Achievements to June 2004, in relation to the project’s goals:

GSA has appointed Nancy Miles as the new ASPIRE Advocate, from 1 July 2004.

ASPIRE was first launched in fall 2004 for a 20-month period. After reviewing its achievements to spring 2004, GSA decided to continue its work for a further 5 months and perhaps longer. We appreciate the continued financial support from Waterloo Wellington Autism Services.

As numerical measures of ASPIRE’s success, we hoped for:

  • Dozens of families participating in the needs survey. Generally achieved, though we     haven’t promoted the survey much. The pilot survey has been adapted to new SNAP software. Responses are received from all over Ontario and beyond, as well as in our region.
  • At least 15 families participating in some in-depth discussions with ASPIRE Advocate. Achieved so far with 6 of the 14 Guelph-Wellington families who expressed interesting ASPIRE; achieved with 7 of the 18 Waterloo families. Most families have asked for and received help on specific problems and needs as well.
  • At least 10 families beginning the process of making a sustainable, person-centred life plan by the end of the project. Nine families were represented at the PATH workshop on September 9, a start in this process.
  • Between 4 and 6 families with well-developed person-centred plans which are at least partially implemented by the end of the project. Two adults and their families have so far organized PATH events, with support from ASPIRE, and others are considering doing so soon. We are still working towards this goal. We are fortunate to be able to call on the services of trained facilitators who can lead and record PATH events.

Other ASPIRE Achievements (longer-term and more extensive)

1. GSA/OAARSN is represented on the Wellington ASD Working Group, and its Adult ASD task force; Elizabeth Bloomfield presented an invited position paper. See

2. OAARSN invited to have display and brochure about Adults with Autism at Ministry of Education’s ASD conference Sept 10-12. This is posted online at

3. Marlene Klimkosz represented ASPIRE at London conference on Autism in Adults. See

4. Andrew Foster (now vice-president of GSA) represented ASPIRE at the Individualized Funding Coalition conference in Toronto in February 2004. See his report at

5. Elizabeth helped organize the Autism Society Ontario meeting Supporting Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders in May 2004, and various ASPIRE families were represented.
Click for report (by Mandeep Arneja):
For further thoughts from ASPIRE's point of view:

6. Elizabeth has presented to several groups about features of Andrew’s plan, including his person-centred plan, his home and GSA’s role as a housing trust, and Aroha

7. Several families elsewhere in Ontario are using our models for homes and aroha entities


ASPIRE offers hope of a good life in community for vulnerable adults on the autism spectrum by:

  • Building knowledge of how adults experience autism spectrum disorders and the most effective strategies of supporting them to cope with their disabilities and achieve the best possible quality of life;
  • Facilitating autistic persons, with their families and friends, to plan and find resources for all the elements of a good life, including relationships with a personal support network, a home of one’s own, ways to make choices and contribute to the community, and a safe and secure future.

ASPIRE seeks to do much more than slot people into waiting lists for traditional services for people who are developmentally challenged. ASPIRE’s distinctive hallmarks are:

  1. Concern for a whole life that suits each person’s unique abilities, interests and needs, as these are known from the person herself/himself; 
  2. Respect for the personal support network of family and friends as a vital resource and safeguard for quality of life now and in the future;
  3. Creative, individualized ways of ensuring that adults with autism have the most appropriate and empowering choices on all elements of a good life, including:

-        a personal support network of friends and family

-        a home of one’s own that reflects one’s preferences and needs

-        ways to express thoughts and feelings, make informed choices, and be heard

-        ways to continue learning and growing

-        ways to contribute meaningfully to the community

-        a safe and secure future.

ASPIRE is not a case management service or a direct service provider, though incidentally it may help persons to obtain Government-funded services and supports.