Cineplex Movies

Cineplex Odeon in partnership with Autism Speaks have created a sensory friendly experience for the ASD community.

The screenings feature increased lighting levels, decreased volume and a designated calm area.

The price of admission for each person is the child admission price ($8.99).  Cineplex has also confirmed that you may use this special pricing in conjunction with the Access 2 Card. This card gives free (or discounted rate) entry to a support person.

Venues for the Access 2 card include 95% of the theaters in Canada and many recreational attractions in BC. The cost is $20 and is valid for 5 years.

The first showing of the Sensory Friendly movie is this Saturday (Feb 14) in Langley at 10:30 showing The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.

See you at the movies!

Autism Assistance Dogs – What you need to know

A guest post from one of our parents whose child didn’t qualify for a support dog, but ultimately found a way.  Thanks Pam  for sharing your experience with us.

In British Columbia, in order for a person with a disability to have public access rights with a service dog, the dog should be trained by a member organization of Assistance Dogs International (“ADI”) (http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org). British Columbia is in the process of enacting a new service dog act (http://www.bccpd.bc.ca/gada.htm) which will confirm this policy. The present legislation, being the existing Guide Animal Act (http://www.bclaws.ca/EPLibraries/bclaws_new/document/ID/freeside/00_96177_01), does allow the Minister to issue a certificate for a dog, however in practice such certificates are generally issued only to dogs trained by ADI organizations.

The only ADI-certified organization training dogs for persons with autism in British Columbia is Autism Support Dogs (http://www.autismsupportdogs.org), which is affiliated with BC & Alberta Guide Dog Services. Unfortunately they are often not taking applications, as they have very long waiting lists, and their criteria is very narrow. In general, when taking applications, they provide dogs to moderately to severely autistic children between 4 and 10 years of age who have a tendency to bolt in public places, among other requirements.

The ADI website lists all nine ADI certified organizations in Canada. Pacific Assistance Dogs is another BC organization, however they do not yet train autism dogs.

Another Canadian ADI certified organization deserves mention – the Lion’s Foundation of Canada, whose website is at http://www.dogguides.com.

The Lion’s Foundation trains dogs in six different program areas – vision, hearing, diabetic alert, service (mobility), seizure response, and… Autism. Their autism program is much more flexible than the BC program. High anxiety in an autistic child combined with a belief by the family and the organization that a dog may help is generally enough to qualify (assuming other factors are met – more information is on the website). The following are notable factors of the Lion’s Foundation’s program, which is in Oakville, Ontario:

  • They serve all of Canada;
  • At present (November, 2013), they estimate their waiting list from the time of first application to be approximately 12 months, however they look for a good match between the family and dog, so dogs may be placed earlier or later;
  • One or both parents go for training for 12 days or so, which training happens 6-8 weeks after a match is made between the family and a dog;
  • Accommodation is at their training facility – accommodations and meals are provided;
  • Air travel to and from Oakville is provided;
  • Once the dog is back home, a trainer visits after a month or so to address any problems;
  • If the family wants the child to take the dog to school, the trainer will return a second time to train the school once the dog has settled in and been with the child for about 6-12 months, depending on the situation. The trainer will be at the school during the child and dog’s first day there;
  • Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are generally used – there are also Standard Poodles available for families with allergies;
  • The child must be between 3 and 18 years of age, however when the dog eventually retires they will replace the dog (and continue to do so), even if the ‘child’ is then over 18, providing the organization and family believe that there continues to be a benefit to the person in having a service dog; and
  • There is NO cost to the families, though of course donations are gratefully accepted.

The situation in Canada with public access rights is very different in most provinces from that in the United States, where federal law provides public access rights to disabled persons with service dogs who are trained by any organization, or even self-trained. These dogs can easily cost $10,000 to $25,000 or more, and a disabled BC resident who has one and brings it to BC would not automatically be entitled to public access rights with such a dog in BC, even if it was trained by a very reputable organization (and there are many) unless the organization is an ADI certified organization, which most aren’t. There are also organizations in Canada who purport to train service dogs. Unless the organization is listed as an ADI member or can provide some other certification from the Minister that a particular dog they have trained is certified for use in BC, then you should assume that a disabled person with such a dog does not have public access rights with the dog.

One more important link is that of the BC government Q&A regarding guide/service dogs http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/guideanimal/q-a.htm

Autism and Beer

Two of my favorite subjects (autism and beer) are coming together in a fundraising night for the ABA Support Network. It is being held at the Central City Pub in Surrey on the 8th of May.

ABA Pub Flyer_01ABA Pub Flyer

The Central City Pub has won numerous awards for their craft beers. My personal favorite is the Imperial IPA. For every bottle sold, $5 is being donated to the Canucks Autism Network and Autism Spectrum Disorders Canadian-American Research Consortium (ASD-CARC).

This promises to be a fun night for a good cause.

 

CAN Provincial Resource Centre

Is the cost of books, games, DVDs and other resources getting you down?

Did you know that the Canucks Autism Network runs an awesome Provincial Resource Centre that is free for CAN members (membership cost is $25 per year)?

They have over 600 items available for loan. The catalogue can be viewed online and items requested by email. They will mail you the item free of charge and also include a prepaid return envelope! The loan period is 3 weeks and you can renew for an additional 3 weeks.

Service Providers, caregivers and schools can also sign up for an individual membership ($10 per year) or a group membership ($25 per year).

These people rock! I would strongly encourage everyone to take out a membership. It’s worth every penny.

 

Canucks Autism Network

If you haven’t yet joined the Canucks Autism Network (CAN), now is the time. These people are dedicated to recreation, sports and just plain fun!

In the past month, my family and I have attended the Family Fun Day at Nat Bailey Stadium, bike lessons for my child and the Corn Maze fun day in Chilliwack. All of the staff members and volunteers turned themselves inside out trying to make these events as fun as possible. Every member of the family had a blast.

It’s refreshing to find an organization which is removed from politics and negativity.

CAN has quite a number of programs on the go including:

  • Biking
  • Soccer
  • Vocational Clubs
  • Social Clubs
  • Skating
  • Family Fun Days
  • Camps

It costs $25 per year to join CAN (which can be paid for by the Autism Funds Unit) and it is worth every penny. Keep in mind this is the cost for the family membership and everyone can participate in the Family Fun Days.

What you won’t find is ABA trained aides, but you will find people who are extremely dedicated and keen to learn about your child. If your child is severely challenged, the staff members and volunteers are only too anxious to learn how to interact with him/her.

A word of warning: The events do fill up quickly. Regular emails are sent from CAN listing their upcoming activities and the time that registration begins. Don’t be late to sign up or you will be disappointed.

Thanks again to all the staff and volunteers at CAN. My family and many others truly appreciate what you are doing.

 

Summertime is here!

Welcome to Summer!

I’m sure many of you are already pining for September, but it’s time to move past denial.
Summer plans for our ASD kids may include ABA Therapy, swim lessons, day camps and overnight camps.
It may be useful to have a think now about how you are going to use all of the summer receipts.
Firstly, you should consider if you can claim child care expenses on your taxes (refer to the CRA information sheet).  Child care expenses are generally the most valuable because they are not claimed as a non-refundable tax credit (at the lowest tax rate), but rather a deduction from income.
For a reminder about Child Care expenses refer to my page Child Care Expenses. In general terms, if both parents are working and the child is eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, you may claim up to $10,000 per year.
Child Care expenses for the summer can include:
  • Up to $250 per week for overnight camps (including sports camps)
  • Expense paid to a relative (age 18 or over) for child care
  • Day Camps
  • Sport Camps
  • Day Care centers
Moving past child care expenses, you can look at using your receipts for some combination of the following:
For Gods sake, please don’t spend your summer stewing over tax policy or battling with the AFU. Get outside and enjoy the weather (it’s coming any day now….I hope).  Just have a short think about collecting receipts that you will be able to use later.

Kids Bowl Free

Are you looking for a cheap and fun activity for your child this summer?

Kids Bowl Free is a program that is not disability specific, but will enable your registered child to bowl free, twice a day all summer long.  A Family Pass is available for a one time purchase of $24.95 to enable up to 4 adults (including therapists) to join in the fun.

There are several bowling alleys throughout BC participating in the program.

For more information visit Kids Bowl Free.