Tag Archives: Autism Speaks

Weekend Round Up: Sweet Spring in the Air

Lots going on this weekend so buckle-up for fun.  Pick of the weekend has got to be Sugarfest at North America’s only urban sugar shack – that would be the one in fun-loving Ward 12 of course!

Thursday – all day – get 50% off at Menchies in the Byward Market to celebrate their first anniversary. Given the lovely weather a family walk rewarded by dessert likely won’t go amiss this evening.

Autism fundraiserLater tonight in honour of World Autism Day (yesterday) the Lunenburg Pub is holding a fundraiser for Autism Speaks. The organisation that promotes the safety and well-being of those with Autism is Pay-What-You-Can.  This promises to be a great event with loads of live music and the opportunity on a night out to contribute to a great cause. Interested in advances in autism? Check out our recent post by Professor and Autism Expert Laura Cavanagh.

Opening Thursday and running until April 7 it’s the Edible Arctic Festival at the Museum of Nature featuring the creative culture and vibrant lifestyle of the Arctic North.  Much of the Museum’s collection is from the North yet little focuses on the life and culture – this exhibit of art, music, food and activities explores that human side.  Thursday night is free from 5-8PM and the schedule includes a movie at 6:30, storytelling, crafts and the Northern Lights!

Friday afternoon Chef Christine Cushing will be doing a meet and greet with Olive Oil tasting at La Bottega Nicastro.

Friday is opening night for a intriguing new production by Vacant House Theatre. The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine is their inaugural production and the play set in a basement apartment is literally set in the cramped basement confines of the Backpacker’s Hostel on York St. We’re looking forward to reviewing this production shortly – let us know what you think!

Over at Ritual on Besserer St it’s Toronto indie 5-piece The Wooden Sky supported by Dusted and the Wilderness of Manitoba.

Saturday is the Family bike ride to Vanier’s MuseoParc for the annual Maple Sugar Festival. The bike ride is a joint initiative put on by the Vanier & Overbrook Community Associations spearheaded by Sarah Partridge of Vanier a Velo / Vanier Cycles. Of course all comers – cyclists, pedestrians, public transport and drivers – are very welcome to the MuseoParc’s Sugaring Festivities… and did we mention FREE PANCAKES!!

Saturday night have a top meal or a quiet drink at The Albion Rooms or mix it up with the Brooklyn DJ Duo The Underachievers at Ritual.

AmayaframetasticSunday why not register yourself or your kid at a Capoeira class at neighbourhood studio Dende Do Recife – offering a 20% discount to all Sandy Hill residents. No better time to get fit whilst being immersed in this ever-more popular Brazilian cultural experience.

Reflections on World Autism Day 2014

Today’s guest post in honour of  World Autism Day (April 2nd) is from Autism Expert, Seneca College Professor & Behavioural Science Program Coordinator  and Founder of SmartSteps Laura Cavanagh who shares her expert insight on Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA).

Locally: Autism Speaks Fundraiser tonight (April 3rd) at the Lunenburg Pub (Waller St.) Live Music & Pay What You Can at the door.


Estimates indicate that 1 out of every 68 individuals has a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder.  This is one of most common developmental disabilities affecting Canadians of all ages. Without a known cause or cure the treatment of choice, supported by research-based evidence, is behavioural intervention based on the science of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). But what exactly is ABA?

ABA has become a buzzword since ABA, ABA-therapy, ABA-based interventions, and other ABA-based services were designated as the preferred treatment —thanks to a mountain of evidence-based research—for children with autism. In parts of Canada it is deemed a medically-necessary intervention for children with autism—the holy grail of designations rarely doled out to non-pharmacological, psychotherapeutic-type interventions.

In spite of this, misconceptions about what ABA is (and what it isn’t) abound. The biggest one, I think, is that ABA is something that happens when your child is seated at a table with a trained behaviour specialist, but not something that’s happening at other times—at the grocery store, at the park, at the coffee shop, on the playground.

Here’s the definition my students get in ABA 101: ABA is the science that seeks to understand, analyze, and modify human behaviour.

Alright, so you’re not running data analysis on your barista’s behaviour. But how about the “modifying” part? Is your behaviour modifying others?  And vice-versa?

Say you snap at your barista as they text on their phone ignoring you or say they mess up your coffee because you publicly berated them. Either way both you and your barista have modified each other’s behaviour.

BOOM: You’re a behaviour interventionist.

Because we don’t live in a vacuum, our behaviour affects others, and vice-versa. It’s true in the coffee shop, in the classroom, and in virtually every interaction you have with your child. The key is that ABA gives us a methodology for being mindful and systematic in our approach and in our impact.

Dr. Ivar Lovaas of UCLA first applied the techniques of ABA  in 1987 with startling results[1]. His initial data indicated almost half of his treatment group were admitted into mainstream classrooms and described as being indistinguishable from their peers. Although few investigators have been able to replicate Lovaas’ success rate, studies show that children with autism benefit greatly from intensive treatment based on the principles of ABA. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that the benefits have been well-documented in research literature, and that “children who receive early intensive behavioural treatment have been shown to make substantial, sustained gains in IQ, language, academic performance, and adaptive behaviour as well as some measures of social behaviour”[2].

In Ontario, the Ministry of Child and Youth Services endorsed intensive ABA-based therapy as the treatment of choice for individuals with autism with the implementation of its Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI). In 2000, the first children in Ontario began to receive treatment through the government’s fully-funded IBI program.  By 2006 alone, government funding to the program was set at over $78 million[3]. In 2007, the government expanded the scope of the IBI initiative to manage wait lists and meet increasing demand for service. The Ministry of Education then built upon this mandate with the introduction of Policy/Program Memorandum 140 (PPM-140), entitled Incorporating Methods of Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) into Programs for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). PPM-140 ensured that individuals on the autism spectrum continued to receive government-funded ABA-based supports, now through the school system.

The government of Ontario has continued to expand upon and prioritize the provision of ABA-based intervention in the form of IBI and other ABA-based supports.

The high prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in our province is recognized as a serious social and public health issue that needs immediate action. The demand for qualified professionals to fill the roles of service providers has been an issue with the government’s initiatives since their inception. A workforce of highly-trained and skilled professionals who can implement the services and supports needed to meet the needs of individuals with autism and their families is required. Enter Seneca College’s Behavioural Sciences diploma program. This program is specifically designed to fill the requirement for trained Autism ABA specialists.

The beauty of ABA is it’s not just a therapy, but a way to measure the impact of our behaviour on others. This is true whether we’re trying to impact someone’s behaviour by teaching them a new skill, by encouraging them to communicate, or by helping them to stop biting the kids in their class. And it’s also true that all of our behaviours—whether it’s a carefully planned instructional period, an impromptu lesson borne upon a spontaneous teachable moment, or an insult hurled in a moment of anger—have an effect on others.

Interested in ABA? Good, you’re already wielding it’s incredible power, now harness it.


[1] Lovaas, O. I. (1987). Behavioral treatment and normal intellectual and educational functioning in autistic children. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55:  3-9.

[2] Myers, S. M. & Johnson, C.P. (2007). Management of children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics120 (5): 1162–82.

[3]Perry A. (2002). Intensive early intervention program for children with autism: Background and design of the Ontario Preschool Autism Initiative. Journal on Developmental Disabilities, 9 (2): 121-129.