April is Autism Awareness Month

City officials join autism association members at official launch

Martin C. Barry

The City of Laval will be doing its part throughout the month of April to raise awareness of the impact of autism by lighting up the exterior of City Hall in a pleasant blue aura as a sign of Laval’s ongoing support for the cause.

Mayor Marc Demers, as well as executive-committee vice-president David De Cotis and executive-committee member Ray Adams, were on hand at the Laval Sheraton on March 30 for the official launch of Autism Awareness Month.

STL president David De Cotis
STL president David De Cotis said the transit agency goes to great lengths to see that the needs of the autistic are met.

Understanding autism

This year, up to 20 organizations in Laval that provide services for those with autism and their families have united in an effort to promote Autism Awareness Month. They are doing their part to help organize a range of activities to raise the public’s awareness of autism.

The Laval Knights of Columbus District 54 are playing a prominent role in this year’s Autism Awareness Month. One of the largest events, taking place on April 22 between 10 am and noon, will be the Knights’ Walk for Autism. The walkers will be setting off from the Laval Sheraton to cover a 3.7-kilometre course.

A united effort by groups

Among those on hand for the launch were Germain Larivière, executive-director of the Société de l’autisme et des troubles envahissants du développement de Laval, Danièle Dulude, president and executive-director of the CISSS de Laval, Commission scolaire de Laval commissioner Françoise David (representing CSDL president Louise Lortie), and Jean-Marc Laccopo, president of Services du Chat Botté de Laval which assists those with autism and their families.

Sarah Scopacasa, a CSDL student, spoke briefly on what it’s like to be afflicted with autism. “For a number of years now, we have been proud to say that we are a municipality which is a friend of the autistic,” said Demers, noting that the city has implemented a number of measures to assist the autistic.

Laval Mayor Marc Demers presented with Autism Awareness Month souvenir
Mayor Marc Demers, left, and other officials were presented with Autism Awareness Month souvenir thermoses during last week’s launch.

City has a role to play

These include providing police and fire personnel with special training and knowledge to recognize situations involving autism. “For us this is important and it is something that continues to develop,” Demers continued. “A large number of our staff have been trained and this remains a daily challenge since we also have new staff to deal with.”

David De Cotis pointed out that 2017 marks the second year the Société de transport de Laval (STL), which he leads as president, takes part officially in Autism Awareness Month. “Public transit has a key role to play in the integration of all citizens into life in Laval,” said De Cotis.

Autism and the STL

“That’s why to us it remains important to be vigilant to sensitizing our drivers and supervisors, but especially our dedicated teams in adapted transport. We have a team of supervisors which has been specially trained and who share their knowledge with our employees so that they better understand the behaviour of autistic persons, while also refining their approaches for intervention.”

According to De Cotis, teams from the STL and from Autisme Laval will be present at Laval’s Montmorency Metro station on Wednesday April 19, and at the Cartier Metro station on Wednesday April 26 to provide information to passengers. Products from the Bio Ferme de Laval will be on sale, with the proceeds going towards the cause.

Needs taken into account

“The inclusion of each individual in our society, no matter how he or she might be different, is essential for us to live together,” added De Cotis. “At the STL, we are very aware of the needs of special clientele and we take great pride to offer and adapt our services on our regular network as in adapted transport.”

The Knights of Columbus’s Walk for Autism will be starting at the Laval Sheraton and make its way east along Le Carrefour Blvd., south on Le Corbusier, west on St-Martin, north on Pierre Péladeau, east on Cosmodôme then north on Terry Fox to end back at the Sheraton. Information is available by calling (450) 663-5551, local 5. Additional information is also available at the following website: www.regard9.ca.