Autism Awareness Centre Celebrates 17 Years - Autism Awareness
Autism Awareness Centre celebrates 17 years!

Autism Awareness Centre Celebrates 17 Years

June 2020 marks Autism Awareness Centre’s 17th anniversary. When I co-founded this company in 2003, my children were 4 and 6 years old. I was only four years in to the autism journey. Today my children are 21 and 23, young adults. This year’s celebration feels very different in the wake of COVID-19. Much of the world has changed; we’re facing new challenges and an uncertain future at the moment. For us, it’s difficult to plan our coming 2020-2021 season because government directives change weekly and national and international travel are largely suspended. Conferences take a year of planning to organize; we’ll adapt to the changes as best we can.

The Pandemic Brought New Challenges For AACI

For the first time in our 17 years as a company, we had to cancel our April conferences in Ottawa, ON and Halifax, NS. Gatherings for any purpose could not take place during this global response to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our past 131 conferences have provided training, shared new ideas and innovations in the autism field, introduced presenters from other countries, and given the opportunity for people to meet to exchange ideas and build new networks. We hope to be able to offer conferences again soon, but  we will have to wait and see how the re-opening phases unfold.

It Also Brought New Innovations To Meet Those Challenges

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been writing weekly blogs that cover a range of current concerns such as staying at home, online education, mental health issues, fun outdoors, wellness and how to continue building skills. We started offering bimonthly webinars on a variety of topics to further education and support individuals on the spectrum. Our first one was about The New ASD At Home World which is now available for viewing. Some webinars will be free and some for a nominal cost that will be deep dives on different topics. There will be guest presenters, panelists – all kinds of great talks. If you can’t make our live webinar, all webinars will be recorded and archived for viewing at a time that works for you. I hope you’ll be able to join us.

Our Bookstore Continues to Expand, Including a Line of Practical E-book Guides

We add new titles monthly, and ship books all over the world, and are continuing to due so during the pandemic. When we began in 2003, we had 90 titles – we now have over 800. All titles are selected personally by myself, Maureen Bennie, Director. Each product has gone through a vigorous vetting process by me, to make sure it’s truly useful and of the highest quality. Using the human touch rather than computer generated linking, every book in the bookstore is truly related and similar in nature. All blog posts related to each book are also linked to provide further understanding of a topic. We bring our bookstore to our conferences and support other events and conferences with our diverse resources.

This year, we’ve added a selection of inexpensive e-books on a variety of topics such as toilet training, life skills, newly diagnosed families, feeding challenges and a free Life At Home During COVID-19 book. Look for a new book at the beginning of each month – the one for June is Sexuality and Relationships.

In 2014, Autism Awareness Centre Added a New Division called Studio 3 Canada

This specialized training, the Low Arousal Approach, is designed to manage challenging behavior. Low Arousal Approaches develop better relationships between human beings through the knowledge, understanding and deployment of good social and emotional skills. It includes a solid grounding and a sound understanding of the transactional nature of stress, both between individuals and in systems which are so relevant in the classrooms and elsewhere in life, whilst taking into account differences across all the domains of development or other cognitive difficulties.

The approach teaches us to understand our approach within the context of the psycho-physiological (or arousal) of the person we are supporting.  The approach spells out the differences between and the need for proactive, active and reactive strategies.  Furthermore, it teaches us to recognize the difference between a person who is calm, one that is escalating, one that is in crisis and one that is in post-crisis recovery.

Since launching our first training in 2014 at the Horizon School in Olds, Alberta, we have trained over 50 trainers across Canada in the Low Arousal Approach with more Train the Trainer courses being organized in the future when training can resume. In the fall of 2019, we offered the trainers course in Vancouver, BC to a sold out group. We’ve organized 16 – 3 day Managing Challenging Behavior courses across Canada since 2015, numerous PD day talks, and our trainers have offered many in-house trainings at their organizations. As more people adopt this approach in professional settings and at home, we are seeing an improvement in happiness and well being for those individuals on the spectrum.

We Look Forward to the Next 17 Years with You

As we all adapt to the online delivery of education and training, Autism Awareness Centre Inc. (AACI) will be there with innovative ways to impart information and keep learning current. There are small things you can do to help us keep going and continue the global work that we do like join our email list, follow us on social media, and share our content with your friends and family. If you need resources, consider purchasing them from our bookstore as the proceeds go directly back into AACI operations. Attend the webinars and our conferences and trainings when we can offer them again. With no sponsorship, grants or funding of any kind, these sources of revenue are the only ones that keep AACI in operation.

I thank you for your continued support during these unprecedented times. I’ll be here to help as best I can with the changes that will happen over the course of the year. No one knows what the future will bring, but AACI will adapt. Let us know how we can help.


Maureen Bennie
Autism Awareness Centre Inc. and Studio 3 Canada

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Editorial Policy: Autism Awareness Centre believes that education is the key to success in assisting individuals who have autism and related disorders. Autism Awareness Centre’s mission is to ensure our extensive autism resource selection features the newest titles available in North America. Note that the information contained on this web site should not be used as a substitute for medical care and advice.

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  1. Shirley says:

    Congratulations on celebrating 17 years as a successful business on your passion. You must love your purposeful work. I have been impressed with how you have quickly changed your service during the pandemic. I am confident you will have another successful 17 years ahead of you. Again congratulations. You have earned a e-celebration!!

    • Shirley, thank you for your kind words! The learning curve for me during this pandemic has been the biggest I’ve ever faced both professionally and personally for my two children with autism. I am constantly having to adapt and feel very anxious about it all. I appreciate your support. I will continue to do my best and try to offer innovative ways of learning and supporting people. Thank you for taking the time to write. Your words have put a spring in my step today!

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