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Connecting a community

In January 2019, The Gay Lea Foundation announced a $7,500 grant to help Autism Speaks Canada (ASC) build membership for its virtual online platform that aims to improve how the autism community comes together to share, learn, support and interact with each other.

ASC CONNECT is Canada’s first online platform dedicated to the Autism community in both English and French. It provides the entire autism community access to:

  • a navigation system of services and supports searchable by location, type, interest and expertise;
  • a comprehensive library of vital tools and resources, including information on how funding and education systems work by province and territory;
  • the opportunity to gain and share knowledge within communities that are tailored to their needs, interests and mentorship opportunities.

The free platform is open to families, caregivers, clinicians, researchers, educators, employers, community providers and policymakers. CONNECT aims to create meaningful change through how the autism community interacts, disseminates and accesses credible information about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

ASD is the fastest growing and most commonly diagnosed complex neurodevelopmental condition in Canada. There is not one autism but a vast spectrum, reflecting a wide range of challenges and strengths and necessary supports for each person with autism across their lifespan. Approximately one in 66 children and youth are diagnosed with ASD in Canada.

“Thank you for all of these wonderful resources,” says CONNECT member Eddie. “This will certainly help our family navigate the difficult road ahead. The services you provide are amazing.”

Through the Gay Lea Foundation grant, ASC expanded the number of relevant and timely resources available within CONNECT, providing direct navigational support to individuals and families, and profiling CONNECT resources on existing ASC social channels, which has led to a growth in membership by 3,435 over the same time last year.

“The Gay Lea Foundation grant has had a positive and direct impact on our ability to develop and provide resources for the autism community across Canada. Thank you, Gay Lea Foundation,” says Jill Farber, Executive Director of Autism Speaks Canada.

CONNECT also offers offline, one-on-one support by ASC’s trained Autism Response Team via phone and email.


Autism Speaks Canada is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families by supporting and working with community partners; enhancing resources and services; increasing understanding, acceptance and inclusion of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

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