Why Do We Need a Strategy?

Autism is the most common and fastest-growing neurodevelopmental condition in Canada, affecting 1 in 66 Canadians aged 5-17 and an estimated 500,000 people and their families nationwide. Without appropriate supports that fit their needs, autistic individuals and their families see drastically worse health, education, employment and quality of life outcomes. These effects ripple throughout their communities. We need to do better. Read More

We need a strategy that drives real action to make sure all autistic Canadians and their families have full and equitable access to the resources they need across a lifespan where and when they need them. A National Autism Strategy should identify the full range of needs of the community, across Canada. We need a wide range of policymakers and community stakeholders working together to get positive results.

Why Now?

The autism community cannot afford to wait any longer. Families are being pushed to the breaking point. Canadians on the Spectrum have a right to equal access to health care and education that meets their needs and to participate fully in society. In April 2019 (World Autism Awareness Month) we launched a revitalized campaign for a National ASD Strategy with a Blueprint for change. The Blueprint outlines areas for federal focus and is the foundation for the Roadmap to a National Autism Strategy of which further delineates a potential timeline for the government to work together with the autism community in developing a Strategy. Read More

Leading up to the federal elections in fall 2019, CASDA called upon all federal parties to commit to a National ASD Strategy that delivers on the vision of this Blueprint. Since then, Prime Minister Trudeau announced on December 9th, 2019 his support of the development and implementation of a National Autism Strategy.  

What is the Vision of CASDA’s National Autism Strategy?

The Blueprint for a National Autism Strategy is broken down into six key principles and 3 key areas of focus:

The six key principles call for the strategy to be:

  • Person-centred, reflecting needs over a spectrum and lifespan.
  • Inclusive of pan-Canadian stakeholders.
  • Co-designed with first-person perspectives: nothing about us without us.
  • Include a separate co-designed Indigenous approach.
  • Culturally responsive and appropriate, especially for vulnerable Canadians.
  • Reflective of different regional needs, especially northern, rural and remote communities.
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The three areas of focus are:

  1. Federal leadership to guide and encourage coordinated and collective change through pan-Canadian knowledge exchange and dissemination.
  2. Immediate federal leadership in areas in federal jurisdiction: • affordability and access; • information; • employment; • housing; and • research
  3. A federal cross-government approach to autism that ensures action is coordinated across ministries, agencies, policies and programs.

The Goal: An Impactful, Measurable, Sustainable National Autism Strategy 

With the development of a National Autism Strategy recently being tasked to Minister of Health, Minister Patty Hajdu and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Minister Carla Qualtrough, CASDA is ready to work with government and mobilize experts from across the country to develop a robust NAS that ensures that all autistic Canadians have full and equal access to the resources they require to achieve their full potential. This NAS should have a clear and meaningful vision considering the whole lifespan and spectrum of needs of Canadians on the Autism Spectrum, with special considerations for vulnerable autistic Canadians. Read More

The government’s commitment to a NAS has given the autism community hope, but the lack of detail to date also raised some concern that the strategy might not be robust or could be just an enhancement of existing programs and approaches. CASDA and the whole autism community are ready to work with government to find innovative, transformation approaches to ensure the NAS is more than a collection of new or slightly enhanced program funding.


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