Uniting Alberta's Autism Community

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Autism Alberta AGM – August 20, 2016

Deborah Barrett

I used to think Annual General Meetings were boring, not something that would interest me. That changed a lot when I got involved in the autism community. I learned that Annual General Meetings were my chance to find out what was going on in the broader autism world. AGMs were my chance to try to shape a future for my son and my family. They were my chance to meet families just a little further down the road than I was, families that freely shared from their experience and helped me navigate the next set of challenges. In short, I learned that I was short-changing myself if I didn’t attend. Annual General Meetings have become a way to meet more of the autism community across Alberta. Yes, it takes a day out of my life, but it’s also a day that gives me life . . . and connection . . . and community. I invite you to join us. See if it does the same for you.

Autism Alberta’s Annual General Meeting
Saturday, August 20, 2016
10: 00 AM – 3:00 PM

Board Room
GH Dawe Centre
56 Holt St
Red Deer, Alberta

RSVP to info@autismalberta.ca
by 4:00 PM, Thursday, Aug 18, 2016

Child Care is available, but we MUST know your needs by 4 PM, August 12, 2016. Please note, this is a week earlier than the general RSVP.

Jeff’s Marathon Journey – July Update

Jeff Bowers
Here’s the latest news from Jeff’s Marathon Journey:

Hello everybody, I’m back again with another update. I’ve been doing these every two months, but will try to get one out a month now that I’m deep into my training program. Some may be shorter than others, but I’ll try and keep them interesting.

To start, an update on Ben and the rest of the family. After my last update, we remained in Edmonton until June 16th. Our neighborhood in Fort Mac had opened for re-entry during the first week of June, but we made the decision to stay put in Edmonton until the boil water advisory that had been issued by the province was lifted. By the 16th, we decided that we’d had enough of Edmonton and wanted to come home. It turned out to be perfect timing – just as we made our way back up the highway and into the Fort McMurray city limits, the radio stations were abuzz with the info that the boil water advisory had been lifted in Timberlea. We didn’t realize at the time how much work awaited us upon our return. Our house was thankfully spared by the fire, but there remained an abundance of cleaning to complete: toys, sheets, curtains, mattresses, clothes, floors, walls, ceilings. Let’s just say that Yeunsuk and I are happy the bulk of that work is behind us now, and never want to have to go through a similar situation again.

Ben has been doing relatively well lately. Yeunsuk mentioned something to me recently that I guess I had noticed as well, but we had never really discussed – Ben seems to function very well immediately following major changes, more so than even than his neurotypical sister. We noticed this when we were first evacuated to Edmonton – during the first weeks of our journey, he displayed a calm demeanour for the most part, and slept very well during the hotel-hopping period. A few weeks on, his sleep patterns regressed into their terrible normal state, but during that first period, he certainly surprised us. For the final four or five weeks before we came home, he was going through a really rough patch again – not falling asleep until after 10pm. Waking up at 2am, or 4am if we were lucky. Then when we got back home, bang, he’s sleeping like a champ again! Since returning, he’s slept uninterrupted through 29 of 32 nights in his bed… yes, we actually count the nights – don’t judge.

Ben chilling at the park in Fort McMurray, after weeks on the road running from The Beast!
Ben chilling at the park in Fort McMurray, after weeks on the road running from The Beast!

I’ve done a fair bit of reading on sleep issues with ASD kids over the last few years, and it’s funny how inconsistency seems to be one of the consistencies with this particularly problematic symptom. Oftentimes, after weeks on end of not receiving more than 3-4 hours of uninterrupted sleep, Yeunsuk and I will be right at our wits’ end and ready to delve into deep conversation on the viability of prescription medicines with Ben’s pediatrician. Then, boom! – a beautiful night’s sleep followed by weeks of actually having to wake Ben up at 8am to get him to his 8:30 preschool start on time. We’ve repeated this pattern countless times, and each time we get into the good periods, we will purposely avoid speaking about it in fear of jinxing something that may be more than a just a good streak. Secretly, I’ll start thinking to myself that he’s finally outgrown the poor sleep cycles and we can soon start discussing them openly like they won’t return. And just when I start getting that “YES!” feeling…. I’ll wake up to finger clicking, leg slapping, and monotone yells drifting over the baby monitor, wipe the sleep out of my eyes, leer at the clock, and realize it’s 2am and Ben’s likely been standing on the end of his bed yelling at the floor for the past God-knows-how long while I drifted awake. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. Such is life!

An update on training: I’m now less than four months out from the big day in New York City – November 6th is fast approaching. I started a customized 20-week training program through the New York Road Runners Virtual Training service. It’s been fantastic so far – I have an online profile where I can go and upload my running information each day, and the program tailors to my abilities with an e-coach that provides feedback and answers any questions I may have. Currently in week 5 of 20, the program is starting to ramp up. My legs are consistently sore (the good kind), and the times of my short runs are getting quicker while my long runs are getting longer… so I guess everything is working as planned! I will be running two more half-marathons before NYC – one in Edmonton on August 21st, and another in Fort McMurray on September 18th. My hope is to crack the 2 hour mark on both of these runs, which will be a positive indication that I’m on my way to completing NYC within my goal time… I’m not totally sure what that goal time is yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

I want to end this one by again saying thanks to some of the people that have helped us with Ben over the past few months. I thanked the Centre for Autism Services Edmonton (CASE) during my last update, but I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t thank them once more. They provided us with support and Ben with a structured classroom setting during our stay in Edmonton, and I feel like we had to bail back to Fort McMurray too quickly before truly thanking them for all the help they offered. So, to all the staff at the Maier Center in Edmonton – THANKS! Also, I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to McMan Family Services in Fort McMurray. They’ve provide fabulous levels of support to families facing life with disabilities in Fort McMurray, and definitely make our life easier in doing so. Carolyn Burton, Kristin Turriff, and all the staff at McMan – thank you!

If you would like to donate to the Fort McMurray Autism Support Group and help me bump up the motivation for training, please click below and donate!

Until next time,


Click here to support Jeff’s Marathon Journey

Canada Disability Savings Program Newsletter – June 2016 Issue

In this issue:

  • Plan Uptake
  • Message from James van Raalte, Director General, Office for Disability Issues
  • Family Income Threshold for the Bond and Grant
  • Showcasing the RDSP at the National Women’s Show in Montreal, Quebec
  • Mail-outs to promote the RDSP
  • Help us Promote the RDSP
  • Prosper Canada
  • Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
  • Final Word

Plan Uptake

The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) provides government contributions in the form of bonds to beneficiaries with low to modest family income, regardless of whether or not they contribute financially to their plan. It also provides grants based on matching contributions from private sources. In 2015-16, the value of bonds and grants paid into RDSPs by the government totaled respectively $170M and $287M.

As of December 31, 2015, there were more than 123,000 plans registered. This is an increase of over 24,000 plans from last year. Currently, 22.1% of individuals 0 to 49 years of age who are eligible to open a plan have done so. Through different RDSP awareness initiatives, ODI will continue to reach out to those eligible Canadians who have not yet opened a plan.

Read more

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Goals: ASA was started over 20 years ago with the goals of:
  • Improving the lives of children and adults with ASD;
  • Providing mutual support amongst families and individuals directly affected by ASD;
  • Creating safety and quality of life for people with ASD and their families in Alberta;
  • Creating a welcoming province that values the participation of people with ASD in all areas of life;
  • Recognizing the worth of every person with ASD and their contribution to society.

Who We Are: Autism Society Alberta (ASA) is a registered society in Alberta and a registered charity with Canada Revenue Agency. It is a network and collaboration amongst autism groups comprising parents of children and adults with ASD, family members, individuals with ASD, and caring community citizens. We also have a representative on the Board of Autism Society Canada to collaborate on national issues. Presently four groups are members of Autism Society Alberta:

  • Autism Calgary Association (ACA)
  • Autism Society of Central Alberta (ASCA), based in Red Deer
  • Autism Society of Edmonton and Area (ASEA)
  • Chinook Autism Society (CAS), based in Lethbridge

Accomplishments: ASA has had representatives on provincial Advisory Boards to different Government Ministries. ASA has sponsored Autism Awareness presentations in some communities during October, Canada’s Autism Awareness Month. ASA has contributed to the development of resource materials for families, such as handouts on community resources and books on issues affecting those with ASD .

Who to Contact: Contact the ASA group closest to where you live or where you are planning to live, for information, resources, and support in Alberta. For example, if you live in Northern Alberta, contact ASEA; Southern Alberta – contact CAS, etc. Please refer to "Regional Chapters" on the left hand side.

For information and assistance with your local support group, or to join ASA please feel free to contact us at 1-877-777-7192
or email president@autismalberta.ca