ASPIRE Update - August 2002


Aspire: to be ambitious; to long for or yearn; to seek to accomplish something high and great; to rise, ascend, soar. These dictionary definitions describe qualities of the new initiative being launched this month by Guelph Services for the Autistic (GSA), with generous financial support from Waterloo-Wellington Autism Services (WWAS). 

But the word is also an acronym for the project: Autism Support Project: Information, Resources, Empowerment, for and with people with autism and their families in Guelph-Wellington County or the Region of Waterloo. 

We expect that two main groups will be interested: young people aged 18-20 who are leaving school-based services for adulthood; and older adults who still live with their parents and need to consider other options for the future.

Ms Jan Cooper of Guelph will work part-time as ASPIRE Advocate. The ASPIRE Steering Group, which reports to the GSA Board, consists of Amar Arneja, Dave DeVidi, John Verhart, Stan Shalay (representing WWAS Board) and Elizabeth Bloomfield. Peter McCaskell, who volunteers with the technical side of the OAARSN website, has offered to do the confidential processing of the survey data. The WWAS Board has further supported ASPIRE and OAARSN by paying for a new computer to handle these tasks. We thank all these volunteers and the Boards of WWAS and GSA for supporting this initiative.

ASPIRE offers hope of a good life in community by: 

  • Building knowledge, through the OAARSN surveys, of how adults experience autism spectrum disorders and the most effective strategies of coping with their disabilities and achieving the best possible quality of life, and 
  • Modeling a facilitation service to inform and empower autistic individuals, 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. 
In the first part of ASPIRE, we are trying to record a picture of the situations and support needs of adults (or older teenagers) with autism in Waterloo and Wellington regions. We urge everyone who is, supports or knows any person on the autism spectrum who will be 17 years or older by the end of 2002, to co-operate with one of the two OAARSN surveys. 
  • First, there is the more detailed “long-form” survey that takes about 30 minutes to complete; it has questions about abilities and challenges, treatments and therapies, quality of life, and planning for the future. This is for people and families who are actively concerned with planning for the future. 
  • The more basic “short-form” survey takes only 5 minutes to complete. This is for people who do not wish or are unable to take part in any other ASPIRE activities. However, it’s important for you to complete the short-form survey at least, as the numbers and needs profiles that come out of this survey will help planners and agencies in the social service system to provide and fund resources needed by people with autism in our communities. 
Interested in ASPIRE?
If you are an adult or older teenager (16 years or over) with autism spectrum disorders in Wellington or Waterloo Region, or are supporting such an adult, we urge you to complete one of the surveys on the OAARSN website at

Completing and submitting the survey (long or short) online is the most confidential and efficient way. If you have already submitted a long-form survey, you don’t need to do anything now, unless your situation has changed. If you fill in a short-form survey now, you may later submit a long-form survey as well, if you wish. 

You may request a paper copy of the long-form survey by leaving a message at phone (519) 821-7424 or email Completed paper surveys (both short-form and long-form) may be mailed to:
Guelph Services for the Autistic (GSA) 
A charitable non-profit corporation 
16 Caribou Crescent 
Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1E 1C9 

Please tell any other individual, family or support group about ASPIRE and the new needs survey. 

ASPIRE will run for 20 months. In its second part, which will run concurrently with the surveys, ASPIRE will help families who are ready to begin the process of planning for the future of their daughter/son.

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