Who We Are

Our Teams

Each initiative within the York ASD Partnership Strategic Plan 2016-2021* is supported by a task group. Task groups are comprised of representatives of Partnership organizations which work towards achieving the identified initiative through a series of 4-6 meetings (sprint).

Subsequent initiatives may be accomplished through the formation of a new task group.

*More detailed information within ‘York ASD Partnership Strategic Plan’ [backlink]

Champion: Tracy Mansel, Kerry’s Place Autism Services

Task Group: Sharon Terner, CTN; Robin Golding, Autism Ontario, Laura Hern, Kinark; Melissa McCammon, YRDSB; Angie Cabraja, YCDSB; York ASD Partnership, Neil Walker, Janette Seymour

Objective:

Update the Access Map outlining how to access services in York Region to reflect current funding and service provision.

Deliverables:

  • Revised Service Access Map completed in the fall of 2019
  • Service Access Map redesigned through Communications and Change Committee
  • Delivered to Partnership organizations

Future Directions

The model of funding and service delivery has changed again and is likely to change in the future. This task will need to be completed on a regular (annual?) basis.

Champion(s): Christine Ruchlewicz, Community Living Central York; Angie Cabraja, York Catholic District School Board

Task Group: Sarah Shaw, Autism Ontario; Michelle Biehler, CTN; Kristen Baumann, CTN; Ritu Singarayer, CLYS; Thomas Luxemburger, Kerry’s Place; Sue Walters, Parent Rep; Melissa McCammon, YRDSB; Kim Thorn, YSSN; Clare MacDonald, YSSN

Objectives:

  1. Develop criteria and process for successful transitions.
  2. Identify possible barriers and future solutions to support all students that would need a placement in the Day Program.
  3. Develop Transition Curriculum based on findings of the pilot project.
  4. Develop and deliver parent awareness presentations.

Implementation:

Two available adults spots in Community Living Day program will be used for the “Strengthening Transitions” Pilot Project and will provide up to 6 students an opportunity to spend one day a week, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday in the program between September and June. Students will be provided with a schedule of activities available for the day which may include cooking, literacy, life skills, music, art and recreational opportunities. The student, their family, York Region District and York Catholic school boards and Community Living will work together to determine a meaningful day for each student. Educational Assistants will accompany students to the program to participate in a variety of activities throughout the day with the aim to gauge comfort and familiarity with the program in order to transition to the adult sector with fewer supports required.

Deliverable(s):

  • In the first year four students from YCDSB participated successfully in the program.
  • Two students continued in the program throughout the summer with a 1:5 staffing ratio. The two students who did not continue in the program for the summer required more intensive support than what the funding provided.
  • Pre and post data was collected by Kerry’s Place and surveys were completed by Educational Assistants and parents. This data was shared with the group in order to inform the practise and to improve processes for the next year.
  • Second year 5 students from both boards were scheduled to participate and the plan was put on hold due to school and Day Program closure as a result of the pandemic.

Key Measurement and Trends

  • York University was conducting qualitative research using semi-structured one-to-one interviews which allow for a better capture of the opinions and experiences of the participants. The study aimed to elicit perspectives of the students, teachers, Day Program staff and families by answering the following key questions:
    • How do participants describe their overall experience with the Day Program activities?
    • Which aspects of the project did they find interesting or beneficial?
    • Which aspects of the project did they find challenging or unclear?
    • What recommendations do they have to improve the program?
  • Processes were improved as a result of the completed surveys and the data collected. The project continues to be on hold while the Day Program remains closed due to the pandemic.
  • One student from the first year continues to access online Day Support activities during the pandemic.
  • It is the hope of the committee that the pilot project will continue when the pandemic is over.

Champion: Ritu Singarayer, Community Living York South

Task Group: Aura McClusky, Kerry’s Place; Heather Hamilton, CTN; Zainab Zaidi, CLYS; Cenza Cacciotti, Kinark; Tiffany Rosati, Kinark; Trisha Lawless, Markham Stouffville Hospital; Sue Walters, Parent Rep; Maureen Ander, Reena; Sharon Summers, YSSN; Cindy Hartman, YSSN; Neil Walker, YASDP

Objective:

  • Identify ways to build family resilience through self care opportunities.
  • Look at best practices in self care programs for caregivers, including programs promoting fitness/wellness, mindfulness, support, counselling, and community building.

Deliverable(s):

  1. Environmental Scan – feedback from agencies re self care opportunities they were offering to identify what was out there and any potential gaps for instance in any type of self care and locations.
  2. Review of scan and discussion around potential partnerships. Analyzed the findings as a group. Found there were opportunities but a gap in families getting the information. Three agencies tried to come together to offer programming but changes in funding models and COVID made this difficult.
  3. Standard Survey and Memo of Understanding. Created an evaluation tool that all agencies utilized to get feedback from parents/caregivers for the programs they were offering (as a way to measure the same things When COVID hit, this tool was placed on hold. It was apparent that coming together as agencies created multiple opportunities to work together and be cognizant of overlap and provide referrals. The team agreed an increase in sharing amongst agencies is key. Created a memo of understanding amongst the group on what role this group would and could play. Agencies signed off.

Learnings:

  • It was apparent that agencies only had so much capacity to offer opportunities
  • Where possible agencies can come together and partner to provide opportunities
  • Having the agencies around the table was truly valuable in increasing awareness of what the other agencies are doing, working together, providing referrals and reducing duplication.

Champion(s): Tammy Wanschura, EIS and Parent Rep; Sharon Terner, CTN

Task Group: Niki Huxtable, CTN and Parent Rep; Lois Aldersn-Wigelius, CTN and Parent Rep; Kim Hesketh, CTN and Parent Rep; Karen Dillon, CTN; Aqdas Malik, Autism Ontario; Kathleen Easton, Easton Media, Neil Walker, YASDP

Objective(s):

Bring together service providers that support children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Simcoe and York Region to identify what is needed by parents/caregivers and families in the 3 month period after receiving the diagnosis.

Deliverable(s):

  1. Developed an online tool for parents/caregivers and service providers of newly diagnosed individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This tool answers the frequently asked questions and identifies community and online resources.

Key Measurement and Trends:

  1. Tool prompts online feedback.
  2. Contact email to solicit information on updates and changes.

Funded through a grant from Autism Speaks Canada

Champion(s): Neil Walker, YASDP; Janette Seymour, YASDP

Task Group: Staff and managers from Catulpa, Centre for Behavioural Health Sciences, Kerry’s Place Autism Services, York Support Services Network and Community Living York South; Brock University (Priscilla Burnham Riosa and Shona Miller), University of Wisconsin (Dr Leann Smith Dewalt and Kate Szidon)

Deliverables:

  1. “Train the Trainer” delivered to participants from Catulpa, Community Living York South, Kerry’s Place Autism Services, York Support Services Network, Centre for Behavioural Health Sciences in September/ October 2020
  2. Contract with Brock University (Dr. Priscilla Burnham Riosa) to conduct research on training project. Research design approved by YASDP and ethics approval through Brock University.
  3. “Transitioning Together” program to be delivered virtually Winter/Spring 2021. Each participating agency will deliver two sessions of the program with 5 participant families per session.
  4. Research project (data collection, analysis and report) to be completed by September 2021.
  5. Final report to Autism Speaks Canada by December 1, 2021.

Key Measurement and Trends:

  • Research by Brock University.
  • Final report to Autism Speaks Canada.

Champion: Dr. Priscilla Burnham Riosa, Brock University

Task Group: Research Team:
Brock University: Priscilla Burnham Riosa, Courtney Bishop (PhD student), Lisa Whittingham (PhD student), Jean Phan (MA student), Rebecca Ensor (MA graduate), Brynn Jichici (MA student)
McMaster University: Briano DiRezze
ISAND: Wendy Roberts
York ASD Partnership: Neil Walker, Janette Seymour

Objective(s):

Development of a user-informed online platform to support the employment and vocational readiness needs of job seekers with autism and their support systems.

Deliverable(s):

  1. Phase 1 – Focus groups with stakeholders to determine online employment needs. Focus groups were conducted with 29 parents, self-advocates and professionals regarding the employments readiness needs of job seekers with ASD amenable to an online platform. Qualitative date evaluated via thematic analysis.
  2. Phase 2 – Website development and pilot testing in progress. Website planning/wireframing and general website conceptualization underway; back-end server decision waiting for phase 2 ethics approval to execute.
  3. Phase 3 – Website refinement with participant feedback – upcoming.

Key Measurement and Trends:

  • Qualitative data collected and analyzed from focus groups to inform website development.
  • Survey to be administered (pending ethics clearances) to Phase 2 & 3 participants to assess website usability and performance.
  • Website to be developed and tested (Phases 2 & 3).

Champion: Jackie Buchanan, Parent Rep

Task Group: Cenza Cacciotti, Kinark; Lisa Spencer, CTN and Parent Rep; Annie Zhang, Community Living York South; Maxine Share, Kerry’s Place; Janette Seymour, YASDP

Objective:

Development of a Tip Sheet which would assist individuals with ASD and their parents/caregivers/families in the completion of the Canada Revenue Agency Form T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate Part B.

Deliverable(s):

The Disability Tax Credit Certificate and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Tips for Applying” created, approved and circulated to YASDP organizations in November 2020.

Link to document

Champion: Cindi Buick, Parent Rep

Task Group: Kathryn Everest, Parent Rep; Krista Ralph, Aptus; Rosemary Guzzo, EIS, Jessica Panza, CBHS; Karin Behrens, Central LHIN; Sharon Terner, CTN; Janette Seymour, YASDP

Consultation to the Task Group: Stacey Feldt, Self-advocate; James Everest, Self-advocate; Dr. Anita Jethwa, Developmental Pediatrician, Dr. Wendy Roberts, Developmental Pediatrician, Dr. Peter Haslam, Dentist

Objective:

Develop a resource that would help health care professionals better understand/care for their patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This tool needed to be simple and short for the health care professional and easy to use for individuals with ASD and their parents/caregivers/families. Determined that two different tools would be the most effective.

Deliverable(s):

  1. “Caring for Your Patient with ASD” created, approved and distributed to YASDP organizations. This tool can be completed online or hardcopy and given to the health care professional in advance as a standing document for the file with information about communication, sensory issues, tips for a successful visit, etc.
  2. “Reason for Today’s Visit” – in progress. This tool will provide information specific to each visit and after the visit..
  3. Library/links to additional resources – in progress

Key Measurement and Trends

Tool requests feedback to the website.

link to document

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