News Article Details

Comox Valley Child Development Association's Autism Centre now fully operational

Comox Valley Record - 3/6/2019

The Comox Valley Child Development Association (CVCDA) has been very busy since the grand opening, late last year of their new Comox Valley Autism Centre.

The space has now come alive with families, groups and many clients actively utilizing it.

The newly constructed CV Autism Centre was designed and equipped specifically with the needs of children with autism in mind. It now comfortably houses The Autism Program (TAP), which as of January has fully made the move across the courtyard from its old location in the lower level of the CVCDA Centre at 237 - 3rd St., Courtenay.

This spacious new facility provides their child development professionals many different environments to enhance their services including a boardroom, three early intervention rooms and two youth meeting rooms.

Additionally, there is a bright, open concept common area complete with lounge and kitchen. The lounge is a cozy, informal space for the kids and families to play and relax. Many of the CVCDA's groups, such as Circle of Security and the Parent Support Group, have now started regularly using this space.

The fully-equipped kitchen is very convenient for everybody in the space but is also the classroom for much of TAP's life skills programming, covering meal preparation and baking. These life skills are beneficial with assisting their clients in developing the skills they will need for independence.

One of the most exciting features of the new CV Autism Centre is the small gymnasium space now serving approximately 40 children from TAP. Clients from some of the other child development services, including both the occupational and physical therapy programs are also benefitting from this space. The gym is a wonderful space for kids to get active and take part in co-operative games.

The Autism Centre also features the state-of-the-art Sensory Room, which was completed in 2014. It is just a few quick steps out the main entrance and will continue to be accessed as part of TAP programming.

A new therapy swing will be in the gym soon, thanks to a donation from the Children's Health Foundation of Vancouver Island.

Although the centre is now operational and furnished (thanks to funds raised at the annual Children's Telethon), there are still a few more surprises to come to further enhance the space. A new therapy swing will be in the gym soon, soon thanks to a donation from the Children's Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, along with the suspension kit donated by Courtenay Veterinary Clinic. Recently, the CVCDA had a generous donation of a new washer and dryer, completing the kitchen/utility area. Additionally, they are looking for a donor for a smart TV and mount to be utilized in the lounge as an educational tool.

As spring hits, there are plans in motion to create a welcoming courtyard area immediately outside the main entrance of the CV Autism Centre (and to the rear of the Child Development Centre). It will be a place to gather or get away during the day, especially during the warmer months. Plans include patio-style seating on the new pave stone patio along with fresh landscaping around the perimeter. Improved access to the existing children's playground is underway with a wide, smooth path and more landscaping around the Centre.

Much of the funding needed for the completion of this project came through grants from the povincial government and many private donors, who are now recognized throughout the Centre on various plaques. Additionally, proceeds from CVCDA's annual Children's Telethon contributed overall and most recently assisted with the final furnishings.

Nearly 200 children and youth in the Comox Valley have been diagnosed with autism. Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a disorder that affects the brain's normal development, impacting on social and communication skills, as well as behaviour. Currently, 1 in approximately 68 children in B.C. is diagnosed with ASD. This is over a 300 per cent increase in the last decade.

The CVCDA has been supporting children with special needs and their families for over 40 years. In 2017, over 700 Comox Valley children and their families used services at the CVCDA. Specifically, through The Autism Program (TAP), they provide services to children and youth who have been diagnosed with Autism.

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