Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Education Minister Nancy Allan and Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh announce the province’s Thrive! Strategy for Manitobans with autism spectrum disorders

June 28, 2011


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Initial $1-million Investment will Provide More Preschool Support, Outreach for Rural and Northern Manitoba: Mackintosh
The Manitoba government is launching a five-year strategy called Thrive! to support Manitobans affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh and Education Minister Nancy Allan announced today.
“Autism spectrum disorders affect Manitobans in many ways, and our services and supports need to do the same,” said Mackintosh.  “Manitoba is nationally recognized for its initiatives and we have already invested 800 per cent more in autism services since 1999.  But there is more we can do to support people with autism and their families.”
The Thrive! strategy will be supported with an initial investment of $1 million and will offer a range of services and supports.  Thrive! builds on consultations between the province and community stakeholders and provides a framework for moving forward to meet the needs of people with autism, said Mackintosh.
“Thrive! will guide the way for us to develop new and innovative supports,” said Allan.  “We want to see a continuum of services in the school system and ensure there is a wide range of supports for students and parents.  We will continue to work closely with the autism community to best meet the needs of those with ASD.”
In the short term, Thrive! will offer additional assistance including:
  • $585,000 for applied behaviour analysis (ABA) to provide more children with early intervention services once they are diagnosed.
  • $250,000 to introduce rural and northern outreach services for families.  Building on a service available in Winnipeg, families in rural and northern Manitoba will soon be able to access more information and support for therapies and play-based learning strategies.
  •  $8,000 for a Connections program for parents.  This initiative will bring parents together in a supportive group environment to share information about raising a child with ASD.
  • $160,000 for expert behavioural consultation for the next school year for children with ASD who have completed the school-age ABA program.
“This is a significant step toward the objective of supporting Manitobans affected by autism spectrum disorder, and the professionals who work with them,” said Anne Kresta of Asperger Manitoba.
“We particularly applaud the effort to support people at stages right from timely diagnosis through education and community involvement,” added Kim Campbell of Autism Manitoba.
"We are excited about the announcement of the five-year autism strategy because it re-emphasizes the government’s commitment to applied behaviour analysis therapy as an important part of the support for Manitobans with autism spectrum disorder,” said Guy Mercier, president of Manitoba Families for Effective Autism Treatment.  “This document also provides a future road map for better support for rural families and a view to lifelong supports for families as well as a child with autism.”
Mackintosh said, over the next five years, the province will work closely with the ASD community to develop priorities and options to address the needs of children, youth and adults affected by ASD including:
  • accommodating all children waiting for ABA,
  • introducing an autism support worker certificate program,
  • approving the Thrive! fund to support innovation,
  • launching ASD-specific adult services for the first time including life-skills networks as well as education and employment programs,
  • a Thrive! scholarship,
  • a communication services centre to help people access the latest technology,
  • public awareness,
  • new supports for parents, and
  • improved online navigation tools.
ASD refers to a group of developmental characteristics that affect a person’s verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction.  People are affected in different ways and the effects may range from mild to severe.
One out of every 165 children in Canada is affected by ASD.  Manitoba currently provides services to about 1,700 children affected by ASD with an investment this year of more than $32 million.
The Thrive! five-year plan is available online at
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