enterprise employing 17 consultants with ASD. Meticulon, which was originally a program under Autism Calgary, is now a successful software testing firm in Calgary. Spectrum Advantage is a one-of-a-kind program to provide life skills and employment readiness training as well as paid internships to young adults with ASD which finds over 80% of participants with ongoing employment at the end of their participation.
Autism Calgary only exists because of the generous support it receives from the community! Every single dollar we receive goes directly towards supporting families and individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Calgary and area.
Our major funding need is for our Family Support Program – your generosity in this area can help:
If you would like to sign up for free membership to Autism Calgary and receive free information and have access to our library visit: http://www.autismcalgary.com/about/membership/.
Welcome to the Autism Calgary family!