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People with autism deserve chance to lead fulfilling lives
April 30, 2008

The Guardian


SUMMERSIDE - Carolyn Bateman thinks her son Adam deserves more than endless days spent in front of a television.

He happens to have autism.

“They’re the same as the rest of us,” she says. “They need something to do.”

Bateman helped found the Stars for Life Foundation for Autism, which works to provide young adults with autism the chance to get work, education, social opportunities and good homes with the care they need.

“There are just no services,” says Marie Salamoun-Dunne, volunteer with the foundation’s upcoming “Evening of the Stars” fundraiser.

An estimated 200 Islanders have autism. The disorder ranges in severity but particularly affects an individual’s ability to communicate, respond to the environment and socialize.

Bateman says the school system has done a good job of integrating children with autism. But young adults with autism may lack further opportunity to interact and contribute.

“We have to find ways to keep them connected with their communities.”

Bateman and Salamoun-Dunne explain much of the work with people with autism centres on bringing them out; progress can get lost if they don’t have a chance to keep participating in activities.

“They’ll just turn in more,” Bateman says.

Young people may also face being institutionalized as parents age and need help with care.

“They need a place where they can be happy and safe and have a quality of life beyond their own parents,” Bateman says.

That’s why one of the major goals of the Stars for Life Foundation has been setting up homes for those with autism.

The foundation hopes to complete the first one in Charlottetown by March 2009.

Bateman explains the facility would include three apartments for those with high needs, as well as units for house parents and a few for those with low incomes.

She says the facility won’t just serve residents. Families will have access to a resource centre and therapy room and can obtain a day or weekend break from care by bringing their son or daughter to a respite room.

“It’s more than just a home,” Bateman explains.

The Province donated the land. Corporate partners APM Group and MacLean Construction have donated services.

The Stars for Life Foundation For Autism and Rodd Hotels and Resorts will host “Evening of the Stars” May 23 to raise money for the project. The event at the Rodd Royalty Inn in Charlottetown will feature dinner, entertainment and auction.


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