April 2nd is Autism Awareness Day

The York Catholic District School Board is proud to recognize April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day.  The United Nations first declared April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day in 2007 as a way of highlighting the need to help improve the quality of life of children and adults who are affected by autism, so they can lead full and meaningful lives.

Ahead of World Autism Awareness Day, Director of Education, Patricia Preston, met with two student artists from Our Lady of Peace Catholic Elementary School in Maple. She congratulated the students on the artwork they created, which was featured in an art display at the Board's Catholic Education Centre in Aurora. The art display featured the works of several students, in both elementary and high school, who have Autism.

On Friday, April 1st, St. Elizabeth Catholic High School in Thornhill will raise the flag for autism, an initiative spearheaded by Autism Ontario that unites families, schools, communities, and others in recognizing World Autism Awareness Day. The simple act of flying a flag for autism helps bring to light the struggles and triumphs of people on the autism spectrum. St. Brother Andre Catholic High School will raise the flag for autism on Monday, April 4, 2016.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability, which results from a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, affecting children and adults in many countries irrespective of gender, race or socio-economic status. It is characterized by impairments in social interaction, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication and restricted, repetitive behaviour, interests and activities.

The rate of autism in all regions of the world is high and it has a tremendous impact on children, their families, communities and societies. The stigmatization and discrimination associated with these illnesses also remain substantial obstacles to diagnosis and treatment.

The York Catholic District School Board offers a wide range of special education programming for students, ages 4-21 with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Students are generally enrolled in their home school on a regular classroom register, with age-appropriate peers.  They have a program focused to provide specialized instruction relating to their environment and acquiring the full range of academic skills. The individualized program includes strategies to support academics at the appropriate level, communication, sensory-motor integration, social awareness, self-regulation, and transition planning. Implementation of the uniquely designed program is a collaboration between the classroom teacher and the special education teacher with additional supports, as required.

Each school is serviced by a Board Resource Team that supports the school staff working with students with ASD.  This multidisciplinary team includes a Special Education Consultant and/or Special Education Department Head, a Speech and Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Behaviour Resource Staff, and Psychologist. Learn more about YCDSB's Special Education / Student Services Programs.