Autism expo connects families with resources
WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg family is making it their mission to ensure parents of autistic children get the help they need.
After having four children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the Wilwands started Parents of Autistic Children Everywhere (PACE) in 2011.
The group, which aims to connect parents and families with the autism-related resources they need, held an expo at the Convention Centre on Saturday.
Eighteen different exhibits provided information on different programs, strategies and services that cater to kids with ASD.
“There are so many levels and so many places on the spectrum the child sits so we are hopefully by doing the expo offering all the resources, therapies and everything else and calling it a toolbox,” says Michael Wilwand.
The idea to start PACE came after the Wilwands struggled to find support following their children’s diagnoses and they’re social difficulties.
The family said it is therapeutic to be able to connect families with the resources they need.
“When I first received the diagnosis I was devastated. I cried. I was depressed,” said Lou Wilwand. “It was extremely difficult and now I’ve gone from a point of complete denial to embracing autism for what it is.”
The prevalence of autism is increasing across the country including here in Manitoba where 1 in 88 kids are diagnosed with ASD.
“It is significantly on the rise, it is important that we all come together to provide support. It’s about the support of the professional but it’s also about the support the families need,” says minister of family services Kerri Irvin-Ross.
The Wilwands hope PACE will provide that support for families who are struggling with the same problems they were years ago.
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