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This extensive list of resources for families parenting a child who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was shared with us by Autism Canada.

  • A list of specialists able to diagnose autism in the Ottawa region can be found HERE.
    NB: Diagnosis can also take place at CHEO by calling and asking to meet with a specialist.
  • Specialists for the rest of Canada can be found t=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>HERE.

The wait times can vary for diagnosis, and most families prefer to start early intervention while waiting for an official assessment and diagnosis. AFIRM offers free modules for evidence-based practices that come highly recommended.

Autism Canada

Autism Canada’s virtual AuSome Conference is a day of learning and education by autistics for autistics. This insightful conference paints a clear picture of what it is to be on the spectrum.  Visit their YouTube channel for a glimpse at past events. ,

Autism Canada also offers a podcast and an autism-driven newsletter:
 Listen to the Sharing the Spectrum podcast
 Subscribe to the Sharing the Spectrum newsletter

Have you considered a portable sensory kit (something that your child can keep close with fidgets and sensory items that can provide comfort in times of anxiety) for your child? Autism Canada provides details and information on Sensory Support Kits HERE.

Visual Aids / Prompts / PECS (Picture Exchange Communication Systems)

Details about PECS visual aids can be found HERE.
(Families can easily use PECS to assist with visual printout prompts through websites such as Boardmaker.)

Remember that if you decide to begin creating your communication and visual supports like PECS, keep all receipts from expenses as most will qualify as taxable or can be put towards any future funding your child may receive.

AAC Devices and Apps

There are many AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) devices available on the market, but finding the right one to best meet your child’s needs can be tricky as they come in a myriad of shapes and sizes.

 A review of the 5 best can be found HERE.

Proloquo2go is a downloadable application that can be added to an iPad. It is an amazing application and very user-friendly. Autism Canada states that they have seen many cases in which this application has changed the lives of the child/youth and the parents/caregivers and teachers. It will require some training for the caregiver that can be provided by either a qualified speech therapist or via online tutorials. Although you may assume Proloquo2go (or any other AAC) is meant for verbal communication only, it is not. These apps and devices can assist with various areas of a child’s or adults’ social challenges as well. It is worth investigating.

SDP is one of the first things about autism that is a contributing factor to anxieties and stress resulting in behaviours. Understanding SDP may help alleviate some anxieties and probably help with “preventative maintenance” as it relates to triggers. For example, knowing that your child may be overwhelmed by a crowded grocery store, you may want to reconsider the schedule of when you choose to go or perhaps avoid it for now. It takes a while for some with sensory processing to learn how to navigate through S.P.D. without the proper tools. Everyone is different, they will eventually have their way of processing social stimulants or overstimulating situations. It is, however, important to know and understand your child’s sensory boundaries.

Understanding SPD

The biggest challenges for many people with ASD are due to hypersensitivity to their environment.

Smells: Staff and the public need to be aware that many people with ASD have chemical sensitivities. Shared space should be as fragrance-free as possible. This could be achieved through signage, i.e. “Please respect those with sensitivities and refrain from wearing heavy fragrances.”

Lighting: Flickering fluorescent lights often create a sensory problem.

Sounds: Any harsh or annoying sounds can cause a person with ASD to become agitated or lose focus on their work.

Harsh environment: A person with sensory issues often needs a space removed from the general activity to calm down when they are feeling overwhelmed. This “quiet room” could have soft furnishings, lighting, etc. It would be beneficial to have windows that opened for fresh air. An important consideration in choosing furnishings and rugs would be the risk of “off-gassing” from new, synthetic materials. This can be overwhelming to someone with environmental sensitivities.

Washrooms: We would suggest there be a Family Washroom available for parents and caregivers to assist with toileting a child or adult of the opposite sex. It is common for children with ASD to have concerns about public washrooms with frightening sounds, e.g., automatic toilet flushing, high-velocity hand dryers.

These two articles explain what might be happening for an individual and how to reduce sensory overload:

 Top 5 autism tips: managing sensory differences
 How to Reduce Sensory Overload

Tali Berman often gives helpful advice to parents regarding autism and anxiety

Jonathan is a young man with autism who emailed Autism Canada to say, “I would like you guys to share my story of how I exponentially improved my social skills with an unexpected tool.” Here is Jonathan’s story: ASD and Me – Raise the Flag For Autism

This article is from the US-based TACA website and deals with social skills and teens. Social Skills and Autism – The Autism Community in Action

Autism Ontario – See the Potential
This video, which features the incredible Michael McCreary, is a wonderful introduction to autism spectrum disorder. The video was created to support customer service professionals when they provide services or support to people with ASD; however, the positive response from the general public has been overwhelming. This video is so accessible and entertaining, it offers something for everyone.

Living With Autism, Brilliantly
Jessica Pigeau produced a short video about how she has overcome her challenges at school and in social situations.

I’m Just Like You
This film’s documentary techniques capture the real-life stories of 3 children and their best friends/siblings. They explain their lives with autism in relatable everyday scenes. The kids and former NFL quarterback, Trent Green, explain to sensitivities, behaviours, and model how to be a good friend to someone living with autism. Those who see it will understand and accept people living with autism for who they are on the inside.

Autism Canada (AC) has several links that they provide to families so their children can benefit from online resources.

Here are a few to get things started:

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