4 February 2006
An electronic bulletin for adults who are vulnerable because of disability
and for their families, friends and supporters who care about them

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This bulletin is one outcome of the Guelph Spring Conference on Creative Supports held 29 April 2005, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. It is for everyone who is vulnerable because of any kind of disability, and for their families, friends and supporters. We can share dilemmas and difficulties as well as bright ideas and successes. There are announcements of events and special projects, discussions of issues and concerns, and links to useful books, websites and other resources. Our focus is mainly on Ontario, but we have wider contacts as well.

In organizing the Guelph Spring conference, we were moved by a desire to be positive and resourceful amid challenges--by the idea expressed in a Chinese proverb:  It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

The bulletin is being sent first to email addresses on our Aroha Listserv. Why Aroha? Practically, it's good for a Listserv or website to have a short, distinctive codeword unlikely to be confused with any other. More importantly, Aroha, a Polynesian Maori word from Aotearoa/New Zealand, means the various qualities and values that are needed in a caring circle of friends. It can mean affection, respect, love, charity, compassion, empathy, concern, trust, pity, understanding and true friendship—all in active ways, not just ideas or feelings. 

You are receiving this bulletin because you attended the Guelph conference in April 2005 or expressed interest in resources coming out of that conference. Or you may have been a member of our PLN Listserv, for people concerned with Personal Support Networks. Or someone on the List has suggested that you could be interested. We hope you will continue on the Aroha Listserv, recommend it to others, and contribute news and ideas that we may share. Please click for a technical note on how to maintain your membership of the Aroha Listserv and how to unsubscribe if you wish.

Please send news, announcements and comments to We welcome news items, announcements of events, new information, discussion questions and comments, and accounts of experience.

The Aroha Listserv and Creative Supports Bulletin are linked to the OAARSN website (Ontario Adult Autism Research & Support Network) which is hosted at the University of Guelph. Click to reach OAARSN's main page 

Please note that we (or OAARSN or the University of Guelph) do not necessarily endorse announcements or opinions that may be posted in this bulletin.. We will make reasonable efforts to check sources.

Gerald & Elizabeth Bloomfield
Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Previous Creative Supports bulletins may be found by clicking on the following links:

January 18, 2006
November 12, 2005
October 10, 2005
September 18, 2005
August 15, 2005
August 1, 2005
July 6, 2005


Ideas: Food for Thought

Journey: We've had 25 years of friendship, and people are still lonely

Al Etmanski. founding Executive Director of PLAN, argues that:
"After 25 years, our challenge is no longer to prove the wisdom of our insights" on for example, the fundamental importance of friendship in the lives of vulnerable people. "It is to ensure their widespread acceptance and sustainability by...concerted and collaborative effort… and a lot of hard work." He proposes that anyone "interested in exploring a sustainable agenda to end isolation and loneliness" needs to:
1) Establish an intentional and bold agenda;
2) Study change;
3) Unify our efforts;
4) Collaborate with our allies;
5) Proclaim our values.

Click on the title to read the whole article, originally published in the Perspective department of Abilities, Issue 61, pp.45–46, Winter 2004.


Ontario News and Commentary

Ontario Ombudsman Fights Arbitrary Limits on his Authority
Click on title for full text of a column written by the Ombudsman of Ontario that appeared in the January 23rd, 2006 issue of the Law Times. André Marin argues the importance of increasing independent government oversight. This is an exceprt:
"In a healthy democracy, those treated unfairly when accessing public services should be entitled to redress. And those who use public funds to provide public services should have their actions subject to the searchlight of public scrutiny. Oversight of this kind improves performance and diminishes the risk that citizens will become or remain frustrated with their own governments.

"By and large, Ontarians are well served in this regard. The independent Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario, which I am privileged to administer, has been furnished with robust powers to perform effective oversight of the kind I describe. We review complaints, secure relevant information and, when necessary, conduct formal investigations that shine the sanitizing searchlight healthy democracy requires. Still, there remains a vast gap in oversight. My authority as Ombudsman is limited to oversight of provincial "government organizations," even though more than half of the tax dollars spent in this Province is furnished to non-government organizations. These bodies - including municipalities, universities, schools, hospitals, Children's Aid Societies (CAS), long-term care facilities, and some psychiatric units - perform vital statutory duties that belong to the provincial government yet are immune from the public scrutiny that my Office offers. Perhaps the best way to show the implications of this is to put a human face to it - little Jeffrey Baldwin comes to mind.... "

Network of Employment Skills Training Projects (ONESTEP)
and Goals
  • To continue to strengthen Ontario's system of community training, which addresses the needs of employment- disadvantaged individuals, through the provision of membership services and advocacy efforts.
  • To provide member organizations with quality services which meet their needs and further their efforts to assist employment disadvantaged persons.
  • To promote the recognition of community-based training as a necessary component of the education and training sector.
  • To strengthen the voice of community-based training in Ontario.
  • To maintain partnerships with other organizations in the community-based training field that further our mutual interests.
  • To maintain positive working relations with existing funders of community-based training in Ontario, and to develop new relations as circumstances require.



John Toft, Secretary, Families Matter Co-operative Inc, reports on a workshop about
Individualized Funding on Saturday January 28th, hosted by the Co-op and Lifetime Networks of Ottawa.
Click for a report. People with developmental disabilities, their families and network members throughout
Eastern Ontario will be invited to a follow-up meeting in March.
Visit for and about people with developmental disabilities.


These items from Guelph Services for the Autistic which hosted the conference last April on Creative Supports for Vulnerable Adults

Waterloo Region Developmental Services Chart
Nancy Cherry of Waterloo, ASPIRE Advocate for GSA during 2005, has compiled a detailed chart of services to support people with Developmental Disabilities. All services that could be accessed by/for children, youth and adults are shown, with those funded through the MCSS Drvelopmental Services Stream distinguished from other community services that may be helpful. The chart is accompanied by a Developmental Disabilities Resource List with names of agencies and service-providers and their contact numbers. Please click on the title to reach this chart. We recommend that you print out the chart and the two pages of resource information on 11 by 17-inch paper (tabloid size).

Thanks to Nancy for her great service to the Waterloo Region. She has also produced a list of potential resources and service-provider for adults with autism in the region--though none has a specific mandate for adults with ASD.

Colloquium 2006:
Person-Centred Supports for and with Adults with Autism in Waterloo-Wellington
To mark the culmination of the ASPIRE project of GSA, a full-day discussion is being organized for April 21 for representatives of autism support groups, agencies and service-providers.

Creative Supports for Vulnerable Citizens
Audio and video recordings of the Guelph Spring Conference in April 2005 have been edited into:
-summary videotape of the essence and highlights of the conference

-a print publication of edited text transcripts of the presentations and of the displays

More than 180 people joined in the full program that opened with a keynote address by John Lord on “Creative Supports that Work: Values, Principles and Processes.”
Then there were four parallel workshops:

Judith Snow on “Building Supports with Individuals”
Barbara Leavitt on “From Housing to Creating My Home”
Peggy Hutchison on “Building Meaningful Supports for Work and Recreation Experiences”
Marlyn Shervill, Alice Quinlan and Michelle Friesen on “How Families and Communities
Can Make Creative Options Work: The Windsor-Essex Experience”
Throughout the day there were many displays by organizations from all over southern Ontario. Several creative initiatives were featured in the early afternoon session. John Lord gathered up the day’s ideas and strategies in a final plenary session, so that we could all “go home with awareness.”

The videotape and book have been produced by Guelph Services for the Autistic, which thanks Kerry's Place Autism Services and the Community Mental Health Clinic in Guelph for grants to help us make these resources available at modest cost.
Click for more details and order form


One purpose in posting these announcments is to publicize events being offered by organizations who have similar values to ours. As many of us are limited in our ability to travel, another purpose is to share creative ideas that might be taken up by others.

Please send submissions for this news bulletin in plain text format by email to with "announcement" at the beginning of the subject line.
Please provide details of the following as BRIEFLY as possible: 
 Name of Event
 Main Speakers and Topics of Event 
 Date of Event 
 City and Location of Event
 Contact information to learn more about event 
 Please Do Not Send Files Or Brochure Attachments, but URL links to more detailed information on other websites are welcome.

February 8 - 12, 2006
, in Toronto
Judith Snow and Caleb Yong are performing in a play about personal assistance,
and what it takes to be “me”.

The play – called Suck and Blow – lasts 25 minutes long, and is one of a series of short plays performed throughout the evening.

Caleb is a playwright and has been a personal assistant for Judith for four years. Our fellow producers and writers are Michael Rubenfeld and Tara Beagan, both experienced playwrights, producers and actors.
Details: Rhubarb (2nd of 3 weeks)
at Buddies and Bad Times

Events Wednesday - Sunday, beginning at 8pm
Box Office 416-975-8555,
12 Alexander Street, Toronto
Evening Passes $15
Week Passes $20 (Buddies has 2 stages)

February 25, 2006, in Guelph

Agency Information Fair for families and individuals with disabilities
in partnership with Public and Catholic School Boards and Family Counselling & Support Services Guelph-Wellington.
Click for more details

March 4, 2006, 10am or 2pm (choice of two times)
Disability and Estate Planning: a seminar with Ottawa lawyer Kenneth Pope
At Ignatius Jesuit Centre of Guelph
Sponsored by Family Counselling and Support Services and FASD Parent Support Group of Guelph
See more at
Register by calling 1-866-KEN-POPE or contact sharon at

April 4, 2006, 5-8pm, in Kitchener
Community Connections 2006:
Information for People with Disabilities in the Region of Waterloo
St Mary's High School, 1500 Block Line Road, Kitchener
Click for flyer

April 8, 2006, in Arthur (North Wellington County)
Agency Information Fair for families and individuals with disabilities
in partnership with Public and Catholic School Boards and Family Counselling & Support Services Guelph-Wellington.
Click for more details



The Company of Others: Stories of Belonging
by Sandra Shields and David Campion, 183 pages, paperback. $24.95
(plus shipping & handling)
Now only $19.95 (held over until February 14, 2006)
There is no idea of society more ancient than a circle of friends. And there is nothing more predictable than the discovery by such a circle, who have come together to support one among them, that the one in need is somehow helping the others.
The five people around whom this book is written convey a message about the essential role that friendship plays in their lives, each of them, as well as in the lives of the individuals who make up each of their circles.
- John Ralston Saul,
Foreword to The Company of Others
To order The Company of Others, click here.
To read an excerpt from The Company of Others, click here.

PLANfacts Winter 2006 Issue
PLANfacts online provides current information and news to PLAN members, associates, and supporters, and enables PLAN to extend its outreach beyond our current membership and readership. This issue includes:
-David's Story
-The many benefits of a Registered Disability Savings Plan
-Tax Tips - Information about the Disability Tax Credit, as well as credits and benefits for medical expenses, and for caregivers and parents.




We know that some vulnerable adults and their families and caregivers are heroically using what resources they have to achieve some successes with their challenges. Some can report remarkable progress. We invite you to share your challenges, dreams and success stories, if you think others might help or benefit.

FRONTLINE IMMERSION Experience in supporting vulnerable adults:
Ontario Opportunity

An Ontario man—let’s call him Alex--who lives with quite severe challenges of autism, has come up with a creative idea, with his family and friends. He lives in his own home with support and chooses the people with whom he shares his home and his time. Alex knows he is a pioneer and sees himself as a teacher and leader.

Over the past eight years, with the help of my support group I have developed a very good quality of life. I would like to share what we have learned with others. My large home has plenty of space to host people interested in learning more about support strategies such as:

  • My person-centred life plan
  • My alternative and augmentative modes of communication, deep listening by my friends, and supported decision-making
  • Support by my circle of friends and incorporated aroha entity (aka a microboard)
  • Support by a housing trust devoted to helping adults with autism to have their own homes 
  • Health and dietary interventions
  • Independence technologies to that I can do as much as possible for myself and move around my neighbourhood in freedom and safety
  • Continued learning and work that contributes to my community
  • Therapies such as music, art, horticulture and my companion dog.

Expressions of interest are invited from people who would like to learn by immersion for a period of two weeks. Two guests at one time could be accommodated, in their own rooms in a private wing. People who could be interested:

  • Family members hoping to support their adult sons or daughters in a similar kind of home.
  • Practicum students planning careers in human services
  • In-service support workers wishing to widen their experience
  • In-service agency managers wishing to learn about new options in supported living

How would interning guests learn?

  • Observing my daily and weekly life and the most effective ways I need support
  • Reading plans and viewing tapes in advance
  • Sharing in household and community activities with me
  • Practising several forms of support
  • Tutorials and individualized learning about my challenges and various support strategies, in relation to those of a wider spectrum of vulnerable people.

Why offer this immersion experience?

  • My friends and I have found that few personal support workers are prepared for the kind of respectful, self-directed support I need. We think that training for work in developmental services should include immersion on the frontlines
  • Others besides me need this kind of approach, though their exact needs may differ. What guests learn in my home can be adapted to supporting people who have somewhat different needs.

People seriously interested in knowing more this experience are asked to send an email first to   We will put you in touch with Alex and his support group for more information.

If you wish, we will not publish your name or email address. You may send a message to

{return to the OAARSN Bulletin Board}