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Pacific Autism Family Network

Autism spectrum disorder can branch into various conditions, usually characterized by social and communication challenges, along with repetitive interests or behaviour. Research is still ongoing regarding the causes of a person being affected by ASD, but one risk factor most scientists agree upon is carrying genes. Unfortunately, there isn't enough support for these individuals, and they are regarded as "disabled," but instead, we encourage you to view them differently, "as special."

It is important not to regard autism as a disability. It's a "superpower" as several of our societal changemakers/idols were also diagnosed with conditions on the ASD. Some even shared that their diagnosis inspired them to achieve their goals or even inspired them to implement a groundbreaking impact on society.

Here are examples of a few.

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg is a young climate activist. After beginning her climate action campaign, she has inspired millions across the globe, and together, with the millions she united, they advocated for different environmental issues.

Photo is courtesy of People.com

Dan Akcryod

Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Dan Aykroyd is a celebrated comedian and actor. He shares that his diagnosis with Asperger’s contributed to the production of his character in “Ghostbusters.”

Photo is courtesy of BBC

Susan Boyle

Selling more than 14 million albums, and amazing millions across the globe as runner-up on Great Britain’s Got Talent, Susan Boyle has found success and happiness in her passion – singing.

Photo is courtesy of BBC

Niam Jain

Niam Jain is a 17-year old artist, recognized throughout North America. He is the youngest to obtain the Anokhi Award, and he has been featured in the UofT exhibition. Despite having minimal speech and comprehension, he uses art, specifically painting as his method of communication He is notable for painting in layers, each of which represent an emotion or moment. In addition, on CBC, his mother shared with public viewers that he became financially independent at the age of 15, even contributing financially to his family.

Photo is courtesy of CBC

Satoshi Tajiri

An accomplished video game designer who created the first version of Pokemon in 1996, a game that rapidly rose to fame throughout the 2000s, and is still widely played by many as a form of respite.

Photo is courtesy of autism2022

Kodi Lee

Winner of the fourteenth season of America’s Got Talent, he fascinated numerous with his compelling performances. Although he was diagnosed with autism at the age of four and is profoundly blind, he flourishes with communication through music.

Photo is courtesy of Talent Recap

Dr. Vernon Smith

A Nobel prize winner in Economic Sciences, a professor at Chapman University, and author, Dr. Vernon Smith is most recognized for his notable work in experimental economics.

Photo is courtesy of LifeHack

These exceptional individuals are living examples that we are capable of living our dreams despite barriers. If you dream big and perform everything with passion, you can achieve your aspirations and make a difference in society. If you, a friend, or a family member struggles with a diagnosis of a condition on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, be mindful that it is not a disability, "it's a superpower" (Greta Thunberg).

“Pacific Autism Family Network is a centre, and campaign that provides support, and meets the individualistic needs of individuals with ASD. Specifically, PAFN entails a character, unlike any other support facility. Their “hub,” built as a 60000-square-foot facility meets the unique needs of all individuals and families with ASD. The team created the hub to have “family-friendly spaces with soft lighting, house clinics, labs, classrooms, observation rooms, multidisciplinary spaces, libraries, and family information kiosks. The hub is an open, unique, and collaborative environment for some of BC’s most prominent and proven non-profit autism services.” (PAFM)

Pacific Autism Family Network also organizes and participates in numerous programs and initiatives ranging from AIDE Canada to empowering individuals on the ASD through sharing employment opportunities and bursaries.

If you would like to get involved, visit https://pacificautismfamily.com/


20 Incredibly Successful People on the Autism Spectrum. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.abadegreeprograms.net/successful-people-on-the-autism-spectrum/

Dan Aykroyd Says Being on the Spectrum Helped Him Make Ghostbusters. (2017, October 24). Retrieved from https://childmind.org/blog/dan-aykroyd-says-being-on-the-spectrum-helped-him-make-ghostbusters/

Did Einstein have dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism and ADHD? - Exceptional In.. (2020, February 27). Retrieved from https://exceptionalindividuals.com/about-us/blog/did-einstein-have-dyslexia-dyspraxia-autism-and-adhd/#:~:text=Michael Fitzgerald, professor of psychiatry,disorder, due to his creativity

Faculty Profile. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.chapman.edu/our-faculty/vernon-smith

Meet the 14-year-old Toronto artist with autism leaving his mark on Canada's art community CBC News. (2017, November 29). Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toronto-artist-with-autism-wins-award-1.4424088

OVERVIEW. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://pacificautismfamily.com/overview/

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? (2020, March 25). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html

Featured image is courtesy of Fraser Valley News

Article Authors: Michelle Xiao, Linda Duong

Article Editors: Maria Giroux, Edie Whittington