At this time of year, we naturally reflect on what has happened in our lives and around the world. And in the brief moments of stillness or chaos of the year-end holiday celebrations, we can reflect on what truly matters and express our gratitude. We look forward to the coming year with renewed optimism and how we may renew ourselves and positively impact the world we live in.
As I look back at the past year, I am grateful for your continued and active support. Although the pandemic and other events have made 2021 a challenging year, Autism Ontario has continued with the work of making autism matter for the more than 135,000 people on the autism spectrum in Ontario and their families and caregivers.
Together, we are making a difference. Your support this past year has meant:
- More families served – an increase of 86% over the past year.
- More francophone families served – an increase of 30% over the past year.
- More families who spoke neither English nor French served – a 50% increase over the past year.
- Meaningful advocacy – in our 2021 Pre-budget Submission, we successfully recommended that people on the spectrum be included in the early round of COVID-19 vaccinations.
- 94 autistic adults and 166 caregivers attended a Living Life to the Full course, which provides people with effective tools to best manage life’s challenges.
- 1 recipient of the McDonald Family Educational Scholarship, for children of a parent on the autism spectrum who are entering the first year of a post-secondary program.
- 7 recipients of the Jeanette Holden Educational Scholarship, for siblings of a person on the autism spectrum who are entering the first year of a post-secondary program.
- 7 recipients of the Eleanor Ritchie Education Scholarship, awarded to autistic individuals for their first year of post-secondary education.
- 21 recipients of awards from the Building Brighter Futures Fund, allowing adults on the autism spectrum to pursue a variety of personal interests.
You can read about these accomplishments and much more in our most recent Annual Report.
All this important work would not have been possible without you. You belong to an extended family of autistic self-advocates, families, caregivers, friends, and supporters – all dedicated to a common cause – to create a supportive and inclusive Ontario for autism.
I wish you and your loved ones all the best this holiday season and in the coming year.