Partnership Communiqué Summer 2014

The York ASD Partnership continues to be actively engaged in the work that has accomplished so many goals and continues to move us through the next stages in the process.  As always, we want to acknowledge the ongoing commitment of time, energy and dedication to improving the system of supports for people with ASD and their families in York Region of the partner agencies, and most importantly, the parent representatives that is the driving force behind our many successes.The York ASD Partnership would also like to ongoingly thank all the member organizations whose voluntary contributions have supported the ongoing expenses of implementing our strategic plan.  Neil Walker continues as Project Manager and Janette Seymour continues as Assistant Project Manager 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, the York ASD Partnership received a one-time grant from the Ministry of Community Services to fund two specific projects.

On April 30, 2014 the York ASD Partnership hosted the York Region Autism Spectrum Disorder Summit.  This was a sold-out event with over 150 attendees.  The day provided a full agenda of educational, inspirational and entertaining information.  The keynote speaker was Randy Lewis, parent of a child with ASD, former executive with Walgreens and author of No Greatness Without Goodness.  Randy was the driving force behind Walgreen’s commitment to providing an inclusive workplace; specifically a distribution centre where 20% of employees are people with a disability who do the same jobs for the same pay as their non disabled peers.  Also on the agenda were a Children’s Services Panel for York Region presenting on ABA services; Neil Walker, Project Manager for the York ASD Partnership providing an overview of the York ASD Partnership and Chris Bohmer, an adult with ASD and Anthony Chiccillo, a child with ASD who shared their first hand experiences.  Information booths outlining the work and accomplishments of the various YASDP Working Groups were open during the break periods as were a number of vendor exhibits.  Rounding out the program was a lunchtime concert provided by Samantha Mutis, a young woman with ASD.  The day ended with a wholehearted commitment to the next phases of work by Sylvia Pivko, chair of the YASD Partnership and an inspirational talk of hopes for the future by Cindi Buick, a parent of a child with ASD.

The second project involves the documentation of the history and processes of the York ASD Partnership.  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.  An outside consultant, Susan Taylor Simpson, has been hired to complete this work.  It is hoped that this work will be completed by the fall of 2014.


The partnership successfully applied for an second Autism Speaks Family Service Community Grant to provide intensive training on Autism Spectrum Disorders to front line mental health workers from social service agencies across York Region to enable them to provide effective mental health services to individuals with ASD.  An RFP was developed and circulated in May, interviews were conducted in June and the contract to deliver this training was awarded to ISAND (Integrated Services for Autism and Neurological Disabled).  Lead trainer for this project will be Dr.  Vicky Rombough with collaborative support from Dr.  Wendy Roberts and Dr.  Cynthia Goldfarb.  Two sessions of a six-part program will be offered over a six-month period from September 2014 to March 2015 with space for approximately 120 people to attend.  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.  Components of this training package will be made available on-line once the face-to-face training is complete. The Professional Development Working Group is providing oversight to this project.


In April 2014 the York ASD Partnership launched a new co-ordinated intake process for both children and adults with ASD.  Four gateway agencies were identified with access to one of these agencies dependent on age and the diagnosis of ASD and all agencies have committed to a “no wrong door” policy and to providing warm transfers to any individual or family making that call. Data is being collected by the gateway agencies and will be analyzed in the fall of 2014.  As well, the Communications Working Group has developed an on-line survey to determine if the new access has improved the experience for individuals and families with ASD.  An access map is available on the website


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.

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 in the fall of 2014.

The Communications Working Group is focused on maintaining the public profile of the York ASD Partnership.  This group took the lead on organizing the York Region Summit and Planning Day.

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

The Physician Support Working Group has modified the access map to be used specifically by physicians.  This is available on the website As well, the access map will be printed and circulated to medical professionals in York Region.  This working group continues to develop more ways to educate and engage physicians about ASD.

The Adults Supports and Services group began its’ work in January 2013.  It is co-chaired by Lynda Beedham, parent representative and Sarah Dougald Shaw, Autism Ontario and it is focusing on ensuring the continuum of services through youth to adulthood.  Currently, a process for providing parents with easy access to information about funded and non-funded services is being developed.

Crisis Response group is co-chaired by Chris Simmons-Physick, Kinark and Wendy Leve, Southlake Hospital.  The work of this group is focusing on working with the York Region Mental Health Collaborative to implement the proposal funded through MCYS related to prevention of youth suicide.  Currently, a scan of existing crisis and suicide prevention services is being conducted by an outside consultant.

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


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