Twenty years ago in Edmonton, there was no way to help children with autism and their families. They were isolated, confused, and exhausted, with no way to connect to experts or the community. Researchers were beginning to understand the condition, but there was scarcely a link between the science and what was happening in a growing number of households in Alberta.
Then, in 1997, a group of parents of children with autism came together to launch a new organization in Edmonton. The science then, as now, showed that early intervention could make a huge difference in a child’s life. They needed to act quickly. They needed the best science and a team of clinical professionals to help their children reach their full potential through early intervention and programs that evolved with the science as their children grew into adulthood.
They knew there were other families out there who, like them, were searching for answers and they wanted to include them too. And they wanted something else, something revolutionary: to build a community that understands, includes, and creates opportunities for people with autism.
The Centre for Autism Services Alberta embodies these three goals, incorporating a person-centred philosophy, reflecting our family-driven roots, and helping to create a more welcoming community for people with autism.
Today, the Centre is a Canadian leader in clinical intervention and therapy, early childhood education, and therapeutic and enrichment programming. Our clinical intervention and educational programs have earned the Centre a reputation for excellence in evidence-based services and were are one of the largest autism centres in western Canada.
The Centre is the only CARF-accredited service provider in the province (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) - accredited in Behavioural Consultation Services - Autism Spectrum Disorder. We partner with Canadian and American autism organizations and researchers, and we’re home to three research fellows.
About a decade ago, the Centre embarked upon an ambitious program to support children and youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) beyond provincially-supported early intervention which spans an average two to three years. We believed that we had a moral obligation to support children with ASD as they grew. Our mission changed to reflect this obligation and is now “to provide comprehensive, innovative supports and services to those affected by ASD across the lifespan.”
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