April 2, 2015


The Honourable Tracy MacCharles
Minister of Children and Youth Services

United Nations World Autism Awareness Day

I rise in the House today to recognize World Autism Awareness Day.

Every year on April 2nd, we join together to promote a greater understanding of autism spectrum disorder and to celebrate the accomplishments made by those who live with ASD each and every day.

For the last 12 years, this government has been committed to making a difference in the lives of those affected by ASD.

We have more than quadrupled the investments in autism services for children and youth.

These investments have allowed more children and youth to access the services they need earlier, including Intensive Behavioural Intervention or IBI therapy.

In addition to the added supports and services, these investments have allowed service providers to diversify in the services that they provide, giving children and youth living with ASD and their families a more tailored approach to therapy through:

Our government has also invested heavily in ASD research, specifically into the genetic causes of ASD, evidenced based best-practices, and we have established the ASD Clinical Expert Committee to provide the ministry with ongoing clinical guidance.

Every child deserves supports that can enable him or her to reach their full potential in life.

And every child with Autism is unique.

As are their personal circumstances.

And how best to address their needs can vary.

That is why as part of my mandate letter I have been asked by the Premier to develop an Autism Strategy — a strategy that will focus on developing and implementing programs that will improve the experience and outcomes for children and youth with ASD.

The Autism Parent Resource Kit that was launched last spring is another way we are helping families get to the services they need earlier and more efficiently.

This web-based resource kit provides information and resources to support families of children with ASD at all stages of their child’s progress and development.

I also want to acknowledge the contribution of Aiden Lee in this important initiative.

Aiden is a remarkable child and is someone living with ASD.

Aiden is the artist behind the beautiful cover on the Autism Parent resource Kit — "the Autism Dragon".

Aiden’s dragon is a fierce fighter in the campaign to raise awareness and acceptance of ASD all over the world.

I am very pleased to welcome Aiden and his mother here today!

As a government, we are listening and working with families, clinicians, teachers and experts, including the people I spoke with throughout my extensive consultations as Parliamentary Assistant to the then Minister of Children and Youth Services, Dr. Eric Hoskins, three years ago.

This experience armed us with the right information, from the people on the ground, from the people living with children with special needs, to give us a better understanding of the bigger picture and to develop a long term strategy for children and youth with all kinds of special needs, including ASD.

We want to have the greatest impact. That means seizing opportunities to do more and being more effective in what we already do.

Our Special Needs Strategy, launched in February 2014, is focused on strengthening services for all children and youth with special needs including those with ASD by:

It is a long-term strategy that involves four ministries working together with families, the sector and service providers.

The strategy will continue to evolve and adapt as we continue to listen to, and learn from, young people with special needs, parents, service-providers, researchers and advocates.

It’s part of our ongoing commitment to helping everyone touched by ASD.

Thank you again for allowing me the time to recognize this very important day and for giving me the opportunity to highlight the dedication of the families touched by ASD and the people who provide unwavering support to those in need — you are all an example to live by.

Thank you.