by Rhonda Massad
From October 2 to 4, 2015, the Cosmodôme will host the 2nd edition of the Salon of Autism (ASD). The Salon has become an annual event with the mission to raise autism awareness and provide the public with convenient access to information on ASD (autism spectrum disorder), related services, and resources from all over the province.
According to Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board (SWLSB) chair and mother of two autistic children, Jennifer Maccarone, the event helps families see beyond the label.
“Everybody knows somebody with autism,” Maccarone said in an interview with The Suburban, “I feel the term autism is just a label and we need to go beyond the label. Conferences like this bring awareness to the child and not the label.”
The salon will host over 125 exhibitors and almost 40 guest speakers covering a wide range of subjects of interest to families and health care professionals. Frédérique Dufort, TV and film actress, (Unité 9, Radio-Canada) will be the spokesperson for the Salon. Comedian, author, and mother of an autistic boy, Guylaine Guay, will be a guest speaker and three time Félix award winner, Nicola Ciccone will be a guest artist. Participants will enjoy many performances by singers and musicians over the weekend.
Johanne Leduc and Sylvie Le Guerrier, two mothers devoted to progress in the field of autism co-organized the event. Leduc, the president, is the author of the book “La Souffrance des Envahis” (The suffering of the afflicted) and a parent of two autistic children. Le Guerrier, vice-president and mother of three neurotypical children, is committed to facilitating access to assistance and resources to all families in similar situations.
“I applaud the two ladies who put this together, I can imagine the amount of work involved,” Maccarone said. “Being a mother of two autistic children myself, I know kids who have autism are very different, which is why we use the term spectrum, their strengths and weaknesses differ greatly from child to child.”
Maccarone said that families get through the challenges of autism with plenty of hard work and support from Salon’s like this one to help educate not only the family but the community. Education is crucial.