We have been busy since September’s Annual Report! Here is some of what’s new:
Medical School Seminars: Autistic Patient Experiences
We are excited to announce we have entered into a partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health to develop materials and give presentations to medical schools in Ontario on the topic of autistic patient experiences and communication! We will be presenting to a CAMH team in February and then again to a team of physicians in April. We hope to present to many classes at U of T and McMaster this year, and to begin to branch out to dental schools as well.
United Nations Reports, Meetings
In November, we met with UN Health Rapporteur Danius Puras to talk about our report on autistic human rights in Ontario. Mr. Puras was very engaged with the issue of AAC access, which executive member Derek Burrow discussed at length with him during the Ottawa meeting. Mr. Puras will be taking the information we provided back to the UN and incorporating it into an international report.
We are now also contributing to a new Canadian country report for Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, with whom we will meet in April.
LiveWorkPlay: Outreach, Education
In January, we presented to LiveWorkPlay, an Ottawa-based charity that focuses on community inclusion through direct supports and services, identifying barriers and solutions to exclusion. We first connected around the issue of sheltered workshops and were excited to present and have a layered conversation with them about services, access, communication and autonomy. We hope to work with them on materials and other projects in the future!
Meeting with MP Mike Lake
We were very pleased to get a call from Progressive Conservative MP Mike Lake, who took a meeting with us while in Toronto. Executive members Gaby Aguirre, Anne Borden and Talia Johnson spoke with MP Lake about the ways we can connect around specific issues, such as services for adults and national approaches going forward. We are continuing this discussion with MP Lake online and bringing in other groups to the conversation as well.
MPP Chris Glover: Education Initiative
After being introduced at the Toronto Disability Pride March, NDP MPP Chris Glover invited us to a meeting to strategize around reforming our education system for true inclusion. We are now part of a committee on collecting data about school exclusions and the use of restraint and isolation in schools, together with Luke Reid of Arch Disability Law Centre and other advocates. We are looking forward to working to ensure our school districts are accountable, that they collect data on every incident and make their classrooms transparent –as they should be.
Federal Autism Funding
In early January, we were contacted by federal Minster of Health Ginette Petitpas-Taylor’s office to discuss the government’s plans for autism funding. We are glad to see that the Liberal government is committed to disability rights and consulting the people directly impacted by policy. We are looking forward to exploring steps moving forward as the government develops its funding plans.
Autistic Self-Advocacy Coalitions
We have become an official Affiliate Group for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network! We are excited to share in strategizing, planning and supporting together with ASAN and the other affiliates. To learn more about the international autistic self-advocacy movement, visit the ASAN website.
We have also built a network with all chapters of Autistics United Canada and London Autistics Standing Together around national autism policy advocacy. We are united on the human rights issues for autistics of all ages and dedicated to fair representation in funding and services consultation. We are reaching out to bring more autistic self-advocacy groups into the network.
Disability Day of Mourning
Every year on March 1st, the disability community comes together to remember the victims of filicide – people with disabilities murdered by their family members. Vigils are held on the Day of Mourning in cities around the world. This year’s Toronto vigil is being organized by Rishav Banerjee, Kim Crawley, Sarah McFadyen, Raya Shields and Cathy Wright, to be held at Ryerson University.
Please watch our social media or this blog for full details of this important community event. (Update: Member Anne Borden was interviewed about filicide and disability on Accessible Media Inc. Listen here.)
We continue to speak out against autism pseudoscience, most recently authoring a Guide for Physicians on recognizing and responding to autism pseudoscience. Accessible Media Inc recently spoke with co-founder Anne Borden about autism pseudoscience and our CAMH partnership: listen here.
Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Renu Mandhane
In February, we will be meeting with the Ontario Human Rights Commission to talk about human rights issues for autistics in our province, with a focus on our province’s education and special education systems. We are honoured that Commissioner Mandhane is meeting with us and look forward to it.