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Culture Counts Conference: A Note from Our Board President

Posted on: March 20th, 2018 by SAAAC No Comments

Dear Participants,

SAAAC thanks each of you who attended our first conference “Culture Counts”. We appreciate you taking the time and effort to join us at the Centennial College Event Centre this past week. We also thank you for your active engagement in our sessions and the learning exchanges that transpired throughout the day.

Attendees at the conference raising their hands

As we interact in more culturally and linguistically diverse contexts, we learned through our presenters and through dialogue with one another,

How:

The use of intersectionality (e.g., race, culture, language) in research, policy tables, and practice helps us to understand the experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum

Culturally sensitive and responsive resources, tools, and frameworks are being developed, and are directly supporting barrier removal and prevention in diagnoses and interventions

Innovative communication frameworks and practical tools can assist us as we reach out to families affected by autism, and intentionally include their perspectives, values, beliefs, and attitudes in planning processes

To pay more attention to power differentials in our professional interactions with individuals and families affected by autism, receiving services from our organizations

To engage in courageous conversations in safe forums in order to promote authentic inclusive practices in problem solving and decision-making in our organizations

Keynote Speaker Elaine Gabovitch speaking about considering culture in autism awareness

Keynote Speaker Elaine Gabovitch

Together, we have commenced a critically important conversation that takes into account that including autism in an intersectional framework helps us all observe its interaction with other identities defined by race, culture, language, social class, and gender. In doing so, we can challenge some of our current practices and make more transparent the ways in which wider social structures and institutions can create or perpetuate inequality.

Executive Director of SAAAC, Geetha Moorthy speaking on local initiatives to support culturally responsive autism treatment models

Executive Director of SAAAC, Geetha Moorthy

Moreover, we can critically examine our own practices as we aspire to become more culturally sensitive and responsive in our interactions with individuals and families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Getting to truly know one another is not just exciting and rewarding, it can lead to more positive learning outcomes for individuals living with autism in a variety of domains (e.g., health, education, employment, etc.).

Dr. Mohammad Zubairi discussing how we can meaningfully engage with patients and their caregivers/families who have diverse backgrounds

Dr. Mohammad Zubairi

We look forward to connecting with all of you in a variety of different ways and of course, through another conference. The conversations have inspired us to plan and execute another conference in partnership with others.

Sincerely,

Lindy Zaretsky

Board President, SAAAC