The City of Sault Ste. Marie is pleased to announce that it has completed its municipal autism strategy. The goal of the strategy, developed in consultation with various community partners, is to assist families, caregivers and individuals dealing with an autism diagnosis and to assist them with accessing available services.
“It is important for us to recognize that the City of Sault Ste. Marie is a trailblazer on this matter,” said Councillor Lisa Vezeau-Allen, Chair of the Autism Strategy Subcommittee. “Caring for an individual with an autism diagnosis can be challenging. Changes to the Ontario Autism program to create an independent intake organization to manage program delivery are anticipated in the near future. In the meantime, the autism strategy we have created is a great first step. I want to thank City staff, stakeholders and community organizations that worked collaboratively on this important initiative.”
A number of organizations, including Algoma Public Health, Community Living Algoma, and Thrive Children’s Centre were represented on the committee. Technical assistance was provided by the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre and City staff.
“The creation of the municipal autism strategy and these documents is in keeping with the Corporation’s commitment to accessibility,” said Don McConnell, Director of Planning and Enterprise Services. “The City of Sault Ste. Marie is committed to prevent, identify and remove barriers to persons with disabilities, and are guided by the four core principles of dignity, independence, integration and equality of opportunity.”
Although all forms of accessibility, including autism are already included in the City’s multi-year strategy, the committee focused their efforts on three specific tasks:
- An Autism Services Inventory providing an extensive list of the various autism services available identifying the focus age group and contact information. This inventory included both public sector and private sector services.
- An Autism Roadmap identifying services from when autism is first suspected through pre-diagnosis, diagnosis and care management. Two separate roadmaps for those 16 years of age or less and older persons were prepared.
- Design Guidelines that take into consideration individuals with autism. This is important to municipal operations as the City requires that all new facilities meet high standards of accessibility. The committee created a document entitled “Sensory Spaces, Design Guidelines for the Spatial and Perceptual Needs of Individuals with Autism.”
These documents can be found on the City’s website at www.saultstemarie.ca/MunicipalAutismStrategy.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie is dedicated to increasing public awareness about autism and the day-to-day challenges faced by individuals with autism, their families, and the professionals with whom they interact. For more information contact the City’s Accessibility office at 705-541-2822 or email [email protected].