COVID-19: Operations – April 17 Update

Date posted April 17, 2020

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Window Walk for World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Though we couldn’t host our Awareness events this month, we’ll be celebrating in October for Canada Autism Awareness Month. More details will follow closer to the Fall.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost a month since we pivoted our services completely to align with the precautions our government/s and public health officials assure us is necessary to hold the worst of the pandemic at bay.

Closing the service center and having the majority of our staff working from home-based offices has been a major change and not without a few bumps in the road. What is remarkable (and downright amazing!) is how individuals with autism, families and our staff have embraced the use of technology to stay connected and work together on resolving issues and challenges. From one-on-one counselling, problem-solving sessions with behavioural strategies shared, clinical meetings and completing new intakes; to group programs utilizing remote technology to bring people together; services and support has continued.

In the ABA Little Tots program, the Director and Senior Therapist are in touch with families on a daily basis, supporting them as they strive to keep working as much as is possible on the programs and strategies that assist their child to learn and develop.

The Autism Intervention Program team (including the rural and northern consultants), along with our Intake worker and the Mental Health and Wellness Team staff, are all working from home and are offering individual and group program support. Using telephone, email, and the technology platforms Zoom and/or Pexip; they are ensuring that help is available when people reach out to us.

We know that the massive change to everyone’s daily routine can be particularly challenging when ASD is added to the mix and we encourage anyone to reach out for support. If we don’t have the answers at our fingertips, we will work with you to find them.

Examples of group programs currently underway are Parent Management Training for 0-5 and 6-19; PERMA (parent support); More Than Words, LEGO, Young Adult Society, Girl’s Group, Seeing Red, Teen Group.

Unfortunately, with all the closings of public facilities, all Family Programs have been cancelled for the Spring session. We remain hopeful and continue working toward being able to offer a full (and hopefully expanded) compliment of programs during the Summer and Fall. We know how important these programs are to the children and families that participate and we are committed to being ready to go when the time is right.

On the Adult Support Programs side of our operations, the management and staff are working valiantly to ensure the residents in our group homes and the people supported through day programs are living as well as can be accomplished under the new restrictions and guidelines. It hasn’t been easy for people to understand and adjust to all the sudden changes to routines and activities; to not being able to go home to see their family or to have visitors at their homes. Staff are working with patience and gentleness to support people. They are also being extremely diligent about the cleaning/sanitizing regimes to keep the homes virus-free if at all possible.

We liaise regularly with CLSD and other like service organizations to share best practices and creative ideas. Sourcing appropriate PPE for each home is also a priority.

During this time of great uncertainty, Autism Services of Saskatoon remains dedicated to doing our best to continue supporting people with autism spectrum disorder and their families.

Our office, located at 209 Fairmont Drive, Saskatoon, remains closed to the public. You can continue to reach us at 306-665-7013 or e-mail us at admin@autismservices.ca for general enquires.

  • Each of our program areas have staff working regular hours, remotely from home, and will return your call or e-mail as soon as possible. Our Directors and senior staff will continue to monitor client requests and direct the staff to respond as appropriate.
  • For the Autism Intervention Program – If you are connected with a Consultant, continue to reach out to them via telephone or email and they will get your messages. If you are not, and do not know who to connect with, please call or email the Director – Eileen Deswiage at 306-665-4297 or edeswiage@autismservices.ca . Northern services to Keewatin and to Athabasca will continue with those Consultants working remotely.
  • ABA Little Tots families will continue to be supported by the Director, Desirae Boutin and the Senior Therapist, Bethan Weeding.
  • Director, Alex Scott will continue overseeing all aspects of Family Programs.
  • Adult Support Programs – day/residential are continuing to be operational under the leadership of Director, Glenda Kpelly and a marvellous senior management team. We cannot begin to express the level of appreciation and gratitude we have for the front-line staff who are on the job day and night – 24/7 – supporting and keeping our participants safe.

We will continue monitoring the situation closely and continue to update you with any further changes to our operations. We greatly appreciate your understanding and support as we all move through this together.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us:

Lynn Latta, Executive Director – 306-665-4288

Shirley Kloeble, Director of Finance – 306-665-4293

Desirae Boutin, Director, ABA Little Tots – 306-665-4280

Eileen Deswiage, Director, Autism Intervention Program – 306-665-4297

Glenda Kpelly, Director, Adult Support Programs – 306-665-9379

Alex Scott, Director, Family Programs – 306-665-4285

Click HERE for a complete list of our COVID-19 updates.