It is my pleasure and honour to be selected as Chair of the new amalgamated Autism Canada. It has been an exciting year. It has been a year of firsts and there is much to celebrate:
- The approval to merge two national autism charities, a first in Canada;
- Our first face to face board meeting, in May 2015;
- Our official launch and rebranding.
We have a strong understanding of autism and a commitment to make a difference like no other. With our house in order and new structure determined, we are thrilled to be able to launch our new organization, Autism Canada.
In early 2015, I had the opportunity to address a reporter regarding a story they were covering about someone living with autism who was “aging out” and was no longer eligible for services. At one point the reporter questioned “what was different about Autism Canada Foundation and Autism Society Canada?” I remarked “not that much”, which is why we decided to investigate ways that we could support each other. I was very careful not to divulge where we were headed but it really solidified for me what we were doing would make us stronger than the sum of our parts.
So we’re done right?…. Not even close… because as I was questioned by the reporter and described our services and activities, they continued to pressure me on, what should parents of a child living with autism do when their children age out of services? What were we prepared to do as a charity to help them? I replied that we need to continue raising awareness to issues like this and advocate for a plan so people do not fall through the cracks. Autism Canada is advocating hard for a plan, we call it a national autism strategy.
So yes, we have done something remarkable, and it definitely gives us the structure to move forward. Our challenge is large and we must continue to remember all those who we represent, for we have been given a large responsibility and must act accordingly.
We are not going to accomplish this alone, I look forward to working with those who share our desire to support this cause and conquering this challenge.
Don Blane | Chair