The Centre has an address. But we like to think of it as everywhere.
Twenty years ago, in Edmonton, there was no way to help children with autism and their families. They were isolated, confused, and exhausted, with no connection to one another, to experts, to the community.
Researchers were beginning to understand the condition, but there was scarcely a link between the science and what was happening in a growing number of households in Alberta.
In 1997, a few parents of children with autism launched a new organization in Edmonton. The science, then as now, showed that early intervention could make a huge difference in a child’s life. They acted quickly, to help their children reach their full potential.
They knew there were other families out there, like them. They wanted to help these families too, invite them into this organization, and they wanted to be sure its programs evolved with the science and with these children as they grew into adulthood.
And they wanted something else: to build a community that understands, includes, and creates opportunities for people with autism.
The Centre for Autism Services Alberta inherited these goals. We put science into action every day but we aren’t bound by our address or the walls of our building. We take our successes to every corner of the city.
Today, with the support of funders, sponsors and private donors, our programs and services are changing outcomes, enriching lives, empowering families, fostering independence and transforming communities.
We invite passionate experts to launch new programs here. We invite parents and community partners to suggest ideas that might interest their children. Maybe it’s a new technique or therapy. Maybe it’s art, cooking, skating or music or Tae Kwon Do. We invent a way to try it, with staff and volunteers.
When a program succeeds, we move it into homes and schools and arts centres, into community kitchens, into the YMCA, into municipal programs, and into clubs. We’re a service provider and an educational organization. We train others to do what we do: to understand what makes children with autism unique, to include them, and to integrate them into the community.
We love when our partners take these opportunities and nurture them. When we let our programs breathe outside our walls, perhaps the Centre itself doesn’t grow as fast, but it’s much better for kids, for their families, for the province. As more and more young people are diagnosed with autism, more and more of us have to understand it. They’re citizens who can make an extraordinary contribution, if we’re willing to help.
While there is support for adults with disabilities, there is little support for adults with autism. Too often, adults with autism find themselves isolated at home. At the Centre for Autism we’re finding new ways to help our adults navigate their homes and the city, to find jobs and launch companies, to volunteer, to build splendid lives and to build Alberta.
The Centre thrives on new ideas, on research, on imagination and on public and philanthropic funding. The return on our investment is extraordinary. All Albertans can help someone with autism. All Albertans with autism can make a meaningful contribution to the province and realize what is in their hearts and in their dreams.
The Centre is in your neighbourhood. Join us.