Autism Ontario is Ontario’s leading source of information and referral on autism, and one of the largest collective voices representing the autism community in Canada.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that exists in all cultures, ethnicities, races, and gender identities. Autism diagnoses are most prevalent during childhood, although assessments for autism in adulthood are becoming more common as a result of expanding diagnostic criteria and a significant increase in awareness and understanding. 1 in 66 Canadian children and youth will be diagnosed with Autism and there are approximately 135,000 autistic people living in Ontario.
“Autism Ontario started as a grassroots organization, because parents were no longer willing to accept the status quo, about not having research about autism, supports for their families, and programs in place that could help their children to grow, learn, and thrive,” says Margaret Spoelstra, Autism Ontario Chief Executive Officer. “Since that time, the organization has grown, so that we can create a better world for people on the autism spectrum, and for their families, so that they can become all that they can be.”
I struggled because of the lack of support for people on the spectrum.
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Autism Ontario started as a grassroots organisation, because parents were no longer willing to accept the status quo, about not having research about autism, supports for their families and programs in place that could help their children to grow, learn and thrive. And since that time, the organisation has grown, so that we can create a better world for people on the autism spectrum, and for their families, so that they can become all that they can be.
Whoever lives in Ontario has experiences and connections to autistic people, and we have the opportunity to connect with them. And the nature of those folks is that they are each unique individuals, even their diagnosis is unique to them, much like a thumbprint. But we do know that social engagement is an area of unique challenge. And so, what we really are about is talking about individuals, how we can help and how we understand autism, and what it means for that family in their particular context.
When I first discovered that I was on the autism spectrum, it was the year 1998. And for me, discovering that I had Asperger Syndrome was a revelation, I finally knew why I was anti-social throughout my childhood, and why I have such difficulty with social situations and social cues. That was a very difficult time, because I would often spend time with teachers or principals or other school staff, rather than socialise with those my own age. And that’s something that was pervasive and well, as for my personal growth and development, there I struggled the quite genuinely, because of the lack of support for people on the spectrum at the time.
We came to be involved with Federated Health Charities and we were so pleased to say this is a way to connect to Ontario Public servants, and then to connect that to our organisation was just a thrill. But many of the services that we provide count on every dime, we’re able to fundraise and that includes programs for adults in particular. And helping them to get jobs, helping them to be connected in the community, to have a person who has a listening ear, to get questions answered, and to say what’s out there. Those things we are not funded to do and we rely on donations like the ones we Federated Help Charities to help us to do that.
Some of my struggles included finding suitable employment, and there were some experts that genuinely worked with me and helped me and to ensure that I would be able to function as part of a team. And I’m forever grateful for those experts and the invaluable advice, perspective and service that they provided me.
What I would like to say to those individuals, I would like to say. Thank you, thank you for supporting this valued, inspiring organisation, thank you for donating your hard-earned salaries to individuals seeking support from Autism Ontario, thank you for all that you are doing to raise awareness about the challenges people in the autism community face. And thank you most sincerely for your ongoing support, I’m deeply and humbly grateful for it.
To those individuals that are considering donating to Autism Ontario, please support this organisation. It’s through their services, their programs, their talented staff, that I’m the individual that you see before you today. And please, if you happen to know someone who is on the spectrum or someone who’s connected to the community, please make autism matter.
For 50 years, Autism Ontario has worked alongside autistic individuals and their families to support and advocate for autistic children and adults to ensure they have the resources they need so they are equitably and seamlessly supported across the course of their lives. In 2019, Autism Ontario joined Federated Health Charities and together, we are working to create a supportive and inclusive Ontario for autism.
You can learn more about Autism Ontario and the programs they provide at Autism Ontario.
Donate to Federated Health Charities today to support a healthier province and help create a supportive and inclusive Ontario for autism.
Click on the button below to make a donation to Autism Ontario through Federated Health Charities
For general questions:
315 Front St. West, 5th Floor
For general questions:
315 Front St. West, 5th Floor