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Send news, announcements and comments to gbloomfi@uoguelph.ca We welcome news items, announcements of autism events, new information, discussion questions and comments, and accounts of experience.

Please note that this service is for information and awareness. We cannot endorse or be held responsible for the validity of any information or the value of any therapy or service. Nor do we necessarily agree with opinions that may be expressed.


29 November 2004


A Service Provider’s Dilemma with Insurance
"I would really appreciate some dialogue concerning a situation I find myself in as a therapist and director of a small day program for verbal adults on the autism spectrum in Toronto. I have a clinic type setting in a separated apartment in my home. There are three modest sensory rooms, concentrating on sensory dysfunction, developing activity/sensory type diets, using community resources to expand the interests of participants. I am having difficulty obtaining insurance because of the population I work with. I could have a day care in my home, for neurotypical children-- even with no separation between my living space and working space--without its affecting my home insurance policy.  But as soon as I say 'special needs' children or 'special needs adults', my broker tells me that my home insurance policy (general liability) will be canceled. ...Has anyone else experienced issues with insurance in servicing from a residence...and if so how was it solved?"

Click on title to read the full account. OAARSN welcomes general responses. Or let us know if you are willing to speak directly to this service provider. This is a real challenge just as we hope for more flexible  supports for our adults who experience the symptoms of ASD so individually.



Nobody said drawing the line is easy
Andre Picard's column in Globe and Mail: "The [Supreme Court's] decision is not cold-hearted or mean-spirited; on the contrary, it is principled and thoughtful. The court has stated, unequivocally, that the decision to fund or not fund specific health services is a matter for Parliament and provincial legislatures to determine."

Healthy thinking on autism from court
Montreal Gazette editorial: "the Supreme Court is ... right in disavowing any decision-making power in this matter. If it had declared therapy for autistic children to be a right, it would have invited a tsunami of similar claims by any number of disadvantaged persons for fully-funded therapy of many types. Instead the court stressed the central role played by elected representatives, and thereby the people who elect them, in matters of health-care policy. This show of clear thinking from our top bench is a very healthy sign."

Families of autistic kids deserve help
Kitchener-Waterloo Record that concludes: ..."forget the wrangling over federal versus provincial responsibilities. Just think of the autistic children and their families and you will likely agree that there is money in the provincial and the federal treasuries to help. It only requires a will."

Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health:
Long awaited Senate Report Points to National Leadership Void in Mental Illness and Mental Health

"While primarily focusing on the challenges facing the provision of mental illness services in Canada, the report also sheds light on the impact of current policy and programs shortcomings. It puts a human face on how these shortcomings affect millions of Canadians on a daily basis." Autism Society Canada is a member of the Alliance.

Weaknesses in Care of Adults with Autism

Ontario Government Launches Review Into Deceased Resident’s Disappearance From Oaklands

Transforming Developmental Services
A Preliminary Discussion Paper was released in late October by the "Joint Developmental Services Sector Partnership Table." Read the Discussion Paper   Link to associated information on the MCSS website
Questions are posed, to which we are all invited to respond, initially during November:
  • What should be the roles and responsibilities of different parts of society in supporting individuals who have a developmental disability?
  • What strategies and resources would help individuals receive seamless supports throughout their lives, including points of transition?
  • What supports and services that are currently available work well should be built on for the future?
  • How should a reasonable level of government funding for an individual be determined?
  • Services are changing in Ontario for people who have a developmental disability. What would you like to see happen?
  • What do you think are the priorities the government should address?
Your ideas of responses to these questions are welcomed. If you like, you could share your thoughts about the paper's relevance to people with autism with OAARSN.


Autism: Why the Silence?
ASD has escaped (so far) most of the attempts at finding its structural and/or molecular basis. New findings presented at the Neuroscience conference shed some light in multiple directions: the genetic component, the occurrence of structural differences, changes in central neurotransmitters, and deficits in the response of autistic children to sound. Highlights of the Society for Neuroscience 34th Annual Meeting.

New Tools to Help Patients Reclaim Damaged Senses
An astonishing new technology, using apparatus called BrainPort allows one set of sensory information to substitute for another in the brain.

Brain Researchers to Develop New Class of Drugs to Repair Psychiatric Disorders
“Smart” drugs capable of targeting specific brain cells to control psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia may be ready for early clinical trials within three years, with the launch of a $1.5 million project to take place at the Brain Research Centre (BRC), a partnership of the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI). The new drugs would be the first significant change in decades to medications used to treat psychiatric disorders, says neuroscientist and team leader Yu Tian Wang.

Brains of People With Autism Recall Letters Of The Alphabet In Brain Areas Dealing With Shapes

The study is scheduled for on-line publication November 29 in the journal Neuroimage, at http://www.sciencedirect.com. In the current study, the researchers used a brain imaging technique known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure the brain activity of 14 individuals with high functioning autism while they performed a simple memory task involving letters of the alphabet. "This finding provides more evidence to support a promising theory of autism," said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the NICHD. "If confirmed, this theory suggests that therapies emphasizing problem solving skills and other tasks that activate multiple brain areas at the same time might benefit people with autism."



Please send submissions for this news bulletin or for the OAARSN Calendar and Bulletin Board in plain text format by email to ebloomfi@uoguelph.ca 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
 URL Link for more information/registration 

 Please Do Not Send Files Or Brochure Attachments

November 30, in Ottawa
The Ties that Bind
The National Film Board of Canada is hosting the Ottawa premiere of a film about 28-year-old Chris Jordan, who lives with multiple disabilities, and his transition toward a more independent life.

For those who are unable to attend the film screening, the CBC will be airing a TV version on Thursday December 2nd on the News World Channel at 10:00 p.m.
Click for more details The film will also be shown in the Auditorium of the Kitchener Public Library on Thursday evening, December 2.

Thursday, December 2, 2004, 9am-4:30pm, in Toronto
An Exploration of Some Higher Order Issues of
Restraint as a Human Service Technique

Location:  Room SHE560, 5th Floor, Sally Horsfall Eaton Building,
Ryerson University
Recently, the press, some advocacy groups, and professional organizations have been raising questions concerning the use of restraints in human services.  This workshop provides a forum for concerned individuals, especially service workers, to explore some of these troubling moral questions raised by the use of restraints in human services, especially within the context of the vulnerability of people who receive services.  This is not a how-to-workshop, but rather an opportunity for reflection and learning. Click for information and to register

December 3-4, 2004, in Windsor
Autism Awareness Centre Presents
Jan Casali, Consultant to the Geneva Centre
Developing Communication Skills For Verbal and Non-Verbal Individuals with ASD
Susan Aud Sonders, M.Ed, Author of Giggle Time
Giggle Time: Establishing the Social Connection
Hilton Windsor, 277 Riverside Dr. West, Windsor, Ontario
For more information and registration form
Please contact Wendy Benson at toll free 1-866-724-2224 or wendy.casdc@shaw.ca
or Vicki Harris at toll free 1-866-488-9497. Fax: (780) 477-8350 or (780)447-5445.
Website information at

December 3 & 4, 2004, in
Seattle, Washington

Innovative Interventions in Autism/NVLD & Asperger’s Syndrome
– Practical Therapy for Home & School

*Margaret Bauman, MD – Pediatric Neurology – Harvard University Medical Center
*Rosemary White, OTR/L – Occupational Therapy – Private Practice – Seattle, WA
*Martha Burns, PhD – Speech Pathology – Northwestern University
*Jerry Newport – Author – Adult with Asperger’s
Additional Information:  Linda S. Neilson Ph.D, Continuing Education Program of America, cepa@dpc.net

.....advance announcements....
April 8-10, 2005, in Cornwall

Symposium on Raising an Adolescent/
Young Adult with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
Hosted by Autism Society Ontario's Upper Canada Chapter
Click for program
Sample of presentations:
-Secondary School Transitions for Students with Asperger’s Syndrome (Richard Hales)
-Planning for Transition to Employment, Community & Post Secondary Education (Lindsay Moir)
-Panel Discussion On Educational Issues - Please come prepared to ask YOUR questions
-ASD Students in High School - Visual Supports for Meaningful Learning  (Sheila Bell)
-Sexuality and People with Developmental Disabilities (David Hingsburger)
Registration must be received ON or BEFORE MARCH 25, 2005.
Early Bird Registration before January 21.
For brochure with all the details about the seminars, accomodations, costs and directions.
contact the Upper Canada Chapter for a brochure dkeillar@sympatico.ca

Friday, April 29, 2005 in Guelph
Click for planning updates and conference program
See more below under Issues and Advocacy



Visit Donna Williams' singing and dancing website:


See also: Funding Issues--new OAARSN Discussion Boards and Topics. Press the Communications bar on OAARSN’s main page then choose Discussion Area

Transforming Services in Ontario
for People with a Developmental Disability

In May 2004, the Ontario Budget announced that the Government "will be transforming services for people who have a developmental disability in order to create an accessible, fair and sustainable system of community-based supports." A Preliminary Discussion Paper was released in late October by the "Joint Developmental Services Sector Partnership Table." Read the Discussion Paper   Link to associated information on the MCSS website

Responses during November 2004 were invited, especially from groups of people and families concerned with disabilities. It is said that "this very important process will profoundly affect developmental services for many years to come." The paper will be "the basis for broad public consultations to be completed by Feb/March 2005." The committee and paper will "define the all-important terms of reference for the broader provincial consultations." So this is a unique opportunity....



News about adults with autism is usually negative. We receive many appeals for advice on where to turn for help--with diagnosis and assessment, advocacy, planning for the future, alternatives to approaches that are not working. There are virtually no obvious sources of help for isolated adults with autism and their caregivers.

We know that some 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, as an adult or caregiver living with autism, to share your problems and your 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 ebloomfi@uoguelph.ca for OAARSN. Or you might use the OAARSN Discussion Board, reached by pressing the Communication bar on our main page


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