VICTORIA – Just in time for Autism Awareness Month, B.C.’s Autism Outreach Program is building on its focus on rural and remote areas of British Columbia as the program moves into its second phase, which incorporates more support for families.

Local, community-based training will be offered for parents and caregivers to incorporate autism intervention methods into their daily routines. The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) will provide up to 24 two-day workshops to families across the province throughout the coming year, with a primary focus on families in rural and remote communities. To help families plan for their child’s specific needs within their own communities, the workshops will provide information on autism, intervention planning and give them access to local resources.

In addition, MCFD continues its partnership with Douglas College to offer affordable e-training programs to train an additional 60 behaviour interventionists in rural and remote communities. The online program allows students to train from their communities, without any need to relocate or travel to a bigger city centre to go to school. MCFD funding significantly reduces the cost of the training for students.

In the first phase of the Autism Outreach Program, 30 behaviour interventionists took the e-training program through Douglas College, and approximately 600 child development professionals throughout B.C. received in-person training on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).

The Autism Outreach Program was launched in 2011 in response to families, professionals and community groups who clearly identified the need and desire to improve training and support for service providers, parents and caregivers who live in rural and remote communities.