Expanding services to Islanders with autism
Supporting Island families
After 11 years as the only employee of the Autism Society of PEI, Nathalie Walsh is eager to accept government’s help to improve services for Islanders with autism and those who love them.
“This funding is literally life changing for the society,” Walsh said. “This means programming for families; it means social skills programs, camps … hopefully we can develop more support for diagnosis and navigation.”
Government is providing the Autism Society with a one-time grant of $75,000 to better deliver information and navigation for families and individuals with autism. The society was among 16 community organizations serving Islanders in need that received a total of $1 million in funds earlier in April.
Government also provided nearly $13 million to 30 non-governmental organizations in the 2017-18 budget through the Department of Family and Human Services.
“Non-government organizations do incredibly important work in delivering services to Islanders. They can reach people in need in ways that are difficult for government to do directly,” said Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy. “NGOs help thousands of people who face challenges and literally change lives for the better.”
Walsh said her group has already identified areas of need where additional supports can assist those with autism in gaining inclusion and resources across PEI.
“I’ve been with the organization 11 years and I’ve been the only staff member for all that time,” she said. “It’s been 11 years of a lot of fundraising and a lot of plugging to keep us alive.”
The society’s membership has grown to more than 200 families across the Island who receive help from the Autism Society. As long as the need is there, Walsh said she will try to “fill all the gaps".
“This money is really going to help us. It’s still going to be spread far, but so far we’ve done well at working within our means.”