Services and information about Autism Spectrum Disorder can be difficult to access outside of urban Albertan centres. In particular, rural, remote, and northern Alberta regions have unique needs related to ASD information and services. Autism Alberta, the University of Calgary, as well as community leaders and partners, are working together to better understand the information and resource needs related to ASD for rural, remote, and northern communities in Alberta.
In order to learn more, we want to talk to community members (that’s you!) touched by ASD. We are hoping you will share your knowledge to increase the understanding of the resources, gaps, strategies, and strengths that exist within your area. We will be hosting discussion groups in two selected regions over the next few months. We invite community members who have been touched by ASD (individuals with autism, family members, service providers, and other supporters) to participate in guiding the development of a strategy relevant to your community. The voices of individuals and families impacted by ASD are critical to this project. Only you can ensure issues are meaningfully addressed.
Our work has already begun! On March 15th, Dr. David Nicholas (University of Calgary), Dr. Deborah Barrett (Autism Alberta) and Kirsti Mardell (Fort McMurray community leader) hosted two initial teleconference calls for residents of Fort McMurray and surrounding areas to discuss and receive feedback regarding local resources and information. Thank you to all who joined us for providing valuable insight.
As we move forward, we will be scheduling in-person discussion groups in the Fort McMurray and Central Alberta regions to provide further time and space for community members to share perspectives and insight. If you live in either of these regions and are interested in participating in this project, please let us know.