School Presentations on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism Calgary is a registered charity that provides support for individuals and families living with ASD. Rates of ASD are on the rise. In 1992, when Autism Calgary formed, the rate of ASD was 1 in 2500. A 2014 Calgary based study revealed the prevalence of ASD among elementary aged children in the Calgary public school system for the 2012/2013 school year was 1 in 86. (Laying the Foundation for Policy by Lowe K. et al P.3). With the increased occurrence of this disorder the need for awareness for school aged children and their educators is crucial. Research shows that “students with ASD are over represented as victims within the bullying dynamic” (Victimization of students with autism spectrum disorder: A review of prevalence and risk factors. Sreckoric, M. et al. 2014. P.1155). By educating children about ASD the occurrence of bullying and isolation experienced by individuals with ASD will decrease dramatically.
In the last five years Autism Calgary has received over 100 requests for school presentations. Presently, we have one presenter who volunteers her time. The presenter has developed two presentations for school aged children, one for grades 1-6 (a sample has been attached) and one for grades 7-12. Currently, Autism Calgary is only able to offer one presentation per month.
Autism Calgary has the experience and drive to expand this program and make it a success, however, we do not have the funds to develop it further and keep up with the demand. With funding for the School Presentations on ASD, Autism Calgary will be able to fulfill our requests, improve our current presentations, promote the program and recruit and train volunteers. Educating school aged children about awareness, understanding and acceptance of ASD will change the way individuals with ASD are interacted with and treated.
Who Will it Benefit?
Once the School Presentations on ASD are up and running, we expect to have 2 presentations per week throughout the school year. Each presentation will reach between 250-1000 children, teachers and support staff per week. This means that over one school year up to 80,000 individuals can be reached by our program.
The presentations will teach students what it is like to have Autism Spectrum Disorder and how students can befriend classmates with the condition. We find that teachers who have experienced our current presentation often comment that they too have learned valuable lessons from the presentation. We also hear the information delivered from these presentations can be transferable to understanding and accepting other differences and disorders as well.
Autism Calgary receives requests from Calgary and the surrounding area. Once the School Presentations on ASD have been redesigned, developed and established, we see ourselves sharing our model with other ASD organizations, such as Autism Edmonton. In addition to school presentations, we receive requests for camp staff and for professional staff training including dentists and the Calgary Police. Our presentations could be modified to meet the needs of these organizations as well.