Friday, September 28, 2007

Autism Symposium Invitation Nov 8 -9 In Toronto

Following this comment is the official invitation that was sent out to the government hand picked invitees to the Autism Symposium scheduled for Nov 8-9. As previously mentioned, the government has decided who will attend as representatives of community organizations. In New Brunswick invitations were sent by the CIHR to individuals without consulting the provincial Autism Society New Brunswick. So what community organizations will the New Brunswick invitees be representing? Who gave the CIHR the mandate, the authority, to determine who would represent autistic persons in New Brunswick?

If you read the official invitation you will also see that the discussion sessions will be professionally facilitated with the goal of making this a positive and constructive experience for all participants. I have attended "professionally facilitated" events in the past. Professionally facilitated is another way of saying "scripted" or "staged". A positive and constructive experience means that no challenging questions will be asked or difficult issues raised.

The report coming out of this event will be consistent with the present government's views on autism and service delivery in Canada and will not represent the perspectives of autism activists. I do not know who was selected by the federal government to "represent" New Brunswick autism organizations but they will not be there representing my son.


Dear ......,

It is with great pleasure that we invite you to attend the Autism Symposium taking place on November 8th-9th, 2007, at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, Toronto Airport, 6257 Airport Road, Mississauga, Ontario L4V 1E4.

The symposium is part of a package of federal initiatives that the Honourable Tony Clement, the federal Minister of Health, announced in November 2006 to improve knowledge and research on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and to help address the challenges facing individuals with ASD and their families. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is hosting this event in collaboration with our partners in the federal health portfolio, Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada.

The goals of the symposium are as follows:

To inform service providers, policy makers, and those with autism and their families about the scientific evidence base on autism

§ To assist the research community in planning further research.

Above all, the symposium is being organized as an opportunity for knowledge exchange, networking, and community-building. We are extending an invitation to 120 people to attend the symposium, including individuals with ASD and their families, service providers, researchers, representatives of community organizations, and government officials. The agenda includes a reception on the evening of November 8th, and a full day meeting on November 9th. The discussion sessions will be professionally facilitated with the goal of making this a positive and constructive experience for all participants.

Researchers with expertise in interventions, genetics, epidemiology, neurobiology and cognition, adolescents and adults with autism, screening and diagnosis will make presentations. In addition, family members, individuals with autism, and service providers will also have opportunities to present their knowledge and perspectives to the group and to discuss the challenges they face.

I would kindly request that you RSVP by October 16th at the latest. If you are planning on attending, please fill in the attached registration form and send it in by e-mail or by fax. If you are not planning on attending, please let us know so that we can offer your place to someone else. The contact person for the symposium is:

Asimina Saikaley

Project Officer, Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, CIHR, Phone 613-941-0874, Fax: (613) 954-1800

For your convenience, a block of rooms has been reserved at the conference hotel until October 16 at a special rate of $139 and are available on a first come first serve basis. Please contact the hotel directly at: 1-800-565-5769 and ask for the rate under Canadian Institutes of Health Research when making your reservations in order to get the special conference rate.

Please note that your economy fare travel, food and accommodation expenses will be reimbursed following the symposium according to the Government of Canada’s Treasury Board guidelines. A form for that purpose will be included with the information package provided to you at the symposium.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Asimina Saikaley by e-mail or phone.

We look forward to seeing you at the symposium.


Rémi Quirion, PhD

Scientific Director

CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

Barbara Beckett, PhD

Assistant Director

CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction

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