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Bethesda goes blue for World Autism Awareness Day

Annual observance joins millions around the world advocating for individuals living with a spectrum disorder

As World Autism Awareness Day approaches on April 2, Bethesda joins millions around the world in recognizing and advocating for individuals living with autism spectrum disorder. The annual observance aims to raise awareness about autism and promote understanding and acceptance of people with autism within our communities.

Over 600 Bethesda staff along with community partners including the City of Thorold, C.R. Smith Financial, Niagara Regional Chair and many more will wear blue this year to show their support. 

Bethesda Chief Executive Officer Paul McGowan explains that, “By wearing blue, we demonstrate our commitment to fostering an inclusive society where individuals with autism are valued and embraced for their unique abilities.” 

Bethesda will also join the City of Thorold in recognizing the day with a flag raising ceremony that will be attended by Thorold Mayor Terry Ugulini, Bethesda CEO Paul McGowan, and individuals with autism that receive support from Bethesda.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition impacting an individual's communication and social interaction skills, as well as their perception of the world. It can influence body language, social relationships, engagement with interests, and sensory processing abilities. Current statistics from the Canadian Medical Association Journal estimate that one-two per cent of the population has autism, meaning there are nearly 573,000 people in Canada, 135,000 in Ontario, and approximately 7,200 people in the Niagara Region with this neurodevelopmental condition. 

In our community there are approximately 2000 children and youth who have a diagnosis of autism or intellectual disability who are eligible for services.

Autism transcends cultural, ethnic, racial, and gender boundaries, affecting individuals from all walks of life. Despite the prevalence of autism, there remains a significant lack of understanding and acceptance in many communities. World Autism Awareness Day serves as an opportunity to address misconceptions and promote inclusion.

Bethesda’s Niagara Family Centre in Thorold, provides services and support for children and youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder via the Ontario Autism Program and other professional services.

Bethesda’s Spring Service Guide was just released and includes programming for children with Autism. On Wednesday nights in May, there is a youth workshop series focusing on topics like online safety, mindfulness, and self advocacy. There are also Caregiver Workshops focusing on Identifying and Coping with Autistic BurnoutPicky Eating and even caregiver courses focusing on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a way to help your child or youth move forward through difficult emotions. To register for these and other offerings, visit

If your child has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or another intellectual or developmental disability and you are looking for support, connect with us today at 905.684.6918 ext. 170 or email [email protected]. We have staff who are experts in providing quality and compassionate care for your loved one.