Individuals with autism tend to be diverse. Therefore, it is difficult to use words such as all or none when describing this group.
Update June 11 – Operations
As Saskatchewan moves through the various Phases of the Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan, we recognize there is potential for confusion concerning the re-opening of services as related to autism-related services.
It’s helpful to know that the phases for Re-Open Saskatchewan may be timed differently for health-related services versus the re-opening of the economy. With that in mind, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has developed a plan for the resumption of services (see “Saskatchewan Health Authority Service Resumption Plan” on the provincial government website). Under that plan, Phase 3 lists that the “further expansion of everyday health services” includes “specialized services for clients with…Autism…”. However, the actual resumption of in-person services and programs will not immediately commence as of June 8 (Phase 3 date scheduled for Re-Open Saskatchewan).
These are unprecedented times, where neither we nor the agencies we work with have a tested roadmap to draw from in this unique situation. Resuming the multitude of health-related services is a complex task and we are: 1) working to align with the Saskatchewan Health Authority resumption of services’ initiatives, and 2) working with our partner agencies to develop as robust a plan as we can to ensure the safety of our clients and staff while providing the services that are so important to you, our members.
New information is coming to us on a daily basis, which makes developing a plan challenging. Also, the diversity and uniqueness of our services is a factor, as some of our services may fall under one part of the Re-Open (and Resumption) Plan and other services fall under another part. While we are working towards a plan to re-open our Service Center to our clients and staff, for the time being, it remains closed with the majority of our staff continuing to work remotely.
In the interim, we will continue to provide our services virtually; though we are looking at options for offering modified versions of our summer programming to the families who’ve registered. We want to be of support to you and encourage you to reach out as needed. Our department contacts are:
- Autism Intervention Program: Eileen Deswiage at 306-665-4297 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- ABA Little Tots Program: Desirae Boutin at 306-665-4280 or email@example.com
- Adult Support Program: Glenda Kpelly at 306-665-9379 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Family Programs: Alex Scott at 306-665-4285 or email@example.com
- Other inquiries: 306-665-7013 or firstname.lastname@example.org
We will provide further updates as we have more information to share with you. Thank you for your patience during this difficult time.
Update April 17 – Operations
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org . 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
Update March 30 – Intake Interviews
We continue to conduct Intake Interviews/Assessments, but not in person.
Contact Ann Loeppky, Intake Coordinator, to set up an interview via Zoom or over the phone.
Update March 20 – Operations
During this time of uncertainty, Autism Services of Saskatoon is dedicated to doing our very best to continue to support people with autism spectrum disorder and their families.
Going forward, we will be adapting our operations to best observe the practice of social distancing so that we can continue to support individuals and families without putting them, ourselves, or the community at risk. Starting today (March 20), we will be enacting the following changes:
- OFFICE: Our office, located at 209 Fairmont Drive, Saskatoon, will be closed to the public. You can continue to reach us at 306-665-7013 or e-mail us at email@example.com for general enquiries.
- TEMPORARY LAY-OFFS: It was with deepest regret that we’ve had to issue temporary lay-off notices to some of our staff – specifically the Behaviour Therapists in ABA-Little Tots and AIP, the Coordinator of Family/Group Programs and an administrative staff. We are so appreciative of the people they are and the work they do and will recall them as soon as it is feasible.
- PROGRAM AREAS: Each of our program areas will 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. Programs that can be delivered remotely are being developed and information will continue to be shared.
- AUTISM INTERVENTION PROGRAM (AIP): 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 firstname.lastname@example.org . Northern services to Keewatin and to Athabasca will continue with those Consultants working remotely.
- ABA LITTLE TOTS: ABA-Little Tots families will continue to be supported by the Director, Desirae Boutin and the Senior Therapist, Bethan Weeding.
- FAMILY/GROUP PROGRAMS: Director, Alex Scott will continue overseeing all aspects of Family/Group programs.
- ADULT SUPPORT PROGRAMS: Day/residential are continuing to be operational under the leadership of Director, Glenda Kpelly and a marvelous 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.
- MEETINGS: All meetings, including those currently scheduled, will take place over the phone or via a remote technology platform. If you have a meeting scheduled with one of our staff, they will be reaching out to you shortly.
- EVENTS: All of our events for the remainder of March and April have been postponed.
Our primary goal during this time is to ensure the continuity of service and support. As such, we will continue to take calls and emails as well as schedule remote meetings. We know that, at times like this, it is the most vulnerable among us that are the most at risk and we want to assure you that we are here to support you.
Plain Language Resource
For those of you in need of a plain language resource for COVID-19, we received this information from Inclusion Saskatchewan: Green Mountain Self-Advocates have created a guide to COVID-19 for and by self-advocates. Find the plain language guide at this link, and please share with anyone who might need it: https://selfadvocacyinfo.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Plain-Language-Information-on-Coronavirus.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2Nm9YBe39XxQ94lc8LJVGkFo6UlZ0AtRV9RTAXbq-dw4U_DnKiHxxvmAI
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us:
Lynn Latta, Executive Director – 306-665-4288, email@example.com
Shirley Kloeble, Director of Finance – 306-665-4293, firstname.lastname@example.org
Desirae Boutin, Director, ABA Little Tots – 306-665-4280, email@example.com
Eileen Deswiage, Director, Autism Intervention Program – 306-665-4297, firstname.lastname@example.org
Glenda Kpelly, Director, Adult Support Programs – 306-665-9379, email@example.com
Alex Scott, Director, Family/Group Programs – 306-665-4285, firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the next few weeks, we will be 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.
Update March 18 – Front Entrance
Please be advised that as of today (March 18) we are locking our front door during business hours. We are doing this to ensure the safety of our clients and employees. If you have an appointment or are coming on legitimate Autism Services’ business, please ring the doorbell and our admin staff will let you in.
Only those with appointments and on legitimate Autism Services’ business will be admitted into the building.
Update March 17 – Service Delivery
We have had to make some tough service delivery decisions and we have outlined some of those for you:
ABA – Little Tots:
The program will continue running through Thursday, March 19th and will then close for the next two weeks. During that time we will monitor the over-all situation and explore ways to continue supporting the children/families of those attending.
Group programs are postponed effective immediately as are home visits. Individual therapy appointments will continue at the Service Center or via telephone depending on the choice the individual client/family makes. We will be removing the toys from our waiting areas to limit potential exposure. We ask people to please not come to the center if you or anyone who needs to be with you is exhibiting any signs of illness. Also, we ask that as few people as necessary attend the appointment.
The Winter session was in it’s last week and we have now cancelled this last week’s programs, many of which were held in community-based venues which have also been closed. Registration for Spring session is well underway and we will continue with that for now. Should it become necessary to delay the delivery of those programs, we will let people know as soon as possible.
Adult Support Programs (Day Programs/Group Homes):
Considerable focus and attention is being placed on ensuring these programs continue with as little disruption as possible. Some of the external day programs that our residents attend may be closing and we are already working at putting new supports and programs in place internally.
Our staff are busily keeping in touch with families to inform them of changes to programs and services and we hope that if any of these changes impact you directly…you’ve already heard about them. However, we also know that sometimes connections are missed and so this may be news to some of you. Please know we are doing our best to keep families informed and served.
Update March 12 – Statement concerning COVID-19
Know that we are monitoring the situation closely and are in contact with the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Ministry of Health in order to respond appropriately. Public health officials continue to reassess the national and provincial public health risk, based on the best available evidence as the situation evolves.
The health and safety of our clients and staff are of utmost importance to us. We are taking precautions to mitigate the risk of infection, such as enhanced cleaning measures, and supplementary cleaning and sanitizing. We will update you as the situation unfolds and new information becomes available.
To protect yourself and the health of those around you, we are requesting that if you or those with you are displaying signs of illness, that you not come to the Autism Services’ building.
As a reminder, the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus and other respiratory illnesses is to practice preventive actions every day:
- Practice proper cough and sneezing etiquette (into the bend of your elbow).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Maintain safe food practices.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
Refer to Saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus for the most up-to-date information from the province and the Public Health Agency of Canada.