Partnership Communiqué April 2014

It has been a very busy past 18 months for the York ASD Partnership with many goals accomplished and renewed energy for the next stages in the process.  The ongoing commitment of time, energy and dedication to improving the system of supports for people with ASD and their families in York Region from the partner agencies, and most importantly, the parent representatives has been the driving force behind our many successes.

The York ASD Partnership would like to thank all the member organizations whose voluntary contributions have supported the ongoing expenses of implementing our strategic plan.  Neil Walker has been retained to continue as Project Manager through to September 2014.  In January 2013, Janette Seymour was hired as Assistant Project Manager using a portion of existing funds with no resulting increase in annual costs and her contract continues through to September 2014.


Requests for presentations on the work of the York ASD Partnership continue to be made regularly by other regions. In April 2013, Sylvia Pivko, chair of the Partnership, Jackie Buchanan, parent representative, Neil Walker and Janette Seymour attended a planning day hosted by the Simcoe County ASD Partnership Table. We have been providing ongoing support to the Simcoe group as requested since that time. In February 2013, the York ASD Partnership hosted a table at the annual provincial Well Baby Conference in Toronto. In September 2013, members of the Partnership made a presentation to key staff from the Ministry of Children and Youth and the Ministry of Community and Social Services.  Sylvia Pivko, Tracy Mansell, Jackie Buchanan and Janette Seymour outlined the accomplishments of the York ASD Partnership to date and described the goals for the future.  This presentation was very well received and both Ministries expressed support for the continuation of the work of the York ASD Partnership. The annual Quest Conference hosted by the York Region District School Board was held November 21 & 22, 2013. Alana Shields Barker, parent representative and Janette Seymour manned the York ASD Partnership display table.


Through funding from an Autism Speaks Family Service Community Grant, intensive training was provided to intake workers and other core staff from social service agencies across York Region.  Two sessions of the 8-part program were offered over a six month period from September 2011 to March 2012 with over 120 people attending.  Components of this training package will be available on-line in the near future.

More ASD Training for Mental Health Professionals coming soon!

In June 2013, the York ASD Partnership submitted another proposal for an Autism Speaks Family Service Community Grant to provide training to mental health professionals. This proposal was approved in December 2013.  Over the next year, a training program will be developed and delivered to mental health workers to enable them to provide effective mental health services to individuals with ASD. This training will increase the capacity of mental health professionals to meet the needs of individuals with ASD, increase their confidence in providing effective service to individuals with ASD while building capacity through cross-sectoral collaboration between ASD and mental health specialists. The Professional Development Working Group is providing oversight to this project.


On April 2, 2013, World Autism Awareness Day, the York ASD Partnership agencies announced the launch of the new co-ordinated intake process for children with ASD.  Four gateway agencies have been identified and individuals access one of these agencies depending on their age and whether or not a diagnosis of ASD has been made. However, intake workers at all agencies in York Region have received training related to ASD including foundational knowledge, sensitivity, use of a shared electronic record and service navigation.  As well, all agencies have committed to a “no wrong door” policy and to providing warm transfers to any individual or family making that call.  An access map is available on the website


Many other regions including Simcoe County, Peel Region, Durham Region, and Northumberland district have expressed interest in the York ASD Partnership model with the intention of duplicating our success. Formal documentation of the York ASD Partnership would provide a model for other community agencies to develop sustainable, collaborative partnerships to improve their capacity and increase their flexibility to provide services to individuals with ASD in their communities. Therefore, we have submitted a grant proposal and tentatively engaged the services of Susan Taylor Simpson to document the steps and processes utilized to date by the York ASD Partnership.  More information will be made available once the results of the grant application are known.


The York ASD Partnership will host a York Region Autism Spectrum Disorder Summit on April 30, 2014. The ASD Summit will focus equally on two service streams – ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) services for children with ASD and Services for Adults with ASD in York Region. The Summit will feature two keynote presentations; an informative panel on ABA services in York Region and a riveting guest presentation on achieving successful employment for adults with ASD by Randy Lewis, Walgreens USA.

The ASD Summit will offer community-based organizations, school systems, ministry personnel, and professionals that touch the lives of people with ASD along with parents of both children and adults with ASD to provide input and influence the future systems change work of the York ASD Partnership. Participants will also hear from people with ASD and their parents, be entertained and rewarded by the talents of people with ASD and leave motivated to achieve the next phase of our work on behalf of people with ASD and their families in York Region.  For registration information go to


Mapping and Pathways (Access)

An access pathway map has been designed and is available on the York ASD Partnership website.  The York Region searchable 211 ASD database for intake workers will be launched shortly. Tools and training will be provided when the data base becomes active.


The Transitions Working Group has produced two documents.  The first is a guide to transitions for parents to help them identify the key components of a transition and increase the likelihood of successful transition. The second document identifies the essential components and key timelines for transition from youth to adulthood.  This document will help ensure that the necessary documents and relevant agencies are contacted at the appropriate times.  These documents are available on the York ASD Partnership website.  This concluded the work of the Transitions Working Group.

Screening and Assessment

The Screening and Assessment Working Group has focused on two specific documents for the past year.  A Red Flags for School Age Children document has been developed.  Currently, the group is working on a plan for distribution and implementation of this document with the York Region District School Board and the York Catholic District School Board.  Secondly, the group is developing a Protocol for Screening and Assessment that will highlight the best practices related to screening and assessment for all age groups.  This document will be ready for distribution by June 2014.


The Communications Working Group is focused on maintaining the public profile of the York ASD Partnership.  The launch of the New Coordinated Access in April 2013 was covered by media in York Region and the Greater Toronto area thanks to the work of this group.  This group is taking the lead on organizing the York Region Summit and Planning Day.

Professional Development

The Professional Development Working Group is providing oversight to the project providing training to Mental Health Professionals in York Region.  As well, they are reviewing the on-line training modules based on the Intake Worker Training, developing guidelines for reviewing materials and programs with reference to evidence based and evidence informed practice, and developing an on-line Training Calendar to be used by all Partnership agencies

Physician Support

The Physician Support Working Group has modified the access map to be used specifically by physicians.  This is available on the website The group is currently developing plans to facilitate distribution of this access map and is seeking more ways to educate and engage physicians about ASD.

In addition, two new work groups have been formed to facilitate the implementation of the strategic plan.

Adults Supports and Services

This group began its’ work in December 2013.  It is co-chaired by Lynda Beedham, parent representative and Sarah Dougald, Autism Ontario and will focus on ensuring the continuum of services through youth to adulthood.

Crisis Response

This group is co-chaired by Chris Simmons-Physick, Kinark and Wendy Leve, Southlake Hospital.  The work of this group will initially focus on working with the York Region Mental Health Collaborative to implement a proposal funded through MCYS related to prevention of youth suicide. More information on this proposal will be distributed as it becomes available.

If you are interested in participating in any of the working groups, membership remains open. Please contact Neil Walker, Project Manager via email at


Welcome to Seneca College who has joined our partnership.


Several representatives at the Partnership Table and on various working groups have retired, moved into new and more challenging positions or had to leave us for other reasons. We would like to thank all of our past participants for their hard work and dedication to our vision.  Updated Working Group membership lists are available on the Partnership website at  A special thank-you goes out the Tracy Mansell, Regional Executive Director at Kerry’s Place Autism Service.  Tracy was one of the key foundational members of the Partnership, was active in a number of different working groups and chaired the Steering Committee.  Her new and expanded work commitments have required that she pass on the work to other Partnership representatives.  Thank you, Tracy for your many contributions.

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