Twenty-Five years ago in Edmonton, there were no private or community support services in place to help children with autism and their families. The families were isolated, confused, and exhausted, with no connection to one another, experts, or 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, and in turn, help many others.
They knew there were other families out there, like them. They wanted to help these families too. They wanted to invite new families into this organization and ensure its programs evolved with the best available science, and with children as they grew into adulthood.
And they wanted something else: to build a community that understands, includes, and creates opportunities for Autistic individuals.
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, music, or Tae Kwon Do. We create ways to try new ideas with our staff and volunteers.
When a program succeeds, we move it into homes, schools, and arts centres, into community kitchens, into the YMCA, into municipal programs, and clubs. We’re a service provider and an educational organization. We train others to do what we do: to understand what makes Autistic children 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 doesn’t grow as fast, but it’s much better for kids, their families, and the province. As more and more young people are diagnosed with autism, more and more of us have to understand it. These are 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, find jobs and launch companies, volunteer, build enriched lives, and build Alberta.
The Centre thrives on new ideas, research, imagination, and 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!