02/25/2013

WatchFile Guest Column, February 14, 2013
My son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, is in his third year of university. My brother had Autism. Among you, there are likely parents, grandparents and others with individuals in your families who have autism. 
For those of you who have this connection, you know that the support of the community is crucial. As they say, “it takes a village to raise a child.”

In Ontario, it is estimated that 20 per cent of all students have a learning disability. Many of them have autism, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Without a supportive community and education system, they face major barriers that they might otherwise overcome. 

We’ve made progress to help autistic individuals overcome these challenges. By continuing to strengthen the supports offered to them, we can help them to develop into full, contributing members of society. We want them to be taxpayers, rather than be dependent on government supports.  

Through the efforts of Mike Lake, MP (Edmonton), whose son has Autism, World Autism Awareness Day is now recognized by the Government of Canada. This video highlights MP Lake’s efforts – and it’s worth watching to see a great example of an MP, and father, who is making a real difference.  

Your leadership can make a difference too. On April 2, 2013, municipalities all over Ontario will be raising the Autism Ontario Flag to honour World Autism Awareness Day. For individuals with autism – as well as their families, friends and caregivers – the “RAISE THE FLAG” event will be incredibly meaningful. 

Municipalities from all over Ontario have been invited to take part in April’s “RAISE THE FLAG” event, and the reaction from Mayors, CAOs and Clerks has been exceptional. Many immediately reserved their flag pole for April 2.

If your municipality does not yet have plans to raise the Autism Ontario Flag on April 2, we invite you to do so. Autism Ontario will provide the flags to all municipalities, so there is no need to order one.

The flags have been generously paid for by the Bank of Montreal. BMO’s involvement in the “RAISE THE FLAG” initiative is a continuation of their years of generosity and support to make life better for individuals with Asperger’s and their families in Ontario.

Representatives from Autism Ontario will begin contacting municipalities this week. Please, get involved, and help change lives. 

Kevin J. Conway

Kevin J. Conway is the owner of KJ Conway Communications Inc. and a former Director of Business Development with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM).

Disclaimer: The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is unable to provide any warranty regarding the accuracy or completeness of third-party submissions. Distribution of these items does not imply an endorsement of the views, information or services mentioned.