Big Ideas: $100,000

Description

Autism Speaks Canada Connect: Bringing the Autism Community Together

Janet is a mother of two children, 15-year-old Jamie and 12-year-old Alex. Jamie and Alex both have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but they are very different and have very different needs. Jamie is nonverbal, has gastrointestinal issues, and loves the colour red. Alex has anxiety disorder and knows everything there is to know about baseball. Over the years Janet and her husband, Robert have found it near impossible to access the information, resources and supports they need to support their two very different boys to reach their potential. Since receiving the diagnosis, they too often feel isolated and worried.

ASC is requesting support from the Aviva Community Fund for ASC CONNECT: Bringing the Autism Community Together to help the hundreds of thousands of families like Janet’s impacted by autism in Canada. Our ‘Big Idea’ is to create meaningful change for the autism community by revolutionizing the way they come together to share, learn, support and interact with each other.

ASC CONNECT is Canada’s first virtual, multi-faceted online platform created to improve the way the autism community disseminates, accesses and utilizes credible information. ASC CONNECT will provide the entire autism community access to: a navigation system of services and supports, vital tools and resources, and the opportunity to gain and share knowledge within communities tailored to their needs and interests, and mentorship opportunities. ASC CONNECT is free to use, serves both the English and French communities and also provides off-line, one-on-one support by our trained Autism Response Team (ART), via phone and email.

ASD is the fastest growing and most commonly diagnosed complex neurodevelopmental condition in Canada. There is not one autism but a vast spectrum, reflecting a wide variation of challenges and strengths and necessary supports for each person with autism across their lifespan. Approximately 1 in 66 children and youth are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Canada.

The cost of caregiver support for an individual with autism across their lifespan can be up to $5.5 million more than for an individual without autism and even though the prevalence is staggering, Canadian families are not accessing the supports they need where and when they need them.

Our vision is to bring the entire autism community closer together, including the approximately 500,000 Canadians with ASD, their families, caregivers, clinicians, researchers, educators, service providers, employers, community partners, and policy makers to benefit the overall well-being of the community. Our short-term goal through to December 31, 2019 is to build a strong community of ASC CONNECT members (both on-line and off-line via ART) to share, learn and find support through its key features including:

• Navigation: A searchable database of thousands of Canadian services and service providers that can be searched by location, type, interest and expertise.
• Resources: A comprehensive library of necessary resources including information on how funding and education systems work by province and territory.
• Community Forums: Open special interest discussion groups initiated by community members where they can share, learn and support one another on specific topics of interest.
• National Networks: Multisector collaborations made up of government, non-profit, private, public organizations, community groups, and individual community members coming together to solve problems that affect the whole community.
• Mentorship: An opportunity for members to be matched with another member, so that a more experienced or more knowledgeable person provides guidance to a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.

We are confident your generosity will create change and have a significant impact on the entire autism community bringing them closer together.

Autism Speaks Canada

Location: Canada