Autism Around Alberta (AAA) is Autism Society Alberta's monthly e-mail newsletter. Each month, we collect articles and stories from autism parents, family members, and professionals, along with news and events from organizations around the province. We are offering a web archive of past issues, but if you'd like to get AAA delivered to your inbox each month, join Autism Alberta now for free! We also welcome article submissions at

Autism Around Alberta – May 2017 Edition

Our Spring Vacation

Erika Rowden
This Spring Break, we were very fortunate to get away on a vacation to Mexico. It was definitely time to escape winter for a bit! We had travelled with Conor and Shea before, so I had picked up a few tips for this upcoming trip.

I made sure we had plenty of activities to choose from on the plane. After all, Conor told me before that plane journeys are the most boring thing in the world! We packed together, so he had lots of say in what he wanted to bring, and he chatted lots about what we would do once we got there. For the first time, he was actually getting excited about the whole adventure!

This time our airport experience was much calmer. The new terminal in Calgary meant we did not have to line up or deal with crowds going through security. That really helped! Choosing where to eat did result in a meltdown, but Conor went along with our group plan and tried a new restaurant. Before boarding, he spent lots of time in the play areas and running up and down the corridor to satisfy his sensory needs!

The flight went great, with no big lineups after we landed, and we arrived at our destination safe and sound after a very long day of travel. Big relief!


Autism Around Alberta – April 2017 Edition

April Update From The Autism Society of the RMWB

Tina Delainey

Happy Autism Awareness Month from the Autism Society of the RMWB!

We’ve been busy celebrating Autism Awareness Month since March, with plenty of activities going on. For our March Movie Night we watched The Lego Batman Movie. About fifteen families came out for the event, and the kids had a blast!

We were also invited to the Wellness Fair at Peter Pond Mall. Groups from the region that promote mental and physical health were invited to have a booth and do talks about their organizations and what they provide for the community. It was a great to chance for us to share about what we do.

We are fundraising hanging baskets from Meadow Creek Greenhouses until the end of April, for delivery in May. So far the fundraiser is going very well!

We also hosted a Swim for a Toonie event at MacDonald Island on April 2nd, World Autism Awareness day! We offered sensory items for sale, information packages and displays, pins, and tickets for our Gala. We had a great turnout, and it was a very successful day!

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Autism Around Alberta – March 2017 Edition

Hardly Eating Anything!

Kitty Parlby
Can you count on one hand the foods your child will eat? Perhaps your family has concerns about nutrition. Maybe your child’s weight is below average as a result. I went through the very same thing with Eric when he was younger, and still have to prep him when I want him to give a new food a chance.

There are so many strategies I’ve used over the years. Today let’s just concentrate on one strategy: make food a play thing! Invent a lot of play opportunities that involve food, when there is NO pressure to eat. This is not done at meal time, and maybe not even at the table where you normally eat, but in places in your home that are associated with fun.

For some people with autism, part of the problem is that they need to build up trust and confidence with food. Meaning, they need to have many experiences with food so that they slowly learn to cope with the overwhelming input that comes through their senses. In this way, you help to prevent them from feeling the overpowering fear and stress they may associate with food, and therefore increase their interest and comfort in eating other things.

Don’t tell them what to do in the activities; show all the ways you can think of participating, by doing it yourself. Be expressive with your words and your facial expressions. Show by example that you can touch the food, smell it, lick it, put it some on your nose or chin and laugh. Lay cooked spaghetti over your head to make long hair.
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Autism Around Alberta – February 2017 Edition

February Update from Autism RMWB

Happy Valentine’s Month from the Autism Society of the R.M.W.B.! This month we hosted a family tubing day at our local ski hill. It was great turnout, with 98 people in attendance. Everyone had a blast, weather was great, and the staff at Vista Ridge were amazing!

In other news, a local boy named Josh generously requested that, instead of getting birthday gifts, his friends and family should make donations to the Autism Society of the RMWB. In total $415 was given to us on his behalf. We are so grateful for such a kind gesture from such an amazing kid! A big thank you to Josh!

We are planning several new events for the upcoming months:
  • March Movie Night
  • Autism Awareness Art Gala on April 22nd, featuring comedian Don Burnstick
  • Paint Night fundraiser for Mother's Day on May 14th (Almost sold out!)
We are looking forward to spring just around the corner and all our plans for our community. All the best from Autism Society of the RMWB!


Autism Society of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Autism Around Alberta – January 2017 Edition

January 2017 Edition

New Year’s Resolutions?

Erika Rowden
Every year, I used to make New Year’s Resolutions for myself. They were the usual stuff: get fit, lose weight, eat better… and after a few weeks, I had broken them all!
This year I have made a few, but I’m not going to call them resolutions; I’d rather call them intentions.
So here is my little list:
  • It’s OK not to be involved in everything that you feel you should be. Because of Conor’s ASD I feel like I need to be involved in every committee and activity, but in reality it’s just too overwhelming, and is simply not possible.
  • Stop feeling like Conor has to be busy all the time to help him regulate. With school demands and extracurricular activities he needs that downtime, just like all kids. I have to tell myself that it’s OK to take a break and have a quiet weekend – sometimes that is what we all need.
  • Spend more quality time with Conor and Shea – we don’t always have to go somewhere. Never be too busy to stop, listen and focus on what they are telling me or showing me.
  • Take care of me! Making time for the things that I enjoy doing is very important. I am a better person and parent when I can do this. I need to stay healthy for my kids!
  • Follow Conor’s cues more. Give him more independence to make him feel good about himself.
  • Stay connected with friends
  • Continue to learn about ASD – this will be a lifelong intention!
  • Stop and look at how far Conor has come, and appreciate the amazing progress. Make sure to tell him, too!
  • When regression hits, remember that he will come out of it and progress. Just be there for him and give him the support he needs.
Wishing everyone a wonderful 2017,

Autism Around Alberta – December 2016 Edition

December News from the Autism Society of the RMWB

Tina Delainey
It has been a very busy month for the Autism Society of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, and we have had great success with all our events since our last update.

We had a great turnout to our movie night! A lot of parents thanked us and asked that we try to put on more of these events, and we are now looking hosting an adult/teen movie night in the new year.

We have also been getting amazing feedback on our visit from Dr. Anthony Bailey, Dr. David Nicolas, Dr. Deborah Barrett and Nancy Gale. Our community is grateful to them for taking the time to come all the way up here to give us some wonderful information and advice.

Our fundraising efforts have been going well, but raising funds is challenging in a community that is still recovering from the events of the summer. A lot of our businesses are still struggling, but we were amazed that we managed to sell twice as many poinsettias as our initial target!

Our Christmas party was a hit, too! We had almost double the kids from last year – almost 70 children had a wonderful time visiting with Santa and enjoying the bouncy castles. They all loved their gifts from Santa, too! Even the parents told us what a great time they had, and that they’re already looking forward to next year’s celebration.

We are all excited for the New Year and all the great things we have planned for 2017. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Autism Society of the R.M.W.B.!


Autism Society of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
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Autism Around Alberta – November 2016 Edition

Three Stressful Mistakes

Kitty Parlby
My name is Kitty Parlby. I am:
  • the mother of a son with severe autism
  • a special needs Educational Assistant
  • a speaker/presenter on the subject of autism
  • a member of the Board of Directors for Autism Alberta
I would like to share with you….

Three Stressful Mistakes Made By Autism Families Who Live in Small or Isolated Towns/Villages and Remote or Rural Communities in Central Alberta

1. Reading up on and using only one type of autism strategy

There are MANY Autism programs, treatments, theories and approaches. Knowledge is power. Read books, listen to webinars, go to workshops, share knowledge and experiences with other autism families. Absorb all you can in whatever way works for you!

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Autism Around Alberta – October 2016 Edition

Autism Families Looking For Jobs in Smaller Centres

Kitty Parlby
We’re an autism family that’s all grown up. By that I mean that our autistic son, Eric, is now an adult (and so is our older son, Adam). Eric will be 20 years old in November, so no more teenagers for us.

Eric’s autism is complex and runs on the more severe end of the scale, with all the classic symptoms. Filling his days with activities and purposeful work is a challenging, even though he has a community aide worker who accompanies him throughout the day.

In a medium-to-large city, you can likely find support when looking for a job for your family member with autism. There are organizations in the larger centres that have programs and services to facilitate job placement support for those with autism.

But what about those of us that live in or near a small city, town or village? Our family has had this struggle, and realistically, we expect that this will be a recurring issue throughout Eric’s lifespan. At Eric’s level of autism, it’s most important to us that he is doing something he enjoys that contributes to society, whether through volunteering or at a business. The ‘getting paid’ issue is secondary for us, although not unimportant. Any extra money on top of his AISH is very useful to put away for the future. The money issue might not be secondary to you and your family member with autism, depending on your circumstances.

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Autism Around Alberta – September 2016 Edition

Central Alberta Support & Information Group – September Update

Jessica Schurman

On September 12, 2016, eighteen parents gathered at the GH Dawe Community Centre to discuss some of their challenges and successes so far during the new school year. We got to hear from some parents about the things that have been going great for their children, and we also had the chance to provide support and talk through some suggestions for others who are experiencing a difficult transition back to school. Parents enjoyed meeting and connecting with others on a similar journey, and I loved that we had some parents of older (high school and middle school) children come out and share what the new school year looks like for them and their family. They also really enjoyed the free childminding that is graciously provided by ASA for some well-needed respite – this month, we had a record 9 children in the Kidz Club!

The last thirty minutes of our meeting were dedicated to the discussion of any new business items that people in attendance wanted to discuss. Parents were very excited to hear about the plans made by the Social Solvers Crew about the Playdate Program – many parents were heading home to fill out the Social Skills and Information Profile and await their child’s match! If you'd like to learn more, visit


Autism Around Alberta – August 2016 Edition

Moving Mountains – My AGM Experience

Jessica Schurman
On Saturday, August 20th, Autism Society Alberta held its Annual General Meeting in Red Deer. I walked into the meeting feeling lower than low, discouraged; my bucket was empty. Three children, 17 loads of laundry, a van covered in Rice Krispies, and having only 24 hours to prepare for a mini-lake vacation will do that to you. Five hours is a great deal of time for anyone to dedicate and commit to a meeting, but wow, what a five hours it was. Everyone there had their own 17 loads of laundry and cereal covered minivan waiting for them, but they volunteered their time, showed up, and shared! I walked away from the AGM feeling completely inspired by the twenty people from across Alberta who were in attendance at the table and over the phone.
It was not five hours of budgets and reports – it was time spent learning and celebrating the other events and initiatives happening all over Alberta. For myself, on a personal level, it was a chance to spend time and connect with other parents and grandparents from across the province who are actively working to make the lives of all people touched by autism better. They are working tirelessly on policy, fundraising, and awareness. Most importantly (for me), I get the privilege of sitting in a room with parents who have children who are significantly older than my daughter and gaining knowledge and tips from them for when we get there. The advice, in my mind, is invaluable. My Matea is ten years shy of adulthood, but what a fast ten years I know it will be. I am forever thankful to this group of men and women who give of their time and their experience to help me and my daughter.
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