This meeting was an opportunity for SPS members to speak about their interests and experiences. We had three speakers – Nicole Jinn, who spoke from her experience, about advocacy and gender imbalance, and employment issues; Victor Toh, who spoke about his business, “Capability Club”, providing life skills training for ASD children; and Talie, who spoke about her Autism 30 podcasts project.
Nicole Jinn, Advocacy for Adults with ASD and Gender Imbalance
During her research, Nicole approached both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Development. As well, she has viewed a number of service and employment agencies operating in the Lower Mainland.
These are her findings:
* Access to funding after the age of 19 for those with HFA (High Functioning Autism) is very difficult.
Those with an IQ over 70 and an adaptive functioning level greater than 55 (3 standard deviations below the mean) are excluded from Community Living BC (CLBC) funding.
This criteria excludes HFA and Asperger’s individuals, and the assessment tools used do not adequately identify the deficits that those individuals struggle with, for example, difficulties with executive functioning.
* There is an absence of services for spectrum adults generally, but particularly those with HFA.
These organizations were canvassed:
ACT (Autism Community Training) has a mandate to work only with children.
Autism Society of BC has an adult program in Prince George, but none in the Lower
Mainland. This could change soon.
Canucks Autism Network has programs for teens and adults with more serious
conditions and has a waiting list.
PALS Autism School offers adult programs for the severely affected. There is a long waiting list.
* There is an absence of Employment related services for those with HFA
Organizations currently addressing employment for those with ASD include:
- Pacific Autism Family Centre (PAFC) Employment Works
- Inclusion BC: Ready Willing and Able (through PAFC, has expertise on Autism
- Coast Clubhouse – mainly for labourers.
- Gastown Vocational Services
- YMCA Youth Beat Program
- Employment Works Canada
- Focus Professional Services Trains adults with HFA to deliver software and data quality services to their various clients.
- CBI Consultants offers a fee-for-service program for those without CLBC funding.
- PosAbilities offers a fee-for-service program for those without CLBC funding.
- Work BC
- Jobs West
Most of these programs are not specific to individuals with autism.
* There are service barriers for those with HFA
For those without a qualifying diagnosis or CLBC many programs are often inaccessible or unaffordable. Often the programs that do exist do not provide the supports necessary to finding and keeping employment. These may include:
– Emotion and anxiety management,
– Communication and interpersonal skills
– An established support network with follow up coaching.
* Gender imbalance?
Anecdotally, differences between males and females have been noted, in terms of frequency of diagnosis and in the impact on the individual’s lives. However, there have not been a sufficient number of research studies published to date. While most case studies related to Asperger’s have male subjects, the following differences between males & females have been observed. Females tend to be stronger than males in language and social interaction skills, and in the ability to mirror socially acceptable behaviours. They tend to suffer more fromsensory or emotional overload than do males. Females are also more likely to be diagnosed with anorexia or A.D.D. Consequentially, females without significant intellectual impairment are diagnosed later and less often; this is a population that struggles on without supports.
Most services and employment agencies were neither accessible nor suitable for high functioning individuals who need help to function in the community after age 19.
- Participate in the Autism Society of BC (ASBC) through the establishment of a group for adults.
- Join Autism Canada, in their efforts to achieve Federal Accessibility Legislation leading to a Canadian Disability Act, and to improve representation of ASD adults on this initiative.
- Encourage additional research which will help us to better understand the differences between males and females on the Spectrum.
Victor Toh, Capability Club “All Kids are Special”
Victor’s mission is to prepare kids for adulthood and employment, through the development of life and social skills that lead to independence, and to satisfying and meaningful interdependence.
The turning point in Victor’s life, and the impetus for this business idea, occurred while at University in Kingston, where he helped his friend John, who was paralyzed, negotiate his way around the campus. John returned the favour by coaching Victor in social skills, such as subtle cues from language and body language, which enabled Victor to begin to develop his social network.
Victor has a background in tutoring, a degree in psychology, and has previously owned his own business. At Capability Club, Victor offers a specialised tutoring service based on his own and his son’s experience on the Spectrum. His service runs after school and on weekends. Pick up and drop off is offered. Family members are welcome to volunteer. Currently, he is based in the Collingwood area but will be expanding to Chinatown.
School age children in groups of two to five (including neuro-typicals) participate in various activities in the community with the purpose of interacting with each other while forming broad social networks. Peer and adult support are key factors that are often not covered in schools. Each child is assigned an individualized development program. This file is used to record measureable progress in areas such as motivation, creativity, critical thinking, language, ability to collaborate. In part, this is achieved through journals in which the children are encouraged to record their activities and observations.
The curriculum includes:
- Oral communication
- Self awareness and self respect
- Mobile technology
- Psychology and philosophy
- Reading, Writing & Listening
- Money awareness
Activities, such as gardening or music, are typical activities which are used as a focus for social development, with the goal of finding talents, overcoming fears, and acting on solutions to difficulties.
Victor’s goal is to complete training in psycho-social rehabilitation, and to become a non profit Society.
Contact Victor Toh at: 778 302 1319
Talie, Autism 30
Talie began her project to share information about autism via podcast in 2015. She is energised by her own autistic son and an international background as a teacher with a strong desire to help others.
Talie’s collection of podcasts can be accessed from 98 countries. Her goal is to make more people aware of issues and solutions relevant to ASD, especially in the Lower Mainland, and to share knowledge and experience.
Contact Talie at: autism30.com or firstname.lastname@example.org