Archive for the ‘Press Releases’ Category

Request for Proposal

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

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  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 or

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

YASDP Communique Fall-Winter 2015

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

[text only version]


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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 .

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


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 .


ACT 4 Youth Initiative in Markham

Act 4 Youth Flyer

Community Living York South has successfully received a Trillium Youth Opportunities grant to operate their Act 4 Youth initiative in Markham. Please see the attached flyer for more information.

CASDA Holds First Ever Leadership Summit, by Alana Shields Barker

The Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA) held their Inaugural Leadership Summit this past March in Ottawa. The overriding goal of the conference was to call for a National Autism Strategy – “One Voice. One Goal.”
My name is Alana Shields Barker and I was one of 150 delegates there, representing “ImprovAbility”. My organization’s focus is Social Learning through Improv and Drama. I am also a member of the York ASD Partnership Communications Working Group.
The two day CASDA Summit was packed with ideas and possible solutions shared across provinces, agencies, professions and community representatives.
The centerpiece was the National Needs Assessment Survey, published in November 2014. A summary pulled several sobering facts into focus about the current level of service vs need across the country. Under Barriers to Service, three of the four sectors polled put lack of resources and services at the top of the list. (Caregivers of children – 80%, caregivers of adults – 73%, and professionals – 95%) Self-Advocates, the fourth segment polled, cited not being able to afford services as their top barrier. Capacity building, serving hard-to-reach areas such as the north and reaching new Canadians were some of the major challenges discussed throughout the conference.

Read the full article “CASDA Conference 2015″ here

Community Living York South: newsletter Jan 2015

Access Newsletter January 2015 16 page pdf

Inside this issue

  • UW Kick off Event…1
  • Meet the Team…2
  • UW Gifts…2
  • UW Day of Caring…3
  • Wills and Trust Workshop.…3
  • YRT Assistance Card…4
  • Road to Financial Independence…4-5
  • Tuck Shop Open House…5
  • Passport Funding Tip Sheet…6-7
  • Costco Update…8
  • Passport Mentoring Story…8
  • Marketplace Calendars…9-10
  • Community and Parent Run Programs…11
  • Program Flyers…12-16

2 new articles posted under Resources > Articles Library

Mental Health and Asperger Syndrome The National Autistic Society, UK

When Autism and Mental Health Issues Collide  Cara Nissman, 2012

York Region Special Needs Strategy newsletter (Dec 2014)

York Region Special Needs Strategy Newsletter – Coordinated Service Planning

Coordinated Service Planning: A communication designed to keep stakeholders in the loop about the work being done on the Special Needs Strategy in York Region.

For more information visit:

New! Saturday Support Group for Young Adults with ASD

Bi-weekly starting January 10, 2015 in Richmond Hill
See the poster here

Calling all young Adults on the Autism Spectrum. Are you looking to connect? Want to discuss Spectrum-friendly topics with a group of like-minded people? Come join us for our new Support Group starting Saturday January 10th from 11am to 12:30pm. Location: Community Living York South, 101 Edward Ave, Richmond Hill. Free for all Participants. To Register, please contact or Sadia Shaukat 905-884-9110 x 640

Drop the Puck – Hockey for Autism

Do you love hockey???

A fun new program will be starting this October at NTR in Newmarket for both boys and girls age 6-12 diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum disorder.

The purpose of the program is to have fun and teach basic hockey skills to children with autism in a safe and supportive environment, including a non-competitive 3 on 3 scrimmage game.

The program will run for 20 weeks commencing Sunday October 19th from 3-4pm with a maximum number of 18 participants.

Full hockey equipment is mandatory, including a CSA approved helmet with cage.  Participants do not need to be great skaters but should be able to skate without assistance.

My wife and I are running this program and if you are interested in helping out either on ice or off please contact us.

The cost for the 20 weeks is $100 and we would like to thank the CBC Help Fund for providing some of the funds required as well as Newmarket NTR for subsidizing their ice cost.

Please be advised that due to the high level of interest once the maximum number of participants is reached we will be happy to add you to a waiting list.

If you are interested in playing hockey and making new friends or volunteering your time and expertise please contact Dave and Suella McGrew at (905)895-3838 or e-mail us at for more information.

Let’s get ready to… Drop the Puck