10 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:

February 4, 2006
January 18, 2006
November 12, 2005
October 10, 2005
September 18, 2005
August 15, 2005
August 1, 2005
July 6, 2005



Locating Technology Project announced

A collaborative project between the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University and the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) is related to gaining a better understanding of the complex realities of using locating technology with citizens who are at risk of wandering and subsequently becoming lost. The project is being undertaken through Accessibly Yours (AY), the School’s consultation arm. AY aims to enhance environments for the purpose of facilitating individuals in their search for living well and participating in their communities.  

The project aims to assist caregivers who care for people who have Alzheimer’s disease, acquired brain injury, a developmental disability, or autism. The study is exploring the role of technological devices, which could simply be a small bracelet or cell phone. If the caregiver identifies the person for whom they care is lost, they could potentially use the locating technology to find out the person’s location.

Click on the title to read more. Volunteers to test the various devices and systems are invited to contact either Mehdi Tabatabaeinia (905) 525-9140 extension 22047 or Nicole Grochowina at ext 26896.


Ministry of Community and Social Services press release,
February 8, 2006

McGuinty Government Helping People With Disabilities Find Jobs And Increase Their Income

Changes Mean A Higher Quality Of Life For Social Assistance Recipients And Their Families

TORONTO – The McGuinty government is helping people with disabilities gain greater financial independence and increase their standard of living by improving the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), Minister of Community and Social Services Sandra Pupatello announced today.

As part of its plan to restore integrity to Ontario's social assistance system, the government is introducing changes to ODSP supports and services to make it easier for recipients and their families to find jobs, keep more of what they earn and, for those who are able, move toward financial independence from ODSP.

"It's time our social assistance system did a better job of supporting people with disabilities who want and are able to work, and rewarding those who are trying," said Pupatello. "Having a job brings more than financial benefits – it gives people an opportunity to contribute to their communities and helps them fulfil their potential. That leads to a higher quality of life for our clients and their families."

Currently, more than 18,000 ODSP recipients are working. Many more are able and willing to work, but need the right supports. In the coming months, the government will implement a number of improvements that will help ODSP recipients and their families:

  • Find work – such as improving access to employment services, like job placement and retention support, to help recipients and their families find and keep real, sustainable jobs
  • Keep more of what they earn – such as replacing the current set of complicated earnings exemption rules with an easy-to-understand 50 per cent flat rate exemption combined with a new $100 monthly work-related benefit. For recipients this means that only half of their income will be deducted from their ODSP payment, plus they will receive an extra $100 per month – and as a result, the vast majority of current earners will automatically see an increase in their disposable income
  • Move toward financial independence – such as providing ongoing health-related benefits to recipients who find employment and leave ODSP until they receive employer health coverage, so people don't have to worry about how they will pay for their prescription drug, dental and vision care expenses.
"Our plan to help more people with disabilities get into the workforce will result in a stronger economy, stronger communities and a stronger Ontario," said Pupatello. "By investing in our people, we're investing in the future prosperity of our province."


Frontline Immersion Experience in Supporting Vulnerable Adults: An 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.



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.

Click for Nancy's year-end report on her ASPIRE work in 2005
You may also peruse earlier information about ASPIRE which has now formally ended.

Colloquium 2006:
Person-Centred Supports for and with Adults with Autism in Waterloo-Wellington
To mark the culmination of GSA's ASPIRE project, 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

March 29, 2006, evening, in Owen Sound
Shirley Sutton OT offers a workshop on sensory integration strategies for parents and educators.
For more details, contact
Laura Walton-Clouston by email at or phone at 705-445-0695.
For general information about Shirley's OT practice, visit

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

April 18, 2006, evening: in Collingwood
Shirley Sutton OT offers a workshop on sensory integration strategies for parents and educators.
For more details, contact Laura Walton-Clouston by email at or phone at 705-445-0695. For general information about Shirley's OT practice, visit

May 5-7, 2006, in Windsor
Achieving True Inclusion: Living Outside the Box

Family Alliance Ontario/Integration Action for Inclusion annual conference
Friday May 5 (evening), Saturday May 6 (all day) and Sunday May 7 (morning).
We welcome siblings, parents, whole families and friends.

More information to come, or check the Family Alliance Ontario website at to register online in the future.   



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.

new book expected April 2006
More Than a Mom: Living a Full and Balanced Life when your child has special needs
Click for advance information about new book by Amy Baskin and Heather Fawcett




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. 

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

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