e-Newsletter | January 2024

Family Programs has come a long way over the years. When Megan and I first started working together in early May of 2014, parents would lineup around the building to register for programs. Hundreds of registrations were catalogued in a large binder each year. This would take 30+ hours to organize each season! We used to share an office with two other colleagues in a smaller space than what we’re in today. Program demand was significantly lower than it is today too.

10 years later, we can safely say that Family Programs has come a LONG way over the years. After years of appealing for an on-line registration platform, it finally came in the form of Amilia. To say this was a game changer for us is an understatement. After concerns of affordability with our programs, a Financial Assistance application was also implemented and approved. This has helped hundreds of families access our programs since 2014.

In 2023, we increased our seasonal capacity by creating parent-led options in our most popular weekend programs. This has enabled us to accept over 100 additional registration per year. With the in-flux of new families joining our agency, grant applications have become more important than ever. Fortunately, we were successful in getting over $70,000 in grant funding in 2023 alone!

The heart and soul of our department, however, is with our community partners and staff. Our long-standing partnerships with the YMCA of Saskatoon, Can-Am Gymnastics, Eastview Bowl and our wonderful rentals team with the Saskatoon Public School Division has been an integral part of our success. We would also like to acknowledge Leanne Hoeft of Prelude Studios for helping us grow our Music Therapy program over the years. We now have 4 Music Therapists involved in our programming! Our most recent partnership has come in the form of Olympic Weightlifting and Strength Training with Synergy Strength and the Saskatchewan Weightlifting Association. Since then, we have also added Tennis and Badminton Lessons to the fray. A huge thanks to Kelly Brown and Dwayne Dreher. Your work has been instrumental in getting these programs to where they are today. Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank Jason Schneider, our Golf Coach, for volunteering his time to provide Learn to Golf Lessons every summer. Your efforts and time are appreciated!

And finally, a major thanks to all of our Family Programs staff that have stepped up over the years to be mentors, supports, and professionals in our field. Your dedication and passion has created lifelong memories for our kids, teens and adults.

Megan and I look towards another year of growth and progress in 2024. And we are excited for all of you to be a part of it once again! Congratulations to Autism Services on 45 years of exemplary programming.

  • Alex Scott, Director of Family Programs

 

Community Homes and Programs (formerly Adult Support Programs) has expanded and grown over the years.   Our timeline has become lengthy due to this growth, but we are happy that we can serve more adults (and now children and youth) with Autism.  We oversee 8 community homes, 1 supported independent living suite and an adult day program.  In these programs we support 37 individuals.

Our timeline:

1979 – 1st Adult Group Home on Avenue Q.  At that time, a group of parents wanted services for their children so worked together to get funding for a home.  We still serve this group today.  The oldest of this group is now 61 years old.

1992 – The adults from Avenue Q moved to Lennon Crescent.

The (current Peterson group) started in respite in the basement of the Avenue Q home and moved upstairs when the adults moved.  They were 12 and 13 years old.

1996 –  the current Peterson group moved together to 7th Street from Avenue Q, to what was then  called the Children’s Group Home.

2004 – We started taking individuals into use our space downstairs at 7th Street as Respite.  This became a permanent space in 2007 adding a 4th person to the group.

2012 – We began supporting in our First Rental home (for individuals who had Individualized Funding).  This changed to a group living contract for a number of years.  This contract continues today but the renters have changed and the home is now funded as a group home.  The group first rented on East Centre, then rented a home on Lennon Crescent in 2013. We have been renting on Tupper Crescent since 2016.

2013 – the 7th Street group moved to Peterson Crescent because of the need to install sprinklers in the home and the cost at 7th Street was too high (large building), and the building also needed lots of repairs.

2014 – The Adult Day Program began and today serves 19 adults.  We started with  office space on Fairmont Drive which was used as a drop in center for adult participants.

2014 – 2 homes in Evergreen opened.

2020 –  We rented a Day Program drop in center on Airport Drive.

2021 – Richardson Road home was purchased at the end of 2020 and was opened early in 2021.

2023 – Avenue I Home was rented opened in August.

2023 – Witney Avenue was rented and started early in the year and then moved to another home on Blackthorn Crescent where the children moved in from two different locations.  This is a rental home for children and youth.

2023 – Our Day Program moved to a larger leased space in the same strip mall on Airport Drive.

We want to extend a big thank you to our funders and everyone who has made our growth possible.  There is a great need for more service to autistic Adults and Youth, and we hope that we can continue to expand the programs we have and come up with new, more innovative ideas to provide programming in the future.

  • Glenda Kpelly, Director of Community Homes and Day Programs

 

The Autism Intervention Program (AIP) was established in 2008 by the Ministry of Health with a goal to create a community that provides evidence-supported intervention options that focus on individualized programming for each child diagnosed with ASD.

AIP operates within the Saskatoon area of the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) to provide individualized behavioural interventions and support services in collaboration with clients up to 19 years of age and their families. AIP uses evidence-based programming to teach children/youth and caregivers with the goal of improving socially significant behaviours.

Since 2008, AIP has provided intervention, individual and group programming, and consultation to many families in the Saskatoon area; we currently have an active caseload of over 1400 families being supported, with this number growing each year. AIP staff have always remained committed to providing excellence in the design and delivery of intervention programs with a family-centered focus, while making learning an enjoyable experience for our clients, and we look forward to many more years of supporting the autistic community.

Thank you to our membership and community for trusting us as we strive to support autistic individuals and their families!

  • Lauren Brandt, Director of Autism Intervention Program

 

The Mental Health and Wellness Team (MHWT) was initially established in 2017 when, through grant funding, a mental health counsellor joined the Autism Intervention Program’s existing social worker.

In 2019, core funding was received for our mental health counsellor position from the provincial government. Since then, our MHWT has grown and now also includes a manager, community support worker and a full-time intake worker.

Over the years, the MHWT has provided individual counselling, group programs, mental health education and support to autistic adults, children, adolescents and their family members.

The team has also provided education on autism to over 1,000 community members.

We look forward to continuing to offer this vital support to our clients and the wider community in the future. Thank you to our donors, community partners, and members for their continuous support.

  • Olivia O’Neill, Manager of the Mental health and Wellness Team

 

12 years ago the ABA Little Tots Program was developed.  The program began as a pilot program with 6 pre-school aged children receiving early intensive behavioral intervention.

A few years after its conception, the program was deemed a success and we were able to expand to serve 12 children at one time.

We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide evidence-based interventions to our pre-school aged clients, as we continue to teach them new skills based on their own unique needs that will help them live with independence and joy.

We would like to thank our supporters and we look forward to continuing to provide services to our community.

  • Janelle Ginter, Director of ABA Little Tots (Interim)