Autism Awareness Centre Celebrates 9 Years - Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness Centre Celebrates 9 Years

Last year, we added a Facebook group which has grown in popularity. I post every other day about news, research, our conferences, new books, technology and trends. I always invite readers to comment and you do, adding much to the discussion and giving us new viewpoints. “Like” our page and you’ll be in the loop on the posts.

AACI has hosted 72 conferences over the past 9 years. We’ve been in every province and territory with the exception of the Yukon. The relationships we’ve developed throughout Canada have been crucial to our growth as a company. It is our delegates who keep us informed of what they are doing in their communities and let us know about new organizations and programs. You’ve told us about great books, speakers you’ve heard, and things you’ve researched. Thank you sharing your thoughts and concerns over the years. Your loyalty has also kept our conferences successful and able to continue. Your trust in us to bring new and interesting speakers have kept us moving in novel directions. Thank you for allowing us to take a risk and introduce world-class speakers that you haven’t heard before. Our speakers always comment about how welcoming our Canadian audiences are and they are pleased with the positive experience they have at AACI conferences.

In 2006, we began hosting conferences in the UK. This has been an important development because we’ve been able to see first-hand exciting programs and services that are new to us and unknown in Canada. We’ve hosted 9 conferences in the two cities of Birmingham and Bournemouth. Our relationship with autism west midlands and the Linwood School have made these conferences possible. The friendships we’ve developed within these organizations will last a lifetime. It’s been a proud moment for us to be able to employ adults on the spectrum to assist us with these international conferences. Several have also had the chance to speak about their experiences.

The UK conferences became a catalyst to visiting other countries. We went to Edinburgh, Scotland to see the New Struan School. We visited Autism Northern Ireland in Belfast in 2008 to learn about their good work. The years 2007 and 2008 took us to Copenhagen, Denmark to meet with their autism team. One of our most challegning international projects was the Dar Es Saalam, Tanzania training mission. Kari Dunn Buron and her friend Joyce went for 3 weeks to help at a local school. We met two of the teachers from that school at the 2007 Birmingham, UK conference. They were desperate for help so we asked Kari is she would be willing to go and we’d sponsor the trip. You can read all about the advenutre here.

Autism Awareness Centre was awarded the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists Provincial/Territorial Award for 2011. Given by the Society of Alberta Occupational Therapists, this award acknowledges the contributions and accomplishments of Autism Awareness Centre to the health and well-being of Canadians. A special thanks to our conference speakers who have helped us raise awareness of issues that individuals on the autism spectrum face and how occupational therapy addresses those concerns.

We’ve appreciated your questions, ideas, and input over the years. Our delegates and readers have helped to make Autism Awareness Centre Inc. what it is today. Your support has kept us moving forward. When my children were diagnosed in 1999 and 2001, I thought my life was over and that I’d never accomplish anything now that I had two children with autism. To be able to dedicate my life serving the autism community as been rewarding and such a gift. I never thought I’d meet the wonderful people that I have. Your struggles and accomplishments have inspired and motivated me. I look forward to our 10th anniversary and many more years in your service. Thank you for the best journey of my life!

Maureen Bennie, Director

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