ASPIRE UPDATE, June 2003

Guelph Services for the Autistic
16 Caribou Crescent, GUELPH, ON, N1E 1C9
phone (519) 823-9232  
email: ebloomfi@uoguelph.ca

This note goes to families who have been associated with the ASPIRE initiative in the past nine months. ASPIRE was proposed and is directed by Guelph Services for the Autistic (GSA) to help families of adults with autism to know more about their options. ASPIRE is supported by funds provided by Waterloo-Wellington Autism Services.

ASPIRE began well last fall when Jan Cooper, ASPIRE Advocate, met with several families. Jan has taken compassionate leave for most of the past six months, because of the illness and death of her father.

One of the common threads in what families told Jan was an expressed wish for some kind of planning process that would help them to understand choices they might make so their daughter or son could have the best possible life now and a more secure future.

Families also said they wanted to have more social contact with other families in similar situations.

We write now to offer some events that could meet both needs. These plans grow out of our inquiries on your behalf into the PATH planning process.  PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) was developed by Inclusion Press in Toronto and has been influential all over the world.

A PATH event can help families and friends of a vulnerable person to think and plan about their situation, its challenges and assets. It is usually led by a pair of trained facilitators--one who draws out the thoughts of everyone present while the other records these in images. A PATH event helps us, for a few hours, raise our sights above the everyday minutiae, barriers and challenges. It also gives a voice (however this can be done) to our daughter or son who is the focus person. Through PATH, it is possible to think and dream beyond the constraints of systems and agencies. Some PATH events may chart a person's life well into the future. Some may be for more immediate purposes.

At first, GSA's search for qualified facilitators in our region came up short. Then Inclusion Press recommended Beth Hancox of Waterloo, who had trained at Inclusion and then worked for the Foundations project in the Region of Waterloo. And GSA sent Jan Cooper to take the 3-day training for PATH, MAPS and CIRCLES at Inclusion Press in late April. Jan and Beth have met to discuss how they can work together facilitating PATH for our families.

NOW WE PLAN TO OFFER ASPIRE FAMILIES:
1. An evening workshop for 2 hours, to introduce PATHS and PERSONAL SUPPORT CIRCLES--what could be achieved and what's involved--the basics of "why", "what" and "how". This gathering would also have some benefits for families to meet one another, perhaps as the basis of a continuing support group.

2. A couple of pilot PATH exercises for particular persons with their families and friends. Each would last 3-4 hours--probably as a weekend morning or afternoon, and would usually be hosted by the family.

GSA has resolved to pay for the facilitation costs of the workshop and PATH events for ASPIRE families. Families would be responsible for hosting the PATH events.

GSA could provide particular further support for families that opt for the combination of IF, aroha, person-centred planning, home ownership etc. 

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WE NEED TO KNOW FROM YOU SOON, PLEASE, YOUR WISHES AND AVAILABILITY FOR THE FOLLOWING:

EVENING PATH WORKSHOP, in Guelph, on Tuesday evening, September 9, from 7 to 9 pm. It will be in a home setting. Please email (ebloomfi@uoguelph.ca) or phone Elizabeth (519) 823-9232 to request an invitation. If more than about a dozen sign up, we ill hold a second PATH workshop the following Tuesday, September 16, as well. If youíd like to borrow our video and book about PATH in advance, please let us know. 

JANíS VISITS DURING AUGUST
If you would welcome a visit by Jan, please also let Elizabeth know as soon as possible. Details about good dates and times would be helpful in planning Janís schedule.

PILOT PATH EVENTS
After the workshop, could you feel ready and able to hold a PATH for your daughter or son?  Would you like to plan one of the two pilot PATH events?  Please let Elizabeth or Jan know your thoughts and wishes.

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HAVE YOU OTHER CONCERNS YOU WISH ASPIRE TO HELP WITH?

Please reply by email (ebloomfi@uoguelph.ca) or by phone to Elizabeth at (519) 823-9232