This dapper young man began his journey with the Centre for Autism Services Alberta (CFASA) 13 years ago when he was 5 years old.
Back then our summer camps were one big group. They were called Camp Ace and were for ages 5-12. This was where Sam and his family got to know the Centre. His mom stumbled upon a flyer for camp and the rest, as they say, is history. Sam and his family loved summer camp so much that he participated in 4 weeks of camp every summer! He continued his long career as a CFASA happy camper throughout his childhood and adolescence, attending teen camp when we started to offer that too.
As a little one, Sam took part in Kids Closet (OT dressing program), Music Therapy, Saturday Speech Group, and our art programs in partnership with the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts. Sam was in Specialized Services from 2008 – 2010. The Centre’s Specialized Services (SS) are coordinated services with several different clinicians including Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, and more. SS is focused to meet the unique needs of children and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and associated challenges. Sam’s brother and sister would often participate in the family events and some of the programs Sam took part in.
Once Sam was a teen, he branched out into other programs with the Centre, including Teen Social Night, our Shop, Cook, and Learn program, and carried on with the Art programs we offer in partnership with the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts.
Since Sam started at CFASA, his family has gotten more involved too. Sam’s mom Donna is a teacher and began teaching in our on-site pre-Kindergarten PUF class. This is the age group where most children start at the Centre, whether they are involved in our on-site pre-k and Kindergarten, or if they attend school elsewhere and are involved in programs such as Specialized Services. It is universally agreed that early intervention is the best way to ensure the best possible outcomes for autistic persons, and CFASA hopes to change outcomes by providing outstanding early childhood education options for families. Of the PUF on-site programs, Donna says “our program is important because there are limited opportunities for children with exceptional needs to be well-supported in early childhood school settings – there are fewer and fewer spots available and these children are being under-served. Our PUF program has THE BEST staff I have ever had the opportunity to work with. The recruitment and the training at the Centre are outstanding. Amazing, smart, kind people who are then provided with a skill set that is simply not found in such abundance anywhere else.”
Of her family’s experience at the Centre, Donna says the thing that stands out the most is the “FANTASTIC STAFF. Amazing, wonderful, kind, intuitive, WELL TRAINED staff – the folks who love and care and work with our children in camps, and at programs and activities – those young people are AMAZING. The Centre does a fantastic job recruiting and hiring outstanding, smart young people and then providing them with THE BEST training.”