April is Autism Awareness, Acceptance, Appreciation, Empowerment, and Advocacy Month!
by the Centre of Excellence for Autism
April, formerly known as Autism Awareness Month in the 1970s by the Autism Society of America, is now shifting its lens to better reflect the experiences of the autistic community.
Calling All Artists!
The Centre of Excellence for Autism (CoEASD) at the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) would like to highlight the incredible and unique artwork that our students with autism engage in and are passionate about.
We are in the process of collecting these masterpieces to display them on our website during the month of April as an act of appreciation of neurodiversity and autism. The artwork can be in the form of a picture, poem, photograph or even a sculpture. A photograph of the work will be showcased.
The artwork will be shared on our website and newsletter. The child’s name, grade, and school will be displayed. If you are interested in participating click here to participate and to upload your child’s work.
Autism Level Up!
Among the wide range of helpful autism resource websites, Autism Level Up! differentiates itself because it has an autistic advocate (Jac) and the co-author of the SCERTS model (Amy) as its co-founders. This dynamic duo’s primary goals are raising awareness about autism and helping others determine how best to be an ally of the ASD community. The site also features a diverse set of resources like visual tools, ideas on how to advocate, and emotion regulation techniques. You can search by category and most of these resources are free. However, there are certain unique products available for a fee, such as a sliding energy meter designed for a 3D printer.
Autism Level Up! also offers in-person and virtual conferences, consultation, and links to their appearances on a variety of podcasts. Another unique feature is the accessibility menu, with tools to modify text spacing, contrast, and a way to make the site dyslexia friendly.
Accessibility for ALL
“Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) includes all forms of communication (other than oral speech) that are used to express thoughts, needs, wants, and ideas. We all use AAC when we make facial expressions or gestures, use symbols or pictures, or write.”*
Individuals with speech difficulties or language problems rely on AAC to supplement existing speech or replace speech that is not functional. By making AAC available to those who need it, we can help increase their social interaction, school performance, and feelings of self-worth.*
Inspired by that belief and the well-established goal of offering accessibility to all our students as they enjoy the outdoors, the CoEASD along with the Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP) of the LBPSB launched a project where Communication Stations using AAC boards (as seen in the picture below) were made available on school playgrounds. This initiative will become more universal as the team forms partnerships with municipalities in order to install Communication Stations in public parks, allowing inclusive and accessible practices to become the norm.