More than 200 children and youth in the Comox Valley live with a diagnosis of autism.
Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), affects brain development and impacts social and communication skills, as well as behaviour. Currently one in 68 children in B.C. have a diagnosis of ASD.
With the growing number of children diagnosed with ASD the Comox Valley Child Development Association (CVCDA) responded to the need for specialized services for children with autism. Starting small, in 2005, with seven children, autism services have continued to grow and today the CVCDA provides services for over 50 children, youth and young adults with ASD and their families. But with increased services the CVCDA has simply run out of space to meet the demand. Planning of the past several years is now paying off as the dream to build an Autism Centre of Excellence is becoming a reality.
Construction of the Autism Centre is underway on the site of the CVCDA at the corner of Third Street and Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay. The centre will be a 2,000 square-foot addition to existing buildings, designed and equipped specifically to meet the needs of children with autism. Children with autism can be very sensitive to light, noise, texture and colour. Interior finishes and equipment that provide ideal learning environments are top priorities for the new building.
Receiving an ASD diagnosis for a child can be very difficult for parents and brings so many questions: What does it mean for our family to have a child with autism? What can I do to help my child? What will the future hold? Will my child make friends, go to school, have a job when they grow up? How will I deal with the emotional upheaval of this diagnosis? For parents the new centre will be a welcoming place providing information, support, and services.
A provincial grant, local corporate and private donations, plus support from contractors and suppliers helping to build the new Centre has enabled the work to start but fundraising is ongoing and donations are very welcome. For more information visit www.cvcda.ca.