Federated Health Charities has recently added three new charities to its roster. One of these new charities is Autism Ontario.
What is Autism?
Autism is a lifelong neurological disorder that impacts one’s behaviour and social interactions (Autism Ontario, n.d.), affecting how one communicates and relates to those around them.
According to Autism Speaks Canada, the most prominent symptoms appear between the ages of 2-3 (n.d.). However, some symptoms can appear as early as 6 or 12 months old (Autism Speaks Canada, n.d.). Examples of early symptoms include inconsistent or reduced use of eye contact with those outside of the family, rarely smiling when looking at others, and not pointing to show others an object they are interested in (Autism Ontario, n.d.). Certain medical and mental health issues often accompany autism, such as gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, ADHD, anxiety, and phobias (Autism Speaks Canada, n.d.).
Autism does not discriminate and can affect any child, crossing all cultural, ethnic, geographic, and socio-economic borders (Autism Ontario, n.d.). As well, the rate of autism spectrum disorder is increasing, causing a strain on education, healthcare, and social service programs. The rate of increase also highlights the gaps in the support systems currently available (Autism Ontario, n.d.). According to the 2018 National Autism Spectrum Disorder Surveillance System Report, an estimated 1/42 boys and 1/189 girls have autism in Canada (Autism Speaks Canada, n.d.).
In Ontario, there are currently two ways to pursue a diagnostic assessment. The first is through a family doctor or pediatrician, who may provide a referral to a specialist for a developmental assessment that examines the child’s social, cognitive, communication and motor skills. The second is through the Ontario Autism Program (Autism Ontario, n.d.).
It is important to note that autism does not go away in adulthood and will stay with a person throughout their entire life. However, the support systems in place currently do not reflect this. After high school, there is minimal support for youth and young adults looking to access post-secondary education and employment opportunities (Autism Ontario, n.d.).
How Autism Ontario Helps
Autism Ontario is a charity that helps address this gap. According to their website, “the organization and its Chapters share common goals of providing information and education, supporting research, and advocating for programs and services for the autism community” (Autism Ontario, n.d.). By raising awareness, funding research, and advocating for better programming and services on behalf of those with autism, Autism Ontario eases the burden currently faced by education, healthcare and social service programs.
Autism Ontario is a valuable charity that we at Federated Health Charities are so proud to partner with! Please donate now, and for more information visit http://www.autismontario.com.
Written by Faria Raisa Amin
Autism Ontario. (n.d.). Autism spectrum disorder. https://www.autismontario.com/autism-
Autism Speaks Canada. (n.d.). What is autism? https://www.autismspeaks.ca/about/about-