Waterloo-Wellington Autism Services (WWAS)
Vision: A community that values the individuality and understands the potential of adults with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
Mission: Support adults on the Autism spectrum through awareness and understanding
Contact WWAS: President Roger Hollingsworth at 189 Pitfield Place, Waterloo ON N2L 2T4; phone: 519-635-5108; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. WWAS welcomes your support. Members are invited to share concerns, ideas and hopes, and are eligible to vote at general meetings and to be nominated and elected to serve on the WWAS Board. Memberships or donations of $25 or more qualify for tax-creditable receipts.
- Provide information and support to families and adults with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Promote better community understanding of the Autism spectrum with a view to encouraging respect for the rights and dignity of all persons
- Collaborate with and support initiatives in Waterloo-Wellington that benefit adults with ASD.
History: Waterloo-Wellington Autism Services (WWAS) was incorporated by renaming and revising the bylaws of the earlier non-profit charity Woodgate Residence, effective in August 1991.
Over the years, WWAS has undertaken a number of projects. Most recently it partnered with The University of Waterloo to survey and report on supporting adults with high complex needs live good lives in their communities. This study highlighted the lack of options for providing homes for this vulnerable population and the impending crisis for many aging parents who are the primary caretakers.
See: The Creative Housing Options for Adults with Developmental Disabilities and High Complex Needs project.
WWAS received fiscal grants from the Ministry of Community and Social Services, of an average $50,000 for the four years 1991-92 to 1994-95, which enabled it to start a small office with paid staff. Staff surveyed the needs of adults on the Autism spectrum; started a library and information service; studied model programs anywhere for their possible relevance to Ontario; and represented Autism on regional councils and committees concerned with the developmentally challenged population. WWAS had some early success in being approved for housing grants which might have enabled it to start a residential program for 12 adults if matching grants had been forthcoming from MCSS.
In 1993, WWAS planned and committed itself to a pilot project called Supported Employment Enhancement Program (SEEP). During the next two years, vocational instructors worked to develop skills and find paid or voluntary work for some 14 young adults with Autism.
From 1996 until 2009, WWAS offered one-time grants of up to $2,500 each to individual adults with ASD to help make a difference in their lives by developing abilities or obtaining therapies for which funds are not otherwise available. Over this 12-year period WWAS awarded $26,526 to 14 adults with ASD.
In 2002 Waterloo-Wellington Autism Services initiated and endowed the Autism Collection at the Kitchener Public Library. With a focus on adult issues and needs, it was perhaps the first collection of its kind in Canada. WWAS has maintained and added to this extensive collection of resource materials through generous annual grants to the present. Recent WWAS grants to the Library have added more digital materials which make for easy and convenient access.
WWAS collaborated with Guelph Services for the Autistic in 2005 to offer the ACES Day Program Initiative for young adults with ASD who had left school. Weekly activities included gardening, hiking, nature study, swimming, games, crafts, and computer.
From 2006 – 2010, WWAS provided administrative and advisory support to the project Working Together for Change, Waterloo-Wellington. This project involved the development and presentation of sessions to educate post-secondary students about adults with Autism spectrum disorder.
WWAS has been involved in several community information sessions, including a 2014 public viewing and discussion of Holding in the Storm – my life with Autism, a short dramatic film that focuses on social isolation and aims to break down barriers by helping people to shift their point of view. In other sessions during 2016, WWAS members have offered service providers another perspective on the individuals they support by sharing personal experiences of living with Autism.
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