Best Practice Guidelines for Assessment and Management of Risk of Suicide in York Region

Best Practice Guidelines for Assessment and Management of Risk of Suicide in York Region (Nov, 2017; Word doc, 12 pgs)
This Best Practice Guide is intended to help standardize suicide risk assessment and safety planning practices across York Region’s child, youth and family serving organizations. York Region Mental Health Collaborative & York ASD Partnership Crisis Intervention Suicide Prevention Committee, 2017

Needs Assessment Results + Strategic Planning Findings

Both documents are now available on our home page

York ASD Partnership Needs Assessment Results (pdf, 31 pgs)

YASDP Strategic Planning Findings (Word doc, 47 pgs)

York ASD Partnership Strategic Planning Community Consultation Day May 29, 2017

The York ASD Partnership (YASDP) is a grassroots collaboration of York Region Service providers, educators, health professionals and parents dedicated to improving the service system for people with ASD and their families. An initial Strategic Plan was first developed in 2009/2010 and, with numerous revisions and updates, it has directed the work of the YASDP.  In the fall of 2016, the Steering Committee determined that a full review and revision of the Strategic Plan was required.  As a result, the YASDP has sought to undertake a Strategic Planning process that will create a structure and action plans for the next five years and ensure the Partnership remains responsive to a changing environment and is positioned to leverage opportunities and mitigate challenges as they arise.  Towards this end, the Strategic Planning process has engaged:

  • People with ASD and their families to determine their aspirations, challenges and the necessary conditions for change;
  • Service providers to determine their goals and requirements to fully participate as a contributing member of the YASDP;
  • Existing planning and coordinating tables in York Region to ensure integration across initiatives;
  • Volunteers including parents, people with ASD and community members, and
  • Funders and other key stakeholders to determine mutual opportunities for partnership and leverage.

On May 29, 2017 with funding provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the YASDP hosted a Community Consultation Day.  Invitees included key representatives from York Region adult and children’s service providers; from Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) specific and non- ASD specific service providers; and from individuals with ASD and from their families. The focus of this consultation day was on services for adults with ASD but there was, and continues to be, clear recognition and acknowledgement that there is still significant work to be done within the children’s service sector.

The goal of this community consultation day was to review the current state of services for adults with ASD, identify the concerns and barriers to effective service delivery in a number of areas including housing, employment and day programs, transitions, crisis services, health care, postsecondary education, and quality of life and to give the participants the opportunity to identify the priority goals in each area.  Additionally, ongoing issues in the children’s sector were identified and prioritized.

Over 100 members of the service provider and service consumer community in York Region participated in this planning day.

View Opening Remarks & Introductions (6 minutes)

In addition to participation in the focus groups, participants benefited from the following keynote presentations:

Leann Smith, PhD, University of Wisconsin: Post-secondary outcomes for adults with ASD, a 10 year longitudinal study and findings on new interventions for youth and young adults including supports for families. See the video of Dr. Smith’s presentation (40 minutes) Review Dr. Smith’s slides

Kathryn Everest, Consultant to the York ASD Partnership: An overview of the results of interviews with services providers, individuals with ASD and parents of individuals with ASD and meetings with community planning and coordinating tables conducted over the past six months. Review Kathryn’s slides York ASD Partnership Results & Stories

Kelly Casey, Independent Facilitator “Building Community and Enhancing Engagement”: See the video of Kelly’s presentation (29 minutes) Review Kelly Casey’s slides

Stacey Feldt, Self-Advocate with ASD. With enthusiasm, humour and grace, Stacey shares her own and her family’s experiences with services in York Region. See the video of Stacey’s presentation (28 minutes) Review Stacey’s slides

The work of the YASDP in the development of this new Strategic Plan continues.  Watch this site for more information as it becomes available.

Our Future: Children, youth and adults with ASD in York Region living to their full potential at home, at school, at play and at work.

For more information or to become involved contact York ASD Partnership at yorkasd@kerrysplace.org

Introduction to Online Training for Parents

On-Line Training Opportunity through the York ASD Partnership and the Children’s Treatment Network Community Learning Library

Course Title:  Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Introductory Training Program for York Region Service Providers

In the Spring of 2012 and Winter of 2013, the York ASD Partnership (YASDP) provided an intensive 8 session introductory training program to any York Region service provider who was involved with intake, screening, first contact or direct support to families with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  Course content included an introduction to ASD, a review of best practice interventions, a review of the service system for children and adults with ASD in York Region, and an overview of single plans of care and the shared electronic record.  Those sessions were recorded and edited and are now available through the CTN Community Learning Library.  With the support of Autism Ontario York Region Chapter, the YASDP is making these training modules available to parents.

This training will provide a good understanding of ASD, of the challenges facing families of individuals with ASD and of the service system in York Region will enhance the ability of service providers to meet the needs effectively and efficiently while ensuring the experience is supportive and positive for those families.

How to access this training?

  • Interested parents can register for this training by contacting Sarah Shaw at Autism Ontario York Region at chaptermgr.york@autismontario.com
  • A training seat will be opened and will remain open for 90 days. The participant will be reminded by email 14 days prior to the closure of the seat.
  • Participants who complete the training will receive a certificate of participation.
  • Please note that introductory ASD information is not part of this training. However, current information is easily accessible on line. Visit Autism Ontario at autismontario.com

Thank You and Farewell to Cathy Saul

The York ASD Partnership Says Thank You and Farewell to Cathy Saul, Manager, Infant and Child Development Program, Early Intervention Services ~ by Cindi Buick, Parent Rep (May 2017)


 

cathy saul.1Cathy Saul was a guardian angel to me twenty years ago. Even before my son was diagnosed with autism prior to his third birthday, she was there with a kind heart and oh-so-many words of wisdom as we started our long journey navigating autism services in a very complicated system.

Looking back, it was the solid beginning offered by Cathy and her staff that instilled resilience and inspired me to ‘give back’ once I got on an even keel. I have been volunteering in the autism community for many years now and re-connected with Cathy in 2008 as community leaders came together to form the York ASD Partnership. The Partnership is a unique collaborative of community service-providers, government agencies, educators, hospitals, advocacy organizations, parents and self-advocates with a strong commitment to improve systems of support for children, youth and adults living with Autism Spectrum Disorder. See our partners.

Over the years, I’ve met some amazing people at various agencies and both school boards, but Cathy always stood out for me. Early on, my mom-radar told me she was going to make things easier for my family … and for other families. I was right.

She has been a strong voice and leader for the past nine years serving as a full Partnership member, a Steering Committee representative and Co-Chair of the Screening and Assessment Working Group. She often served as minute-taker at Partnership meetings, illustrating that everything we did was important and no job was beneath her.

In many meetings, over almost a decade, Cathy never hesitated to dive in and offer solutions, even if (especially when) they seemed to push the envelope. When it came to improving autism services – not just at Early Intervention Services but system-wide – she was always thinking outside the box and always thinking about “families first”. She is a trailblazer who goes beyond the ‘talk the talk’ and absolutely ‘walks the walk’.

Cathy Saul is reluctantly saying good-bye to the York ASD Partnership after years of dedication to our meaningful work. She has been an active contributor in our quest to improve autism services for families living in York Region. She cares about us. She cares that the system supports us appropriately. And she cared enough to invest in the monumental job of making that happen.

While we won’t be seeing her at meetings as we continue to implement the goals in our Strategic Plan, we can breathe easy knowing she will be tweaking services and programs at Early Intervention Services in response to family needs.

Thank you from all the families you have touched, Cathy. And don’t be a stranger.

 

Training Vimeos Now Online

Suicide Prevention and Intervention– Adaptations for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

The York ASD Partnership and the Mental Health Collaborative are pleased to offer this unique training program for trained Suicide Interventionists.

These 9 modules will offer those already trained as interveners for suicide prevention (ASIST or equivalent) a greater understanding of the unique needs and learning styles of individuals with ASD as well as strategies to adapt existing intervention programs to better meet these needs.

Click on this link and enter the password Prevention to access the 9 modules “ASD and Suicide Prevention: Understanding ASD and Strategies to Enhance Intervention”

YASDP Communique Fall-Winter 2016

YASDP Communique Fall-Winter 2016  [download 6 pg pdf]

PROGRESS HIGHLIGHTS

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 consistent 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 are the driving force behind our many successes.
The York ASD Partnership would also like to extend our ongoing thanks to all the
member organizations whose ongoing voluntary contributions have supported the
expenses for implementation of our strategic plan. Neil Walker continues as Project
Manager and Janette Seymour continues as Assistant Project Manager through to
March 31, 2017.

ONTARIO TRILLIUM FOUNDATION SEED GRANT

Early in 2016, the York ASD Partnership submitted an application to the Ontario Trillium
Foundation for a 1-year $75,000 seed grant. In the spring, we were notified that our
application was successful. The primary focus of this project will be the development of
a comprehensive, community based strategic plan that will identify enhancements to the
current system and map the future of services and supports for youth and adults with
ASD in York Region. This will include a needs analysis of adult services in York Region,
engagement of all relevant parties in the community planning process, the inclusion of
adults with ASD in the planning and needs identification process and the development of
outcome evaluation strategies to measure the impact and success of our plan. The plan
will address existing challenges such as ensuring that the transition for children and
youth into adult supports and services is seamless, ensuring that youth and adults with
ASD are participants in planning and implementation, ensuring that supports and
services exist to meet the needs of youth and adults with ASD and enhancing the
connection between youth and adults with ASD and their communities resulting in a
better quality of life.

The York ASD Partnership will continue the emphasis on making improvements in the
children’s service sector. At the same time, we have recognized the need to broaden
our focus to enhancing service systems for adults with ASD and their families,
measuring the impact of our work and expanding the reach of our collaborative
partnerships. The Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe / York acted as the
charitable, not-for-profit host for the application and provides ongoing oversight to the
York ASD Partnership finances. The funds and project activities related to this grant will
be managed by the York ASD Partnership.

STRATEGIC PLAN

As the first step in the development of this new strategic plan, in August 2016 we posted
an RFP to contract a facilitator. This facilitator will help lead the York ASD Partnership
through these processes resulting in a fully staged strategic plan. After a comprehensive
process of applications, screening and interviews, the contract was offered to Kathyrn
Everest. Kathryn brings a wealth of public and private sector experience to the table and
is the parent of an adult son with ASD. More information about Kathryn can be found on
her website kathryneverestconsulting.com We look forward to an exciting and
productive relationship. Welcome Kathryn. At the same time, a posting for a part time
contract position for administrative support was posted. Again, after a process of
screening and interviews, we were delighted to offer the contract to Brooke
Couperthwaite. Brooke also brings extensive experience and is the parent of a young
son with ASD. Welcome Brooke.

SUICIDE PREVENTION FOR ASD WORKSHOP AND FREE APP

The Crisis Response Working Group, chaired by Chris Simmons-Physick from Kinark
Child and Family Services has been focusing on working with the York Region Mental
Health Collaborative to implement a series of proposals funded through the Ministry of
Children and Youth Services (MCYS) related to prevention of youth suicide. The first
year of funding, 2014, was used to conduct scan of existing crisis and suicide prevention
services. This scan was conducted over the summer of 2014 by an outside consultant,
Paul Muldoon.

His report was presented to the members of the York ASD Partnership and the Mental
Health Collaborative in January 2015. This report, available on our website is entitled
MHC ASD Crisis Intervention Suicide Prevention Report (June 2015)

In 2015, additional grant money was made available to this group and in October of that
year, “Train the Trainer” ASIST training was provided to staff of various service providers
across the region.

The third year of grant funding (2016) was targeted to provide resource material and
recommend adaptations to suicide prevention and intervention programs to
accommodate child and youth with ASD. This resulted in a 3-hour comprehensive
training session that was offered to two separate groups in October and November,
2016. The target group for this training were staff from various service provision
agencies in the region who had already participated in a formal training program for
suicide prevention and intervention such ASIST. Facilitators for this training included Dr.
Kevin Stoddard, a renowned expert in ASD and mental health, Kristine Galloway, a
consultant from Kerry’s Place and Patrick McAthey, an adult with ASD with related life
experience and a willingness to share his knowledge and experience. Feedback from
this training was overwhelmingly positive with 96% of participants indicating they were
satisfied or very satisfied with the workshop overall. A detailed report on the workshops
and the feedback from participants will be available on our website.

Additionally, an electronic application (APP) is being developed for first responders
trained in suicide prevention and intervention. This APP provides tips and strategies for
interacting with children and youth with ASD where there is a risk of suicide. The APP
will be available by January 2017.

QUEST CONFERENCE

In November 2016, the York Region District School Board hosted their annual Quest for
Student Achievement Conference. The theme for this conference was “Deep Learning
in a Digital World. For a second year in a row, in addition to an information table,
members of the York ASD Partnership delivered a presentation called “Breaking Barriers
to Learning for Students with ASD”. This presentation focused on the positive impact that
assistive technology has on learning for students with ASD. Our message was that
technology is an essential teaching tool for those with ASD which sparked extensive
discussion and exchange of ideas. Two parent representatives, Rahila Chugtai, an
active member of the Communication Working Group and Alana Shields Barker, retired
from the Communication Working Group, again took the lead on this project. With the
assistance of Andrew Barker, a young adult with ASD, they developed and delivered the
presentation to a full room of interested teachers, administrators and support staff. We
also hosted a York ASD Partnership table with the support of staff from various Partner
agencies who shared table duties and spent time talking to attendees about the York
ASD Partnership, describing its mission and model.

The success of this project is another in a long list of examples of the critical role that
parent representation plays in ensuring that the work of the York ASD Partnership is
successful. These parents volunteer their time to share their expertise, energy, and
experiences. It is hard to imagine the York ASD Partnership without the input and
support of our parent volunteers.

CO-ORDINATED ACCESS PARENT SURVEY

As a reminder, in the spring of 2015, the Communications Working Group of the York
ASD Partnership conducted an on-line survey of parents to assess the impact of this
new co-ordinated access system. The survey was made available through Survey
Monkey throughout the spring of 2015. A complete summary of the results is now
available on the York ASD Partnership website

The vision of the York ASD Partnership is to improve the service system for people with
ASD and their families. One of our first goals was to achieve co-ordinated access
meaning that any call to an agency involved in the York ASD Partnership will lead
people with ASD and their families to the appropriate resource and action. The results of
this survey suggest that we are achieving our goals and attaining our vision. Next steps
will look at maintaining and sustaining these results.
Read more under Ad Hoc Coordinated Access Working Group below.

ONGOING AWARENESS AND INTEREST IN THE YORK ASD PARTNERSHIP
Welcome to Christian Horizons , who joined the York ASD Partnership this fall.

YORK REGION ASD TRAINING

Over the past 5 years, the York ASD Partnership has provided a number of training
opportunities. In 2011, training was provided to intake workers across York Region to
increase their understanding of ASD and provide coordinated access to families seeking
services and supports. This training was funded by an Autism Speaks grant. In 2013,
training was provided to mental health workers across York Region to increase their
understanding of ASD and provide the necessary adaptations to evidence based mental
health practices to improve services to children and youth with ASD and mental health
concerns. This training was also funded by an Autism Speaks grant. In 2016, as
described above, training was provided to staff across York Region with suicide
prevention and intervention training in the adaptations and accommodations to support
child and youth with ASD at risk for suicide. This training was funded through the
Ministry of Children and Youth Services. All three of these training programs were
videoed and edited into modules to be available as on-line training modules. The
Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe/York has graciously agreed to act as host for
these training modules on their Community Learning site. Access to these modules will
be available to agency staff through their organization. The Intake Worker Training and
the Mental Health Worker Training will be available by January 2017. The Suicide
Prevention and Intervention Training will be available by March 2017.

WORKING GROUP UPDATES

Communications Working Group continues to focus on maintaining the public profile
of the York ASD Partnership. The website, social media, press coverage and parent
engagement are all within the purview of this group. Members facilitated the information
table and presentation by the York ASD Partnership at the Quest for Student
Achievement Conference in November 2016 (details above). This group continues to
develop and implement plans to support the distribution of the various documents
developed by the York ASD Partnership including the Co-ordinated Access bookmark,
the Physician Referral Guide bookmark, the Indicators for ASD with School Age Children
Guide, the Transitions to Adulthood checklist and the Transitions brochure.
Crisis Response Working Group continues to develop its work plan to identify and
mitigate risk and to develop safety plans which support children and youth with mental
health needs across York Region.

Ad Hoc Coordinated Access Working Group: The vision of the York ASD Partnership
is to improve the service system for people with ASD and their families. One of our first
goals was to achieve co-ordinated access meaning that any call to an agency involved in
the York ASD Partnership will lead people with ASD and their families to the appropriate
resource and action. Results of the Parent Survey conducted by the Communications
Working Group survey suggested that while we are achieving our goals and attaining our
vision, the degree of change in some areas could be enhanced. Specifically, although
the frequency of “warm transfer” for parents has increased, there was room for
improvement. As a result, the Ad Hoc Coordinated Access Working Group was formed.
Members of this working group include representatives from the gateway agencies and
the group is being chaired by Neil Walker, Project Manager. Using Results Based
Accountability as a framework, the group determined that their first task was to increase
the frequency of warm transfers to the appropriate gateway agency for families seeking
initial services in York Region. As a first step, the group conducted a survey of intake
workers to determine their understanding of “warm transfer” and to explore some of the
barriers to consistent implementation of “warm transfer”.
Results of this survey have assisted with the development of a work plan that includes a
revision of the existing “warm transfer” protocol. The work for this group will continue
throughout the winter of 2017.

On temporary hiatus while the new strategic plan is being developed:
● Professional Development
● Adults Supports and Services

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

Having fulfilled their Terms of Reference, the following Working Groups have disbanded:
● Mapping and Pathways (Access)
● Transition Planning
● Screening and Assessment
● Physician Support

SOCIAL MEDIA

The York ASD Partnership maintains an active social media presence including
Facebook and Twitter. Contact Sue Walters via email to the York Region Chapter of
Autism Ontario at york.communications@autismontario.com

THANK YOU AND GOOD-BYE
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.

Request for Proposal

NEWS! August 2016 ~ RFP for YASDP Strategic Plan July 2016 (2)Revised
Deadline for submission: September 9, 2016 via email at: yorkasd@kerrysplace.org

Overview
The York ASD Partnership (YASDP) is a grassroots collaboration of York Region Service providers, educators, health professionals and parents dedicated to improving the service system for people with ASD and their families.  More information about YASDP can be found at www.yorkasdpartnership.org.  The first Strategic Plan was first developed in 2009/2010 and has been updated several times. The Steering Committee has determined that a full review and revision of the Strategic Plan is required.

The Request for Proposal
YASDP is seeking to undertake a Strategic Planning process that will create a structure and action plans the next five years that ensure the Partnership remains responsive to a changing environment, positions it to leverage opportunities, and mitigate challenges as they arise.  Towards this end, the Strategic Planning process will engage:

  • People with ASD and their families to determine their aspirations, challenges and the necessary conditions for change;
  • Service providers to determine their goals and requirements to fully participate as a contributing member of the YASDP;
  • Existing planning and coordinating tables in York Region to ensure integration across initiatives;
  • Volunteers including parents, people with ASD and community members, and
  • Funders and other key stakeholders to determine mutual opportunities for partnership and leverage.

READ the full document Request for Proposal : YASDP Strategic Plan

 

Grant Received

NEWS! ~ York ASD Partnership receives a $75,000.00 Grant from Ontario Trillium Foundation.

2016 OTF Seed Grant Announcement (pdf)

The York ASD Partnership is a collaboration of organizations and parents working together to enhance the system of supports for people with ASD and their families in York Region since 2008. The York ASD Partnership has accomplished many system improvements in the children’s service sector. For a listing of our accomplishments visit www.yorkasdpartnership.org or www.yorkasdmodel.org

The York ASD Partnership will continue making improvements in the children’s service sector. At the same time we have recognized the need to broaden our focus to enhancing services systems for adults with ASD and their families, measuring the impact of our work and expanding the reach of our collaborative partnerships. To support our future work the York ASD Partnership submitted a successful application to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for a one year Seed Grant. The Children’s Treatment Network of Simcoe/York acted as the charitable, not-for-profit host for the application and also provides over-sight for the York ASD Partnership finances. The funds and project activities will be managed by the York ASD Partnership.

The severe lack of supports for adults with ASD has been the focus of much recent attention across Ontario. Reports by multiple sources have identified the significant crisis in services for the adult population resulting in higher demands for crisis mental health supports.

How will the funds be used?

The grant project which will begin in July, 2016, will include:

  • completing a York Region adult services needs analysis;
  • engaging all relevant parties in a community planning process;
  • engage adults with ASD in the planning and needs identification process;
  • the development of a comprehensive community based strategic plan that will identify enhancements to the current system and map the future of services and supports for youth and adults with ASD in York Region;
  • establishing working groups to address specific areas of need;
  • the development of outcome evaluation strategies to measure the impact and success of our plan.

The plan will address existing challenges such as:

  • ensuring that the transition for children and youth into adult supports and services is seamless;
  • ensuring that youth and adults with ASD are participants in planning and implementation;
  • ensuring that supports and services exist to meet the needs of youth and adults with ASD and
  • enhancing the connection between youth and adults with ASD and their communities, resulting in better quality of life.

For more information about the work of the York ASD Partnership please contact: Neil Walker, Project Manager, at yorkasd@kerrysplace.org

YASDP Communique Fall-Winter 2015

Fall-Winter 2015 Communique [download 4-page pdf]

[text only version]

PROGRESS HIGHLIGHTS

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 consistent 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 are the driving force behind our many successes.
The York ASD Partnership would also like to extend our ongoing thanks to all the member organizations whose ongoing voluntary contributions have supported the expenses for implementation of our strategic plan.  Neil Walker continues as Project Manager and Janette Seymour continues as Assistant Project Manager through to March 31, 2016.

COORDINATED ACCESS PARENT SURVEY

In April of 2013, based on the work of the York ASD Partnership, service providers in York Region launched a new coordinated access system for parents of children with ASD who were making their initial requests for service.  This new system identified the four gateway agencies for services for individuals with ASD and their families and guaranteed “no wrong door” ensuring warm transfers between all service providers in the region.  Based on the recommendations of research professionals at York University, it was determined that the system required a minimum of one year of implementation before evaluation to enhance the validity of the results.
In the spring of 2015, the Communications Working Group of the York ASD Partnership conducted an online survey of parents to assess the impact of this new coordinated access system.  The survey was made available through Survey Monkey throughout the spring of 2015.  Requests to complete the survey were electronically distributed through Autism Ontario, Children’s Treatment Network, Kinark Child and Family Services and Kerry’s Place Autism Services.  A variety of questions were asked including those that looked at the frequency of warm transfer, the knowledge of ASD demonstrated by the intake workers, and the degree of support and satisfaction that parents felt after this first contact comparing the experience of those parents who made the referral prior to April 2013 to those who made their first contact after April 2013.
Survey results indicated a consistent, positive change across all aspects of the coordinated access system.  For example, there was a 10% increase in the number of parents who indicated “yes” when asked if they felt welcomed and supported on their initial call.  As well, there was a 9% increase in the number of parents who indicated that the service provider offered a warm transfer.  Finally, there was an increase of 18% in the number of parents who felt the intake worker had an understanding of ASD.  A complete summary of the results will be available on the York ASD Partnership website at www.yorkasdpartnership.org in January 2016.
The vision of the York ASD Partnership is to improve the service system for people with ASD and their families.  One of our first goals was to achieve coordinated access meaning that any call to an agency involved in the York ASD Partnership will lead people with ASD and their families to the appropriate resource and action.  These results suggest that we are achieving our goals and attaining our vision.  Next steps will look at maintaining and sustaining these results.

ONGOING AWARENESS AND INTEREST IN THE YORK ASD PARTNERSHIP

In November 2015, the York Region District School Board hosted their annual Quest for Student Achievement Conference.  The theme for this conference was “Deep Learning in a Digital World”.
This year, in addition to an information table, members of the York ASD Partnership delivered a presentation called “Breaking Barriers to Learning for Students with ASD”.  This presentation focused on the impact that assistive technology has had on learning for students with ASD.  Our message was that technology is an essential teaching tool for those with ASD which sparked extensive discussion and exchange of ideas.  Two parent representatives from the Communication Working Group, Rahila Chugtai and Alana Shields Barker, took the lead on this project.  They completed the application for both the presentation and the information table.  They developed and delivered the presentation at three sessions over two days and provided support to the information table.  Andrew Barker assisted in the presentation by describing information technology tools that have assisted him in secondary school.  Neil Walker and Janette Seymour also participated by orienting the audience to ASD learning styles and the work of the York ASD Partnership.
Administrators, Special Education teachers, principals, and teachers as well as parents and trustees were among those in our audiences.  Traffic at the York ASD Partnership table was consistently brisk throughout the three days of the conference.  Sue Walters, another parent representative from Autism Ontario and Ashley Slater of Kinark shared table duties and spent time talking to attendees from Canada, the Netherlands and other countries about the York ASD Partnership describing its mission and model.
The success of this project is another in a long list of examples of the critical role that parent representation plays in ensuring the work of the York ASD Partnership is successful.  These parents volunteer their time to share their expertise, energy, and experiences.  It is hard to imagine the York ASD Partnership without the input and support of our parent volunteers.

YORK REGION ASD TRAINING

Part of the work of the Mapping and Pathways Working Group had been to support York Region
211 in developing a database for Intake Workers specific to services for individuals with ASD and their families.  This database has been completed and launched.  Training to Intake Workers was provided in June 2015.  Plans are in place to assess the effectiveness of this database through the Intake Worker Network.

WORKING GROUP UPDATES: see www.yorkasdpartnership.org/workinggroups

Screening and Assessment

The Screening and Assessment Working Group completed the “Evidence Based Best Practice Guide for Screening and Assessment”.  This document has been endorsed by the York ASD Partnership members and is available on our website.  This guide outlines the best practices for screening and assessment for preschool aged children, school aged children and adults.  It includes the Red Flags for School Age Children document which will also be available as a stand alone document.  Work is occurring with our community partners including Autism Ontario to facilitate distribution of this guide.  This completes the work of this group.
Communications The Communications Working Group is focused on maintaining the public profile of the York ASD Partnership.  The website, social media, press coverage and parent engagement are all within the purview of this group.  The work group will develop an annual plan to this end in January.  This group facilitated the information table and presentation by the York ASD Partnership at the Quest for Student Achievement Conference in November 2015 (details above).  This working group developed the survey for parents to assess the impact of the coordinated access system and facilitated its’ distribution.  As well, the group is developing plans to support the distribution of the various documents developed by the York ASD Partnership.

Professional Development

The Professional Development Working Group is providing oversight to the project providing training to Mental Health Professionals in York Region.  Guidelines for reviewing materials and programs with reference to evidence based and evidence informed practice have been developed and are also available on our website.  Currently the working group is developing a protocol to coordinate professional development training across York Region.

Physician Support

The Physician Support Working Group has modified the access map to create a Referral Guide for Physicians.  This guide is available on our website.  5000 laminated copies of the Referral Guide for Physicians are available and are being distributed to physicians across the region with the support of community partners including Autism Ontario.  This working group continues to develop more ways to educate and engage physicians in York Region about ASD.

Adults Supports and Services

This group began in January 2013.  Co-chaired by Lynda Beedham, parent representative and Sarah Shaw, Autism Ontario, it is focused on ensuring the continuum of services through youth to adulthood.  In collaboration with DSO-CER, a repository of information about funded and non-funded services is being developed to improve access for parents and self advocates.
As well the group has taken on the task of mapping the processes and services accessed through DSO-CER and mapping the supports and services related to employment opportunities.  In recognition of the immense scope of work needed to improve systems and supports for adults with ASD, plans are in place to provide this group with more specific, strategic direction.

Crisis Response

This group is co-chaired by Chris Simmons-Physick from Kinark Child and Family Services and Wendy Leve from Southlake Hospital.  The work of this group is focusing on working with the York Region Mental Health Collaborative to implement the proposals funded through the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) related to prevention of youth suicide.  The first year of funding in 2014 was used to conduct a scan of existing crisis and suicide prevention services by an outside consultant, Paul Muldoon.  His report was presented to the members of the York ASD Partnership and the Mental Health Collaborative in January 2015.  The report, entitled MHCASD Crisis Intervention Suicide Prevention Report (June 2015) is available on our website.
In 2015, additional grant money was made available to this group and in October, this funding was used to provide “Train the Trainer” ASIST training to staff of various service providers across the region.  A third year of grant funding has been received and will be used to adapt/provide resource material to the ASIST program to accommodate child and youth with ASD.  An RFP to produce these materials will be released in February 2016.  This group continues to develop its work plan to identify and mitigate risk and support safety plans to support child and youth mental health needs across York Region.

Mapping and Pathways (Access)

The access pathway map designed by this group is available on the York ASD Partnership website.
The York Region searchable 211 ASD database has been launched and training has been provided to Intake Workers across the region.

Transition Planning

Documents produced by the Transition Planning Working Group are available on the York ASD Partnership website.  The “Transition Guide to Adulthood” identifies the essential components and key timelines for transition from youth to adulthood.  This checklist will help ensure that the necessary documents and relevant agencies are contacted at the appropriate times.  The “Thinking About Transitions” brochure is a guide for parents to help them identify the key components of a transition and increase the likelihood of successful transition. This concludes the work of the Transition Planning Working Group.

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

The York ASD Partnership maintains an active social media presence including Facebook and Twitter.  Contact Sue Walters via email to the York Region Chapter of Autism Ontario at york.communications@autismontario.com

THANK YOU AND GOODBYE

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 www.yorkasdpartnership.org .